If you’re thinking about keeping goats, you might be wondering if it’s worth all the effort. After all, goats are a lot of work.
They need to be fed and watered every day, their living area needs to be cleaned regularly, and they need to be vaccinated and dewormed on a schedule. Not to mention, you’ll need to build or buy a shelter for them to live in. So, is all this work worth it?
Yes, keeping goats is worth it if you do the math ahead of time. You’ll need to have a clear budget in place and calculate expenses, as well as have a realistic idea of the profit you might get from selling meat, milk, or fiber.
All in all, keeping goats is worth it if you take the time to crunch the numbers. I’ll walk you through how to do that in this post.
For anyone considering adding goats to their farm or homestead, there are a few key things to consider. Let’s take a more calculated approach.
The first thing you need to consider when deciding whether or not to keep goats is the cost.
Goats are relatively cheap to buy, but there are still some upfront costs you’ll need to consider.
For example, you’ll need to buy a goat shelter, which can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 depending on the size and type of shelter you choose. You’ll also need to buy hay and grain for your goats, which will cost around $20 per month per goat.
Then there are the costs of vaccines, dewormer, hoof trimming, and other health care items, which will run you around $50 per year per goat. So, all told, you can expect to spend around $130 per year on each goat in your herd. And that’s conservative.
Now let’s take a look at the income side of things. A healthy goat can produce up to 2 gallons of milk per day during peak production season (which lasts from April through September). At current prices, that works out to around $2 per gallon of milk sold.
So if you had a herd of 10 goats and each goat produced 2 gallons of milk per day during peak production season, you would bring in around $800 per month in income from selling milk. But that’s if and ONLY if you’re able to find a local market for that milk and if you’re interested in selling the milk.
And then there’s goat meat. In some cases, you can sell goat meat for up to $22 per pound, especially for premium cuts and especially if it’s grass-fed meat.
You’ll have to factor in butchering expenses, though, because in most places it’s illegal to sell goat meat from animals you’ve processed yourself.
For many people, the thought of keeping goats brings up images of quaint farmsteads and quaint country living. But it’s not for everyone. Here are some more tips to help you figure out whether raising goats is worth it for you.
As it has it, it’s extremely important when you are starting something new on your homestead to keep good records of expenses vs. benefits.
If it’s costing you more than it’s worth, then you really need to consider either changing what you are doing to make it more cost effective, or discontinuing that particular venture.
Rethink the Feed
Remember the first year we got laying hens? At the end of the year I calculated that it had cost us $7.80 per dozen eggs. Yikes. We’ve made a lot of changes since then.
We don’t feed them bagged corn anymore. We don’t feed them as much laying mash (only a pint jar a day for 7 hens). We give them lots of table and garden scraps, and are trying to grow more of their food.
Last year we learned that for us, it just wasn’t worth it to raise pigs. (Not to mention that we’ve since stopped eating pork.)
This year it’s milk goats. I’ve been keeping records of how much milk we are getting and how much we’ve spent on feed, hay, and meds. I don’t count fencing ’cause we’re using what we already had.
Honestly, I was a little scared to know what a gallon of milk has been costing us. We haven’t been very diligent in our efforts, as I will explain further in a moment.
After adding it all up, it looks like we have some changes we need to make if it’s gonna be worth keeping the goats.
The feed we are buying is $12 for a 50 lb. bag. One bag lasts us about 9 days. So, it’s fair to say we use about 3 bags per month. That’s $36/mo.
The bales of hay we are buying from a local farmer are $3/bale. One bale lasts us about a week (and that’s being stingy with it). So, in a month we go through about 4 bales. That’s about $16/mo.
Don’t Forget to Factor in Other Costs
I decided to go with Molly’s Herbal De-Wormer; it’s a weekly treatment. The kit cost me $25.70 shipped, and should last our four goats about 6 months. This ends up costing us just a little over $4/mo.
Added all up, it looks like we’re spending about $56/mo to keep these goats. Not even counting intangibles like water and electricity.
Figure Out How Much “Product” You Are Getting in Return for the Expense
Milking only one of the goats has given us about a quart a day. Which reminds me, make sure that whenever you are looking to buy a milk goat, you insist on being present at one of the milkings before you make your purchase.
This way you will know for sure how much milk you can expect to get from her. We were told that each of these does would give 3/4 of a gallon a day! Which has proven not to be the case.
So, we’ve been averaging almost 2 gallons per week. Are you still with me? That means we’ve been paying about $7 per gallon for our goat’s milk.
We could get a gallon of fresh milk from a local farmer for $3/gal! And not have to milk twice a day, or worry about taking care of any animals, or skipping summer vacations ’cause we don’t have anybody to milk for us while we’re gone.
Obviously, we have some reevaluating to do. If we had more land we could grow more of our own animal feed… but we’ve quickly learned that one acre just isn’t enough to raise a sufficient amount of food for our family plus the animals. At least, we haven’t figured out how to do it yet.
How to Cut Costs When Raising Goats
Fortunately, there are some things we can do to help cut costs.
Increase the Number of Animals You Have
One easy way to improve your profit margins is to increase the number of animals you have to increase the product.
Now, this sounds counterproductive, but hear me out. Yes, you will have to pay a bit more for feed, but often, once your expenses (including your expenses for housing, fencing, vet care, etc.) are spread out among multiple animals, you’ll actually pay LESS than you were before. Plus, you can sell the excess.
As I mentioned, separating the doeling is top priority. Hopefully milking both goats will at least double the amount of milk we are getting.
Only Keep Your Best Animals
We’ve decided to sell the little buckling instead of keeping him for breeding. From everything I’ve been reading, it just isn’t worth it to keep a buck unless you have a large herd of does to breed.
We’ve been given the number to a local farmer who sells bags of goat feed for $8 instead of the $12 we are paying at the mill. Hopefully we’ll be able to hook up with him and start saving money there.
Choose the Right Breed
Consider what you actually need goats for.
If you want goat breeds for milk, then you’ll need to factor in the cost of milking equipment and feed. If you want goats for meat, then you won’t need to worry about milking equipment, but you will need to factor in the cost of feed and slaughtering.
Some breeds of goats are more expensive than others. If you’re just starting out, it might be best to choose a less expensive breed until you get a feel for raising goats.
Remember to buy from a reputable breeder, too. A breeder might be more expensive, but it will be worth it in the long run.
A reputable breeder will have healthy goats that are less likely to get sick and require vet care
If you have a friend or family member who is also interested in raising goats, consider sharing the costs and responsibilities with them. This can be a great way to reduce the overall cost of raising goats while still enjoying all the benefits.
If you want to really cut down on the cost of raising goats, you can breed your own. This means that you would need to purchase a male and female goat, but once you have them, they will be able to produce offspring without any additional cost on your part.
You can then sell the offspring or keep them as part of your herd. Breeding your own goats is a great way to ensure that you have a constant supply of animals without having to incur the cost of purchasing them from a breeder.
One of the easiest ways to offset the cost of raising goats is to sell their milk and cheese. Goat milk is in high demand these days, so if you have a knack for making cheese or other dairy products, you can likely sell your products for a decent price.
You can also use goat milk to make soaps and other products, which are also popular among consumers looking for natural options.
And, if I can start making and selling goat’s milk soap, that may be a way to help cover our feed bill.
Raising goats can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be mindful of the associated costs. Luckily, there are ways to reduce those costs so that you can still make a profit.
So, that’s where we’re at, and that’s the plan. Do you see the importance of keeping track of your expenses? If you want to become more self-sufficient, you can’t let your homestead cost you more than it profits.
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A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.