Management And Care Of Dairy Goats

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The modern dairy goat produces milk of the highest quality and dairy goats are one of the most useful animals you can keep. Not only are they easy to look after and feed, they produce quality milk to make cheese, butter, yogurt and drinks. Unwanted kids are excellent as a source of meat for the house, the skins tan well and the fat is used to make soap. The female dairy goat is a doe; the male, a buck; the young, kids; and a castrated male, a wether. Their life span is about eight to twelve years.

Some of the basics know how about the management of dairy goats are:


Ideally, goats should be dehorned when they are very young. It is advisable to wait until they are 1-2 weeks of age and in good flesh to be sure they are healthy and not coming down with neonatal diarrhea. If discolored skin is fixed to the skull in two rosettes, horn buds are present. Moveable skin indicates a naturally hornless condition. Hooves should be trimmed frequently to assure proper development of the hoof.

Besides good management, keeping good weight records is important for proper feeding and medication. Tapes can be used for estimation of weight by measuring the heart girth behind the forelegs. There also exists normal growth curve to age-weight relationships. For large breed male goats, they are in average as follows: 1 month-25 lb., 3 months-55 lb., 6 months-85 lb., 9 months-110 lb., 12 months-130 lb., 18 months-155 lb., 24 months-170 lb., 36 months-205 lb. For smaller breeds and females, these standards are less, proportionate to the lesser adult body weight.

In order to check the health of goats and determine suspected illness, it is useful to know their normal physiological values. Body temperature is about 103.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Pulse is about 83 per minute ranging from 50 to 115. Respiration is around 29 per minute with a range from 15 to 50.


Dairy goats do not thrive under the same conditions as sheep and dairy cows as they are a browsing rather than grazing animal. Dairy goats like to graze good pasture but their diet must also contain ample roughage, some concentrates and a supply of bushes, weeds or rough scrub to give variety. All dairy goats must have salt and fresh clean water. Breeding, milking and growing stock need to be fed good quality roughage in the form of legume hay, such as alfalfa, each day. Kids and bucks need a balanced grain ration and milkers should be fed a standard dairy grain ration. Kids are milk fed until two to three months of age, but should be consuming forages such as pasture grass or hay by two weeks of age and grain within four.

Pasturing is the ideal way to feed your goat. Under arid conditions, people must guard against the danger of overgrazing but keep in mind that overstocking in temperate climates is an excellent breeding ground for worms, flukes, and other parasites. Rotational pasturing is one of the successful controls. In temperate climates, one-half acre of land per milking goat should be plenty.


You do not need an elaborate barn or house for your dairy goat. Some type of small shed, about 15 square feet, will make a suitable home but, do require clean, well ventilated, dry, draft free shelter. Have dirt pen floors instead because cement floors become very cold. They must be allowed shade and space for exercise. A minimum of 25 square feet of space per animal, well-drained and properly fenced for outside exercise. Dairy goats are curious and agile and require well built fences for containment and protection from predators. Bucks should be kept in separate quarters away from milking does. Dairy goats have a strong herd instinct and prefer the companionship of at least one other goat.

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