There are reasons that the goat farming business is increasingly popular. As hoofed farm critters go, goats are easier to house and feed than other livestock, such as cattle and pigs.
And a goat farmer will tell you that goats are interesting as well as a profitable business. They are social animals with quirky habits.
Here’s how to get started goat farming.
What are Goat Farms?
Goat farms are places where farmers breed and raise domestic goats.
Goats are primarily raised for their milk, meat or fiber. Each goat breed was created distinctly for one of those purposes, although there are some crossover breeds (milk and meat goats).
Any goat breed can be used for a relatively new goat farming purpose – using goats to clear brush. No, they won’t eat tin cans, but they will effectively kill underbrush by eating it.
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Miniature goat farming is also popular, as the smaller goats are used as pets and in petting zoos.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Goat Farm?
You can expect to spend from $100 to $800 for registered breeding stock, with the registered female (doe) bringing top dollar. You may pay about $1,200 for a registered milking goat, such as a Nubian, or for a meat producer doe.
To start, you’ll need a male (buck) and several does. Alternately, you can purchase pregnant goats.
You’ll need a barn or shed and goat proof fencing – typically a combination of “no climb” woven wire and electric fencing wire. You’ll need a place to provide shelter and store hay, especially if you have a cold, wet winter season.
Minimal milking equipment will cost you at least $1,500. You’ll need state inspection and licensing to produce, process and sell milk, and follow label requirements. This varies by state, but that’s a basic guideline.
You’ll need a truck and a trailer, to pick up hay and to transport goats.
How do Goat Farms Make Money?
- Breed and sell goats.
- Sell milk. Goats must be milked 2x a day and will produce about a gallon.
- Raise and sell goats for meat.
- Rent goats to eat brush, clearing land.
- Raise goats for their fleece, which is sheared (2x a year), washed and eventually spun into high quality yarn.
- Sell dairy products such as soap made with milk.
- Sell fiber goat products such as fleece or yarn.
Starting a Goat Farm in 28 Simple Steps
As with many farming ventures, start with research. Research breeds, and also learn your local zoning ordinances before you bring them to your new farm.
1. Decide What Type of Goat Farm to Run
Meat, Milking, Fiber, Miniature, Rental: Each type of goat farming serves a different market and requires specific care and management. Meat goats, like Boer or Spanish goats, are raised primarily for their meat and are known for their fast growth and muscular build.
Milking goats, such as Nubians or Saanens, are prized for their high-quality milk production, which can be used for making cheese and other dairy products. Fiber goats, like Angoras, produce valuable mohair, while Cashmere goats yield the luxurious cashmere wool.
Miniature goats, such as Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarfs, are often kept as pets due to their smaller size and friendly nature. Rental goats are used for eco-friendly land clearing and brush control, offering a unique business venture.
Understanding the Market: Before deciding on the type of goat farm to run, it’s crucial to understand the market demands in your area. Research the local demand for goat products like meat, milk, and fiber. Consider the popularity and practicality of each goat farming type in your region.
For instance, meat and milk goat farms might be more viable in areas with a strong agricultural or culinary industry, while fiber goats would be more suitable in regions with a textile industry presence.
Considerations for Each Type: Each type of goat farming comes with its own set of challenges and requirements. For meat and milk production, you’ll need to focus on breeding, health management, and possibly milking facilities.
For fiber goats, you’ll need to understand shearing and fiber processing. Miniature goats require less space but still need proper care and attention. Rental goats for land clearing can be a unique business model, but you’ll need to consider transportation and managing off-site herds.
2. Select Your Goat Breed (Dairy Goats or Meat Goats)
Dairy and meat are the two main choices, and there are different breeds within those two types. A meat goat is typically larger than other breeds. The dairy types must be milked two times a day to produce milk.
The male goat is made a “wether” (castrated) at about 10 to 12 weeks old.
Let’s talk Goat Production 101. Does to into heat every 21 days. When the does are in heat, an intact buck will urinate on itself. Goat farmers know that the timing of mating is critical, so males are kept separate from the females. But due to their habits, the intact males have a strong, offensive odor.
You only need one buck, at first. If they won’t be used for breeding, other males are made “wethers” (castrated) at about 10 to 12 weeks old. They won’t smell like the intact male bucks do.
One of the most popular of the miniature goat breeds is the Nigerian dwarf. They get along well with other animals and they’re, well, adorable.
3. Do a Market Survey
Are there other goat farms in your area? What are they raising? Any type of goat farming is a niche; make sure your new business will be able to compete.
Go to your state’s Farm Show, talk to a goat farmer or two. Subscribe to farm journals and other resources.
4. Make Sure You Have the Necessary Qualifications Knowledge on Raising Goats
Although they are hardy animals, they can get sick. You’ll need to train yourself to notice any changes in behavior that may require medication or a visit from a veterinarian.
You’ll need planning skills, to set up long-term feed suppliers.
You’ll need general contractor skills, to maintain the electric fencing, build and repair the animals’ housing, build and repair hay mangers and other general farm work.
You’ll need to be someone who doesn’t mind hard, outdoor work.
5. Create a Goat Farming Business Plan
A commonality of goat farming is an expectation that you may have losses as you build stock. Let’s say you start with one buck and three does. The does have goat kids; now you have 7. But you can’t use your original buck to breed to the young females since he is too closely related. He can be used to rebreed those 3 original does, but you need another buck (or a loaner) to breed the youngsters.
Items in your goat farming business plan:
- Set up housing and fencing for the animals.
- Set up reliable food sources for hay and grain. Build a place to store hay and grain out of the weather.
- Buy good quality new goats to start your goat farming business.
- Make a breeding schedule. As we stated, females go into heat every 21 days. The gestation period is 145 to 155 days. Depending on your climate, you want to time births in general for spring months. Neutered males can live with the females.
- Develop a marketing plan for where you will sell and how you will grow the herd.
- Set aside money for veterinary costs, which is a part of owning livestock. As with any farm animal, they are susceptible to diseases.
6. Name and Brand Your Business
Choose a name that reflects the type of business you’re going to operate.
For example, Bleating Brush Clearers conveys a different focus than Mikey’s Mini Kids.
7. Form a Legal Entity and Register Your Goat Business
The Limited Liability Company, or LLC, is highly recommended.
An LLC makes sense because as a herd in a fence, the species is notorious for escape. They are extremely athletic. Nearly everything is food to them, including your neighbors’ expensive landscape plants or farm crops.
A business is typically registered with the Secretary of State.
Other choices are a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.
8. Buy the Necessary Equipment
In addition to the housing and fencing, and hay storage area, you’ll need:
Mangers and hay racks, grain troughs (best design is accessible from outside the building, so the herd doesn’t crowd you, making feeding easier). Food should be kept dry. Two times a day feeding is best.
- Wheelbarrows, rakes and shovels, hoses
- Truck and trailer
- Separate area for pregnant (nearly due) females, lactating females and kids, along with feeding areas for them.
- Hoof trimmers
9. Open a Business Bank Account
Definitely have a separate business bank account and a separate business credit card.
10. Choose a Location and Consider Zoning
Most likely you will need zoning that is Agricultural. And there are guidelines for that.
Learn your zoning laws. Zoning can differ by state. Most commonly, hoofed farm stock is counted by “animal unit.” Larger animals, such as horses and cattle, count as one unit each. For smaller animals, such as goats, sheep and swine, it takes four of them to equal one unit.
Commonly, 1 unit is allowed per half acre.
In other words, if you fence off one acre you could keep 8 goats within it.
11. Purchase and Sort Out Licenses
You’ll need farm insurance, which falls under general agribusiness insurance. Each state has a farm bureau, which is a great source of information on this topic.
For instance, you can opt for “blanket” coverage for buildings, equipment and stock.
You’ll need a business license. If you’re going to sell products you’ll need an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, which you’ll use to pay sales tax or taxes you’ll pay if you hire employees.
12. Build a Pasture and Goat House
Your stock needs a shelter where they can stay dry and out of the wind. You’ll need to keep the bucks and does, so the bucks don’t breed the does at the wrong time of year.
Although it may be more cost effective to adapt an existing structure, there are features that make your life easier. Those features include a no-freeze water hydrant, and easily accessible hay mangers and feed troughs. Not having to hand-carry water is an important factor.
You’ll have to check the pasture fencing as a routine, because fallen branches or branch growth can touch the electric wire. If that happens, your electric fence won’t work properly.
Add high quality food to the daily pasture browse. Neighbors who are clearing brush may want to “donate” those branches to you but remember that certain feeds (such as walnut tree leaves and twigs) are poisonous to goats.
13. Hire Employees
Your hardest challenge will be hiring someone who can take care of your farm when you’re away. As part of marketing, you may be attending farm shows and similar events. You’ll need a reliable person who can feed and water, and also notice if any of the stock seem ill.
14. Purchasing Goats
If possible, buy your stock shortly after they had a health check, also called a health clearance, from a veterinarian. A health clearance from a veterinarian should state the goat, on a certain date, was free from communicable diseases. If you’ll be crossing state lines, you’ll need a health clearance.
When adding new ones to an existing herd, keep the new ones separate for a period of time.
15. Care for and Raise Goats
Stick to a feeding schedule as best you can. Two times a day is recommended. For optimum nutrition, they need constant access to clean water and plenty of fresh air.
When the stock reaches breeding age, begin your goat rearing venture.
16: Develop a Feeding and Nutrition Plan
Once you have chosen the type of goat farming and the breed, it’s vital to develop a feeding and nutrition plan that is tailored to your specific type of goats. Different types of goats have varying dietary requirements. For example, dairy goats need a diet rich in protein to support milk production, while meat goats require a diet that promotes muscle growth and weight gain.
- Essential Nutrients: Goats need a balanced diet comprising carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Quality forage, such as hay, should form the base of their diet, supplemented with grains, minerals, and vitamins as necessary.
- Feeding Schedule: Establish a regular feeding schedule. Goats are ruminants and benefit from consistent feeding times. This helps maintain their digestive health and ensures steady growth and production.
- Special Considerations: Pregnant and lactating does, growing kids, and active bucks have special nutritional needs. Plan to adjust their diet according to their life stage and activity level.
17: Learn Goat Health Management
Understanding and managing the health of your goats is crucial for a successful farming operation. Goats are generally hardy animals, but they are prone to certain diseases and health issues.
- Routine Health Checks: Regular health check-ups by a veterinarian are essential. These checks can prevent, identify, and treat health issues early.
- Vaccination and Deworming: Keep up with the necessary vaccinations and deworming schedules to protect your goats from common diseases and parasites.
- Recognizing Signs of Illness: Learn to recognize signs of illness such as changes in appetite, behavior, or appearance. Early detection is key to effective treatment.
18: Plan Your Breeding Program
Breeding is a critical aspect of goat farming, whether for expanding your herd or improving its quality. A well-planned breeding program ensures healthy offspring and maintains the genetic diversity of your herd.
- Breeding Goals: Set clear breeding goals based on your farm type. For example, if you are running a dairy goat farm, you might aim for high milk production and good udder conformation.
- Selecting Breeding Stock: Choose healthy, high-quality bucks and does for breeding. Consider traits like health history, productivity, and temperament.
- Breeding Schedule: Align your breeding schedule with your production goals and manage the herd to ensure optimal fertility and birthing rates.
19: Set Up Your Farm Infrastructure
- Fencing: Goats are known for their agility and curiosity, which often leads them to attempt escapes. Strong and high fencing is required to prevent them from jumping over or breaking through. Electric fencing can be an effective deterrent. Also, consider the layout of the fencing to facilitate easy movement of the goats between different areas, such as grazing fields and shelters.
- Water Systems: Reliable access to clean water is essential for goat health. Set up water troughs or automatic waterers that are easily accessible to all goats. Ensure that water sources are regularly cleaned and maintained to prevent contamination and disease spread.
- Equipment Storage: Designate an area for storing feed, farming tools, and equipment. This space should be dry and secure to protect supplies from the elements and pests.
20. Market the Business
Attend farm shows and consider setting up a booth there and at other agriculture-themed events.
If you’re selling products, develop a brochure and business cards you can leave at promising business outlets.
Create a FB page and website.
Depending on which breed you’ve chosen, visit butcher shops, specialty grocers, farm markets and health food stores.
21. Create Your Products
Goat meat and milk are common products. The actual animal itself – sold to become part of a petting zoo or brush clearing herd – is a product in itself. If you’ve opted for fiber, you can sell finished yarn or the sheared and washed fleeces.
You need a state license to produce, process and sell milk. Your equipment and processing area must meet strict sanitary guidelines. You’ll be inspected to get a license for that business, which is most often called a Dairy Processing Plant License. There will also be product labeling requirements.
Often a meat goat is shipped live to a butcher shop. Each goat needs to have a tag affixed to it that gives the location of its home herd, plus have an identifying ear tag, chip or tattoo.
22. Choose Where to Sell Your Products
Deciding where to sell your goat products is crucial for the success of your business. The choice of sales venues can significantly impact your revenue and brand recognition. Here are some options and strategies for each:
- Farm Stand: Setting up a farm stand can be an excellent way to sell your products directly to consumers. It’s an opportunity to showcase the freshness and quality of your products, like goat meat, milk, cheese, or fiber. You can also use this space to educate customers about the benefits of goat products and the sustainable practices of your farm. Consider offering samples and conducting live demonstrations to attract and engage customers.
- Specialty Groceries: Partnering with specialty grocery stores can help you reach a wider audience who are interested in high-quality, locally-sourced products. These stores often look for unique and artisanal items, making them a perfect fit for products like specialty goat cheeses or organic goat meat. Build relationships with store managers and offer to host tasting events to introduce your products to their customers.
- Health Food Store: Health food stores cater to a health-conscious clientele, making them an ideal venue for selling goat milk and related dairy products known for their nutritional benefits. These stores often value products that are organic and sustainably produced. Highlight the health benefits of your products, such as the high protein content of goat meat or the digestibility of goat milk, to appeal to this market.
- Agriculture Themed Events and Fairs: Participating in agricultural events, fairs, and farmers’ markets is a great way to connect with the community and other farmers. These events provide a platform for networking, learning about industry trends, and reaching customers who appreciate local and sustainable farming practices. Ensure your booth is attractive and informative, and consider offering product samples or live demonstrations to draw in attendees.
- From Your Farm: Selling directly from your farm can be a rewarding experience. It allows customers to see where and how the animals are raised, fostering trust and transparency. You can organize farm visits or open days where customers can tour the farm, meet the goats, and purchase products directly. This approach can create a loyal customer base that values the farm-to-table experience.
In addition to these traditional venues, consider exploring online sales platforms to reach a broader market. Creating an e-commerce website or utilizing social media platforms can help you connect with customers who are not in your local area.
Offering shipping options can expand your customer base and increase sales opportunities. Remember, each sales channel has its unique requirements and customer base, so tailor your approach accordingly to maximize your reach and profitability.
23: Implement Effective Waste Management
Proper waste management is crucial for maintaining a healthy and environmentally responsible goat farm.
- Manure Management: Regularly clean shelters and grazing areas to prevent the build-up of manure, which can harbor parasites and pathogens. Composting goat manure can turn it into valuable fertilizer for crops or gardens.
- Disposal Systems: Set up systems for the safe and sanitary disposal of farm waste, including used bedding and spoiled feed.
24: Develop a Risk Management Plan
Farming involves various risks, from market fluctuations to animal health crises. A risk management plan helps mitigate these uncertainties.
- Insurance: Invest in farm insurance to protect against unexpected events like natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or accidents.
- Diversification: Diversify your farm’s income sources to reduce dependence on a single revenue stream. This can include offering farm tours, workshops, or venturing into agrotourism.
25: Engage in Sustainable Practices
Adopting sustainable farming practices not only benefits the environment but also can improve farm efficiency and profitability.
- Rotational Grazing: Implement rotational grazing to improve pasture health, prevent overgrazing, and reduce feed costs.
- Renewable Energy: Consider using renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, to power farm operations.
26: Continuously Educate Yourself
The field of goat farming is ever-evolving. Staying informed about new techniques, breed developments, and market trends is vital.
- Ongoing Learning: Attend workshops, join farming associations, and subscribe to agricultural publications to keep abreast of the latest developments in goat farming.
- Networking: Build relationships with other goat farmers and industry professionals to exchange knowledge and experiences.
27: Regularly Evaluate and Adapt Your Business Strategy
The success of your goat farm depends on your ability to adapt to changing market demands and operational challenges.
- Business Review: Periodically review your business plan and operations. Assess what’s working and identify areas for improvement.
- Market Trends: Stay alert to changes in consumer preferences and market trends to adjust your product offerings and marketing strategies accordingly.
28. Expand Your Business
Compared to other livestock, goats are easier to transport. Do visits to schools, or if you’re selling products at a fair, bring a hoofed friend or two along to drive traffic to your booth.
If your farm is attractive, consider inviting the public to learn more about what you do.
Benefits of Goat Farming: Why It’s a Growing Industry
The goat farming industry is on the rise, attracting individuals and entrepreneurs for several compelling reasons. Here’s a look at the key benefits that contribute to the increasing popularity of goat farming:
- Low Entry Barriers: Starting a goat farming business requires relatively lower initial investment compared to some other livestock ventures, making it accessible to a wider range of people.
- Diverse Revenue Streams: Goat farming offers various income sources, including meat, milk, fiber, and even brush-clearing services. This diversification can contribute to a more stable and sustainable business model.
- Ease of Management: Goats are known for their hardiness and adaptability. They are easier to manage and require less intensive care compared to larger livestock, such as cattle or pigs.
- Quick Return on Investment: Goats reach maturity faster than many other livestock animals, allowing for a quicker return on investment. This can be especially appealing to those looking for relatively fast profits.
- Sustainable Land Use: Goat farming can be a sustainable way to utilize land, especially for brush clearing. Goats efficiently clear underbrush, making them valuable for land maintenance and fire prevention.
- Niche Markets: Goat products, such as goat cheese, milk, and fiber, often cater to niche markets that are willing to pay a premium for quality and uniqueness.
- Versatility in Breeds: With numerous goat breeds available, farmers can choose breeds that align with their business goals, whether it’s for meat, milk, fiber, or other purposes.
- Educational Opportunities: Goat farming provides educational opportunities for individuals, schools, and communities interested in learning about agriculture and animal husbandry.
- Community Engagement: Goat farms, especially those offering agrotourism or educational programs, can strengthen connections between farmers and their local communities.
- Environmental Benefits: Goat farming can have positive environmental impacts, such as reducing invasive plant species through controlled grazing and minimizing the use of heavy machinery for land maintenance.
- Potential for Innovation: The goat farming industry continues to evolve, offering room for innovation in areas like product development, breeding practices, and sustainable farming techniques.
|Benefits of Goat Farming
|Low Entry Barriers
|Accessible to a wider range of individuals; lower initial investment compared to other livestock ventures
|Diverse Revenue Streams
|Varied income sources
|Meat, milk, fiber, and brush-clearing services contribute to a stable and sustainable business model
|Ease of Management
|Hardy and adaptable
|Easier to manage and require less intensive care compared to larger livestock
|Quick Return on Investment
|Quicker ROI due to faster maturity, appealing to those seeking relatively fast profits
|Sustainable Land Use
|Efficient land utilization
|Effective for brush clearing, aiding land maintenance and fire prevention
|Goat products cater to niche markets, offering premium quality and uniqueness
|Versatility in Breeds
|Tailored to goals
|Various goat breeds available to align with specific business goals
|Provides education about agriculture and animal husbandry for individuals, schools, and communities
|Agrotourism and educational programs enhance ties between farmers and local communities
|Positive ecological impact
|Controlled grazing helps reduce invasive plants, minimizes heavy machinery use, contributing to environmental health
|Potential for Innovation
|Ongoing potential for innovation in product development, breeding practices, and sustainable farming techniques
The numerous benefits associated with goat farming make it an attractive option for those seeking a rewarding and potentially profitable agricultural venture. As the industry continues to grow, it presents opportunities for individuals to contribute to sustainable food systems and unique product markets.
What is the average goat farming profit?
Most who are getting started count on outside income as they build the herd and this should be part of your small farm business plan.
Those who supply “grazer” brush clearing goats are currently getting about $800 a week for the service.
As an industry, on average, the annual salary ranges from $34,000 to $49,000.
Conclusion: The Growing Appeal of Goat Farming
Key Advantages of Goat Farming:
- Accessibility: Affordable entry, ideal for newcomers and those with limited resources.
- Diverse Revenue Streams: Income from meat, milk, fiber, and land maintenance.
- Ease of Management: Goats require less care than larger livestock.
- Quick ROI: Faster maturity of goats leads to quicker returns.
Sustainability and Niche Markets:
- Eco-Friendly Land Use: Goats help in underbrush clearing and fire prevention.
- Niche Market Potential: Growth in demand for goat cheese, milk, and fiber.
- Breed Versatility: Various breeds to align with different farming goals.
Community and Educational Benefits:
- Agrotourism Opportunities: Farms offering tours strengthen community connections.
- Educational Prospects: Learning opportunities about agriculture and animal husbandry.
- Community Engagement: Events and tours linking urban dwellers with farming.
Environmental and Innovative Aspects:
- Positive Environmental Impact: Sustainable grazing and reduced machinery use.
- Room for Innovation: New techniques in breeding and sustainable practices.
In summary, goat farming is a versatile and sustainable venture with numerous benefits. Its accessibility, diverse income streams, and ease of management make it an attractive option for various individuals.
The potential in niche markets, combined with environmental benefits and community engagement opportunities, further enhances its appeal. As the industry evolves, there’s significant scope for innovation, offering exciting prospects for the future of goat farming.
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