New Dairy Goat Farm Questions

Discussion in 'Dairy Diaries' started by toi, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. toi

    toi New Member

    14
    May 23, 2008
    GA
    Hi. I'm new and have no experience with goats or any other farm animal, for that matter. Now, please give me a chance. I'm very serious about what I'm wanting to do and want to do it right! :) Also, please forgive me if I don't have the terminology correct in my posts.

    My situation is that I have an investor who is willing pay for the set up of a dairy goat farm for me. I just need to tell him what I need and he'll pay for it. The purpose is to some day create a cheese making operation. (I do know how to make cheese, so that part is not so daunting.) I am to run both the farm and the cheese making. So, I bought Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, have been researching on the internet (like this forum) and have contacted my state's dairy goat association. I am looking at La Manchas and/or Saanens for my goats. THey are beautiful animals and can't wait to get them. Note that I am making it clear that I need to start small and have some latitude with my learning curve. I am in no way saying that I can have a huge dairy operation with a snap of a finger.

    Here are a few questions I have to start with:

    1. Is it possible to run a dairy goat farm without living on the premises? My preference would be to live on the farm but don't know if that is appropriate to ask of the investor.

    2. As an owner of a dairy goat farm, would you feel annoyed by someone like me asking to visit your goats and ask questions about your operation? This is my first instinct on how to learn but don't want to impose on anyone.

    3. Is it common for a dairy goat breeder to sell a doe in milk? Or is it better to be a kid doe and breed it in the Fall?

    4. How many goats are manageable to start with. I'm thinking an equal number of does and wethers, like 6 does and 6 wethers.

    5. Do you have any top-of-head suggestions and advice on this?

    Thanks to anyone who replies. I know that I'm going to get so addicted to goats. :)

    Toi
     
  2. RunAround

    RunAround New Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    Massachusetts
    To questions one:

    It is soooooo much easier if you live on the property with them. I can't stand driving back and forth to the barn when I have a doe ready to kid.

    2. No I love to show off my goats, but I don't have a big operation/set up

    3. Yes and no, I know some people freshen more goats than they want to milk.

    4. You don't need any wethers. Not sure how many would be good to start off with. I started off with one doe(she kidded the next day) and a year later I have 11!

    Good Luck! I can't think of anything else right now.
     

  3. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    NJ
    Hi Toi welcome :wave:

    That sounds like an awesome opportunity.

    As a breeder I love it when people want to come on by to see my animals and my set up (all though very simple and no fan fair) and I can't see why a dairy would have an issue.

    As to living off premis - as long as you are close enough for when kidding time comes to check on does and all many people dont live with their animals.

    If you contact breeders now that are selling kids you may find some does in milk that they are selling. But soon those that aren't using their goats for milk will be drying them off - usually by the end of summer. So act quick if you plan to purchase soon.

    Best to purchase from breeders as you can see how well their lines produce milk so you don't purchase a goat that doesnt' have the ability to produce enough to make it worth the effort.

    Grades or experimentals are also an option for you as they can come from good lines.

    As to the does and wethers -- curious why you think you need equal number of does and wethers and why even wethers at all?

    I usually suggest wethers when there is only one doe for a family milker or someone just wants pets. But for a dairy that would be useless mouths to feed that don't produce a single thing for you.

    You may also want to think about investing in a GOOD buck (usually pricy but worth every penny as they are the foundation of your herd if you want to produce udders and milk production in the does daughters). You will want to have a buddy for him or another buck. Now if you dont' want to own a buck you can have your does serviced by a breeders buck for a fee. It all depends on the space you have (bucks need to be far from the milk parlor) and what are you willing to work with.
     
  4. kelebek

    kelebek New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    South Texas
     
  5. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Illinois
    1. Is it possible to run a dairy goat farm without living on the premises? My preference would be to live on the farm but don't know if that is appropriate to ask of the investor.
    It is the easiest to live on the premise when you are on a dairy farm. You have to milk twice a day, plus check on the animals throughout the day and several times a day when kidding season is around, living on the farm is just the easiest, especially in case of emergency with your animals(ie, fires, sick goats, etc)

    2. As an owner of a dairy goat farm, would you feel annoyed by someone like me asking to visit your goats and ask questions about your operation? This is my first instinct on how to learn but don't want to impose on anyone.
    No I wouldn't. I encourage people to visit if they like and learn as much as they can before they buy. Talk to experienced breeders, listen to their stories and experiences they have had over the years, ask lots of questions and remember the only stupid question is one that goes unasked.

    3. Is it common for a dairy goat breeder to sell a doe in milk? Or is it better to be a kid doe and breed it in the Fall?
    This really depends, most breeders sell kids, but most breeders will have first freshening does available during the kidding season to keep numbers down.

    4. How many goats are manageable to start with. I'm thinking an equal number of does and wethers, like 6 does and 6 wethers.
    I don't mean to sound rude, but if you want to be a dairy, in order to make a profit you really can't have many 'stragglers' around like wethers. I will admit we have a couple wethers we keep around as pets here but the number of breedable animals far exceeds the number of wethers. We have two wethers, they are special though because of the experiences we have been through with them.

    Honestly, 3 or 4 doelings(baby does) is a good number to start out with. The reason I say doelings over milkers is because as a new goat buyer, by buying babies you have a longer time to spend with them before you have to worry about milking kidding etc. THat is just IMO. If you start with milking does, try and buy does that are used to being milked and have proven themselves(whether it be in show or in the bucket) When I was new to goats we bought a first freshener, lets just say that was an interesting experience. First freshening does tend to be alot brattier on the stand because they aren't used to being milked.

    For bucks, I honestly believe in going all out on a buck, the buck IS your herd, his genetics are going to influence all future generations of your herd and you want to have a top notch buck to do that. If a breeder lives close, you can just take your does to be serviced until you have enough does to justify a buck. Although I'm probably sounding hyprocritical there because we had a buck for four does :roll: I'll write my buck choosing guidelines later.


    5. Do you have any top-of-head suggestions and advice on this?
    Learn as MUCH as you can before buying. Buy from reputable breeders, and buy quality animals. Don't cheap out or you will more than likely regret it. I'm not saying you have to buy the most expensive goats but don't buy the cheapest goats either. Learn as much as you can about health issues and how to deal with them like cocci, polio, pneumonia, parasites etc. Also learn about major diseases like CAE, CL and Johnes. I've found on personal experience that all the pre-prep for goat buying does help, and that you learn the most when you actually get your goats.

    Oh, and Welcome to the Goat Spot!! :wave: My mom and I are planning a dairy/cheese operation too, we are only in the planning stages right now and we are building our herd up. We raise LaManchas and Oberhasli.
     
  6. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Illinois
    Oh, if you don't mind me asking, where were you lucky enough to find an investor? :)
     
  7. toi

    toi New Member

    14
    May 23, 2008
    GA
    Thanks everyone for your replies! This has given me a lot of good information to chew on while I prepare the business plan.

    Why the wethers? Well, I had read that if you get a doe, than get a wether as a companion. I misconstrued this to mean that it is a 1 to 1 ratio. Sounds like I am very wrong. I appreciate and do not take any offense to being questioned on my ignorance! :greengrin:

    I'm kind of afraid to get a buck at first and hope to find a very good breeder to where I can take the does. It is not out of the question but would rather start that way.

    To answer goathappy's question about how I got the investor... A friend of a friend is a major investor in the restaurant world. He heard that I made cheese and asked for a proposal to set up a dairy goat farm and cheese making operation. Once things get rolling, I'll be able to divulge more information.

    Again, I appreciate all of the responses. This seems like a nice group of people to get to know.

    Toi
     
  8. sweetgoats

    sweetgoats Moderator

    Oct 18, 2007
    Peyton CO.
    Toi,
    Well, I am not even going to tell you any more other then, I LOVE it when people come to my place to see things. Now we all do things different and not everything works for everyone. AFter 9 years of raising goats, I still love to go to other farms and see what I can "pick up" from their set ups.

    Also I just wanted to say WELCOME aboard. :wave: It sounds like you are ready to roll and are very excited about this. Try to get as much information on goats before you start in this including a GOOD GOAT VET.
     
  9. Muddy Creek Farm

    Muddy Creek Farm New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Keokuk, Iowa
    Hi ther Toi! Welcome and I am sure you will learn tons from the paople here. But I must say I have learned the most about goats from going to shows, the people there have years of experience and are more than willing to share it with you.

    Another site I have found very helpful is http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com/artic ... sMain.html It has tons of info on their.

    And good luck on your adventure with these amazing animals!
     
  10. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Illinois
    Sorry if I sounded offended :wink: The wether thing usually applies to if somebody who wants only one doe for milking, therefore since you can't have just one goat, a wether makes a nice companion. When you have does grouped together, they make buddies with each other :)

    If you want to talk to some experienced cheese makers, here are a couple sites you can visit:
    http://www.bonniebluefarm.com/
    http://www.altrece.com
    http://www.redwoodhill.com/
    http://www.prairiefruits.com/

    Also, a really good site with goat info is http://www.fiascofarm.com
     
  11. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Illinois
    Oh and another note, when buying your goats, if the herd is on DHI tests, take a look at the protein and butterfat content of the line of goats that you are thinking of purchasing from. Saanens tend to have lower BF and protein due to the higher lbs produced per day, while LaManchas tend to have high BF and protein even with higher production.
     
  12. toi

    toi New Member

    14
    May 23, 2008
    GA
    I found a goat show to go to on June 14-15. It's called The Peachy Keen Goat Show! We'll see how that goes. :)

    Thanks.
    Toi
     
  13. Muddy Creek Farm

    Muddy Creek Farm New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Keokuk, Iowa
    OMG! I was going to go, but I don't think I will make it.
     
  14. Muddy Creek Farm

    Muddy Creek Farm New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Keokuk, Iowa
    Oh and make sure you go to the show that Will Pearson is judging, he is really nice and raises awesome Saanens.
     
  15. Di

    Di Crazy Goat Lady

    Jan 29, 2008
    central PA
    Welcome! Oh boy this is going to be fun! Buying goats with somebody elses money :clap:
     
  16. toi

    toi New Member

    14
    May 23, 2008
    GA
    So, what exactly goes on at the goat show? Do they sell goats or are they showing them only?

    Toi
     
  17. Muddy Creek Farm

    Muddy Creek Farm New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Keokuk, Iowa
    The only thing about the Peachy Keen is that there are only Nigerians there. And yes people do have goats for sale there usually, but you'll have to ask the breeders.
     
  18. AlaskaBoers

    AlaskaBoers New Member

    May 6, 2008
    Wasilla Alaska
    goat shows are lots of fun, hope you have a great time! i'm going to one in 22 days, can't wait
     
  19. redneck_acres

    redneck_acres New Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    Idaho
    We're just down to the fair, I dont know how that'll go though since i'll probably have to stay home and baby sit this year. I may get to go show on the weekend though. As for goats, I have LaManchas and my folks raise Saanens. We are currently drinking goats milk from the Saanens and it tastes pretty good. At our fair there always seems to be someone advertising goats for sell.
     
  20. Julie

    Julie New Member

    464
    Oct 5, 2007
    Southern PA
    Here are a few questions I have to start with:

    1. Is it possible to run a dairy goat farm without living on the premises? My preference would be to live on the farm but don't know if that is appropriate to ask of the investor.
    Well yes it's possible ... but would be easier if you could be right there, especially during kidding season.

    2. As an owner of a dairy goat farm, would you feel annoyed by someone like me asking to visit your goats and ask questions about your operation? This is my first instinct on how to learn but don't want to impose on anyone.
    I LOVE to have people visit my goats and ask me questions ! I don't have a large facility though ... just a few milkers and pet goats. And I'm assuming you're from NC ? I'm in PA - so I'm doubtful you'd be able to come to my place ... but if you ever want to - just give me a holler !

    3. Is it common for a dairy goat breeder to sell a doe in milk? Or is it better to be a kid doe and breed it in the Fall?
    Yes, you can sometimes find does in milk ... but ya gotta do alot of looking and asking around sometimes - it just all depends.

    4. How many goats are manageable to start with. I'm thinking an equal number of does and wethers, like 6 does and 6 wethers.
    A wether (as you probably know by now) is a castrated buck ... and you don't need any wethers for your situation. Yes goats need other goat companions ... and as long as you have more than 1 goat - you'll be good. So having 6 does - they'll be fine. It would probably be easier (in my opinion) for you to have atleast one buck (and you could have a wether to have in with him for a companion since he'll have to be in a seperate pen - or have two bucks .... either way) so that you can breed right there at your facility instead of having to worry about finding a buck to rent, etc. But that's optional. You could also consider AI (Artificial Insemination)

    5. Do you have any top-of-head suggestions and advice on this?
    Do lots of research (you have a good start) and ask LOTS of questions, the best advice I can give - find a "goat mentor" ... online or local to you. Someone who can help you along the way.

    Thanks to anyone who replies. I know that I'm going to get so addicted to goats.
    Yes - goats are like potatoe chips ! You can't have just a couple ! You may start with 2 or 3 - next hing you know you tripled ... and then some .. LOL !

    Oh and btw - I currently have some fb Saanen kids for sale for cheap ! $50 .. they're not registered, but they're fullblooded. They're bottle babies right now. 2 does and 1 buck for sale. I'm in Southern PA. I'll be travelling to "The Maryland House" in MD soon. And in August I'll be travelling to "Canaan Valley" in VA.