My youngest daughter’s first words were not Mama or Dada. Instead, her first word was “Anna,” the name of our best milk goat. Every morning, I hauled the kids outdoors with me, rain or shine, to milk the goats. Some days it was fun, other days, it was frustrating, but it was a family event every day. Milk goats are lovely family pets, but should you have a milk goat for your family?
You should have a milk goat if you want to have fresh milk from a family pet that can also provide you with hours of entertainment and weed control. However, if you can’t commit to milking your goat daily and providing for its veterinary care, you probably don’t want to have a milk goat.
This article will talk about nine great reasons that you might want to have a milk goat for your family. But we will also discuss 11 real reasons you might not want to have your own goat. Of course, the main reason to have a dairy goat is for the delicious milk it provides.
9 Great Reasons to Have a Milk Goat
1. Milk Goats Will Provide You with a Daily Supply of Fresh Goat Milk
- Fresh goat milk has plenty of health benefits. It is easier to digest than cow milk.
- Fresh goat milk might not cause problems for people who have lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy, but please talk to your doctor before trying it.
- Fresh goat milk is easier on the environment.
- Fresh goat milk is naturally homogenized because it doesn’t separate like cow milk.
- Fresh goat milk is high in protein.
- Fresh goat milk from your goats is less likely to have that ‘goaty’ flavor that you sometimes taste in store-bought goat milk.
- Fresh goat milk gives you better control of your food supply because you will know what the goat was fed and when it was milked.
2. Milk Goats Help with Weed Control
If you have weeds, your milk goat will love them. Your goat will help keep your lawn free of weeds and brush. You can bring the weeds to the goat or bring the goat to the weeds by putting them on a tether.
3. Milk Goats Can Give You Meat
If you find yourself with too many goats, you can have some of them butchered for meat. You can do this yourself or have a butcher take care of this for you. Although certain breeds are better for meat, you can eat any breed of goat.
4. Milk Goats Can Give You Fiber
Not every milk goat is a fiber goat. But a Pygora is a mix between a milk goat and a fiber goat. So you’ll get two products for one goat!
5. Milk Goats Can Be a Source of Income for Your Family.
It might not be legal to sell raw goat milk where you live, but that isn’t the only source of income from your milk goat. You can sell baby goats, goat fiber, goat meat, goat manure, rent out your goats for petting zoos and brush control, and even rent out your family buck for breeding purposes.
6. Milk Goats Can Be a Great Family Pet
Our milk goats were pets as well as a source of dairy for our family. They enjoyed back scratches, treats, and attention. The goats would happily walk on a leash, as well. And the entire family enjoyed their silly antics as they pranced around their pen.
7. Milk Goats Can Make Great 4H Projects
Milk goats are great for showing and 4H projects due to their docile nature and generally small size. In addition, many milk goats are friendly and easy to work with since they are intelligent and easily trained.
8. Milk Goats Don’t Need a Lot of Space
You’ll probably need an acre or two per cow plus supplemental feed if you have a family cow. A goat, on the other hand, only needs about 50 square feet of pasture per goat. They are perfectly happy in small pens.
9. Milk Goats Are Hilarious and Smart
Milk goats – as well as any kind of goat, are funny! They will certainly keep you entertained. They’re also intelligent. One of our herd learned how to open and close the goat shed door that leads into the pen, so we never had to lock up the goats for the night. Over time, he taught the rest of the goats to do the same. At bedtime, they put themselves into the shed and shut the door.
You can teach your milk goats to do tricks, walk on a leash, pull a cart, or carry a pack. They are smart and funny creatures that are sure to brighten your day.
11 Reasons Not to Have a Milk Goat
Although there are many reasons to have milk goats, there are some compelling reasons you might not want to have milk goats of your own.
1. Disadvantages of Fresh Goat Milk
- Unpasteurized goat milk can carry bacteria that can make you sick.
- You can still be allergic to goat milk.
- Babies who drink goat milk instead of formula or breast milk can become anemic.
- Goat milk can reflect the flavor of the goat’s diet.
- Goat milk is high in fat.
2. Milk Goats are Escape Artists.
Your goat will test any fence you build just because they can! So don’t be surprised to find your milk goat sitting on your car, your back porch, or trying to sneak into your house! (It happened to me).
3. Milk Goats Are Naughty
Raising goats is like herding toddlers. They are stubborn, naughty, and have minds of their own! They’ll nibble your clothes, open up the gate, climb over the fence, and get into your garden and flower beds. You might even receive a text message from your neighbors telling you to remove your goat from their back porch. If you don’t like toddlers, you might not enjoy goats.
4. Milk Goats Need Company
Goats are herd animals, and keeping a solitary goat means you have a very sad and lonely goat. Therefore, if you have a milk goat, it should have at least two other herd companions, preferably goats, although they do get along well with sheep, alpacas, and even miniature donkeys.
5. Milk Goats Need Daily Milking
One of the drawbacks of having a milk goat is milking the goat daily. Ideally, you will milk your goat early in the morning and around dinner time. If you don’t milk your goat every day, she’ll develop overly-full, painful teats. She could even develop mastitis, which could become infected and prove fatal.
6. Milk Goats Only Make Milk After Having A Baby
The only way a milk goat will produce milk is by having a baby. So you will need to go through the process of having your milk goat bred and birthed. You’ll need to balance the needs of the baby goat with milking until the baby is weaned.
Birthing goats is a skill you’ll need to learn if you want a continuous supply of milk. Complications can happen, and you might need to call a farm vet, which can get expensive. And you’ll need a plan for what to do with your baby goats. Will you keep them as pets? Sell them? Or even eat them? If you have male goats, you will need to keep them separate from the females or castrate them.
7. Milk Goats Need to be Bred
Of course, the only way to get a baby goat is to breed a female goat. Intact male goats can be stinky, annoying, and downright dangerous when they are in rut. You’ll need to figure out how you will keep your stud goat or if you will rent one from another farm. Stud goats do not make nice pets, but they are necessary for keeping a milk goat.
8. Goat Milk Requires Sanitization Procedures
For your goat milk to be safe, you need to follow strict sanitation procedures. You need to sanitize all of your equipment. You’ll also need to wash your goat’s teats every time you milk her. You’ll need a safe place to milk your goats, as well.
You will want to consider pasteurizing your goat milk or how you will strain it and keep it fresh and safe.
9. Milk Goats Don’t Always Enjoy Being Milked
Some milk goats are docile and enjoy the milking process (especially when treats are involved!). However, some milk goats will be stubborn and try to avoid being milked no matter what. They may bite, kick, and knock over the entire bucket of milk you worked so hard to procure.
10. Milk Goats Can Get Diseases
Milk goats are subject to diseases, especially listeriosis. If a goat gets listeriosis, it can transmit the bacteria via its milk to people. This can be especially dangerous for pregnant or nursing women and their babies. If it isn’t caught and treated early, diseases such as this can be fatal for the goat.
11. Milk Goats Need Vet Care
Farm vets can be expensive, and it can be challenging to transport goats to a vet clinic. But they’ll need regular deworming, hoof trimming, dental care, and monitored for diseases and illnesses.
Final Thoughts On Milk Goats
Goat milk is an excellent addition to your homestead or farm, and goats make wonderful pets, so for these reasons, you might want to have your own dairy goat. On the other hand, goats can be little troublemakers that require daily care and milking, which is a big reason many people avoid having their own. If you are willing and able to commit to your milk goats, then absolutely, you should have them on your farm. But if you just aren’t sure, then you should probably stick to goat milk from your local grocery store.
What are the best dairy goat breeds?
There are lots of breeds of milk goats. The most popular milk breeds for small farms and homesteads are Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Nubian goats, and Lamanchas.
What is a dual-purpose breed?
A dual-purpose goat is one that you can use for both milk and meat or milk and fiber, such as a Pygora or Nigerian Dwarf.