If I can offer any advice in owning goats, it would be know what avenue you are pursuing and stick to it. Have a plan and set up a budget. Never invest more money than you can afford to loose especially now with economic hard times looming ahead.
Goats are definitely a versatile, sustainable animal. Different breeds of goats can provide you with milk, meat, fiber, leather, weed control, fertilizer and serve as pack animals. In addition there are also other avenues you can pursue in owning goats, breeding, stud service, showing, 4-H or FFA stock and pet quality animals.
Most local goat owners I know raise goats for the family milk supply. With the milk supply you can provide your table not only with milk, you can easily learn to make butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, even soap. Normally 2 dairy goats will provide enough milk for your family needs depending on the milking ability and milk production of the goat.
Milking ability and production can depend on several factors. I feel the diet of and breed of goat and their lineage are the main factors.
We do not show and never plan to show. Still all (but 1) of our dairy goats are registered with the American Dairy Goat Association and come from show stock. One of our dairy does was shown by her previous owner and has show placings of 1 Best Junior Doe In Show, 1 Grand Champion, 1 Reserve Grand Champion, 6 1st Place wins.
We did not buy her for her wins in the show ring we bought her due to her superior breed qualities and characteristic, correct structure and confirmation. She was in exceptional good health, had trouble-free pregnancies and deliveries; was known for her easy milking, nice udder with strong, high attachments and easy-going temperament.
I am not saying you should only buy and own registered animals. I am saying buy the very best you can possibly afford.
We originally began the farm with grade or non-registered animals. Our first milker, now 9 yrs. old, a grade Saanen, still is our most prolific and top producer. Her breed, (Saanen), is recognized for being heavy milkers and she holds to that breed standard. She gives us 2 gallons of milk daily when at peak production. She is not of registered stock.
We are not big time goat breeders, though having registered goats serves 2 purposes for us, the registration can be used as a tracking system and for pedigrees. With membership in ADGA (ADGA membership fees can be a farm tax deduction.) we are considering one day to participate in the ADGA Dairy Herd Improvement Registry (DHIR) milk test. Also registration can serve as a marketing tool.
To have milk, you do have to breed your dairy does.
Breeding one doe can result in possibly 4 kids. So what will you do with the offspring? Do you plan on keeping or selling the babies? This is where breeding registered stock can come into play. In some areas folks prefer to and are willing to spend the money to buy registered stock.
I do have to add, in our area, people are not looking for and will not pay for high dollar milk goats. Most could care less about "the papers". They are looking for affordable quality stock without the price tag. When goats are purchased from us, we automatically transfer the paperwork into the new owner’s names if the goats are registerable. The costs of the registration fees are included in the cost of the animal.
Note-With the ADGA you can have a non-registered doe bred to a registered buck and their female offspring can be registered. See their website for registry information.
I have a close friend who also has milk goats, she refuses to own a buck. Each year she rents a buck from another farm to stud her does. At the end of the breeding season she returns the buck to the owner. One year she did buy a buck for breeding to turn around and sell him after he did his job.
I prefer to have our own buck, I know what lines and pedigree he has, know his health history and that he is not carrying in any diseases to the farm. (My goal is have a closed goat herd as of December 2009 which means stud service will no longer be an income option for us.)
We are also a bit different than many goat owners, we have a variety of breeds of goats for a variety of purposes. We can cross breed our full size meat and dairy goats to produce market kids or commercial meat stock yet still have our dairy goats in milk.
Our Angoras are a smaller breed of goat and can not be bred to our full size Boer buck so we have both Angora does and bucks. If we ever felt it necessary we could breed an Angora buck to any of our full size does.
The majority of our goats are registered with their breed registries…Angoras with Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association, Boer with the American Boer Goat Association.