Proverbs 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Purchasing Goats

We started wanting to provide our own milk for our family over 13 years ago when we heard how much better goats milk was for our special needs kids.  How much easier it was to digest.  We didn’t like the taste of pasteurized store bought goats milk but loved the fresh milk we had tried from a friends goat.  Also we started learning about all that was done to all the pasteurized milk in the stores and what standards were given to dairy farms and such.  We just made the decision to raise goats and handle the milk ourselves.  Giving us all the control of what are animals eat and how they are handled.  And how the milk is handled. Price also played a huge factor in us deciding to just gets some goats and provide our own.  We had such a huge family with so many drinking the milk that it was wayyyyy more economical to have goats than to buy enough goats milk in the store to meet the needs of our ever growing family.

I did a ton of research.  Talked to a lot of very kind patient dairy goat farmers in the area and made the decision to start out with Nubians and Lamanchas.  I also quickly made the decision that I wanted to have a clean closed herd.  After reading about and studying all the diseases that are prevalent out there and knowing we would be drinking the milk.  I wanted to be as safe as possible.  So I would not buy from any sale barns or people that could not prove, thru yearly testing, their herds were clean of CAE (like AIDS in Goats) CL and a few other things.  I always bought from clean herds and I never let anyone use our bucks but us.  I quarantined anything brought onto the property.

Also before buying any goats one must decide what you are going to be breeding for.  Some people believe that if you are going to be feeding a goat anyway, it might as well be a valuable one.  (one with papers that is registered) that way you can sell the kids for a lot of money to help support the farm.  We did do this for a while.  But the competitive world of goat showing is a lot of hard work and there is a lot of things to be looking at when buying and selling goats.  A whole show standard has to be met to make any money on the babies and a good eye for what is good and not good.  A lot of culling. 

After breeding goats for a while what I found is I just want a great back yard milker.  But in our area Nubians would sell but not Lamanchas very well.  So I always kept Nubian bucks and my best milker does.  I bred for easy to hand milk, good udder attachment and healthy good animals that birthed easily among a few other things.  I also found in our area that the economy was getting harder and harder.  And people wanted just what I was breeding for as well.  Most people didn’t care if a goat was registered or not.  They just wanted a great disease free milk goat at a fair price.  So I had a market for my baby goats that I didn’t plan on keeping.

In our first herd I learned a few things.  One thing is that if I am going to buy an adult goat to ask to taste the goats milk and be able to milk it before purchase.   I have learned over the years that there are easy goats to milk and hard goats to milk.  I always wanted having goats to be a positive thing and enjoyable.  and if I am dreading going out to milk every day there is a problem.  So I always ask to hand milk an adult I am interested in and ask to taste the milk.  As also the taste of the milk varies from animal to animal.  We actually had to sell a goat once because her milk was to terrible tasting to drink.  I tried several things like feeding different feed, changing her to a different pasture to graze, giving her antibiotics thinking there might be an infection of some sort, being super diligent and clean with her milk.  And it always tasted the same.  Finally, I met  who owned her mother and sister and the owner claimed the same taste for their milk as well.  Also if you ask to milk the goat you are interested in you will get a good feel for her temperament.  I have had some wonderful sweet laid back milkers over the years and some ornery, pushy downright mean ones.  Sold those.  Believe it or not temperament does run in families in goats. 

The second thing is it is much cheaper, most of the time, to buy a baby than an adult.  But still I ask to see the moms udder and teats and if I can taste the mothers’ milk.  Because the mom and daughter have much of the same genetics.  Same thing  if I am buying a buck. 

A buck is 50% of your herd.  Don’t skimp on the buck you are getting.  Truly any time you breed anything at all, on a farm, the goal is to try to breed to make a better animal than the parent.  That is just the right thing to do.  Any prodigy you sell you want to be good stock and if you are planning  on keeping any of the prodigy for future milking you want it to be great.  So even when buying a buck, I ask to see the bucks moms udder/teats size and taste milk if possible.   Some very good farms also have the bucks, dads mom on record to see a picture of the udder and teats and such.  So you can really get a good idea of what you are getting.

Also, if you are going to be keeping goats for milk, try to resist the cheap sale barn goats.  They are often being sold because they have problems and are carrying disease.  If you get CL in your soil it is there for YEARS!  And if you try to have a clean herd after that the soil could still infect your clean animals and they will get it. 

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