After you have a flock of Preparedness Chickens, you may want to consider adding dairy goats to your preparations. Although dairy goats are not currently popular in the United States, historically goats have been widely used for meat, milk, hair, skin, driving, and packing. Goats are still especially popular in less-developed areas.
Goat milk is most popular in poor places; if we’re preparing for desperate times, desperate times are poor times, and goats have traditionally been chosen for that.
So, what are the advantages of owning dairy goats, and why might someone choose to own goats instead of a cow?
Goats are easy animals to own, and easy to handle. They are smaller than cows, which makes goats much easier to control. If a goat steps on your foot, it just doesn’t really matter. If a cow steps on your foot, it hurts. If you want your animal to go somewhere, you can lead a goat or pick it up and carry it, easily. You can’t force a cow to do something it doesn’t want to.
Goats offer small-scale production. If you have a family milk cow, your cow will eat a lot and your cow will give you a lot of milk. If you have acres and acres of land with lots of rainfall, and you can use about 5-10 gallons of milk daily, a cow may be the right choice for you. If not, goats may be a better choice for you. Goats produce amounts of milk for modest use, and they eat much less. In an emergency, even a gallon of milk daily will enhance your life, and it will require a much smaller investment of your time and money.
Goats are inexpensive animals. Here in Utah, a family milk cow (a Jersey that produces a modest amount of milk, say 6-8 gallons daily) usually costs about $1500-2000. A dairy goat that produces a relatively high amount of milk (let’s say a gallon daily) costs about $350. And then, the goat will eat much less, too. It costs much less to get started with goats than with a cow.
The quality of goat milk is superior. Most goat milk has a higher fat content than cow milk, and it provides more nutrients. Some people like the taste of goat milk better than cow milk, too. (Although I hear the ultra-pasteurized goat milk sold in some grocery stores is really disgusting. If that’s all you’ve had, try some fresh goat milk before you make up your mind.)
Goat milk is naturally homogenized. I guess people must like homogenized milk, because store milk is all mechanically homogenized. In fresh cow milk, the cream naturally goes to the top of the milk.
Goats are not as messy as cows. Goats poop in pellets, which easily break down in grassy areas. If you have a cow, watch where you step! Cows poop is big, and wet, and it makes your yard messy.
Goats can be kept on smaller pieces of land. Some municipalities may allow you to keep up to two goats, even if your property is not zoned for agriculture. Goats are also more likely to be tolerated in areas that are not zoned for agriculture than a cow is; goats range in size, but are typically about the same size as big dogs, and depending on what kind of goat you get, they are less noisy.
Goats can be very small. If you choose pygmies or Nigerian Dwarfs, those breeds are quite small, yet they still produce delicious milk
In my next article, I’ll discuss what to expect for those who are considering keeping goats.