When you start goat farming, there are several different ways you can manage your goats. There are intensive methods, which require a lot of management from you as the farmer. The plus side of intensive methods is that while they are more effort on your part, each goat requires less space. You are generally the one who is bringing the food into the goats, providing lots of care, managing their exercise, and so on. This is the most common way of raising goats, especially for dairy. This was the method I started out with my goats. As I learned more about goats I realized I preferred a more extensive method of goat farming.
With an extensive method, your job is to mimic the goats natural environment as much as possible. The goats are rotated through pasture, and instead of intensive management of health issues or kidding problems, your job as the goat farmer is to select the best stock who can kid efficiently and are disease and parasite resistant. If I raise goats again, this is the method I will use. This is also the method discussed in Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell. I received a free review copy, and highly recommend it if you want more detail on goat farming with extensive management.
Extensive management requires more space than most people have access to, (especially in the city!), but you can utilize the space you do have better by planting trees and shrubs that goats prefer to eat and increase the amount of food you can grow for your herd.
Here’s a list of some of the best plants for goat farming to maximize efficiency:
Pasture Mix Plants:
- Curly Dock
- Lambs Quarter
- Star Thistle
- Poison Oak
- Mangel Beets
- Winter Squash
- Bolted Lettuce
- Insect damaged greens
- Fava beans
- Black Locust
- Sweet Gum
- Bay Tree
- Oak leaves
For a more comprehensive list of plants that are edible and poisonous to goats, I recommend Fiasco Farms. The list in this post tend to be easily grown, fast growing, or weedy plants that are prolific and that you can include in a smaller space to provide more food. I planted bamboo and willow along the edge of our goat yard, and even on our tiny homestead they produced a good amount of supplemental food for our girls.
If you are thinking about goat farming, I recommend planting now so your goats have plenty of forage, and if you already have goats, hopefully you can add a bit more variety to their diet and save on some hay costs for you. And if you are thinking about extensive goat farming, check out Holistic Goat Care!
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