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Goats - Crucial For the Self-Reliant Homesteader

Sue Merriam

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When most people think of farming, the cow usually comes to mind. But “Bessie's" milk isn't always the best for human consumption, and cows require far more hay and grain - and produce way more milk - than most small homesteads can handle.

For the self-sufficient homestead, the goat is a far superior animal. Depending on the breed you choose, a goat can produce up to a gallon of milk per day. Goat milk is much easier for humans to digest. It doesn't taste any different from cow's milk, but the fat globules in goat's milk are smaller. It is also “naturally homogenized". It lacks a fat-agglutinating protein found in cow's milk that causes the fats to stick together. .

Recently, research has shown that homogenizing cow's milk increases cholesterol in the bloodstream. Goat's milk won't do that. Also, when raw, it is less likely to cause high cholesterol. Newborn infants who are lactose intolerant thrive on raw goat's milk.

A Delicious Benefit

You can also use the excess milk from your pet nubian or nigerian doe to make cheese. Yes, feta is the traditional goat cheese, but you can also make Cheddar, Edom, mozzarella and queso blanco. The milk can also be used to make yogurt and even ice cream.

Goats can be bred up to twice a year. The meat they produce is called chevon and is delicious. The meat from a young wether (a castrated goat) is similar in taste to lamb. Older goats can be processed into salami or jerky.

Your Garden Will Love You For It

One goat can produce up to a pound of manure per day. That along with the dirty straw you take from their bedding make an excellent compost. Also, unlike cow or chicken manure, goat manure can be safely added directly to your garden bed. The manure isn't as strong and won't burn your plants.

Cause They Got Personality

Goats are gentle, friendly animals. On the whole, they are excellent with children.

One Word of Caution

Because they are such sociable animals, goats do not like being left alone. A doe left on her own will become depressed and will produce less milk. A billy left alone will likely become ornery, so be sure to provide companions for your goats and give them plenty of love.

Sue Merriam is author of the website, Organic Gardening and Homesteading.


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