How NOT to pick a goat.


The year is 1986.  We are in the process of closing on the purchase of 5 acres in the middle of nowhere.  I had always wanted to farm and here was my chance coming up.  One of the first things that I really wanted was a Jersey milk cow.  I loved the color, the delicate faces, and the gentle temperament that I had seen in ones that friends had.  So I started looking for a cow…..but they were hugely expensive.  I could buy a young heifer at about 2 months old for $1000 and then would have to wait 2 years to breed her and another year before I could get milk.  That was the least expensive way to go.

I don’t remember how I found the goat.  But there it was.  A goat that would have a baby in a couple of months and it was only $50.  That would work until I could get enough saved up for a Jersey.  I had 2 young sons and wanted good milk for them.  So I purchased her.  Since I was living in an apartment complex until the closing date, I asked my Dad to let her stay there.  That is where the fun started.  I did not know that they were very herd oriented and would be noisy when alone.  Very noisy.  My Dad is one that likes quiet so that did not go over very well at all.  And to make matters worse this was a Nubian goat and, as I was to learn, the breed that tends to be noisier than the rest……on good days.  We moved her to our new home as quickly as possible and housed her under the porch for a few weeks.  Sometimes eagerness is not well rewarded.

I love the wide range of color combinations of the Nubian breed.  And the long floppy ears…….adorable.  I like the good rich milk and the abundance of it.  So I was happy, I thought.  Except for the noise.  I had Nubians for years and I do not think I ever had a whole day when the goats of that breed did not scream their bloody heads off demanding whatever it was that they wanted this time.  And then I wanted to go backpacking with them and I found another problem that would compound the noisiness.  Their attitude is kind of like a cat…….they do whatever they want whenever they want.  If I want something?  Tough.

So it was that I needed to find a goat breed that was what I really wanted.  What about the Jersey?  Not in the plan any more.  I loved the fact that I could buy 5-10 goats for what one cow would cost.  I could feed 11 for the feed cost of one cow.  And I could get the same amount of milk from 5 goats that one cow could produce.  And the damage to the pasture was a lot less with goats.  I could haul goats in my car.  I could have them in the house if they were really sick.  And if one died, all my money was not in that one.  They were easily manageable and really lovable……even with the big mouths.  And there is absolutely nothing more adorable than a baby goat!  That is when I really researched the breeds.

What I came up with were Saanen and LaMancha goats.  Those breeds were quieter.  They were more like dogs in the way that they love their people and would follow us anywhere.  The Saanens are primarily white and produces a lot of milk but is usually lower in butterfat.  LaManchas have short, stubby elf ears and come in wide variety of colors too.  I have had other breeds, but for me, these are the ones that I prefer.  My daughter has researched the Guernsey Goat.  From what she has learned, they have butterfat content close to the richness of Half and Half.  So we have gotten a buck kid for breeding next year.  We will see how my Saanen and the Guernsey mix and let you know.

The lesson learned?  Research a little, before I get started.  There is lots of information out there.  What do you want to do with your goat?  Milk?  Butter?  Cheese?  Backpack?  Is there close neighbors? Will you take them to shows?  Soap?  Lots of blackberries?  (Quick note for here…….when you are ready to go picking blackberries, let your girls at the vines first.  They will eat off leaves and make picking a lot easier!  They do not eat the berries.)

What lesson have you learned from jumping into a project before you really researched it?  Please share.


For further reading, Countryside & Small Stock Journal


How NOT to pick a goat. — 2 Comments

  1. Haven’t done any research on the Guernsey Goat breed yet, but I sure do miss my LaManchas! But my Nubians aren’t the screaming variety (or not that I notice), so I stay with them thus far. Do you have LaManchas in your herd now?

    It looks like you’ve come full circle and are back to the land again. Ahhh…back to the land. It’s a good place, isn’t it?

    • I know that not all Nubians are mouthy, but the ones I had were. And I remember that you were one of the lucky ones. I had some cross bred with Saanen that were my favorite backpackers of all. Remember JohnDeere?

      I am back on my farm. And loving it. I have a lot of work to do to get my good barn back into use with my goats, but it will be done soon. I have 2 registered LaMancha does, one buck. The one in the picture is the buck. The does are pure black. The younger of the two is a little mouthy, but I think it is because she was just moved. I hope.

      Thank you so much for commenting. I miss you Pam. Gotta get together soon.

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