A lot of people think that raising goats naturally only means substituting herbal remedies for pharmaceuticals. But that’s like assuming that an organic garden only replaces natural pesticides with chemical ones. It’s reactive rather than proactive. If you do things like that, it might work, but you might also spend all your time trying to solve problems. Is that really sustainable?
Sustainable means that something can go on and sustain itself. A wise old holistic vet once said to me that he’d seen a lot of people go broke successfully treating sick animals. Choosing the right remedy, whether chemical or herbal, is not a sustainable answer. Because animals are naturally hardy in their natural environment, we have to do our best to provide a natural habitat for them. For most of us in the US, that’s harder than it sounds.
Goats in the wild live in the deserts and mountains, not on the plains and prairies, which cover most of the US. That means that we don’t naturally have what they need to stay healthy. In the wild, they find mineral deposits in rocks, and they eat bushes, evergreens, and other perennials. They are natural browsers, but in most parts of the US, we’re trying to turn them into grazers. In addition to consuming different nutrients from grazing than from browsing, it also means that goats will be subjected to much greater parasite loads because worm larvae are on grass, not up in the bushes.
In nature, goats drink rainwater from creeks and streams. On most farms, we are pumping water up from below the ground, and it may have high levels of sulfur, iron, or calcium. Although those minerals are all vital to life, it’s about balance. If animals consume too much of those minerals, it can lead to copper deficiency.
4 Tips for Raising Goats Naturally
Using Herbal Remedies
In this article, we give you the rundown of goats and their health, as well as why they can easily accumulate sickness. For many owners who are trying to raise their goats naturally, it means using natural remedies- herbal remedies that is! Though it should also mean so much more, as we have listed below, this tip is very important for raising goats naturally. Not having to rely on a chemicals or chemical treatment is a welcome alternative for any living being. But especially for animals who are producing milk, kids, and other dairy products. There are so many herbs you can use to help your sick goat.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
The first tried and true one is apple cider vinegar, but make sure it’s raw! This natural remedy works in goats similarly to how it works with humans. Adding it to their water helps them keep a healthy pH balance and keeps pesticides away. It prevents and keeps at bay so many things that can harm your goats, and it gives something as well. There is a belief that says this raw remedy may even spike fertility and help the mothers produce more kids!
Next up is garlic. This spice is so much more for goats than a way to add flavor to food. When used regularly, it works as a preventative to parasites, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It’s basically like a natural antibiotic! You can give garlic to them on a daily basis in feeding if you want the ultimate effects of it. You can’t give them too much and garlic cannot give them adverse side effects as medicine would. Garlic can also be administered when sick for incredible results, but as a preventative, it is truly miraculous.
The last herbal remedy I will add to this list is cayenne. Even for humans, this is an excellent way to beat sickness blues. Many of the primary functions consist of slowing blood down or stopping bleeding. Be sure to choose the correct cayenne for your goats beforehand, though! The one you want is not the same herb as the one you use in cooking.
Raising Goats: Pasture Rotation
One of the most important things we can do to imitate nature for our goats is to rotate pastures.
In nature, even if they do eat grass, they are not eating from the place where they pooped yesterday. It’s no secret that goats seem to be less resistant to parasites than sheep and cows, and it’s probably because, throughout the ages, goats have not eaten off the ground, so their bodies have not needed the ability to thrive with a moderate parasite load.
Because parasite larvae do not have legs, they can’t crawl up on grass. However, they can float up a couple of inches if the grass is wet from morning dew or rain. By not letting your goats graze grass shorter than four inches, you are reducing their exposure to parasites. That means you need to move them to a new pasture before the grass gets shorter than four inches. For more on pasture rotation, you can check out this post on rotational grazing.
Raising Goats: Planting Beneficial Pasture
When I was just getting started 15 years ago, I met a couple online who had an organic dairy. They had an herb garden for their goats, and if a goat had any sort of issue, they’d put her in there and let her eat whatever she wanted. This idea has always intrigued me, and current research is proving that this is an idea worth pursuing because goats are capable of self-medicating to reduce their worm load. This makes sense when you consider that we keep baking soda available free choice for the purpose of self-medicating for digestive disturbances.
Research has also shown that goats and sheep that eat sericea lespedeza pastures daily have lower parasite loads than goats that do not. Because it is a legume, it has earned the nickname “smart person’s alfalfa.” You can even make hay with it for feeding during the winter.
Raising Goats: Selective Breeding
In every herd, there will be some goats that are more parasite resistant than others. If it’s important for you to raise your goats naturally, culling will have to play a role. That doesn’t mean you have to kill the goats that don’t meet your parasite resistant standards. Culling just means they’re eliminated from your herd – or at least from breeding. By breeding only our most parasite resistant goats, we can select animals that will thrive naturally in our environment. You will mainly see the benefits of this after two or three generations on your farm.
I will also stop breeding a goat if she needs assistance with kidding a second time. I want goats that can give birth naturally without support. This does not mean that I ignore them when they’re in labor. But I don’t want to have to be straightening out malpresentations and pulling kids regularly. The one time I broke my two strikes rule, I paid for it with a c-section and two dead kids because that doe just had a nasty habit of growing kids bigger than she could easily birth. That doe is now enjoying her retirement on our farm.
Raising Goats: Imitating Nature
Although a lot of people say they want to be raising goats naturally, they are usually talking about natural remedies rather than natural management. But by imitating nature as much as possible, the need for any form of remedy is significantly reduced.
How to Make Money Raising Goats Naturally
If you stumbled upon this site or this article and are wondering how to make money raising goats naturally, how to create more ways to make money raising goats naturally, or are a beginner and are merely researching how to raise goats best, we are here for you. Regardless of if it’s a natural way or a less natural way, we have tons of help for you! Over here, we are all about getting you the most profit for the hard work you put into your beloved homestead. And when it comes to goat farming, you have hit the gold mine if you do it right, since this is one of the most profitable things you can do on a homestead.
1. Sell Goat Milk
Goat milk is expensive to purchase, and it is not as easy to come by as cow milk. If you are looking to set a small business up selling goat milk, there are some laws and regulations you will need to meet first. But it is worth it in the long run! Many good goats will give you an entire gallon of milk in a single day! This can eventually turn into a full-blown, highly profitable business where you are stocking gallons upon gallons of milk, if you put in the work. Be sure to research the best breeds as well as the best things to feed the goats in order to get quality goat milk. On the same path as selling goat milk, you can sell a doe that has recently kidded for higher because she would still be milking.
2. Sell Baby Goats
Breeding and selling baby goats is one of the best ways to make a profit. It can be a pretty unpredictable process, but one sale is enough for a pretty penny. If you thinking about selling adult goats, consider that this can easily be done to free up space in your herd. Many people are trying to breed in a specific genetic way and you may need to get rid of the goats that no longer suit your needs, but could be the perfect fit for others. Certain goats sell for more, such as pregnant does. Be on the lookout for specific details that could get the goats sold at a higher price.
3. Rent Your Goats
There are a ton of reasons why people may need to rent a goat. One of them is not being able to clear the brush themselves. Another is old age; yet another is small areas that can’t fit machinery to get the job done. The last reason people rent out their goats is to breed for a period of time. They will put the rented buck in with their does, and it does not require a watchful eye to get results. Renting out your goats for a time is a good way to help someone fill a need as well as get paid. There are plenty of companies that host goat renting, where you can get a goat rented out quickly and safely!
4. Open a Petting Zoo
This is such a fun option, as well as a profitable one! Tons of families would enjoy coming out to pet your goats or have them make a special appearance at their birthday parties. Especially the baby goats! Opening a petting zoo is a fun and exciting way to make some extra cash by showing off your beauties. On top of that, people love to take photos with goats. You can even rent out your goat to childhood or party photographers as an added side hustle.
5. Sell the Goat Meat
Selling goat meat can be extremely profitable because of how expensive it is! There is surely a need for it in the market, and people are willing to pay. Don’t worry; you are not the one who needs to butcher the goats for their meat. Some companies will come and pay to take your goats. Be sure to breed the ones with the most popular goat meat, if you plan on taking this route.
About the Author
Deborah Niemann blogs at Thrifty Homesteader (thriftyhomesteader.com) and teaches online in the sustainable agriculture program for University of Massachusetts – Amherst, as well as her own online school. You can sign up for her free class on copper deficiency in goats here.