“Get goats” they said “It will be fun” they said.
Want to make great goat milk products? Soap, lotion, candles, fudge, cheese, or just want the milk? While they are a lot of fun they are also a ton of work and money. When it comes to raising dairy goats there are a lot of hidden expenses that no one really seems to tell you about. So, before you jump into dairy goats you should know the true cost of having them. Being blindsided is never a good thing, especially when it comes to money.
The Initial Cost of a goat
The initial cost of the goats ranges from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. Why the big difference? Well it all starts with gender male or female? If male, buck or wether (a castrated male)? Horns or no horns? Age, breed, registered, health, and place of purchase all decide the cost. Highly sought-after registered young females are going to be most expensive, typically speaking. Older unregistered male goats often are given away or sold very cheap. A quality registered goat coming from a reputable breeder will bring more money than one purchased from the sale barn. Health guarantees are a huge plus, especially if you plan to milk or breed in the future. Cae, CL, and Johne’s testing should be amongst the most important choice a goat owner makes. Why? These diseases can spread through a herd and either make them all ill, pass on to the next generations, or wipe out a herd completely.
For this article, we are going purchase a two-year-old, registered, dehorned, and disease tested doe in milk. Typical price range $250-$500. Now you need a milk stand $100-$500 dollars depending upon material and craftsmanship. If you are handy you can get away cheaper. So, you are going to hand milk, you will need a pail, strip cup, teat wipes, mastitis spray, filters, and a funnel; there goes $150. Want a machine? Bring out the credit card because it is going to cost you $500-$1500.
Now, are you going to take care of their hooves? You will need trimmers costing about $30. If not, it is going to cost you roughly $25 per goat every few months. What about vet care? Are you going to give them all their shots and check fecal samples for worms? A Vet will charge per fecal sample costing about $25 + vet fee + wormer medicine = $50-$100 per goat at-least twice a year. This is just for routine medical care. If you have a sick goat then it is a whole different very expensive story.
Want milk? Then you are going to have to breed your girls. There are a few choices here; rent a buck, buy a buck, AI (artificial insemination), or driveway breeding. To be honest no matter what choice it can be expensive. Renting will typically cost a per doe charge $50-$100 + boarding + feed. Purchasing a buck will cost the price of the buck + housing + extra fencing + feed. AI has a per straw fee of $25-$100’s of dollars per doe, depending on the quality of the buck + shipping + straw container + AI specialist. Driveway breeding is when does are taken to the buck for $50-$100 per doe while in heat. You let them visit for a few minutes then head back home hoping it took.
So, are you worried about the cost yet? Let us talk feed. Grain prices vary but we pay around $12 per 50lb bag. Hay depends on quality, location, and cut; a high-quality alfalfa mixes $5-$10 per bale. Against popular belief goats are picky eaters enjoying quality hay, fresh vegetables, foraging, and good grain. Loose mineral, baking soda, selenium paste, vitamin B paste, treats, and other supplements will be needed from time to time. $20-$50 every few months would be an educated guess.
Now that we have all the numbers lets add them up. Wow! $630-$2730 for your first goat and milking setup. I did not include food, unexpected Vet cost, supplements, fencing, feeders, waterers, bedding, or housing. The first year always seems the worst. Once you have the right setup and all the equipment the price per year goes down drastically. Do you still want to get into dairy goats? I hope so! But go in knowing the true expenses you will incur.