It happened purely by accident. But somehow, I have seemed to develop quite the reputation for being a “goat girl.”
I supposed the Goat 101 series is somewhat to blame, although I definitely don’t claim to be an expert. It’s been awesome to see how many people are interested in home dairying. And like I’ve said many times, goats are a great way to get started.
But I have a confession to make: we drastically downsized our goat herd this year. In fact, we are down to only 2 yearling does.
Shocking, huh? Allow me to explain…
First off, I’m still a goat advocate. I still recommend them to folks who are interested in their own source of fresh, raw milk. I still stand by what I said about goat’s milk being just as tasty as cow’s milk. And I still love how they eat waaay less than my big ol’ milk cow. (She can pack away the feed, let me tell ya…)
Our decision to sell most of our goats came down to one big issue: FENCE.
It’s a well-known fact that goats need a very secure fence. It’s one of the first things you’ll hear when you talk to an experienced goat person. And let me just say that it’s very, very true.
You see, we have all sorts of fence on our property but none of it is goat-proof. Even our big does could slip right through the log corrals, and barbed wire is nothin’. Our chicken wire pens worked for a while (they were part of an old pheasant farm on our property), but it didn’t take long for the goats to push on the wire and break big holes in it.
So that left us with pretty much one option: keep the goats in the barn in the two wire panel pens we have…
The problem with that? I hate keeping animals locked up and feeding them hay year around– especially when I have 67 acres of grass that needs to be grazed.
Even though we have plans to build more pens outside within in the next year, it would still mean they’d be locked in a pen all the time. And eating hay all year.
Trust me, I didn’t give up easily…I tried tethering them to graze, but they tangle themselves up like crazy- plus it’s not very safe. Every once and a while I would (stupidly) try letting them out to graze while I was outside, but they never, ever stayed where they were supposed to.
Which brings us to our second point…
Goats like trees. A lot.
And they will run past green bales of alfalfa, buckets of grain, and fresh spring grass just so they can demolish a tree.
Actually, hundreds of dollars worth of trees… Trees have a hard time surviving in Wyoming anyway, so it’s pretty devastating when you’ve worked so hard to keep them growing, only to have them mowed down in less than 60 seconds.
So we came to a crossroads. We could:
A. Spend some serious money re-fencing a large portion of our pasture with (expensive) goat-proof fence,
B. Invest in a portable electric fence set-up and commit to moving a portable pen around the property (i.e. more chores…)
C. Continue to leave them locked up year around and feed hay- even when there was loads of green grass outside.
D. Sell the goats.
Since we already had Oakley the milk cow at that point, we decided to take a break from goats for a while. Cattle were something that we wanted to do anyway, and our property was already completely fenced for them. Plus, I really didn’t feel like milking both the cow AND the goats– just for our little family.
As of right now, the two that are left are Prairie Baby’s “pets.” However, I don’t see us having a completely goat-less future, and I fully expect to have goat babies running around again at some point.
So would I still recommend goats?
You bet! They are the perfect starter dairy animal. They don’t eat much and will provide you with delicious and nutritious milk.
However, if you have visions of them being the perfect low-maintenance lawn mowers, that might not be completely accurate. Unless you have a properly fenced, very secure pasture, of course.
So there you have it. I guess I’ll still claim the title of being a “goat girl,” but we’ll stick to just having 2 goats, instead of 10, for the time being.