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What is your primary reason for owning goats?

  • I have both Meat and Pack goats with my focus on Meat

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  • I have both Meat and Pack goats with my focus on Packing

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I have an idea for a poll/survey for this forum. (Rex, or someone, maybe you can create a formal poll with appropriate categories for easy viewing responses/stats?).

I'm wondering how each of us fits in to either the pack goat world, the dairy goat world, or both? In essence, I'm curious to know how much use and enjoyment we get out of our goats. I'm also interested to know how each of us got to where we are, and perhaps where we're headed, in terms of our goat hobby/habit/addiction!

I don't want this to develop into debate about the health benefits of goat milk, or somehow be construed that we should also be involved in the dairy side of things--although I'm guessing many of us are. Rather, I'm just curious to know how we fit into the following categories:

1) Only have goats for packing. This person likely picked up wethers from a breeder or some other source and only has goats for the purpose of packing/hiking with them. Not involved in dairy side at all, i.e. doesn't own a milking doe (except maybe you got milk to bottle feed young pack kids).

2) Have goats for both packing and for milk production, but main interest/motivation is pack goats. This might include those that breed and raise pack goats as they have to bottle feed kids, but may also use/consume milk themselves in the kitchen. These folks likely select breeding does & bucks that will produce good packers (height, conformation, personality, work drive, etc.) and not necessarily for milk production, although they may get great milk.

3) Have goats for both packing and for milk production, but main interest/motivation is milk production. This person primarily considers themselves the owner of a dairy goat herd (either small or large herd) but personally makes use of their wethers as packers. Maybe this person sells a wether knowing he'll be used as a pack goat, but is not in the business of pack goat breeding because he/she more interested in dairy qualities of their animals.

4) Have goats for milk/dairy purposes only. This person may have an interest or appreciation in dairy breeds being valuable as pack animals (at least enough to be on this forum), but doesn't do any or plan to do any packing/hiking with goats. These folks are likely dairy goat breeders, interested in breeding for dairy quality/traits, and may even show or compete. They may, however, have sold wethers that have turned into fine pack goats or breeding goats (does or bucks) that have produced good packers.

So, which group do you most closely fit into? There may be other categories I couldn't think of, but hopefully you matched one of these.

For those that don't have goats yet but are on this forum to learn and plan, just pick the category you foresee yourself falling into once you do have goats.

And, maybe an interesting follow up question would be--What category do you want to be in?, or initially intend to be in?

Personally, an interest in pack goats came first but then later I got involved (more like sucked in!) in the dairy side. In 2001, a friend (of a friend's) one day mentioned the idea of taking pack goats on hikes and I was immediately intrigued and interested. Because of work and living situation (I am active duty military, moving often, overseas, etc.), I was never in a position to have goats but from time to time would look up info on Internet and finally by 2007 or so I purchased and read John M.'s The Pack Goat. In '09 I was in Colorado Springs, CO and thought I might pursue this pack goat thing more seriously...but still didn't have property suitable for goats. I found a lady who had a large dairy herd and got to know her, hoping I could use some of her goats for packing. Soon, however, my kids and I were spending weekends helping this poor lady with milking and all her chores. I learned a lot about goats in general...and yes, started drinking and appreciating goat's milk. And although she didn't have time or energy for packing--my main reason for contacting her in first place--she had met John M. once and had even gone on a hike years back I think. Then in summer of '11, I got stationed in Phoenix AZ area and was able to find some property where I could finally have goats of my own. I bought two does, a Nubian and a Togg, both in milk, and two 2yr old Togg wethers--Tom & Jerry are their names--from this lady in CO (who by now was a great friend) and brought them down with me when we moved. We've enjoyed wonderful milk from the Nubian but the Togg doe ended up getting mastitis so I learned a lot there. Tom has potential as a packer, but I'm thinking Jerry is a dud. We've gone on a dozen hikes (most with no weight) over the past year and a half. The AZ desert heat makes it hard to hike locally for most the year, but I'm also finding that I spend so much energy 'milking', and all the stuff that goes into that, that I don't have much left for packing...thus I'm curious how all of YOU balance it!?

The other reason I'm interested in your responses is because I'm at a crossroads. It is time to retire our nubian and get a new milker to have milk for the family (my wife and I and four human kids). I got into goats without much thought except what my goat lady friend had to offer me and I was just excited to finally have some! My Togg doe had quads last spring (bred by a Nig. Dwarf buck) for my first experience with kidding and didn't have either of my two does bred to freshen this spring. My nubian is still in milk, but just milking once/day and giving 1/2 gal/day.

So with more experience, I'm in the market for and would like to invest in a quality doe that could serve both interests of mine--packing and milk. I'd like a doe that can provide milk for my family and whenever freshened, I want to be excited about offspring--bucklings that have potential to be quality packers in my string, or future breeding does/bucks for milking and packing. I know a doe is only 1/2 the equation and need to have (or hire) a good buck. Right now I don't really want to keep a buck around, but will when we move again and hopefully get a better place. I can see myself one day breeding and selling pack goats.

I'm considering purchasing a freshened Saanen doe in a few weeks, and maybe a wether or two, from a quality breeder nearby in southern AZ...but these are milking queens. I've also looked for Alpine breeders nearby but haven't found any, and then almost bought/reserved from a breeder in western CO. Then, sometimes I just feel like finding a good Nubian, there are tons around here, and buying a wether or even an experienced packer from a pack goat breeder to fulfill that side of my goat habit...

Thoughts?

Let us know your category, and maybe briefly explain what has and hasn't worked for you.

Thanks!
Evan
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Re: Do you also drink goat milk?

First off, love this topic :) And some great questions and insight as well.

I got into goats 14 years ago. I was working for my mothers ex boy friend running heavy equipment. It was a slow time with little work on the horizon and my boss suggested I could go work for a friend of his who runs a goat farm. This would be my first interaction with goats other then seeing them at the fair. We stopped by and as we were talking a Nubian came up to the fence, stood up on it and gave me kisses on my face. I was hooked from that moment on. I had my first goat within a week working there and have had them ever since. My first was a Nubian, my second about 2 months later was an Alpine. I also met my other half on that farm. She had stumbled upon it a few years before me and like myself, fell in love with the goats. The farm was a good sized commercial dairy goat farm. The main income was selling replacement stock to dairies in Canada and California. My other half and I, for the last 4 years we have been out on our own piece of land and running our own dairy goat farm. We are slowing working towards getting our Grade A certification for raw milk but our main income is still selling replacement stock to smaller and larger dairies. Its only been in the last 2 years we have started to get into the pack goats. THANKS CURTIS KING! :)

So started out dairy and will also be dairy but am having a great time learning and partaking in the pack goat world and foresee this being a forever part of our lives.

It took a little bit to get past the gag part of drinking our own milk. There are just times you never know what the milk will taste like. But over the last few years we have learned how to get a nearly perfect tasting milk. Milk tastes the best when you dont feed within 4 hours or more from the time you milk. If at all possible, Milk, then feed. Not so easy for those who run their animals on pasture. A bit of baking soda offered to the goats to eat can also clean up the taste. It also adds a bit more butterfat to the milk in doing so. Then there are the breeds to consider.
Nubian: Higher butterfat, lower volume.
Saanen: Lower butterfat, higher volume.
Toggenburg: Odd tasting.
Alpine: Slightly less butterfat, higher volume
Lamancha: Slightly higher butterfat, higher volume.

We take our house milk from the Lamancha or a few taste tested Alpine does. I also like to make cheese and that is made from a number of different combined animals.

So if I were to suggest a milker, Id stay try a Lamancha, if you can get past the no ear thing. They are just as hardy as Alpines. If not, Id go with an Alpine. Nubians maybe capable of packing but they are more passive then the other breeds. On the old farm, in the 10 years there, no Nubian ever came close to holding a high rank in the herd. And when it came down to fighting, they rarely lasted longer then a few minutes before they would just give up. As for a Togg, well the milk thing can be a turn off but its kinda hard to get / breed for a smooth coated Togg. We have been able to do so here but I find the Toggs to be to independent. They will love you just the same and want to be petted but its on their terms. Saanens, also very passive. No exp. with Obers. But around here, they kinda like the Toggs are of shorter stature. And with a smaller gene pool, the Ober's udders are difficult to breed to get a good one.

Just my thoughts :)
 

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Re: Do you also drink goat milk?

We got our first (and only goat for many years) in 2002 as a companion to a foal who would otherwise have no buddies his age. "Cuzco" is an Alpine/Nubian cross that we got for $25 out in western NY. By far the prettiest goat I've ever laid eyes on! He grew way bigger than we ever realized goats could grow and has been a wonderful companion not just to the colt he was intended for, but for my husband and I as well. We didn't know goats had such wonderful personalities and could do so many things. After he started getting huge we realized his potential for carting and packing, so we bought a cart and harness and trained him to pull. Then we got a used llama pack from a friend after we moved to Colorado and started taking him with us on hiking trips. He also does tricks, attends costume parties, guards our property from evil UPS men and Jehovah's Witnesses, does parades, accompanies me on horseback rides, bike rides, jogging, and has even gone 4-wheeling with us in the bed of the pickup truck with no tether or cage. If the going gets slow and rough we let him out and he trots behind the pickup like a heeler dog.

So because of our wonderful experience with Cuzco, and because cloning is beyond our financial capacity, we've decided to buy some likely-looking does and start breeding goats. I don't care what anyone says about Nubians: our Cuzco isn't the least bit lazy, loud, or easy-going (in fact, he's a little bit UN-easygoing sometimes). He has the long legs and ranginess of a Nubian and the sturdiness of an Alpine, a very attractive head with features of both breeds, and comical airplane ears to go with his festive tri-color Hawaiian party coat (referring to his unique coloring).

We just bought an Alpine doe and an Alpine/Sable Saanen doe last year, I'm hoping that by breeding them to Nubian bucks we can get some more animals like Cuzco--tall, strong, hard-working, and flashy. That's what we want to breed! And from talking to several long-time breeders, it seems that Alpine/Nubian crosses usually are excellent milk producers. They have the high butter fat content of the Nubian and the high production of the Alpine. If this turns out to be the case with ours, then I imagine we'll be drinking the milk as well and selling offspring as either pack animals or high-quality milkers.

Now we just need a few "Cuzcovian" goats to live up to our sales slogan:
"Superior goats for the discerning capriculturalist." :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Do you also drink goat milk?

Dave said:
So started out dairy and will also be dairy but am having a great time learning and partaking in the pack goat world and foresee this being a forever part of our lives.
So Dave, sounds like you fit into Category #3. Thanks for your response. Sounds like my experience was somewhat similar to yours in how you got into goats...except I'm just thankful that my other half is at least tolerant of my goats. She (my wife) loves having the fresh, raw milk and it has always tasted great. But, she's not as excited to go on hikes with me...

I should have also mentioned in my original post that I consider myself a #2, but very much appreciate the diary side of things and that is what it seems I spend the most time on. Except, I'm going on a short hike this afternoon, yay!

I failed to mention above (was already getting too long), that I also had a LaMancha doe that I brought down with me from the Goat Lady in Colorado but ended up selling her and one of the mini-Togg kids to a neighbor/friend. She (the LaMancha) was a good goat, very spunky, but I wanted to keep my herd size down. I don't mind LaMancha ears at all. If I do end up getting a Saanen (or any other goat) I will be sure to 'taste test' her first. Thanks for your suggestions and advice.
 

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Re: Do you also drink goat milk?

Nanno said:
We just bought an Alpine doe and an Alpine/Sable Saanen doe last year, I'm hoping that by breeding them to Nubian bucks we can get some more animals like Cuzco--tall, strong, hard-working, and flashy. That's what we want to breed! And from talking to several long-time breeders, it seems that Alpine/Nubian crosses usually are excellent milk producers. They have the high butter fat content of the Nubian and the high production of the Alpine. If this turns out to be the case with ours, then I imagine we'll be drinking the milk as well and selling offspring as either pack animals or high-quality milkers.

Now we just need a few "Cuzcovian" goats to live up to our sales slogan:
"Superior goats for the discerning capriculturalist." :D
Nanno, sounds like Cuzco deserves a category all of his own! :) Yes, I know Nubians, and maybe even better, Nubian crosses, can all be packers. Cuzco proves it.

You seem to be saying you're moving into category 2 now although started out more as a #1? (you initially got Cuzco as a horse companion but he turned into a multi-talented amazing goat!)

We all enjoy reading your posts and seeing Cuzco's glamor shots. Maybe when I move back up to CSprings in a year or so we'll be able to meet up for some hiking!
 

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I met a young woman in 2000 who told me of packing with goats. For 7 years I wanted goats. My neighborhood has homes on 1 acre of land and we had a rule that said only 3 farm animals allowed and no goats, pigs, stallions, or bulls. Now 3 of them I understood but the goat thing bothered me. So I asked my dozen neighbors to signed a "letter of indulgence" that allowed me to have goats. They all signed, it is not a legally binding contract but I know I have not offended anyone. My oberhasli boys are quiet and safely contained behind 3 fences. I can not afford a single accidents of a loose goats eating a neighbors garden.
We are a packgoat family due to my husbands arthritis in his spine. We are able to go places backpacking and hunting that we otherwise could never have reached safely.
 

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joecool911 said:
You left out one use. Hunting. That's why I have them. To carry harvested game and extend my range.
^ Wouldn't that qualify as "packing"?

Until we get going with this breeding thing and figure out what we're doing in the long run, I'm officially declaring my goats as "pets". In fact, I wouldn't qualify Cuzco as anything else. He's too spoiled rotten!
 

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Find or find not... there is no hunt... Yoda (contextualized)

Other - I have goats as physical therapy. Taking care of them and hiking with them is the predominant activity. I have to do it or revert to being crippled.

I don't do enough over-nighting to qualify as a packer in reality.
 

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this was a hard choice
I am a shepard with 300 ewes
my first goat and now my pack goat was bought to teach my sheep to eat a weed on my weed contracts. he did great and now there is no Dalmatian toadflax on the grazing plot.
but today i have 15+ goats that i use to graft my bum lambs to. the goats save me $4000 dollars a year in powdered lamb milk replacer.
I chose pack goat but my focus is on dairy
 

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I finally chose pets, but that is not accurate. My herd is made up of abandoned kids. If I was not in a drought area and actually had weeds for them to eat, which I did last spring, they would be keeping the weeds down. I have 5 meat goats and 1 dairy goat. They were bottle fed and have names so they are sort of pets. But I plan on getting milk from Bambi, possibly meat from future babies, Sport is being taught how to walk on a lead and will always be my special needs pet. I have so many uses for these goats that none of the choices fit. There should have been an "other" to choose from.
 
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I voted today. Clicked on the Packing with Goats catagory.

I started looking at Pack Goats in 1995 after reading an article in Bowhunter Magazine titled " Pack Goat Wisdom". Dwight Shue the author of Bugling for Elk was in the article with a photo of him going up a steep hill with a trusty pack goat. I almost fell over with excitment. I started researching everything I could get my hands on.

I read the Pack Goat by JM, and exchanged phone calls and letters with George Bogdon from Idaho and John Capel out of Arizona for about six months. All that was missing was property to keep them.

My Goat Packing dream sat on the back burner for over a decade. After moving out of the City, we moved to Burbank in Walla Walla county in 2004. I met Tracy and Dave from Trinity Dairy / Pack Goats in August of 2010 while my girls were showing 4-H hogs at the Benton Franklin County Fair. The rest is history.

* Fishing and Backpacking trips
* Elk and Deer hunting
* Upland Bird Hunting-carry water lunch and equipment
* Waterfowl Hunting -I use my goats to carry decoys to remote ponds.
* Varmit hunting and day hikes
* Pets, I walk my Goats daily. They are great mental theropy.
* I would like to try the Cart thing too. My grandson just turned one last week and this would be fun for kids. We have the kid saddle for when he gets bigger. At 46 I'm still a big kid myself.

" Long Live The Packgoat"

Curtis King Burbank WA.
 

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Hi, I have an idea for a poll/survey for this forum. (Rex, or someone, maybe you can create a formal poll with appropriate categories for easy viewing responses/stats?). I'm wondering how each of us fits in to either the pack goat world, the dairy goat world, or both? In essence, I'm curious to know how much use and enjoyment we get out of our goats. I'm also interested to know how each of us got to where we are, and perhaps where we're headed, in terms of our goat hobby/habit/addiction! I don't want this to develop into debate about the health benefits of goat milk, or somehow be construed that we should also be involved in the dairy side of things--although I'm guessing many of us are. Rather, I'm just curious to know how we fit into the following categories: 1) Only have goats for packing. This person likely picked up wethers from a breeder or some other source and only has goats for the purpose of packing/hiking with them. Not involved in dairy side at all, i.e. doesn't own a milking doe (except maybe you got milk to bottle feed young pack kids). 2) Have goats for both packing and for milk production, but main interest/motivation is pack goats. This might include those that breed and raise pack goats as they have to bottle feed kids, but may also use/consume milk themselves in the kitchen. These folks likely select breeding does & bucks that will produce good packers (height, conformation, personality, work drive, etc.) and not necessarily for milk production, although they may get great milk. 3) Have goats for both packing and for milk production, but main interest/motivation is milk production. This person primarily considers themselves the owner of a dairy goat herd (either small or large herd) but personally makes use of their wethers as packers. Maybe this person sells a wether knowing he'll be used as a pack goat, but is not in the business of pack goat breeding because he/she more interested in dairy qualities of their animals. 4) Have goats for milk/dairy purposes only. This person may have an interest or appreciation in dairy breeds being valuable as pack animals (at least enough to be on this forum), but doesn't do any or plan to do any packing/hiking with goats. These folks are likely dairy goat breeders, interested in breeding for dairy quality/traits, and may even show or compete. They may, however, have sold wethers that have turned into fine pack goats or breeding goats (does or bucks) that have produced good packers. So, which group do you most closely fit into? There may be other categories I couldn't think of, but hopefully you matched one of these. For those that don't have goats yet but are on this forum to learn and plan, just pick the category you foresee yourself falling into once you do have goats. And, maybe an interesting follow up question would be--What category do you want to be in?, or initially intend to be in? Personally, an interest in pack goats came first but then later I got involved (more like sucked in!) in the dairy side. In 2001, a friend (of a friend's) one day mentioned the idea of taking pack goats on hikes and I was immediately intrigued and interested. Because of work and living situation (I am active duty military, moving often, overseas, etc.), I was never in a position to have goats but from time to time would look up info on Internet and finally by 2007 or so I purchased and read John M.'s The Pack Goat. In '09 I was in Colorado Springs, CO and thought I might pursue this pack goat thing more seriously...but still didn't have property suitable for goats. I found a lady who had a large dairy herd and got to know her, hoping I could use some of her goats for packing. Soon, however, my kids and I were spending weekends helping this poor lady with milking and all her chores. I learned a lot about goats in general...and yes, started drinking and appreciating goat's milk. And although she didn't have time or energy for packing--my main reason for contacting her in first place--she had met John M. once and had even gone on a hike years back I think. Then in summer of '11, I got stationed in Phoenix AZ area and was able to find some property where I could finally have goats of my own. I bought two does, a Nubian and a Togg, both in milk, and two 2yr old Togg wethers--Tom & Jerry are their names--from this lady in CO (who by now was a great friend) and brought them down with me when we moved. We've enjoyed wonderful milk from the Nubian but the Togg doe ended up getting mastitis so I learned a lot there. Tom has potential as a packer, but I'm thinking Jerry is a dud. We've gone on a dozen hikes (most with no weight) over the past year and a half. The AZ desert heat makes it hard to hike locally for most the year, but I'm also finding that I spend so much energy 'milking', and all the stuff that goes into that, that I don't have much left for packing...thus I'm curious how all of YOU balance it!? The other reason I'm interested in your responses is because I'm at a crossroads. It is time to retire our nubian and get a new milker to have milk for the family (my wife and I and four human kids). I got into goats without much thought except what my goat lady friend had to offer me and I was just excited to finally have some! My Togg doe had quads last spring (bred by a Nig. Dwarf buck) for my first experience with kidding and didn't have either of my two does bred to freshen this spring. My nubian is still in milk, but just milking once/day and giving 1/2 gal/day. So with more experience, I'm in the market for and would like to invest in a quality doe that could serve both interests of mine--packing and milk. I'd like a doe that can provide milk for my family and whenever freshened, I want to be excited about offspring--bucklings that have potential to be quality packers in my string, or future breeding does/bucks for milking and packing. I know a doe is only 1/2 the equation and need to have (or hire) a good buck. Right now I don't really want to keep a buck around, but will when we move again and hopefully get a better place. I can see myself one day breeding and selling pack goats. I'm considering purchasing a freshened Saanen doe in a few weeks, and maybe a wether or two, from a quality breeder nearby in southern AZ...but these are milking queens. I've also looked for Alpine breeders nearby but haven't found any, and then almost bought/reserved from a breeder in western CO. Then, sometimes I just feel like finding a good Nubian, there are tons around here, and buying a wether or even an experienced packer from a pack goat breeder to fulfill that side of my goat habit... Thoughts? Let us know your category, and maybe briefly explain what has and hasn't worked for you. Thanks! Evan
Hope you don't kind if I start a different category. I got into fiber goats almost 10 years ago. I used to be a big time soccer player. But, after having 2 knee surgeries and 2 unsuccessful wrist surgeries all in middle school, the doc wouldn't clear me for sports and said if I want to be able to move when I'm older I better quit. Well my friend at the time was in 4H and showed cashmere and Angora goats. Long story short I fell in love with cashmeres.

I used to pack with my wethers, back when I had wethers, and they did really really well for me. I wanted to pack with them because it was something different. And, you can have them off lead and they will still stick by, even if they stop and wander to go eat se kanickanick (sp) they still will run to catch up. You can't do that with llamas or equine.

With my cashmeres I can also milk them. They give me nice production. My best doe used to give me a gallon a day. Their milk, to me, is comparable to Nigis, though not as sweet.

Sorry for making a new category! I liked the poll and wanted to participate :)
 

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Really enjoyed reading everyone's posts, you can tell that you love your goats.

Well, I love mine too! We wanted milk fer the two's of us. We grow a garden, raise chickens and turkeys, have a couple steers and wanted to add milk to the menu. We, like other's heard about those evil, nasty goats causing so much trouble so I read and read and read (7 months of reading). We got our nigi brother's as a test to see if we could manage goats, figured the mini's would be easy to keep. As it turns out they aren't hard to manage at all! They are quite fun and I couldn't imagine life without them so, we got our Nubian Queen, Lucy. She kidded and added a doeling and a buckling (now wether) to our herd. The plan was to sell the kids and just milk Lucy but, I can't part with either of them. That brings me to the working goat threads, I LOVE my Shane and can't sell him or put him in the freezer. I want to teach him to pull and haul and I know he'll be great at it.

So, I fall under just "Pet" section of the poll but I use them for milk and will soon for drafting.
 

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I picked I only have Dairy goats which is true but I want to explain WHY I have them. My daughter is in 4-H and we originally got the first one Daffodil to be her 4-H project she was going to show her and milk her and she wanted to make goat milk soap and sell it instead of working fast food somewhere when she gets a little older. She was 11 when we got Daffodil. .I am also allergic to cow's milk though I am very much a fan of milk and dairy products so I still drink cow's milk occasionally. After getting Daffodil we thought, hmmm I wonder if I would be allergic to goats milks, turns out I am not. So In time I plan to also drink the milk. BUT all that said, they are kinda pets for the most part, we love them, love watching their antics and consider them part of our family.
 

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I am new to goats. But mine are currently for milk. Hopefully weed control if we can find fencing that doesn't cost a fortune. I have an interest in packing/hiking, but just a little fun hobby, nothing official.
 
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