Start a Goat Farm

Raising goats can be a lucrative and enjoyable farming experience, as long as you are well prepared. Discover reasons to farm goats and what you need to consider to start a goat farm.


Selecting Goats

  1. Check local zoning regulations. Your local government may not allow goats, especially if you live in an urban area. Contact the nearest zoning board, building inspector, or other regional government office to see whether it limits farmers to certain breeds, ban only uncastrated male goats (bucks), or imposes some other limitation. Check with your landlord or homeowner association as well.
    • Make it clear whether you are raising goats for commercial or personal use, as different regulations may apply.[1]
  2. Plan on getting at least two goats. Goats are social animals, and are more likely to be uncooperative or try to escape if kept alone. Always keep at least two goats in each enclosure.[2] Because uncastrated males (bucks) cannot be kept with females (does), this may require purchasing more than two goats. Keep reading for tips on deciding which sex of goats to purchase.
  3. Decide how many male and female goats to purchase. There are three main types of goats divided by sex: females, called does; uncastrated males, called bucks; and castrated males, called wethers. Does need to be impregnated by a buck before they produce milk, but raising a buck can require a lot of extra work. Bucks require a separate enclosure, may develop a strong odor, and are often aggressive.[3] For the easiest start to your goat farm, buy two does, and pay another goat farm for the opportunity to breed your does with its buck.
    • Neutered males, or wethers, are not able to breed or produce milk. They are usually purchased as barnyard pets. Many goat farms end up with wethers when their goats give birth to extra males.
    • If you do purchase a buck, consider spending extra for one with breeding papers. You'll have a better idea of its traits and are less likely to breed defects into your herd.
  4. Select the age of the goats. Young goats are called kids, or bucklings or doelings depending on sex. When around 8 weeks old, they are typically cheaper than older goats, and may be friendlier if raised around humans, but they require one to two years of care before they can be bred, produce milk, or be sold as meat. A junior kid between 6 months and 1 year old will take less time to mature, and may even come with the option to have it bred before purchase (so it produces milk sooner). Finally, an adult or senior goat may be the cheapest option of all, but be wary of goat farmers selling useful milk producers. They may be trying to sell the lowest-quality goats in their herd.[4]
  5. Choose a goat breed. Some breeds are suited for milk production, such as Nigerian Dwarf, La Mancha, and Alpine goats. Others are usually raised for meat, such as the Spanish or Tennessee breeds. Finally, some farms raise Angora or Cashmere goats to sell their hair for fabric.[4] Find out which breeds are raised in your area, how large each breed grows to, and the physical and personality traits of each breed. Some breeds tend to be more docile, produce bucks with a stronger smell, or be prone to certain health problems.
    • Before deciding, you may want to read up on how to milk goats, slaughter goats, or Harvest-Cashmere. If you are not up to slaughtering a goat yourself, find commercial slaughtering operations nearby that will purchase your goats before raising goats for meat.
  6. Plan out costs. The costs of raising a goat varies over time and from region to region, as does the profit you can earn from selling goat products. If you are planning to raise goats for commercial purposes, it pays to get a good idea of costs and expected profit. Try to talk to several goat farmers or read recently published goat farming guides in your area to get a good estimate of the following costs. If the resulting estimate is above your budget, you might decide to purchase fewer goats, or a different breed.[5] Keep in mind that a goat farm may not be profitable for two years or more, especially if you are raising young goats or need to pay for initial setup such as fencing.
    • How much does it cost to raise a doe, a buck, or a kid for one year? Try to find numbers for your specific goat breed if possible.
    • If you are raising goats for milk, how much milk does one doe produce? How much can you sell this milk for?
    • If you are raising goats for meat, how much does a slaughtered goat sell for? Do they sell for more during a specific time of year, such as Muslim holidays, Christmas, or Easter?
    • How much on-hand money do you have available for unexpected costs, such as fencing repair or veterinary procedures? If one of your goats dies, will that cause you financial hardship?

Preparing an Enclosure

  1. Build excellent fencing. Goats are excellent at crawling through small gaps or climbing over fencing. Five feet fences or higher of sturdy, "no climb" wire fencing strung between posts is harder to climb or slip through than fences constructed with horizontal beams.[4] If you have both bucks and does, make sure to build a separate, strong buck pen with especially sturdy and tall fencing. This fence will keep your bucks in rut from accessing your does in estrus (heat); in other words, this will prevent your goats from unplanned breeding.
    • Goats of significantly different sizes should not be kept with each other, unless they are kids kept with their mother.
    • Bucks can become aggressive when in rut and near females, so the separate enclosure is highly recommended even if you don't care about unplanned breeding.
  2. Build a goat shelter. Your goats will need a place to go in the winter and when it's raining. A small pole barn will work just fine. Goat breeds with thick coats may be able to withstand colder temperatures, but check with an experienced goat farmer first. If you live in a mild climate a three-sided enclosure will provide fresh air; if your area experienced cold winters, create a fully enclosed, draft-free environment, but let the goats out during the day.
    • Goats hate puddles and wet weather. If you live in a rainy area, you may wish to provide a larger indoor enclosure.
  3. Remove poisonous or strong-smelling plants. Goats will graze or chew on almost anything, although stories of them eating cars and tin cans tend to be exaggerated. Milkweed, bracken fern, or wild cherry leaves are examples of plants that can be poisonous to goats, although some goats may not eat these if provided with a sufficient variety and quantity of other foods. Strong-smelling plants may add an unpleasant taste to the goat's milk, including onion, cabbage, buttercup, and parsley.
  4. Acquire supplies. Shop around for food and water buckets. Compare various grains to determine which will be nutritious and cost-effective for feeding your goats. The feed should provide significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus in a 1.2:1 ratio to prevent health problems, and certain feeds may require additional mineral supplements.[6] An experienced goat farmer or a veterinarian may be able to advise you on locally available options.

Getting Started with Goat Care

  1. Disbud-(Prevent-Horns)-in-a-Baby-Goat. Most goat species grow horns, and if allowed to grow, these horns have the potential to seriously injure other animals or humans. Anytime after the young goat is two weeks old, have the horn stubs removed, or "disbudded." This can be painful for the goat, and difficult without proper assistance. The assistance of an experienced goat farmer or veterinarian is recommended, especially one who knows how to administer anesthetization before starting the procedure.[7]
    • If the skin on their forehead is easily moved around by rubbing, the goats are probably naturally hornless and do not require disbudding.
  2. Castrate most young males. Even if you are breeding goats, you typically only need one buck per 25–50 does. Young, male goats that you do not intend to breed should be castrated at two weeks old or later, but only if they are healthy. Have a veterinarian administer a preventative tetanus shot before you perform the castration.[7]
    • Male goats grow large testicles, so even a castrated goat (wether) may not look as though it has been castrated.
  3. Breed your does. If you wish your does to produce milk or kids, you will need to breed them with a buck once the doe has reached breeding age. When a doe goes into estrus (heat), remove it from the herd and introduce it to a buck, rather than the other way around. Two to four breedings is usually enough to ensure pregnancy. A normal gestation period is around 150 days, but this can vary by species.
  4. Milk-a-Goat-by-Hand. Does can be milked while they are pregnant, once the udder is enlarged. Milk one or two times a day until roughly two months before the due date for the birth. This pause ensures the mother has enough nutrients to feed the newborn goat. Resume milking again once the newborn kid is six weeks old.[8] You do not need to breed the doe again until its milk production drops significantly.
  5. Find experts to consult in case of serious problems. Know who you can consult if one of your goats develops a health problem or escapes its enclosure. If no goat farmers or livestock veterinarians live nearby, try to find a book on goat farming that covers topics such as performing a health check and identifying signs of disease.[9]
  6. Find out where to sell your product. Whether you are selling meat, fiber, dairy products, or goat kids, you'll need to find a market to purchase them. For a small operation, it may be easiest to sell to individuals in your community or become a vendor at a farmer's market. If you have more products than you can sell this way, you can ship products through online orders or sell them to a commercial vendor who takes care of delivery for you.
    • Consider opening up your farm to visitors, and charging people to visit and pet friendly goats.


  • Sanitize all of your milking equipment and keep your milking area very clean. This is important for the taste of your milk.
  • Frequently check your fences for holes. Goats can get out of very small holes - especially kids.
  • Feel free to get attached to your breeding does and keepers, but avoiding becoming friendly with your meat goats, or butchering may prove difficult.
  • Bucks often urinate on their legs or faces during the breeding season. If you notice strong smelling or sticky material on their hair, this is likely the cause. This behavior should not cause concern, although many farmers find it unpleasant.


  • Goat farming typically requires daily care. If you plan on going on vacation, you'll need to hire an experienced farmer to cover for you.
  • When building fences, stay away from flimsy wire mesh and barbed wire. Chain link or stock panels are much sturdier, as long as the goat does not have easy hoof-holds for climbing.

Things You'll Need

  • Goats
  • Fencing
  • Separate barns for does and bucks
  • Feed
  • Veterinarian

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Sources and Citations

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