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ALL ABOUT GOATS

By: "Goat Handbook, United States, 1992"
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Assuming that you have read the other articles in this series, you are now ready to enter the world of buying and selling goats. I will try to explain some very basic facts that should help you understand this area of goats.

In business, there is a rule that applies to nearly every transaction: the worth of an item is only as much as a buyer is willing to pay. Think of this for a moment. You go to WalMart and make such choices everyday. You make the decision wether or not to pay a certain amount for an item or not. And in many cases, there may be an "alternative" or budget brand that is available at a lesser cost. With goats, you'll often find the same.

In my opinion, there are at least three categories of goats and each have their own price: excellent, good and fair. Starting at the top, there are goats that are of excellent characteristic and genetics. For many of these goats (dairy and meat alike), expect to pay premium prices and expect to sell at premium prices. Goats that fall into this category are more often than not, registered stock and/or of full or pure breed quality.

Good goats are ge

There are many things to consider before buying your goats. Perhaps two of the most important considerations are the type or breed and the price of the type or breed of goat you decide upon.

If it will be your first time to raise goats, in my opinion you would be better served by getting just a few goats to begin with. For the purpose of discussion let's start with three; two does and a buck. To ensure the health and longevity of your new herd and future goats that will either be born or purchased and introduced into the herd, have each prospective goat tested before you even let them touch hooves or nibble the smallest blade of grass on your farm. The two most important diseases your goats should be tested for are CL and CAE.

"But I don't have a farm and I plan on raising goats in my backyard." Even so, each goat should be tested for health concerns. Health issues that could not only affect (infect) other goats, but may affect you or anyone who comes into contact with your goats. If the person selling the goats that you want will not agree to have the goats tested before you purchase them, do yourself a favor and politely tell them that you will look elsewhere to make your purchase. Don't let the seller mislead you into taking the goats while the testing is pending.

Starting with small numbers and cheaper goats also has other benefits to you as well. If you have never raised goats before, there will be a learning and adjustment period. You may find that after a month or two of having to daily care for your goats, it is just not what you expected. You may encounter herd health problems and lose a goat or two. There are always things that can go wrong, and even veteran breeders will tell you that with goats, you can always expect the unexpected. Should you decide that goats are just not what you had expected, it will be a much smaller loss if you haven't paid an arm and a leg to get started, and you will not have a large number of goats to rid yourself of.

Another common way to be mislead when buying goats concerns registered goats. While most goat breeders are reputable and know that their reputation relies on being fair and honest with potential customers, unfortunately some are not. Beware of sellers that promise to get the registration papers to you after the sale or claim that the goats can be registered. Always politley insist that the sale is contingent on getting all registration papers up front. You will save yourself many follow-up phone calls and ultimate regret when you discover that you may have been duped.

The price that you pay for your first goat can run anywhere from $20.00 to several hundred dollars - this largely depends upon what kind of goats you are getting and wether or not they are registered. Again, if this is your first time raising goats, I recommend starting out with lower priced goats and as you begin to learn more about their care, move into selected stock that fits your budget.

Many years ago, I started out with six, unregistered mixed breed does that cost me on average, $50 each, or an initial $300 investment. In a little over three years, each of these does produced 2 kids each year making a total of 12 goat kids per year, or in monetary terms (and based on $50 per kid), that's $600. Each of these kids easily sold to a variety of customers within 6 months or less of being born. Over three years, that totals $1,800 worth of kids alone!

A year or two later, I bought two registered does for $250 each, or a $500 investment. Each year these does produced 2 kids each. Within the same six month period I had sold the unregistered $50 goats, I did not sell any of the $250 registered goat kids at $100 each. For the most part, my potential customers felt that $100 or more for a goat kid was just too much. But, as these registered kids became older and capable of producing, their price did go up and I was able to sell 3 of the 4 on the average of $200 each.

From that scenario, you can easily see that I made more with my unregistered $50 kids than I did with my registered kids and I didn't even have to raise and feed them as long as the registered kids.

Financial Capability
Another reason for starting out with goats that cost less is one's own financial capability. To say that goats are cheap to raise is simply foolish. Keeping your goats fed and healthy should be a primary consideration. They will demand fresh food daily as well as other supplementation such as minerals. This of course does not take into account any medications or vaccinations that will also be required. Wether or not you start with goats that cost $50 or $500, they will still need to eat and be cared for. If your own financial capability is one that limits the amount you can spend daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, you should take a hard look at your budget and decide wether or not you will be able to ultimately afford goats at all.

If you know that you will have the financial capability to raise your goats in the way they need to be raised to be happy and healthy, then go for it. But if you have daily doubts on where your next meal will come from, I would advise waiting on getting goats. All too often people who begin raising goats fall prey to the myth that goats can eat anything and will survive on weeds alone. Goats can eat alot of weeds and brush but they do need other food to stay healthy. Ask yourself how well you would survive if forced to live on water and soup for a long period of time rather than eating a healthy, balanced diet.

About the author: Extension Goat Handbook - This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies.
G. F. W. Haenlein; U. of Delaware, Newark
D. L. Ace; Pennsylvania State U., University Park.

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