If you’re a homesteader you’ve probably considered many different animals to raise on your land. Goats are often at the top of the list. But what are goats good for and what are the benefits to raising goats on your small farm?
Goats have many uses and can add a lot of value to your homestead. Here’s a rundown of 21 different reasons- and benefits- to adding goats to your backyard farm!
19 Benefits and Reasons for Owning Goats
One of the biggest reasons for owning goats is milk. Fresh goat milk is amazing and very nutritious.
Raising dairy goats is less intensive in time, initial investment, and space than raising a dairy cow. And you’ll have a ready supply of fresh (raw) milk for your family- or to sell!
To learn about which dairy breed of goats is the best for your small farm, check out this article: 5 Best Dairy Goat Breeds for Your Small Homestead
A Ready Supply of Meat
Goats can also be used for meat. Again, a herd of meat goats can be an easier way to go than raising beef cattle and are easier to manage than pigs.
Boer goats are the most common meat breed because they grow fast and put on a lot of muscle in a short amount of time. This means more meat production is less time!
Goat meat is a lean meat that is full of protein, vitamins, and minerals and less fat than many other meats on the market.
Some of the best goats for meat production are:
- Myotonic goats
- Spanish Goats
- Kiko Goats
If you’re goal is self sufficiency in your food sources then goats can help you on that path! Goat cheese- or chevre- is amazing and so easy to make.
You can also use your goat milk to make almost all other types of cheese from goat milk mozzarella to gouda to cheddar!
Goats are not only for food production- they are also useful animals to have working on your land. This is especially true if you have a lot of weeds and brush. They love things like blackberry brambles and poison ivy- and if they have nothing else to eat- they’ll also keep your grass and pastures to a nice level which reduces your need to mow and bush hog.
This was actually the selling point for my husband when I was trying to talk him into getting goats- they eat poison ivy!
Clearing the Land
Similar to eating weeds, goats can clear entire weedy, brush filled, overgrown areas. When we first moved to our current homestead we had a very large hillside that was totally taken over by briars, small trees, vines, and more. The terrain made it near impossible to get a tractor down there (not that we had one). But we put the goats down there for a couple weeks and voila! it was clear.
Some people even make a business out of this! They rent out their small herd of brush goats to businesses, people, or even government agencies to clear land efficiently and with less pollution!
There are also fiber goat breeds available to raise for wool or cashmere. Fiber goats are easy to raise and can give you lots of fiber to spin in to yarn and knit or crochet with. You can also create an income out of the fiber by selling the raw fiber or the yarn you spin out of it.
Goats that are good for fiber production are:
- Pygora (Pygora goats are a mix between angora and pygmy goats)
Can Fit on Small Lots
One of the biggest reasons to raise goats over other livestock is the fact that they can be raised on a much smaller plot of land and don’t need as much space. This means you don’t have to have a huge pasture in order to raise your own meat or have fresh goat milk.
Goats can even be raised on city lots (if they’re allowed).
For more information on raising goats when you have a small yard, check out this article: Raising Goats on a Small Lot
Soaps and Lotions
In addition to milk, meat, and fiber, raising goats also allow you to create a lot of value added products such as goat milk soap or lotion. These items can be made for personal use or as an added income stream for your family.
Goats Milk Lotion and soap is great for the skin and can help calm skin conditions such as eczema.
Goats are great animals that are full of personality. This means just watching them is fun and entertaining.
Watching goat kids run and jump down a hill (or goats of any age really) is sure to put a smile of your face. It may seem like a silly reason to raise goats but you can’t put a price on happiness!
While many people raise goats for their own personal source of meat, milk, fiber, cheese, etc. They are also a great income potential. You can make money raising goats in a million different ways. You can sell:
- The goats themselves (kids, breeding bucks, in milk or pregnant does)
- Cheese, yogurt, other dairy products
- Lotion or soap
- Yarn or items knitted from the yarn
- Petting Zoo
And many other ways. Basically all of the reasons for raising goats listed in this article could be turned into it’s own income stream.
Great for Kids
Owning a pet or raising an animals is an amazing learning opportunity for kids. Goats are the perfect size for kids to care for and they are very gentle and easy for kids to handle- especially miniature breeds such as pygmy goats or Nigerian Dwarf goats.
Many programs for kids such as 4-H can even help you get goats at a discounted price and give your child valuable life lessons and skills for their future.
Sure dogs are known as man’s best friend, but goats also offer a companionship and make good pets and support animals.
They love attention. They love to be pet and scratched behind the ears. They love treats. You can even train them to walk on a leash (I’ve seen a few pet goats on our local greenway walking with their owners!)
If you raise meat goats, don’t forget to use all of the animal! Goat hide can be tanned and used just as you would use any other leather!
I love goat manure as a fertilizer for my garden. Lucky- because there’s always a ton of it around! Goat manure is perfect for amending garden soil- and it’s not a hot manure like chicken, so you can use it much sooner without having to wait for it to rot down and cool off.
Like to hunt, hike or backpack? Another great reason to raise goats is that they are good pack animals. They can be easily trained and are very loyal, plus they can carry a higher percentage of weight.
Pack goats don’t need as much leading as other pack animals and since they are great foragers you don’t really have to carry much (or any) food for them.
Compared to buying, raising, and caring for other livestock goats come out much less expensive. This makes them one of the best starter animals for new homesteaders.
They don’t need as much grain as many other livestock animals, which means their feed costs are way down- especially if you have a large pasture.
They also take less time to raise up for meat- which means less time and money feeding and housing them.
All Purpose and Versatile
As you can tell, goats have a ton a different reasons and this fact makes them the perfect all purpose animal. For example, a Nubian goat is a dual purpose breed. They give a lot of milk and also can be used as a meat breed. This means you can have one herd for both uses- keep the girls for milk and use the male goats for meat.
Mental Health Helper
To take companionship one step further, goats can also be used as emotional support animals and the job of raising a personable animal is great for a person’s mental health.
I’ve sold a few goats in the past to disabled veterans with PTSD. Raising goats gave them a purpose, and helped them feel calmer and happier.
And the final reason for raising goats- YOGA! Goat Yoga is very popular right now and it’s a fun and entertaining activity to do with friends or as an income source.
Are you ready to make the leap and raise goats on your farm? You can find lots of articles here on The Free Range Life to help you choose the right breed, learn all about goat health, and learn everything you need to know about raising goats correctly!