Dairy goats are great for more than just milk on the homestead.
In part 1, I showed how we’re saving a ton of money by adding our LaMancha/Saanen cross, Dahlia, to our homestead. With Dahlia only costing us $7 for a 50# bag of grain (purchased once every 10 days or so), the cost of an occasional wormer, and occasional vet care, the cost to keep Dahlia is negligible compared to our gain.
Now, I’ll show you how a dairy goat has many more uses that makes them a great investment for any homestead.
1. Manure for compost
I’m sure you have a compost pile (if you don’t you need to get on it!). To build great soil, you’ll need compost, and not much is better than composted manure. And I’ll tell you, goats produce lots of manure.
I love how, as homesteaders, every time we grow our gardens, we save on groceries while improving our heath and living a sustainable life. Composted manure helps us close the circle while saving money.
You can also allow your goats to graze your plants at the end of the season, allowing their manure to remain in the plot and compost over the winter.
I incorporate animal manure into my compost pile by adding it on top, then watering and turning. That way the fresh manure will degrade faster. I also add a lot of leaves and green material to balance out the nutrient structure.
Even if you don’t want to compost their manure, it will still fertilize the ground they graze. As long as you don’t over graze your pastures and keep your animals healthy, their “addition” to the land will create a sustainable loop where they feed the land, and the land feeds them.
2. Keeping grass (and therefore bugs and ticks) down
When you add a goat to your homestead, you’ll find they’ll eat grass. Lots and lots of grass (and sometimes your garden. Can you guess what I woke up to this morning??).
While they won’t necessarily give you a golf-course-trimmed lawn, they will keep the grass height down, which decreases the less-desirable bug population (like ticks), assuming you have enough goats.
Even Google employs goats to keep grass trimmed. So when your lawnmower breaks down, you’ll be able to save on buying a new one or having to hire a landscaper.
On our homestead, we allow certain goats to free graze, while some are moved around the property to ensure they evenly clip the grass and don’t get into anything they shouldn’t. That way no one area of the farm is over grazed, and the goats get the most nutritious grass possible.
Another added bonus is they fertilize the grass around the farm, so when they’re rotated back around, they’re eating super nutritious grass. I should point out that in early spring, we don’t allow them to graze all day, as I’ve found the excess sugars in the grass can cause scours.
3. Possible meat or extra cash
Goats are used in so many cultures for the meat, and although I don’t think Dahlia or our two bucklings would be great meat goats, as we add to our stock through kidding or adding more goats to our home, there will come day when we have too many goats.
Dahlia, like most nannies, regularly has twins, and since we only need 2 dairy goats and a buck on our homestead, we can save money on meat by consuming our excess goats.
Another possibility is to sell our extra goats, and bring some cash flow to our homestead.
It’s been medically proven that having a pet decreases blood pressure, and in some instances can lengthen your life. At a minimum, having a pet increases your quality of life.
A goat is a great pet for companionship, with their gentle natures and quirky antics. We love our two bucklings, even though I’m sure one will not be breeding quality. We’ll still keep him as a pet and a lawn mower.
While I’m not indicating a goat will help you avoid every health issue, their companionship might help manage your health simply by cheering you up. Their milk, being full of natural goodies, might improve your health simply because you’re drinking something full of beneficial nutrients.
Our goats don’t do this, but I’ve heard of goats that will sound the alarm by bleating whenever a person comes on your farm. Since security can be an issue on our farm, I would love it if a goat saved me from purchasing a security system and new fencing!
I do believe Dahlia’s presence, as well as our bucklings, keeps our poultry population safe to some extent. Dahlia is bigger than a cat or a hawk, and I know predators have thought twice about attacking my flock after getting a glimpse of Dahlia.
We have a black cat on our farm who is very welcome because she’s eliminated our mouse population. A few times the cat has considered going after a chick, but after seeing Dahlia has thought twice. Good Dahlia!
How does a goat save you money around your homestead? If you haven’t read Part I of this 2 part series, I break down how much we spend on Dahlia versus how much we gain!
Until next time!
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Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.