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Goats vs Cows.. Which is a better choice?

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default Goats vs Cows.. Which is a better choice?

Post by Adrian on 11th July 2010, 2:25 pm

Dairy cows and goats are both good choices for a homesteading family. Deciding which is best for your family will probably be based on the kind of pasture available and how much milk you want to deal with each day.

More people around the world raise goats than cows. Goats will eat a variety of foliage that a cow wouldn’t touch. While it is wonderful that goats will eat tough weeds and brush, it also means that they will be more than happy to try to break into your garden and eat any and all of the plants you are growing as “people” food. Cows can also cause damage in the garden, but goats have a reputation for eating everything in sight.

Goats are much smaller (mature does weigh in at 120 lbs (54kg)to 135lbs (61kg) pounds) than cows (up to 1,000lbs (453kg)) making them easier to handle. Cows on the other hand, while larger, are more mellow and therefore easier to contain in a given area.

Both cow’s and goat milk are good for drinking and for making into cheese and other cultured milk products. It is easier to make butter from cow’s milk than from goat’s because the cream does not separate as easily from goat’s milk. Many people who are allergic to cow’s milk can drink goat’s milk

Both goats and cows produce milk in response to giving birth. A dairy goat will give up to 3 liters of milk a day, while a dairy cow, such as a Jersey, will give 23 liters. Excess milk can be sold if it is first pasteurized.

Pigs and chickens appreciate excess milk and milk products, and whey, leftover from making cheese, can be used in homemade bread.

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Post by Guest on 11th July 2010, 6:06 pm

These are similar discussion we have had over the past few years as we buy in (too much) milk products.

The one fact that I was told by a goat keeper that made me think goat would be better is that they produce milk for 2 seasons after the kid is born where as with a cow will have to have a calf each year. The producing a calf to kill is my problem with it all, although we have friends that would love the goat for meat.

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Post by Compostwoman on 11th July 2010, 6:15 pm

Must admit I am tending towards a goat or two, have someone who would love the meat (as would we.)

A bit concerned about the damage aspect though, kept goats in the past and (a long time ago) and if they get out into your garden they can destroy it very rapidly

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Post by Adrian on 11th July 2010, 6:41 pm

I do pretty much have the longsufferingspouse on board with us getting a couple of goats, Our biggest problem is the initial capital investment in housing and stock. Breeders have very strange ideas when it comes to the pricing their does and doelings here.

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Post by Broadstoneuk on 13th July 2010, 3:08 pm

I have been thinking about keeping goats. Would love cows but until we are on a permanet farm that is a just a dream.

So goats... which breed? There are so many to choose from!

We drink goats milk all the time here but we have never eaten goat meat. Quite an investmant to realise that we don't like goat meat if we should go down this path. Is there a market for goat meat in the uK?
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Post by Dandelion on 13th July 2010, 4:41 pm

Spent part of today at a small breeds centre with some of our SEN kids - have seen pygmy goats for the first time. Now I can see what all the fuss is about! If I start getting too enthusiastic, will someone please remind me that I don't like goat's milk/cheese. (They are seriously lovely though!!)

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 13th July 2010, 6:13 pm

Goats are an incredible PITA - I completely agree with Satin that you wouldn't want to even consider it if you were not attached to your land, and even then you are likely to wake up with them on the roof of the house or somewhere equally ridiculous.

Satin, there is a small market for goat meat in the UK but I would guess that a good proportion of it is Halal, and it would be a difficult market to get into as a smallholder. That said, if you are thinking of just dipping a toe in the water with a couple of beasts, I would certainly buy them off you if you didn't like the meat.

Goats can be hugely satisfying and very jolly on the other hand.

I think the commitment of either is not to be taken lightly at all - obviously that applies to keeping animal but with dairy animals much more so IMO. Our pigs are quite well tuned to what times of day they get fed and get a bit stroppy of we are late for some reason, but it is not the end of the world. If the chickens don't get let out till 9.00 some mornings they survive. Milking times are a lot less forgiving however and you can't miss one. This is the factor that puts me off dairy animals for the time being. I think you really need to have them on land attached to your dwelling and one or more of you to be based from the farm full-time.

I would very much like cows though - I could venture into cheesemaking (blessed be) in a serious way and any excess could go to the pigs, and we could rear our own veal (stop me if I start sounding like Vicky Tucker), which would be fantastic. So difficult to get humane organic veal at sensible prices.

Worth bearing in mind though that if you want to have milk all year round you will need two cows/does - one to have in milk while the other is pregnant.

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Post by Compostwoman on 14th July 2010, 12:18 am

I fancy goats...but think I may finally have persuaded CM about pigs...and a friend is giving up and selling off their stock, arks etc...so....

also am irrationally put off by goat eyes...they always look mad to me!

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Post by GB on 18th July 2010, 11:23 pm

I tend tward Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats because they are small and pretty colours and give the richest of all the goats milk. The fact that baby Nigerians are around two pounds and will fit in one hand doesnt hurt either

And being small its easier for a small person to handle them.

Would love a cow for meat but no where to put it.

Oh, and you can make all kinds of cheese from goats milk, including Cheddar and if you let the milk sit overnight the cream rises just fine. You just dont get as much cream, depending on your breed, as from a Jersey for instance.

And last but not lease, goats milk tastes like light lamb. All the flavor without the heaviness that you get sometimes from lamb.

Its really REALLY good!

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