Goats are among the most amiable dairy animals with endearing personalities and therefore are the preferred choice on most homesteads. They produce high-quality milk along with fiber and meat. Goats can also be useful for carrying packs, clearing brush, or serving as the perfect livestock companion.
The docile, friendly, and curious nature of goats makes them ideal as pets or tame dairy animals. You can choose the goat you need suiting your purpose and budget. But the gender of a goat is essential to the purpose it will serve, and so we will discuss male vs. female goats: which one you should keep on your homestead and why?
The most notable differences among goats are their size, scent, and anatomical structures. Juvenile goats are called kids. Male goats of all breeds are called bucks or billies, and female ones are known as does or nannies. Does are the milk – producers. Goat milk contains a higher number of nutrients and helps to boost metabolism and improve immunity.
At times, male goats are castrated to become tamer, and their meat can be sold off. Male goats produce this pungent, musky odor, and only when their testicles are removed do they become free of that smell. They are made to feed to clean areas and tea plantation weeds. Then they are sold for meat since they don’t smell ‘goaty’ after castration. Castrated goats are known as wethers.
Goats are raised as homestead animals due to dairy and commercial benefits like milk and fiber. Let’s discuss why people prefer goat products over others.
An approximate 60% population of the world drinks goat milk since it has many nutrients and unique composition. It is rich in calcium and protein with a lower lactose level that is better digestible. Goat milk is known to strengthen the body’s immune system and enhance absorbing major nutrients from food.
Goat meat consists of fatless protein, iron, and various other vitamins and minerals that are highly beneficial for a person’s health. Goat’s meat is also known to increase immunity and prevent cancer.
Goats produce extravagant fibers to make the most delicate clothing, such as mohair, pashmina, and cashmere, with their soft texture and durability. These fibers are derived from various milk and meat goats.
Male vs. Female Goats
Male and female goats don’t vary too much except the fact that they serve different purposes. Yet, let’s explore some of the physiological differences between the two genders.
1. Size Difference
Generally, domestic goats weigh in the range from 20 – 250lbs, and they stand at 10 – 43 inches height, although it differs from breed to breed. Despite such a large margin amongst goat breeds, the bucks are mostly larger and built than the does.
Bucks emit a unique pungent, musky odor from their sex glands to attract the females. Does are attracted to this scent, and their hormones emit a similar fragrance, leading to mating between the two goats. This scent will be absent in a castrated goat or wether.
3. Beard and Horns
While bucks might have proper beards, does only have a small goatee. A buck might grow a longer and thicker beard than a doe, but this cannot be the deciding factor amongst the differentiation of their genders since beards can vary in different breeds.
In a few goat breeds, bucks, and has hollow horns, but a few breeds have polled heads with no horns. But this again cannot be a deciding factor since the horns will almost be the same except that females might have slightly smaller horns than the males.
4. Anatomical Structures
They have milk-producing udders, anus, and vagina that distinguish them from the male with an elongated scrotal sac, two testicles, and an anal opening. Does become sexually mature in a year, and their udders enlarge with milk after they mate and get pregnant the first time. The males become sexually mature in 5 months and can be castrated safely in 10 weeks.
Also Read: The Complete Goat Feeding Guide: How to Feed Your Goat the Perfect Diet
Goat Rearing Practices
Proper rearing practices are crucial in every dairy farm to ensure that animals get the right care and treatment. This ensures that you’ll have maximum output.
1. The Right Buy
When you choose a goat for your dairy, you have to be sure that it’s healthy and produce good results. Therefore, always select goats with a good body condition without any injuries, infections, or diseases and in good health.
You can determine that a goat is in perfect condition if it moves around smoothly without any limp, stiffs, or sores. The manure should be pelleted and firm. Make sure that the goat’s body has no abscesses on it.
Goats are lively and alert with a friendly nature so keep this in mind when interacting with them. They are not okay if they act out. Milking does have to be checked on an excellent udder and teats, also check their feet. The perfect goat also has a shiny, fibrous coat along with bright eyes.
You can also get various tests done by a veterinarian to determine if the goat is entirely healthy or not. This might include fecal tests to examine goat feces for internal parasites and blood tests for brucellosis, CAE, TB, and mastitis.
2. Housing & Fencing
Despite being hardy animals, goats do need a shelter. It doesn’t have to be incredibly elaborate, the only requirements being ventilation, draft-free, and a dry area. In average climates, you will need approximately 12 – 25 square feet area to house the goats, but in extreme winters, the goats might require more area for extra protection and warmth.
Strong fencing is crucial to keep out predators. It has to be sturdy and, if possible, woven wire or electrical so that predators can’t enter the premises and goats don’t wander outside.
Goats have a browsing nature towards various plants, shrubs, or even cans and tins. Although they do not eat everything they encounter, it is essential to provide them with dry and mold-free hay and clean water supply along with the general acreage consumption of goats.
Goats come under the species of ruminant mammals, and therefore their stomach has four chambers that absorb most food nutrients. Yet salt and other minerals should be provided to goats to prevent deficiency. Does need unique minerals, proteins, vitamins, and supplement grains during the milking period. They are often given alfalfa.
4. Health and Grooming
Goats are generally hardy and healthy animals and have rare chances of getting ill if provided with proper nutrition and care. Yet, you should never overlook the need for vaccinations against white-muscle disease, pasteurellosis, enterotoxemia, and tetanus for goats.
Goats are most commonly affected with caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) or caseous lymphadenitis (CL), but these can be avoided with proper prevention methods. Contact a vet to understand these diseases, their prevention, and vaccines.
Goat’s hooves require regular trimming since overgrown hooves have the dire potential to misalign the animal’s bones, making it a cripple. You need to maintain their hooves regularly. This can be done with the help of a sharp knife or shears.
Breeding Male and Female Goats
Female dairy goats give milk only after they give birth, and therefore they are bred with a male dairy goat. The does can be bred in about nine months – 1 year. They are receptive to producing every 18 – 23 days, generally from autumn to late winter for 2 – 3 times a day.
Does signal heat for breeding through rigorous tail – wagging, frequent urination, nervous bleating, and slightly swollen vulva. At this point, she should be taken to the buck for breeding. After three weeks, she’ll either show the signs again, or she might be pregnant.
Once the doe gets pregnant, the gestation period is 145 – 152 days. Prepare for kidding at this point. Get information from a vet or experienced farmer about how to go about this process so that you can get positive results.
After the first kidding, a female goat is ready for freshening and should be milked every 12 hours per day regularly in clean surroundings to prevent dust and dirt in the milk. Learn how to milk a doe properly before going about the process.
Milk production can vary in goats, but the available quantity is between 1500 – 4000lbs milk per a lactation period of 305 days. Usually, meat and fiber breed goats are not milked, and the kids are allowed to wean.
Also Read: Goat Terminology: Terms that Every Goat Owner Should Know
Top Dairy Goat For Homestead
Let’s look at some of the best quality milk-producing goats that are ideal for homestead.
1. American Lamancha Goat
Lamancha goat is a distinctive breed that is easily recognizable due to its tiny ears. These animals are hardy but have a loving temperament. They produce large quantities of milk with rich butterfat content and protein.
2. Nigerian Dwarf Goat
As its name suggests, this goat has originated from Africa. It is small in build but produces 1 – 2 quarts of milk daily. The milk of this goat is high in protein and butterfat content with a creamy taste.
These goats come in horned and polled variations and various colors, including chocolate, black, and gold, with frequent white marks. Their facial profile can be straight or concave with upright ears. They occupy less space and have a low input making it ideal to be raised on a small scale.
3. Anglo – Nubian Goat
This is a widely found crossbred breed of goat characterized by Roman noses, large, floppy ears, and a convex profile. Nubians are used for both dairy and meat. They produce rich, creamy milk with high butterfat content and have a lot of flesh too. These animals are amicable and friendly. They make an excellent breed for domestic purposes.
4. Saanen Goat
This breed of goat is highly productive and produces a large amount of milk with high butterfat content. Originated from Switzerland, it is the largest among Swiss goat breeds. They are mostly inbuilt and require intensive management. The pale white skin of Saanen goats doesn’t tolerate strong sunlight. They are cooperative animals with a calm demeanor.
5. Alpine Goat
This breed of goat originated from France and Switzerland and, therefore, can cope with freezing climates. They are medium-large inbuilt and are available in various markings and colors from brown, gray, black to white. The quality and flavor of Alpine goat milk are exceptional. They provide large quantities of milk with low butterfat. Their milk is ideal for making cheese, butter, soap, ice cream, etc.
Both male and female goats require the same kind of attention and care to an extent. But bucks cannot be kept near does except at the time of breeding since their odor tends to spread into the doe’s milk, leaving it smelling pungent. Also, bucks are a bit vigorous during breeding.
At the same time, bucks are important for the process of breeding. Wethers are useful for meat. You can make a profit out of renting wethers for field and weed cleaning and finally for meat too. They all have their benefits, so now that you’ve gone through the differences, characteristics, and rearing practices of goats, it’s up to you to make the choice of goat you want to rear.