If you are interested in raising goats, here is a guide that outlines the basics of this wonderful profession.
The job of a goat farmer
Goats are raised in France for their milk, not for their meat. The days are mainly divided between feeding and milking. Outdoor farming requires that the goats be taken out to pasture if it is not adjacent to the farm.
The daily life of a goat farmer is also dedicated to the care of the animals, including hoof trimming, checking their health, cleaning the sheepfold, veterinary care including deworming, managing reproduction, the control of food and access to water, etc. There must also be time for administrative tasks.
The goat farmer works every day of the year. The animals need daily care and milking, they do not know Sundays or holidays. During the birthing period, the schedule is even more extensive and often extends into the night.
Milking and cheese processing
Goat breeders can limit themselves to breeding or also take on cheese processing, which allows them to see the results of their work.
In this case, you can restrict your activity to the sale of milk, but you can also start manufacturing more elaborate products: Yogurt, cottage cheese, curd cheese, pressed cheese…
Soil-less or open-air breeding
It is possible to raise goats above ground, i.e. in sheds from which the animals never leave. The goats are fed with fodder.
Outdoor farming offers incomparable animal welfare, but also a quality of milk and cheese that has nothing to do with intensive farming. The goats enjoy a fresh, seasonal, and specific diet to each region. The most comfortable solution for the farmer, as well as for his animals, is to graze when the weather is suitable and to spend the winter in the sheepfold.
You can choose to raise animals exclusively outdoors, which limits the investments related to buildings, as well as the time spent on maintenance. On the other hand, it is necessary to be organized to move the herd on a grassy ground, when their pasture is not sufficiently productive any more. They may need additional feed, but if you have large areas, the free food of the meadows will suffice.
The choice of the goat breed
The Saanen and Alpine goats are the most popular because of their high productivity. They represent 90 % of the French livestock. However, this figure appears to be decreasing, because a new generation of breeders is interested in breeds that are certainly less productive, but more rustic and better adapted to outdoor breeding.
Choosing a local breed allows us to maintain our agricultural heritage, but also to offer a different, more original milk.
Organic goat breeding
You can start organic farming, which requires outdoor farming, but also to the barn when weather conditions require it, especially in winter. The organic feed supplements must mainly come from the farm or from the cooperation with organic producers in the region.
The reproduction is primarily natural, but artificial insemination is allowed. On the other hand, synchronization of heat with hormones is prohibited.
The nursing of the goats uses the mother’s milk during the first 45 days of the goat, at least.
Allopathic treatments are only used in case of pain and are never preventive. Homeopathic, phytotherapic and trace element products are preferred.