…no one farms for the money. It’s the appeal of the lifestyle; appreciation of the moments of calm while embracing those that are hectic. And above all, it’s a love of the animals!
Our small farmstead, Sheepy Hollow Farm, has never been the same since we brought home our first Alpine dairy goat in 2007! We currently maintain a very small herd of Oberhasli dairy goats that belong to my daughter, Katie. Her ADGA registered dairy herd “Kids Play” has been a source of family enjoyment ever since! Our goat kids are bottle fed and handled one-on-one every day. We hand milk ‘the girls’ twice daily and prefer to drink their milk ‘raw’. We also use our goat’s milk for cheese making and other dairy products. Surplus goat’s milk is used to make our pure & natural herbal goat’s milk soap.
TERMS to know: An adult male goat is a buck (the sire when breeding); an adult female is a doe (the dam); goat babies are ‘kids’: a doeling (girl) and a buckling (boy). A castrated, non-breeding buck is a ‘wether’.
To keep a goat, you really need more than one because they are a herd animal and love companionship…at least that’s what I tell my husband! You’ll have to provide a shelter (with minimal hay storage), pasture (room to roam, play and exercise), the knowledge of a good veterinarian, impenetrable fencing, salt/minerals, hay and fresh clean water. Varying amounts of grain may be required depending on the type of goats raised. Regular maintenance includes trimming their feet (a skill any novice goat-keeper can quickly acquire), annual vaccination (a skill quickly learned) and dispensing ‘medication’ for parasite control. Dairy goats generally are bred in the Fall, after five months gestation giving birth to twins or more (kids) in the Spring…called freshening. During lactation, dairy goats are typically milked twice-per-day at 12-hour intervals and depending on the breed, may produce one quart to a gallon or more goat’s milk per day…until you repeat the breeding cycle all over again in the Fall. Some owners of heavy milkers may extend their doe’s lactation through a year or more [without breeding].
Be sure to visit Sheepy Hollow’s Farm Shop in the Spring when we have goat kids and Shetland lambs to greet you! Depending on our current milk supply, we may offer goat milk shares and cheese making workshops!