I admit it, I love goats. There’s just something about that sweet, devilish, and playful attitude that I adore. They are great pets and great livestock animals for your home and homestead. But there are some expenses involved with keeping goats. So before you dive into raising goats, you need to know how much does a goat cost?
Buying a typical goat can cost anywhere from $75 to $200. A pedigreed goat can cost up to $2000, while an unwanted goat can be nearly free. However, many other expenses go with goat ownership, including the cost of feed, shelter, fencing, and vet care, which can bring your yearly cost to over $500 per goat.
This article will talk about how much it costs to buy a goat. But since there is so much more to owning goats, we’ll also talk about how much it costs to feed, house, and keep your goats. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of goat cost, though, let’s look at a couple of reasons you might want to keep goats. (Here are two books you might find helpful: 1. Starting Right With Milk Goats and 2. Raising Goats For Beginners).
Why You Should Keep Goats
- Goats are fun and entertaining.
- Goats can provide milk.
- Goats can be a source of meat.
- Some goats are raised for wool.
- Goats don’t need much space compared to horses, cows, or other farm animals.
- Goats typically get along with sheep, llamas, alpacas, and donkeys.
- Goats are less expensive to maintain than many other farm animals.
How Many Goats Do You Need?
Goats are herd animals, so you never want to have a solitary goat. They get lonely, frightened, and more prone to illness and injury. If you are just starting your herd, the ideal number, to begin with, is 3.
Three goats are easy enough to care for and will keep each other company. Over time, you can introduce more goats to your herd once your goat-keeping practices are figured out.
I started with two baby goats with a doghouse and a dog pen. They were perfectly happy! But once we built our goat shed and fence, we were able to expand and then added two more. Eventually, we had a dozen goats, which was a great size herd for our goat pen and shed.
If you have in-tact male goats or bucks, they will need a separate space from the female goats. And you will need to take extra care because male goats can be dangerous, especially to small children. So if you have a home with small kids, I recommend only raising female goats and wethers (castrated males). (See also are article entitled “Milk Goat Breeds – The Ultimate Guide“)
How Much Does It Cost to Feed a Goat?
Goats can live almost entirely on pasture and hay. If you don’t have a large area for them to browse, it’s ok to feed your goats completely on hay. A goat needs to eat roughly 2 to 4 pounds of hay per day, depending on how much other food they get. You could also say that a goat needs approximately 1 square bale per week. Where I live, hay is $10 a bale right now. So it costs $40 a month to feed one goat.
However, I supplement our goats’ hay with leftover veggies, garden weeds, Christmas trees, downed leaves, and an occasional pop tart or slice of pizza. My goat, Pumpkin, loves it when my daughter brings him a leftover pancake as a special treat!
So realistically, I probably spend $20 per month per goat on goat hay or about $240 per year. You can save money by purchasing hay in larger quantities.
Goat feed: $240 per year
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Goat Shed?
Your goats will need some kind of shelter, but don’t worry. They aren’t too picky!
When I got my first two goats, they happily lived in a large doghouse that we got for next to nothing on Craigslist. This is probably fine if you just have a couple of goats, especially if you live in a decently warm climate. However, if you’re going to have more goats, you’ll want something a little bit bigger.
Goat housing needs to be dry and shelter from the wind, rain, snow, and sun. It does not have to be fancy or expensive. Smaller goats, like Nigerian dwarf goats, only need about 10 to 15 square feet of shelter per goat. Larger goats might need more like 20 square feet of space.
If you have ten goats, you’ll want at least 100 to 200 square feet of space – like a large room. You can expand their indoor space by making a loft with a ramp, so they have two floors to explore.
You could easily spend $1000 on a new shed for your goats, or you could cobble one together with free pallets and cheap supplies. We were lucky enough to find a free shed and just had to pay $200 to move it to our property, saving us a lot of cash.
Goat housing: one-time cost of $200
How Much Does Goat Bedding Cost?
Your kids need more than just an empty floor to sleep on. You’ll want to give them some straw to snuggle in to keep warm and absorb urine. Of course, you’ll need to clean this out periodically and replace it with fresh straw. Where we live, straw is the same price as hay, so we just use hay for bedding.
Bedding: $100 per year
How Much Does Goat Fence Cost?
Probably the most expensive part of owning goats is putting up a fence. Goats are notorious for being escape artists, so you really want to make sure you have a sturdy fence that is tall enough to keep the goats in. Unless, of course, you enjoy receiving text messages from the neighbors asking you to remove your goat from their back porch (yes, it happened to me!)
The fence I had was just fine for my Nigerian Dwarf goats, but when I brought home a very tall rescue LaMancha, he could easily step over the top of the fence I had in place and visit all of the neighbors and my front porch!
Experts say that most goats need 200 square feet of pasture per goat. More is better because it spreads out the parasite load and the goat excrement. If you don’t’ have that much room, it doesn’t mean you can’t have goats. It just means you need to be a little creative at cleaning out the pasture, getting them exercise, and making sure they are happy!
Goat Fence Examples
Let’s say your goat pen is 1600 square feet, and it’s roughly a square. You’ll need 160 feet of four-foot-high fence for your goats, plus posts every 4 feet or 40 posts. A roll of fencing is roughly $200, and 40 posts would also come to about $200. If you are creative, have a smaller pasture, or purchase a used fence, you’ll save a lot of money!
We started with just a dog kennel for our two goats. However, you might be able to find one on Craigslist for as little as $100.
If you are very resourceful, you could tie your goats out instead of giving them a fenced-in pasture. However, this means moving them regularly, locking them up every night, and protecting them from predators.
Goat fencing: $100 to $1000, depending
How Much Do Other Goat Expenses Cost?
There are a few odds and ends you’ll want to consider when keeping goats, as well. They aren’t too expensive, but you need to keep them in mind.
Hoof Care $20
Vet care $50
Castration: $20 – $80, depending on age
Yearly Expenses: $105 – $200 or more, if there is an illness
How Much Does a Goat Cost?
We’ve talked about all of the expenses that go along with keeping a goat, but what about the cost of the goat itself? Goat costs vary greatly depending on the breed, gender, breeder, and age.
A typical goat that you might purchase from a family breeder will cost anywhere from $75 to $250. This is usually just a family raising a small herd for milk and pets. They may breed and sell the babies to offset some of their costs. A good family breeder will raise friendly, healthy goats that make great pets.
Family goat: $75 to $250
It is a nice thought to bring home rescue goats from a shelter. So often, these are goats that a family had as pets and can no longer take care of them for some reason, such as death, illness, or relocation.
A good shelter will take care of the goat’s immediate health needs and ensure they are healthy before adopting them out. They will also have a good idea if the goat is friendly towards people and other animals.
However, sometimes goats are surrendered to a shelter due to expensive and ongoing health needs. If the animal shelter is not aware of or does not disclose this information to you, you could be in for many vet bills.
Rescue goat cost: $50 to $100
If you are going to show your goats, you will need to purchase a pedigreed goat. These will cost anywhere from $300 to $2000, depending on the breed, age, and if the goat has already won shows or not.
Pedigree goats: $300 to $2000
It is entirely possible to find free or cheap goats on Craigslist. While there is nothing wrong with purchasing goats from craigslist, you need to be extra careful about the animal’s health and temperament.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to score a couple of free (or very cheap) goats from a breeder who is looking to downsize or replace their ‘stock’ animals. However, some people will off-load sick goats on Craigslist at a low price. They could bring back diseases to your established herd, causing you a lot of loss.
Craigslist goat: $0 to $250
Another place to buy goats is at an animal auction. Again, you could potentially walk away with an entire herd for just a few dollars. However, these are often farm extras, and they won’t necessarily make great pets or herd goats, so if you go this route, make sure you know what you are getting into.
Sample Chart of How Much It Costs to Raise Goats
|General Costs||My Costs for two goats||My costs to expand my herd|
|Goat Cost||$0 – $2000||$150||$200 for ten privately rescued goats|
|Shelter||$0 to $1000||$50||$200|
|Fencing||$400 and up||$100||$200|
|Food||$40 month||$40 month||$400 month|
|Bedding||$100 year||$100 year||$200 year|
|Vet Care and misc. expenses||$100 – $200 year||$200 year||$500 year|
|One-time Expenses||$0 to $3000||$300||$600|
|Recurring Expenses||Approximately $700 per year, per goat||Approximately $700 per year||$5,500 per year|
Final Thoughts on How Much Does a Goat Cost?
It can be a little expensive to keep an entire herd of goats. However, if you are resourceful, you can technically raise goats for next to nothing, so long as they have food, water, shelter, vet care, and quality of life.