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Monday, August 20, 2012

Debunking Myths About Goats

In the interest of full disclosure, I love goats.  We raised goats growing up, showed them in 4H, milked a few when we needed to.  I'm a big fan.

And because I love them, I'm always working to debunk the myths that seem to perpetuate about goats.

Myth #1 - Goats are dirty.
Truth - Goats are obsessive about being clean.  They are fastidious.  If you'd like to annoy a goat, just put a single blade of straw on her back and she will work and work to get rid of it.  They dislike being wet.  I believe it's because then they would get dirty.  Of all the animals I've been around (and that's a LOT), goats are by far the cleanest animals.  When we showed goats, all we did was trim a little of their hair, if it was long on their tail or by their udder and blacken their hooves.  They were already clean and tidy, we didn't even wash them!

Myth #2 - Goats smell bad.
Truth - Only some goats smell bad.  Buck (male) goats in rut (breeding season) smell bad...to humans.  They smell really sexy to does (females) in heat.  I would imagine that goats think men who wear Axe body spray smell bad.  Some bucks have a trick they like to do to impress their ladies.  They hunch up their backs and lower their heads so they can pee on their beards (if they have a beard, not all goats do).  And, as you might imagine, that doesn't smell so great to humans...drives the does wild!  As a rule, goats do not smell.  If your goats smell and it isn't rut, you have a management issue.  Our goats are always pleasant smelling.

Myth #3 - Goats are destructive.
Truth - I hear this one more than any other.  Someone finds out we have goats and then says, "My (insert relative here) had goats and they jumped on cars and tore up fences."  There's even a saying that if a fence will hold water, it will hold a goat.  I always ask, "How many goats did they have?"  Usually the answer is 1, but occasionally 2.  Never more than that.  And therein lies the problem.  Goats are herding animals.  They thrive in a herd.  And if they don't have a herd, they will do everything in their power to be a part of your herd.  And that means breaking out of fences, climbing on cars, etc.  They just want to be a part of a herd.  We bought three does because I knew they needed a herd.  And they live with our flerd, a much larger herd.

Myth #4 - Goats will eat anything.
Truth - Goats are like three year old children, very inquisitive!  But they don't have fingers or hands to touch everything like a three year old child.  Instead, they use their mouths and tongues!  Goats are particularly fussy eaters.  They like to eat above ground.  They are browsers, not grazers.  Yes, they will eat grass, but it's not what they prefer.  They like to eat trees, shrubs, large weeds, etc.  Goats will not eat garbage or tin cans, although they may "mouth" it to see what it is.

Myth #5 - Goat milk tastes bad.
Truth - Most people who have tried goat milk have tried it as a dare or a joke.  If you've had goat milk and it tasted bad...you got bad milk.  Goat milk is delicious, sweet and creamy.  It is richer than cow milk as it is naturally homogenized, meaning the cream will not separate and rise to the top.  If you are not practicing STRICT sanitation procedures and caring for your animals and equipment correctly, your milk will taste bad.  And that doesn't matter whether you're milking a goat, a cow or a yak.

Myth #6 - Goats are ugly.
Truth - Goats are like people, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  
{Just look at those three beauties!}
I'm very partial to the Nubian breed. I love their pendulous ears and Roman noses.  Plus, I also have scientific reasons to back up my choice! (I know you're shocked about that one...)  Nubians have the highest butterfat content in their milk.  They've been touted as the Jersey cow of the dairy goats.  Also, a Nubian has a larger frame, particularly a large abdominal cavity.  And when you're grass dairying, you want that large gas tank to utilize all that forage to make milk while keeping the doe in condition.  We don't want her to lose a lot of weight as she goes through the milking season.

As for ugly, I vehemently disagree.  There is nothing cuter than a baby goat.  Not even puppies are as cute as baby goats!

These two buck kids belong to Rosie.  They are very similar but not identical.  We will start separating them at night and milking her in the morning soon.


  1. I grew up with goats and I miss them now that I live in the city. We had primarily Nubians. Though we did get some Alpines eventually and learned that Alpine and Nubian-Alpine crosses were a little more winter hardy as newborn kids.

  2. I must agree with all of your comments. My wife and I are retired and two years ago purchased our first 2 goat-lings. A Toggenburg/Sanaan doe and a Boar/Sanaan doe both around 5 weeks old. They are a great addition to our little hobby farm. The one thng you didn't mention is how fast they grow into your heart. This year we experienced our first birthing, triplets. Wow, what an experience.


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