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Ideal start with goats

PUBLISHED: 16:52 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 17:09 12 May 2014

Q: What number and age group would make the ideal start for a small milking herd of goats?

Anke Sieker says: If you are lucky enough to find several goats for sale from a single breeder, the ideal combination would be a recently kidded older adult with her female kid(s) and preferably one of her goatling daughters. You can milk the nanny and bottle feed the kid(s) – you will have milk for the house straight away. The adult can then be “run through” the winter, this means being milked without her being mated for another year. Her goatling daughter goes to see the billy in the autumn to produce her own kid(s) in the spring. The original bought-in kid(s) can then be either sold as goatlings or if space allows can be brought into the breeding herd the following year. By mating goats alternate years and running at least one through you will always have milk for the house and any emergency lambs .

Although from a welfare point of view a minimum of two animals would be required to start a herd, three will give you a “spare” goat in the case of one of them dying, and also goats are happier with more than two mates to make friends with. By buying from a single herd you will greatly reduce the initial fights for dominance. Even better if the nanny can come in to become natural herd leader in her new home, as her goatling daughter and kid(s) should not fight her for the position of boss.

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