Lots of questions

Discussion in 'Meat Market' started by Dancing Goat, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. Dancing Goat

    Dancing Goat New Member

    33
    Jun 29, 2009
    :help: Okay, my naivete is really going to show. My husband and I want to start a small meat goat ranch. Neither of us has any prior farming or ranching experience so you're hearing from someone starting at zero. Please bear with me. I really, really want to learn about this industry and have a lot of questions.

    I've read in several places that when starting off with raising goats that it's best to start with one or two kids until you understand goat behaviour and then to slowly build your herd after that. That is completely understandable. My first question is what, in your opinions, would be a manageable sized herd for someone just starting out and learning? 15? 25? more? less?

    Second question - How many acres would be needed for that herd?

    We'll leave it at that for now. I have a long list of other questions and will be looking at the rest of the forum also for answers so the postings don't get redundant.
     
  2. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    Acerage is all going to depend on your terrain.

    As for starting out; We started with 3 just bred young % Boer does. They were on the wild side but eventually came around.

    I would start out slow with only a few animals, they reproduce quickly!
    You are goig to learn how to do the majority of vet work yourself, everything from trimming feet giving vacs to noticing a goat off & taking action right away, even calling your vet for the proper meds.
    We also could have tripled our start up costs easily. The first fence we put up was not adequete, we have bought stuff over the yrs that has never been used. We have put up kidding stalls that the big does just laughed at.
    With meat goats think Industrial Strength Maximum Security everything.
    Add an LGD (livestock guardian dog) or two to minimize the potential preditor attacks.
    Do research till your eyes & brain are buggy & on overload. You will
    still be doing that a few years later!
    Just an intro however the best learning is hands on! But ask away thats what Goatspot is all about, no question is dumb except the one that doesnt get asked!
    Oops how rude of me...Welcome to Goatspot Dancing Goat!
     

  3. sweetgoats

    sweetgoats Moderator

    Oct 18, 2007
    Peyton CO.
    We started out with a doe and a wether to just as you said learn the ropes.

    It is best to get a med kit ready so just incase you need anything. It is hard to deal with when you need something and it is a weekend and nothing is open.
    Make sure you have a vet that you cna build a relationship with.
     
  4. goatnutty

    goatnutty Active Member

    Oct 9, 2007
    South East,IN
    As has been said, I would start off with a few and work your way up. Goats really do not need that much land...unless you have a lot of them. # of acres depends upon # of goats. Sorry not much help there. We started off with two and ended up with three the next day...our herd has been slowly but steadily growing since then. We try to maintain a small herd. You also need to think about how much time you have for them because the more you have the more time and money goes into it. Everyone makes mistakes and learns as they go s....it is normal to feel overwhelmed but do not let it dicourage you. Welcome to TGS -
    Sara
     
  5. sealawyer

    sealawyer New Member

    366
    May 31, 2009
    Dew, Texas
    We did the pioneer thing when we purchased our little piece of the promised land. Just bare ground, 116 acres of it, but other than the trees, bare ground! Horrible, old perimiter fences! We built a 3 acre pen with a shed that we kept the first 5 nannies in. As we built new perimiter fence, we built electric cross fences to allow the herd, which was growing at the time, more room.So I would suggest to build good perimiter fences and expand the areas that the goats have as needed. Get at least a pair of Livestock guardian dogs to guard your investment. Make sure they were raised with goats before you buy them and correct any bad behavior, such as chasing the goats and such, when you catch them at it! Keep them with the older nannies or billies and they will learn the hard way how to protect the herd.
    Getting back to the fence thing, many folks say "I don't have a lot of money for building perimeter fences!". These are considered capital improvements and increase the value of the land greatly. Your taxes will go up when the land is appraised, but when you sell the place cuz you're too old to do the ranching/goat thing and want to move to a condo by the lake, it's gonna be real nice to pay cash for the condo cuz you got so much for your vastly improved ranch!
    Goodness gracious, I could go on and on! I write a general information column on goats and the caprine industry called the Goat Gossip. It has my experiences in starting up a goat ranch and getting into the goat industry. If you would like me to send you a CD with the column on it then e-mail me your adress at clwyer@gmail.com and I will snail mail you one.
     
  6. Dancing Goat

    Dancing Goat New Member

    33
    Jun 29, 2009
    That's what I thought about the acreage. We haven't even really begun looking for a farm yet (gotta get some money first!) so that gives me some time to find out what the land around here is like.

    Yes, I've read that also. How many different meds/vacs do they need?

    Good to know. I've wondered mostly about fencing. I haven't seen any goat farms in my area so I have no idea what kind of boundary would be suitable for the large meat animals. My guess is that with Boers the typical split-rail/barbed or mesh wire fencing won't be strong enough?

    The coyotes around here tend to pack, so that is a big a concern. I've heard a lot of good things about llamas and alpacas in sheep and goat herds. We definitely want a dog or two, also.

    hee hee, no doubt about that all! :wink: I guess these little beasts will alway surprise you even after you think you know them!

    Thank you kindly! It's great to be here and to get some questions answered that have been bugging the heck out of me.
     
  7. Dancing Goat

    Dancing Goat New Member

    33
    Jun 29, 2009
    I've thought about starting with a doe and a wether also. Is it better to start with kids or yearlings? I'm thinking kids, but I didn't know if there would be an advantage to having something a little older. There are a lot of beef cattle ranches in my area so I assume there are a slew of vets around to choose from but I will do my research.
     
  8. Dancing Goat

    Dancing Goat New Member

    33
    Jun 29, 2009
    No, that's good to know. I don't think we're going to wind up having a massive operation with hundreds of animals. We probably wouldn't purchase more than 10 acres anyway.

    I don't expect to get rich, but I would like to get enough to be able to quit my present job. :wink: I intend to do things like soap-making, possibly making raw thread and doing my artwork but that remains to be seen. In that instance I'd have a lot of time to invest in the herd.

    [/quote]Everyone makes mistakes and learns as they go s....it is normal to feel overwhelmed but do not let it dicourage you. Welcome to TGS -
    Sara[/quote]

    Thanks Sara! I've found a website a few months ago for a working goat ranch in Texas that does these week long trainings so people can get a feel for what that kind of life is like and what it entails (actual herding, hoof trimming, vacs, slaughtering, kidding, etc). That's something I might look into doing just to get some idea of what it's about.
     
  9. AlaskaBoers

    AlaskaBoers New Member

    May 6, 2008
    Wasilla Alaska
    IMO i'd get a bred doe, or a doe that has had kids before. that way you arent both wondering whats going on. lol.
    goat need CD/T shots, two when theyre kids and then one booster yearly. Have everything you think you'd need before you get the goats, find a good goat vet...

    also..get the best goats you can afford, make sure the animals there are healthy and look happy and curious.
     
  10. Dancing Goat

    Dancing Goat New Member

    33
    Jun 29, 2009
    Wow! 100+ acres is pretty big. How many goats have you got?

    I thought the same thing. :^)

    Absolutely. In one of responses I pointed out that the coyotes in our area tend to pack together rather than run solitary like most coyotes do. There has to be protection. We'll probably invest in both dogs and alpacas or llamas for herd protection.

    Well, that and you don't want your investment breaking free and running off into the next 116 acre plot where you may never see them again!

    That sounds fabulous! I'll write you in just a sec. Thank you kindly!
     
  11. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    Alaskaboers pointed out something really foundational. Find yourself a good vet & make sure they actually like goats.
    I shopped for a vet right along with all the rest of it. I went down there set up a appt just to meet her (no charge) Explained that there would be babies on the ground in 5 mos.
    On the first farm call she showed me how to do the vacs, then had me do it under her supervision.
    Also get yourself a mentor!! The first time I had to pull a kid I was scared spitless but had my mentor on the cell guiding me through it.
    She has helped us through tons of questions.
     
  12. SDK

    SDK New Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    Yucaipa ca
    lol i've been doing goats for 7 years and a herd of 15 is almost too much at times
     
  13. sealawyer

    sealawyer New Member

    366
    May 31, 2009
    Dew, Texas
    Yeah, but you wouldn't be doing it if you didn't love them!
     
  14. liz

    liz Active Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    WOW....Everyone has given such helpful advice....though it really doesn't surprise me as we do have a wonderful group here :hug:

    I myself have never had more than 9 permanent goaties....and though they are mini's, with a FT job I like to have the one on one with each of them and I think keeping my numbers low helps me to give each one the attention and time I feel they deserve. I don't feel overwhelmed one bit :love:
     
  15. Dancing Goat

    Dancing Goat New Member

    33
    Jun 29, 2009
    Thanks for all the comments so far! It's been a great help!

    I guess my next question is getting them fattened up for slaughter. How long should they be fattened after weaning? Are younger goats more marketable than older ones as far as meat? What kinds of foods do Boers eat? I always see goats munching on grass but I know there has to be more to it. I read elsewhere in these forums that they need a lot of copper in their diets and some of the members give horse feed to their herds.

    Next questrion - where do you take them for slaughter? I'm assuming the same places that cattle ranchers take their livestock but want to be sure on that. My husband has an idea that we'd be slaughtering them ourselves but I think that would be insane. First off, I have no clue how to cut up a meat goat. I'm sure it's not like cutting up a chicken! Secondly, a small farm usually doesn't have the equipment for that kind of operation.

    Looking forward to your answers!!

    must get coffee now... *zzzz...* :ZZZ: :coffee2: :leap:
     
  16. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    If your hubby knows how to cut up a deer he can do a goat.

    Most folks depending on ethnic background prefer intact males in the 60-80lb range. Some like em older & some will take a doe, young or old.
    Your ethnic population will want to do their own.
    Its not a question of fattening up its a question of how much meat is on the animal, which is what all meat breeders are striving for.
    As we were speaking a customer just left with a 70lb 5mo old wether who was eating grain & hay & still nursing.
     
  17. Dancing Goat

    Dancing Goat New Member

    33
    Jun 29, 2009
    hmm, I see. Never thought about letting anyone butcher their own. Whew, saves me the trouble then. My husband has never butchered a deer (that I know of) but I'm sure we'll be eating some of our own products from time to time and will have to learn it all. Thanks!
     
  18. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    Some of the ethnic population....have beliefs... to butcher there meat goat they buy from you...... on your property........I personally don't let them...but either does the law ....

    you have the right... to slaughter your own.... on your premises ...that you will eat yourself ...but beware ...that some states... prohibit this... for a buyer to do so.....
     
  19. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    Yes Pam is right about that. Unless you have approved facilities you cannot legally sell meat. Or milk or even the dirt off the bottom of your shoes.
    We sell sell live only; they take it off the property.
     
  20. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    :thumbup:
    nancy d ......... that is so true.... :wink: