How to Raise Goats
and Raising Dairy Goats

How to raise goats includes tips on nutrition and typical goat issues like whether to dehorn your goats.  And if your planning on raising dairy goats, you will need to learn about goat breeding, goat gestation, and how to milk while taking care of baby goats.

Goat gestation or pregnancy plays a large part of raising dairy goats because this is how goats get their milk supply. 

After your goats have their kids, you will have to decide whether to let your does nurse naturally or bottle feed the baby goats - or a combination of both.  Learning how to raise goats can be a great venture that can provide you companionship, food, and even great entertainment.

How to Raise Goats - Raising Dairy Goats

Raw goat milk is the primary reason for raising dairy goats and they can provide you milk for 7 to 10 years.

Goats can be raised in hot or cold weather, but some breeds will do much better in cooler rather than hotter climates.

Providing your goats with adequate nutrition is one of the most important parts of "how to raise goats".

If you don't feed properly, your goats will be more prone to disease and will fail to reach their full potential.

Late gestation and/or lactation are critical periods for doe nutrition when raising dairy goats.  Be sure to have fresh water available at all times for your goats.

One of the biggest tips on nutrition is making sure your goats are able to browse freely on pasture.

Or you will have to provide your goats with forage or fresh hay.  And you may have to supplement their diet to ensure adequate nutrition.

For expecting or lactating does, keep a well balanced grain supplement on hand.

You must also trim their feet every few weeks or so to prevent hoof rot.

How to Raise Goats - Nutrition & Other Tips

Goats tend to have more intestinal parasites than dairy cows especially if confined to one area.  An efficient pasture rotation system will help to keep your goats healthy.

Goats immune system requires a certain level of bacteria and worms, but goats have a tendency to have too many parasites. Although the goal is to control, not to get rid of all internal parasites.

When a goat's hair is dull, thin, or coarse it could be a sign of intestinal parasites or a poor diet.

Also, some people choose to vaccinate their goats against organisms such as coccidiosis while others have found it to be a bad decision for how to raise goats.

Many prefer to concentrate on holistic health care or herbal methods to build a strong immune system against parasites and other invading organisms.  And from observation, I think the more holistic approach will keep your goats healthier.

How to Raise Goats - Breeding Tips

The mating season of a goat depends on where it lives and the type of goat breed.  In hot tropical areas near the equator, goats mate year-round.

While goats in temperate regions typically breed from late summer or early fall to late winter.  Swiss breeds are known to be seasonal breeders while other breeds can breed year-round.

Sexual maturity can be five months of age or less, but it is probably best to breed a doe when she is at least one year of age.

By breeding her too early, you may stunt her growth and this could lead to birthing difficulties.

A good rule on how to raise goats is to breed your does when they reach 70 to 75% of their mature adult weight.

Most goats will come into heat during the months of August thru February.

Goats will experience heat every 18 to 21 days until bred. Breeding your doe early in her heat cycle may produce better results as ovulation occurs 12 to 36 hours after the onset of heat.

The signs of heat include tail wagging, restlessness, mounting, mucous discharge, and being very vocal.  During the mating season, glands on bucks produce an oily substance whose odor attracts the does.

How to Raise Goats
- Goat Gestation & Birthing Tips

If at all possible you should attempt to be present when a doe is breed.  And it literally only takes a few seconds.  Then you will be able to record the exact date that the doe gets pregnant.

At that point, you will be able to calculate the due date and be better prepared in case she needs some assistance. 

The length of goat gestation or pregnancy will be approx. 150 days or 5 months.

Some signs just prior to kidding are ligaments around her tail bone softening, udder fills with milk, noticeable discharge, doe seeks solitude, doe won't eat, and she gets restless. 

At that point, you must provide a safe and private space for your doe to give birth.  Female goats can have one to five kids.  Although, twins are the most common.

Break the amniotic membrane if it doesn't break when the kid comes out.  And clean the fluids from the kid's mouth and nostrils, so they can breathe.

Your doe should be bred once a year with a dry period of about two months (not producing any milk).  This dry period allows her mammary system to repair and regenerate.

How to Raise Goats
- Bottle Feeding Baby Goats

Bottle feeding baby goats is one way of how to raise goats.

Some breeders prefer this method as it creates a special bond between you and the kid.

If you choose to bottle feed once your doe's milk comes in, milk your goats 2 times each day about 12 hours apart.

You will need to milk her 2 times daily in order to stimulate milk production and to keep her udder from getting too full - this is very important!!

After milking your goat, transfer this milk into bottles for bottle feeding the baby goats.

During the first day and possibly 10 days after kidding, she will only produce colostrum.

Babies need the first milk or colostrum in order to get the antibodies needed to build their immune systems.

This must be given to kids almost immediately.

Therefore, it might be wise to hold off on bottle feeding for at least a few days - if that is possible.  It also gives the doe time to bond with her kids.

Or Nursing Nature's Way

Choosing to allow your doe to nurse is how to raise goats more naturally and some people prefer this method.

You can also choose to do a combination of milking your doe and allowing the kids to nurse during the day time.

This allows you to milk once a day in the morning for your own use. 

You would separate the kids from their mother at night when they're about 2 weeks old. 

When you separate the kids at night, be sure to milk your doe to remove any milk leftover from the kids.

In the morning, you will have a full udder of milk that you can use for your personal needs.

Meat goats produce just enough milk for their kids, whereas dairy goats can produce more milk than their young need.

A dairy goat will produce milk for a lactation cycle which is typically 10 months long following kidding.

Although, I've been told by a goat breeder that you can milk a Nigerian dwarf for about two years after kidding.

Your doe's milk production will be stimulated by two things - completely emptying her udder once in the morning and then allowing her kids to nurse all day.

Her udder will be able to get really full at least once each day.

This gently stretches her udder and teats, building the milk holding capacity of her udder and making her teats more milkable.

The kids will be able to feed themselves and be looked after by their mother.  And the kids will be able to stay with their mother for several weeks.

You can wean the kids when they are about 2 to 3 months old from their bottle and/or nursing.

How to Raise Goats - Dehorning Goats

Most goats naturally have two horns which can be in various sizes and shapes.  All goats have horns unless they are polled goats and polled goats (which are hornless) naturally occur occasionally in most breeds.

How to raise goats to be hornless would require breeding two naturally polled parents - some have found this genetically unsound. 

Although, females usually do not have as much horn development as male goats.

Removal of the "horn buds" on a young goat or the removal of growing horns on a more mature goat is subject to much controversy.  Many prefer to leave the goat in its natural state.

If you choose to dehorn your goats, please use a qualified person to do this job or you will most likely create more problems for your goats.

This will also eliminate unnecessary pain and discomfort to your kids.

One argument is that horns can act as a cooling device for goats and fiber goats are often left with horns to help with temperature regulation.

Keeping goats with horns may be more of a consideration for goats with a heavy coat or goats that live in hot places.

Most dairy breeders use an electric disbudding iron when dehorning goats.

This is a piece of equipment that gets hot enough to kill the horn bud when placed on the horn bud early enough.

This procedure usually occurs at a very young age in the first two weeks of life.

Go to How to Milk a Goat

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