Have you decided to do the “Green Acres” thing and leave the city behind for a quiet farm? Maybe you’ve resolved to try to lead a more sustainable life. Or maybe you already have a little bit of land and you want to make a little money off of it by selling delicious cheeses, fragrant soaps, or cuddly cashmere. No matter what your reasons are for deciding to raise goats, look first to the following sites for advice and be warned: you will quickly become obsessed with these quirky, happy critters.
Raising Goats is a good first stop, as you can find a guide to goat terminology, so you’ll know what you’re talking about when you get ready to start asking questions. Also helpful are the five steps to raising goats for profit. Even if you’re only after couple of pet goats for cheese or yard maintenance, this list will help you settle on the right breed. There isn’t a ton of information here, but what you get is great for the greenhorn. While several posts veer away from the caprine and into the spiritual, the advice and occasional recipes shouldn’t be missed.
Laurel Haven Farm
Laurel Haven Farm’s page on goat care specializes in Nigerian dwarf goats, a small dairy breed. The site opens with a disclaimer stating that the information here is based strictly on personal experience and is by no means universal. Don’t let that turn you away, though. There is plenty to learn here. Specifically, the dietary information, which includes a list of plants that are toxic to goats, should be read thoroughly before you bring the little guys home. There is also a nice collection of goat milk recipes, both food and soap.
Fias Co Farm
Fias Co Farm definitely wins the “cutest icon” contest for the winsome little fellow that greets the reader, but its merit is more than skin deep. This site contains Molly Nolte’s fourteen years of information with an emphasis on a natural, holistic approach to raising goats for milk (and as companions) that puts the dignity of the animals first. It seems like the best plan to immediately click the site map, but the layout of the homepage is much more easy to navigate. Under the heading “goat health and husbandry” you will find so very much information: what kind of goats to get, breeding, kidding, vaccinations, behavior, fencing, and shelter scratch the surface. There is also a link to Molly’s Herbals, an online shop which specializes in herbal animal care products. There is also an enticing list of cheese recipes with photos that will have you dialing up the goat farm, post haste.
Dairy Goat Journal
From the folks that brought you Back Yard Poultry comes Dairy Goat Journal: an online and print magazine all about goats and the people who raise them. As with its sister publication, one need not subscribe to the journal to access its myriad articles in the library. This may be the best source of information on breeds: check out the “about goats” heading for detailed descriptions of appearance, character, strengths and weaknesses on the most popular breeds. There is a sizable portion of the magazine devoted to showing and breeding goats. You can find good articles about shelters and feeding stations, but take caution when browsing the links page: it is hit or miss. One site will contain great advice, plans, and recipes, while the other will assault your monitor with pop-ups and urgent messages.
Goat Wisdom will provide you with a good dose of the same. Browse the left hand menu for practical advice on tough projects like dehorning, and plans for a pen that will ensure your billie’s safety during the process. You will also get lots of good advice on caring for does who have recently kidded. This site also has a rather interesting “ethics” section that anyone ought to take a moment to read, as it manages to merge the concept of kindness and respect for our animal companions with spirituality in a way that is by no means heavy handed or marked by an agenda. The link to the videos is, at the moment broken, and will hopefully be repaired soon, as it promises to be both a source of education and entertainment. And finally, this site has what is probably the best forum about goats, where you can chat with vets and farmers about any issues you may have.
Goat World’s homepage is a little bit hideous, and at first glance, appears to be nothing but ads; but try to train your eyes on the subtle right hand menu and you’ll find your way. This site is a cornucopia of reader-contributed articles from all over the world and features information you’re not likely to find anywhere else, like how to start a brush-clearing business using your goats, and what the moon phases have to do with your flock. This site also has free, downloadable plans for goat shelters—a feature notably absent on the other sites. This site welcomes photos and articles from readers, so if you have any advice to offer, do visit Goat World. This site also has a forum, but you must pay to join. There is also a Goat 911 chatroom that requires a login, but may be helpful if you have an urgent question.