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Suburban preppers do not have the same freedom and space to raise livestock as we rural homesteading preppers. But even if you live in the suburbs, you could still keep some goats on the homestead. A couple dwarf goats could be a game changer for any family.
To increase their level of self-reliance suburban peppers should keep Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats. These would provide meat and milk for the family. Of course, you can only do this if you live in a right to farm state or a suburb with reasonable regulations.
Goats On The Homestead
Learn all you need about raising goats
Use them as “lawn mowers”
Dwarf goats will not only provide necessary protein and dairy products for the family during a SHTF scenario. They will also serve as off the grid “lawn mowers”. What a great way to keep your suburban backyard free of tall grass and weeds!
Why is it important to get your grass mowed during a long-term disaster?
You do not want grass to turn into tall weeds that will provide a hiding place for potential attackers. Tall weeds could invite snakes and four-legged predators that want to eat the food that you are growing and raising.
Also, if weeds are allowed to take over your backyard, they will negatively impact the soil. weeds will attract unwanted insects in the process, potentially destroying the crops and medicinal herbs you are growing.
Most suburban backyards will not be large enough or produce enough grass and brush to support several standard size goats. Ideally, the space should be large enough to keep smaller breeds, such as Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats.
The black goat is our Pygmy Billy goat. He is standing next to a standard wether – a castrated male. Contrary to what many folks have experienced with Billy goats, our boy is the best behaved goat in our entire herd.
Use them for milk or meat
Nigerian Dwarf goats are a dairy goat breed. Nanny goats of this breed are capable of producing 1-8 pounds of milk per day. Goat milk is sweeter than cow milk and is often more tolerable to individuals suffering from lactose problems.
Any goat, like cows, can be used for meat or milk. Some breeds simply produce a higher quality or quantity of either. Pygmy goats are known as meat goats. They produce more bulk than their fellow smaller stature goat peers.
Some goats come into heat and breed only twice a year. But Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats tend to breed up to four times per year.
When a nanny goat has her kids, her milk production kicks into high gear. As she prepares to kid, add some molasses to her feed to help bolster her immune system and stock up on essential nutrients. This is a good practice for the duration of the nursing process.
Some folks believe you need to bottle feed a baby goat to help tame and bond to you. This has never been my experience. I prefer to keep animals as naturally as possible. I simply handle the goats within an hour or so after they have been born and frequently as they grow. This will accomplish a trusting relationship without interrupting the natural nursing process.
Baby goats will likely nurse for up to three months, greatly increasing the intake after about 50 days. As the nursing period draws to a close, if the the nanny goat is not either nursed enough by the kids or milked by you, will begin to dry up.
Tips for milking a goat
Build a PVC Goat Milking Stand If you want the goat to dry up, milk her only every other day at first and then only every three days.
Almost always, a milk stand is necessary to milk a goat. Tie the goat up onto the stand and allow her an extra grain ration or healthy snack during milking. This will help make the experience a more calming and pleasant one once the nanny learns the routine.
Milking stands can range in price from around $125 to $300 – or you can make a simple platform with a small hitching post area yourself for a fraction of the price.
Goats are typically decidedly docile animals, do not be afraid of the horns. The personality of a goat depends a lot of how it is raised and, to some extent, the breed. This is very similar to dogs.
You can “debudd” or remove the horns when the goats are still young kids without any pain. If you choose to remove the horns, the goats will have no means at all to defend themselves from attackers. Domestic dogs are the chief killer of goats.
A relative’s dog attacked Pearl, our nanny goat, who lost one ear and the use of one leg to the tragic event. She still has point of elbow (shoulder) use of the leg so she can swing it about to serve as a prop when standing or kneeling.
Livestock guardian breed dogs can help to protect you goats and other livestock…with the possible exception of chickens. Any protection the flock gets from the dogs will be by default if the coop is located in their patrol area. Dogs simply do not see the little birds as worthy of their companionship. Also, dogs rarely bond with birds as they do goats, sheep, cattle, and equine.
Goats are less noisy than dogs. Your neighbors will probably not even know you are keeping them if your properties are separated by a privacy fence. The only exceptions to the quiet nature of goats is when kids are first running about and separated a few feet from their momma and when a Billy goat is attempting to coerce a doe or nanny to mate.
Pygmy and Nigerian Goat facts
- Both small breeds of goats typically live up to 15 years.
- Tend to produce just one kid during their first litter of goats and twins during following births – sometimes triplets.
- Both breeds hail from Africa and are therefore extremely hot climate tolerable.
- Generally, Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy goat breeds weigh between 50 to 100 pounds when mature.
- Billy goats and wethers usually weigh slightly more than female goats of this breeds.
- Pygmy goats are typically regarded as a significantly maternal and fertile breed.
- Depending upon where you live, either goat breed can usually be purchased for about $85 to $125 dollars.
- Always leave baking soda out as a free choice snack to help deter bloat from developing. Keeping the diet of the goats as natural as possible, limiting grain, will also help prevent bloat.
- Both Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf should eat up to two and a half pounds of foraged matter or hay daily to keep their ruminant functioning properly.
- Goats should be wormed four times each year. You can stockpile diatomaceous earth and regularly sprinkle it onto their grain to serve a natural worm preventative.
- If the goats are not free ranging in an environment where they can naturally file down their hooves when climbing on rocks and rough material, they must be trimmed about every eight to 10 weeks. A farrier can perform this service for a nominal fee. But why not learn how to do the routine task yourself. just purchase a rasp (metal file) for about $25 to $50 at an agricultural supply store.
Like cows and sheep, goats are ruminant animals. This means they have four stomach chambers – not four stomachs. The ruminant is one of the stomach chambers used to help process food properly. When the ruminant fails to function properly, dangerous (potentially deadly) bloat occurs. When a goat becomes bloated it will need to be drenched. You can stockpile commercially drenching fluid from an agriculture supply store, or do as I do and make your own far more cheaply and naturally.
To make a goat drench
- Mix together equal parts baking soda and mineral oil.
- Next, add in just a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil.
- Use a funnel, cattle livestock bottle, or tubing to gently force the drench into the goat.
- Just be careful not to do so too quickly, or you’ll risk the fluid flowing into the lungs and not the stomach.
- For best results, stand the goat up on its hind legs and very gently, yet firmly, rub ONLY the side of the stomach to help the goat belch or pass gas to expel the pressure in the ruminant.
The only real downside of keeping goats involves keeping them in their pen. If water can pour through their fencing, assume the little darlings can find their way through as well. Knowing this, I decided to teach our goats to free range the moment we got them – like the rest of our livestock. This way we avoided goat pen construction and mending frustration.
Suburban preppers will not likely be able to enjoy this same setup. But, with a bit or creativity, you can adapt a backyard to make it the pen. A wood or vinyl privacy fence that is at least five feet tall, should be able to keep Nigerian Dwarf goats and Pygmy goats from jumping out. Even so, a taller fence is highly recommended.
Barbed wire fencing and electric fencing just do not work well with keeping goats contained. Using a combination of the two with reinforced wood panels might work, if you built the fencing tall enough and keep it tight enough to deter climbing.
Goats are smart animals and can use their hooves to step on electric fencing to prevent getting shocked. Hardware cloth (rabbit hutch roll wire) or high tensile wire backed on the exterior side by wood, can also work, if it is constructed as noted above.
Novice goat keepers should begin with just a doe or a nanny goat, before adding a Billy or even wethers to the mix. This will give the newbie keeper the chance to:
- bond with the goat
- get the hang of the daily care routine
- learn how to trim hooves
- find any flaws in the fencing
Goats are herd animals and will not like living alone.
My dog and my nanny goat were best friends before she got a mate to spend time with. It is best to add another goat into the pen within just a few weeks of getting the first. Just don’t get a Billy goat until you are past the learning curve.
I hope you realize the importance of goats on the homestead, and get some of your own.