7 Goat Breeds to Consider for Your Acreage
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A Quick Goat Guide
Goats are known as the farmyard animals who eat everything in sight.
There’s a lot of truth to this stereotype: Goats are unpicky eaters. Yes, they’ll happily eat your flowers, but they’ll also clean up a pasture or woodland, eating unappetizing things such as thistles, briars, woody plants, and shrubs. Sure-footed goats are even used by the U.S. Forest Service to forage areas that are inaccessible or less gastronomically appealing to other grazing animals.
But goats are so much more than good grazers. If you want to raise livestock for food and/or money, goats deliver. Dairy goats produce milk for drinking and creamy chèvre cheese. Other goat breeds are raised for their meat (called chevon), which is a staple of North African and Central American diets. There are breeds that produce fiber revered by handspinners. Some miniature goat breeds make ideal pets; these breeds are compact, engaging, and loving.
Goats are also smart; their high IQs can equate to precociousness (also called trouble). They love to jump, climb, and stand on things, so plan on having adequate fencing (at least 4 feet tall) to keep them contained.
To add to the fun, goats have several odd physical quirks. Some have horns, while others can be naturally hornless. Some dairy goats have wattles, little pieces of skin that grow off their necks that serve no purpose. And some goats (both males and females) sport beards, making them look old and wise.
Goats come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. In fact, there are more than 300 breeds of goats worldwide. On the following pages, we highlight seven easy-to-raise breeds you might want to consider for your acreage.Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
This hardy little goat gets its name from its tiny stature. Pygmies make excellent pets, 4-H projects for kids, and companion animals for sheep or horses.
USE: Pet, meat
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: West Africa
TEMPERAMENT: Sturdy, good natured, friendly
WEIGHT: 53–86 pounds
COLORS: Caramel (with black/brown markings), black (solid and with white markings), agouti (each hair has dark and light coloring in brown, gray, and black)
FUN FACT: Considered a miniature breed, these adorable little goats measure 41–58 inches tall to their withers.Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
Members of this breed (called Anglo-Nubian in Great Britain) feature long pendulous ears and a Roman nose. These large goats have a wise, aristocratic look.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Great Britain
TEMPERAMENT: Social, outgoing, vocal
WEIGHT: 135–175 pounds
COLORS: Black, red, tan, or one of those colors with white
FUN FACTS: Nubians were developed from milking goats from the Middle East and North Africa; they produce the highest goat’s-milk fat: 5%.Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
Toggenburgs, the oldest known dairy goats, are slightly smaller than other Alpine dairy breeds.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Switzerland
TEMPERAMENT: Alert, sturdy
WEIGHT: 120–145 pounds
COLORS: Light brown to mouse gray with white facial markings
FUN FACTS: Although considered a top dairy breed, Toggenburgs can also be raised for meat. The breed takes its name from the Toggenburg region in Switzerland.Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
This goat has a weird characteristic (caused by a genetic disorder called myotonia congenita). It falls down when startled or panicked—hence the name fainting goat. This novelty breed is also raised for meat because the goats have high reproductive rates.
USE: Pet, meat
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States (Tennessee); they’re also known as Tennessee Fainting Goats
TEMPERAMENT: Docile, prone to fainting
WEIGHT: 50–175 pounds
COLORS: White, brown, black, bicolor
FUN FACTS: The fainting spells don’t hurt the goat and only last 5–20 seconds.Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
One of the largest dairy goats (and one of the top milk producers by volume), pure white Saanen goats make a uniformly striking flock when grazing in a pasture.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Switzerland
TEMPERAMENT: Gentle, easy to handle, eager to please
WEIGHT: 130–145 pounds
COLORS: White, light cream (white is preferred)
FUN FACTS: A Saanen ewe can produce about 1 gallon of milk per day.Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
Curly-haired, flop-eared, curvy-horned Angora goats may be mistaken for sheep because of their long lustrous coats. Their fleece is a fiber called mohair, which can be harvested by shearing twice a year. Depending on the area, mohair fetches $10–$25 per pound.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Turkey
TEMPERAMENT: Gentle, friendly, easy to handle
WEIGHT: 75–150 pounds
COLORS: White, black, gray, silver, red, brown
FUN FACTS: Don’t get confused: The fiber called angora is produced by the Angora rabbit, not the Angora goat, which produces mohair.Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
The Boer goat was developed from indigenous goats in Africa. These beautiful goats have bright white bodies, brown heads, and long pendulous ears. The fast growers are one of the most popular meat breeds.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: South Africa
TEMPERAMENT: Docile, good mothers
WEIGHT: 200–350 pounds
COLORS: White bodies, brown heads
FUN FACTS: Boer goats were first raised by Afrikaners in South Africa; boer is the Dutch word for “farmer.”Date Published: November 14, 2018Date Updated: November 26, 2018
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