10 Things I Wish I Had Known before Getting Goats

We jumped in without even looking, really. We spent nearly 20 minutes on research, and asked just a few questions and felt we were ready.

We just knew we wanted goats. I mean, we became parents without any prior knowledge or experience, and our kids turned out okay, right? Well, turns out that goats just were not the same thing. At all.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat in front of their goat shack

We felt that Nigerian Dwarf goats were the best for our small homestead, due to their smaller size. And since we wanted milk, we had to have one that was pregnant or had recently given birth.

I located a lady who was selling a pregnant doe and called her up. I agreed to drive up to meet her, about 2 hours away and see this goat.

I feel in love with her homestead, and all the goats, chickens and horses she had running around. I just “knew” that I had to be like this. Oh, the naïve fool that I was.

The doe she showed me was indeed pregnant. And very skittish.

Looking back, that should’ve been a warning sign to me, but you know… I have to admit that I was just going to have to take this nice lady’s word that the doe was in perfect health, and she had “all the papers somewhere”.

Since I knew nothing about goats and them giving birth, we agreed that the doe should stay with her until she kidded.

Her due date was only 2 weeks off, and that would give us plenty of time to get things ready for the doe and her kids.

Since the 20 minutes of research I had done led me to believe that Nigerians usually have multiples, I was expecting at least 2-3 kids, just like the other doe goats she had that kidded recently. I had to get hay, finish the fence, and be ready.

I got an email a week later… She gave birth to ONE doeling. ONE? Yes, one.

So, I went and got them the next day and brought them home. I expected our doe, Sephira, and her doeling, Nellie to be all nice and quiet. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

After trying to get Sephira into the milking stand, it took me about 1 hour to get her to let me milk her.

We were both first timers, and a first time milker with a first time milkee is not a good combination.

It took days of tears, chasing her down and fighting her to get her on the milking stand to milk her. It took almost 30 minutes from start to finish as well. And for my efforts, I usually only got 1-2 cups of milk each time.

That small amount of milk was quickly guzzled within seconds by my youngest. Gone were the dreams of making cheese, yogurt, or soap from our abundant goat milk.

After a month, my husband was finally able to milk her. But most of the burden of milking fell to me. Twice a day, I had to go out to the goat shed and milk her. It got better, though, as we learned to trust each other.

She would go into the milking stand when she saw me come out with the pail, and I got better at holding her hind leg and milking her at the same time. Yes, I had to hold her hind leg so she wouldn’t kick the bucket over.

baby goats and their mother
baby goats and their mother

What I Wish I Had Known before I Got the Goats

Before getting goats, I wish I had done more research on the following topics. I wish I had known:

1. That You Need to Do Lots of Research

Goat ownership can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to do your research before you bring home your new herd.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for goats, including their age, health, and temperament. These are all things I wish I had known more about before bringing my goats home.

It’s also important to consider what you’ll be using the goats for, as different breeds are better suited for different purposes.

For example, dairy goats produce more milk than meat goats, and pygmy goats are smaller and more delicate than other breeds. By doing your homework before you buy, you can set your goats up for success—and avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road.

2. That You Need to Pay Close Attention to the Signs of a Goat Pregnancy

I wish I had been prepared to have a pregnant doe so I could’ve had her myself. I still get the eerie feeling she had more kids that I wasn’t given.

I remember when I first got my goats, I was so excited. I had always wanted goats, and I finally had the chance to get a few of my own. However, I quickly learned that there is a lot more to goat care than I had originally thought.

One of the things that I didn’t know much about was goat pregnancy. Goats can get pregnant at any time of year, so it’s important to be prepared. Kidding season can be a busy time, and it’s essential to know how to care for a pregnant goat.

If you’re thinking about getting goats, or if you already have them, make sure to do your research on goat pregnancy care!

It might seem like a lot of work at first, but it’s worth it when you see your healthy goats kids running around the pasture.

3. How to House My Goats (and Keep Them Contained in a Fence)

When I first got my goats, I had no idea how to contain them. I just assumed that they would stay put in the pasture and not wander off. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Goats are very curious creatures, and they quickly found ways to escape from the pasture.

Every time I turned around, it seemed like one of them was getting out of the fence. I soon realized that I needed to do some research on how to effectively house my goats.

I learned that goats need a sturdy fence that is at least four feet tall. The fence should also have narrow spacing between the rails to prevent the goats from sticking their heads through and escaping.

In addition, it is important to provide plenty of food and water inside the fenced area so that the goats have no reason to wander off.

4. The Mating Process in Goats

I wish I had done more research on mating in the area. I wanted to breed both does in the fall, but had trouble finding a willing buck owner.

I brought my first goats home in the spring, two cute little does that I couldn’t wait to breed. I had done my research on goat care, but for some reason I had skipped over the part about breeding.

So, when it came time to breed my does, I quickly realized that I didn’t know as much as I should have. I didn’t have a buck on my property, and I didn’t know how to go about finding one.

If I had known more about breeding goats before I brought my does home, the whole process would have been a lot easier.

5. How to Feed Goats

Keeping goats as pets can be a fun and rewarding experience. But if you’re new to goat ownership, you may be wondering how to feed them properly. Goats are very versatile eaters and can digest a wide variety of foods.

However, they do require a few key nutrients in their diet, including protein, fiber, and minerals.

One way to provide these nutrients is to give your goats access to fresh grass or hay. You can also supplement their diet with goat feed, which is specially formulated to meet their nutritional needs.

Whatever method you choose, make sure to provide plenty of fresh water for your goats to drink.

While it sounds simple, knowing what to feed your goats before you bring them home is super important!

6. More About Milking

I decided to get goats so I could have a steady supply of milk, but I quickly learned that there’s a lot more to milking than I thought.

For one thing, goats need to be milked regularly, or they can get sick. I also had to learn how to clean their udders properly before milking, and how to store the milk safely.

It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been worth it. The fresh goat milk is delicious, and I’m glad I can provide it for my family.

I wish I had known all the hard work that would go into milking a goat for the first time, and given myself more grace. I spent the first month stressed out all the time with her, instead of enjoying this new journey.

I wish I had made a different milking stand, with a more comfortable seat for myself. I sat on two concrete bricks stacked on each other, twice a day, to milk her.

I wish I had thought of separating Sephira and Nellie, and giving Nellie a bottle so that I could get more milk. Instead, I let Nellie nurse whenever she wanted and as a result, weaning her was a battle.

8. How to Find the Right Vet – and What Kind of Medical Care They Would Need

I quickly learned that goats are intelligent, mischievous creatures that quickly become part of the family. However, I also quickly learned that they require a different level of care than other pets.

Goats need to see a veterinarian who specializes in their care, and they require regular vaccinations and deworming. They are also prone to certain health problems, such as parasite infections and joint problems.

As a result, it’s important to find a vet who is familiar with these issues and can provide the proper care.

Luckily, there are many resources available to help goat owners find the right vet for their needs. With a little bit of research, you can ensure that your goat receives the best possible care.

9. More About Herd Dynamics

When I first got my goats, I didn’t know much about herd dynamics. I knew they were social creatures and needed to be around other goats, but I didn’t realize just how important it was.

Goats are very hierarchical creatures and if you don’t have a good understanding of their social structure, it can lead to big problems.

For example, if you have two goats and one is clearly the Alpha, the other goat is likely to become anxious and stressed. This can lead to health problems and even aggression.

On the other hand, if you have two goats that are equally matched in terms of their social status, they will be much more relaxed and content.

So, before bringing home goats, it’s important to do some research on herd dynamics so that you can set them up for success from the start.

10. How Strong Our Bond Would Be

I wish I had known just how easy it was going to be to fall in love with the girls. They gave me so much joy, even as I struggled to learn how to care for them.

I wish I had known the average lifespan of goats before getting them. Goats are incredibly fun and rewarding animals to keep, but they’re not immortal. On average, goats live for about 10-12 years.

Some individual goats may live a bit longer or shorter than this depending on their health and lifestyle, but 10-12 years is pretty typical. This means that, as a goat owner, I need to be prepared for the eventuality that my goats will not be with me forever.

While it’s impossible to predict exactly when an individual goat will die, knowing the average lifespan can help me to plan for the future and make sure that I’m providing my goats with the best possible care.

I wish I had known that I would lose both of them within a year…breaking my heart totally.

Goats: What I Can I Say?

They have a special power like none other to make you fall in love with them, and at the same time, you get the phrase “Stubborn Old Goat”.

Raising goats will challenge you like no other, but will be so rewarding at the same time.

goats vertical

5 thoughts on “10 Things I Wish I Had Known before Getting Goats”

  1. I loved reading your story until the very end. I’m new with all my animals that we have on our small farm. I love everyone of my chickens, goats, sheep, donkey, horses, and alpaca + the cats and dogs that wind up living here. So far we’ve only lost a few chickens but I cried with the lose of every one. Is there something with the Nigerians that a newbie would need to know? My sheep are the only ones that have given birth here. The dwarf goats are something we are looking to add, any advise?

    1. My best advice is to know BEFORE you get the goats what diseases are running around in your area, and to have a vet that is knowledgeable about farm animals (not just domestic pets). Our didn’t know what to do with the goats…

  2. This was very helpful to me. We are thinking about getting a goat or two for our little homestead and I certainly want to be prepared, but like you, I’m one who just likes to jump into a project! Thank you for the word of caution!

    1. Heather Harris

      You are very welcome! I am glad it helped you! Enjoy your new babies, can’t wait to hear how they go!

  3. I certainly laughed out loud!! I’ve raised goats for 20 years and had a Nigerian for a SHORT time…….what a pain in the ass! La Manchas are my favourite goat and I would travel many miles to get one! Friendliest by far and the best tasting milk to my taste as well. Live and learn and laugh along the way!!!

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