Goats are odd little creatures. They love to run, jump, climb, eat things they shouldn’t, and be nosy. But their quirky little attitudes make them great company on the homestead. Here’s 5 reasons why they make such amazing small homestead livestock.
1. Goats are Easier to Handle
Goats – no matter the breed – are reasonably easy to deal with due to their size. Our girls all wear dog collars, and whenever we need to lead them somewhere we just attach a rope to the ring (just like a dog), and pull. It doesn’t take them long to figure out how to lead like responsible little children. This makes managing and handling them super easy. Can you imagine trying to get a 900+lb cow to go where you want it to? That takes a LOT more coercion.
2. Goats are Easier to Discipline and Be Around
Goats are also easy to discipline because of their size. Any time a billy wishes to “play” and headbutt, we simply grab him by the horns and force them to the ground. Once we have held him in that position for a few minutes, he is released again. This establishes our dominance, and that “fighting” or “play fighting” with us probably won’t end well.
Their size also makes being around them quite a bit simpler. With a goat, if your foot gets stepped on because you weren’t paying attention, it might hurt, but it won’t maim. That 900lb cow we talked about? Not so much. Their size means that we, as humans, can relax and let our guard down around them a bit more without fearing for our safety. Though, it should go without being said, that they are still animals. Animals aren’t humans, and are inherentely more unpredictable.
3. Goats Provide Two Different Forms of Protein With Very Little Input
We feed our goats very little. The only times they get oats are when we have had a drought and the grass is all dead, or in the winter when it has snowed or iced. The girls that we are milking get a small handful of grain during milking (more for incentive to stand nicely than as a feed supplement). Otherwise, the goats feed themselves, provided you have given them a large enough fenced area. They are great for clearing out brush (as they LOVE those tender leaves on the prickly plants we don’t want to mess with) and they do eat grasses just like a sheep will.
With this low amount of input, we still get amazing milk, and meat from the yearlings. They give you many of the benefits of a milk cow, but without the issues of such a big hulking animal. Their feet do need trimmed, and they need a good de-worming (or a diatomaceous earth plan) every now and then, but otherwise tend to take care of themselves.
4. Goats are Compatible With All Other Livestock on the Homestead.
I’ve yet to find something that didn’t get along with the goats. They have an innate ability to determine what belongs and what doesn’t. We have yet to have an issue with any other homestead animal cohabitating with our goats. Hogs, chickens, horses, dogs, cats, turkeys. So far, nothing has caused an issue. Right now, three goats and their kids live with two sows and a boar. Plus, those pesky chickens never leave their side, hoping that the goats will scrounge up a tasty morsel. Everyone behaves.
5. Goats Will Defend Themselves and Their Kids.
Remember me saying they have an innate ability to know what belongs and what doesn’t? Of the ones that roost above the goats at night, we’ve never lost a chicken. The ones that roost elsewhere…that’s another story. At one point, we came out in the morning to find the goats ramming a stray dog into the corner. He didn’t make it. But we’ve never even had them bat an eye at our dogs. Even when they were excited and barking, the goats ignore them. They come with built-in predator protection. How awesome is that?