9 Goat Species for a Permaculture Plot – REGENERATIVE.com

9 Goat Species for a Permaculture Plot

Keeping livestock is a big step for many permaculturists, but also an incredible rewarding challenge. Raising animals for meat, milk or simply as additions to the plot (although they will provide manure and companionship, so are not without their benefits should you choose not to consume their products) is a responsibility – you must ensure all the needs of the animals are met at all times – but with the right space and conditions, they can be an efficient and delightful part of your ecosystem.

Many permaculture gardeners start their journey with livestock with the smaller species, such as bees, chickens or ducks. And for many, that is more than enough. But there are other options for livestock rearing, either as a first animal or to add to an existing menagerie. One that is often overlooked is goats.

There are many advantages to raising goats. Firstly, they are curious and affectionate animals, providing a lot of joy in their antics. Goats are also producers, providing milk and, potentially, meat. (Be advised that to keep producing milk, a female will need to breed each year, so plan on your herd growing or make arrangements to find homes for the new arrivals.) They are excellent at keeping weeds at bay, and their manure is a very welcome addition to your compost pile.

However, there are certain other aspects of goat keeping that must be considered before taking the plunge. They will eat almost anything, so while that is great for keeping weeds down on your plot, you may need to construct fencing or other protection to keep them from decimating your crops. As herd animals, it is considered cruel to keep a single goat, so you will need to stock at least two but preferably more to ensure happy animals. They can also be loud, so think about the impact on yours and your neighbors’ peace and quiet. And unlike with poultry, city ordnances typically have limitations on goat species and sizes that can be kept in urban yards, so check before going ahead.

If you decide you want to give goat keeping a go, here are some of the more commonly stocked species that you may want to consider.

Kalahari Red
As the name suggests, this goat species originally came from the deserts of South Africa. As such, it is an ideal species for warmer climates and locations where vegetation may be a littler tougher to digest. It is primarily a meat goat, but can be used for milk production as well.

Alpine
Originating in a very different environment – the mountainous uplands of France, the Alpine has been introduced to many countries around the world, including the U.S. in 1922. It is known as a hardy goat, able to adapt to many climatic conditions, while producing good quantities of milk, usually of around a gallon a day.

Boer
Another species from the south of the African continent is the Boer. Thought to have been bred from wild goats by native bushmen, the Boer is usually raised for its meat. It is quick to get mature, attains a heavy weight, and its meat is low in fat. Many consider the Boer the premier meat breed in the world, and despite only becoming available in the U.S. in the late 1980s it is now commonly bred commercially.

Saanen
The Saanen – sometimes spelled Sannen – is a white breed that has among the highest levels of milk production of all goat species. Mature females can regularly produce between two and three gallons a day. The milk is not as rich as other breeds’; having lower butterfat content, but it does make a good all-purpose product, and combined with the Saanen’s easygoing nature and low level of care required, make it a good choice for first-time goat keepers.

Spanish
Descendants of the animals bought by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century, these goats are medium-sized meat animals. Sometimes referred to as the brush goat or scrub goat, it is particularly adept at clearing scrub land, briars and other hardy plants, and renowned for its ability to survive in difficult environments.

Tennessee Fainting
Sometimes called Stiff Leg goats or Wooden goats, these small goats have the odd behavioral quirk of their muscles freezing when they are panicked. This often results in the animal falling on its side. It is due to a genetic defect, and is from what the goats get their name. It is a personable breed, raised primarily for meat.

Kiko
Originating in New Zealand, this goat gets its name from the Maori word for ‘flesh’ so, unsurprisingly, they are bred as meat animals. They are a good choice for the permaculturist as they are renowned for their hardiness and ability to get by without too much intervention from their keepers.

Nubian
Hailing from the Middle East, the Nubian was first imported into Great Britain in the early 1800s, before eventually making its way around the world. The characteristic long ears of the breed are an evolutionary development to help keep it cool in hot temperatures, so the species is suitable for warm climates, although being a larger breed will require more space tan some others. A milk breed, mature females average around a gallon a day, and their milk is renowned for its sweetness.

Toggenburg
The Toggenburg produces some of the most ‘goaty’ tasting milk of all species. That may mean it is an acquired taste for those used to less permaculture plotrich versions or cow’s milk, but it can still be used to make an excellent cheese. This species comes originally from the Swiss Alps and is thought to be one of the oldest livestock breeds in the world, as well as one of the hardiest.

Besides these pure breeds, there are also crossbreeds available, such as the Moneymaker, which contains traces of the Saanen, Nubian and Boer breeds, and the Texmaster, which is a cross between the Boer and the Tennessee Fainting Goat.

Whichever species you choose to stock, you must (as you would with any livestock) meet all the goats’ needs. This means ensuring sufficient supply of food, enough space to express their natural instincts and behaviors, access to clean water, shelter and shade, and medical attention as necessary.

41 comments

Hmm, in my experience they killed every orchard tree, butted the children and broke out and caused havoc. Never ate a single weed:'(. We went off them rapidly!

Yes you need to take steps to protect your trees, you can just wrap chicken wire around the trunks. Our goats eat weeds like crazy! They are very friendly if you spend time with them, yes sometimes they butt, ours never hit us hard though.

Goats are a walking medicine chest, through their milk you will absorb all the nutrients from their browsing of nettles, blackberries, tree bark and thereby have subtle nettle immunity, deworming from the bark and so on. Goats are a real women’s animal by scale of size, intelligent. Toggenbergs will crawl on their sides to get under an electric fence.

Barb Welch…. lookie here!

They are so cute.

a goat’s milk is for the baby goat, not for humans to steal. If one wants these nutrients why not get them directly and make a tincture or a tea? And let’s not get in to breaking up a goat family and killing them for meat….how aweful it is for them…

I would add Kinder goats to that list. They are wonderful mid-sized dual-purpose goats. Check them out!

Marie-Andrée Du Potager Enchanté ?

I love goats !!!

lock up your apple trees!

Goats are not commodities for humans to exploit, they are their own persons. If you’re not a baby goat, you have no reason to drink goat milk. Leave them alone and let them live their lives peacefully and free from harm.

For those who fret that it’s wrong to take milk- get a grip! Dairy animals make enough milk for their kids plus much more, especially when fed well. Goats “living in peace and freedom” in some magical land where Nature builds them a nice barn to keep warm in and puts a heater in the water so it doesn’t freeze, and rations the exact amount of good sweet grain out to them so they don’t overfeed and go into kidney failure and has fencing to protect those kids and does from hungry predators exist only in your mind. When goats have triplets they often don’t let them all nurse equally, the farmer makes sure each one gets the nutrition and protection they need and many more survive than would have in nature.

Vanada

Looks like you left out the best breed ever– LaMancha. Excellent milk production and wonderful personalities. Even the bucks are sweet. Rarely ever find a bad buck in this breed. Better go back and do your homework on goats….

You left out the LaMancha. Best goat breed ever. Great milkers and wonderful personalities. Even the bucks are usually sweet!!

They make some of the best pets. Mine thought that they were dogs in disguise. We used a dog shock collar on them. They had 3 acres to roam, and they would almost put themselves away in the pen at night.

Goats are intelligent, that’s why I love them, would never eat them or any other animal 🙂

They WILL climb on your car, given half a chance!!

Vic

I was raised with a Tog. She was very nice and gave lots of milk. (Enough for her kids, and my little sisters who had Collic. Don’t know if I spelled Collic right or not, but babies who cry all the time from mom’s milk or regular milk, normally have Collic. Goats milk will get rid of collic from every child I know of…) As for the people who say that People can’t drink goats milk, get a serious grip of yourselfs. You aer not hurting the Animal, un-less you don’t know who to milk her. Most goats will eat everything and climb. But they will walk with you, and try to do what you want. But they are goats.. So don’t temp them with your garden or young trees. They will eat them.

Does anyone know which goats are best for Cold Snow climates, that have good sweet milk, and has cream?? Moved to a cold area. Thanks

Breeds, not species. ;_;
Otherwise, goats <3

Goats are pretty cool! They can be rascals for sure.

If I am not mistaken, and I am asking here, are not all goats the same species? The list as I understand it, names different Breeds of goats, which are all the same species no ? I have raised many of these breeds, and they successfully interbreed all the time, which to me would suggest the same species … ?

This is just horrible. Animals are not livestock, they are sentient individuals who deserve respect and care. Vegan permaculture is possible. We do not need to exploit and kill animals to live heathy. Permaculture is full of hope, but it is very sad to see that it is often practised without any ethical reflection on the morality of killing animals when it is not necessary.

Corinne

What about Nigerian Dwarf goats? That’s what I’m considering since I don’t need a lot of milk and I’m older and alone so I need an animal I can handle easily. I hear their milk is richer, has higher milk fat content, is this true? I saw a video where a man milked his ND with a human breast milk pump; it was clean and simple and took less than 5 minutes. What can anyone tell me about these goats?

more animal slavery

slavery only benefits the master

Goats chew everything. Be prepared for this. Your washing on the line, your upholstery, everything.

Are you going to make these ridiculous slave analogies every time an animal is mentioned? If so please change your profile picture to one not showing you torturing that reptile.

lauren

what about pygmies and nigerian dwarfs? butting and feeding requirements significantly diminished. also can’t jump as high, or break my leg… knock on wood.

Eric

Permaculture does not exist within a bubble. To me the concept only works if there is a symbiosis between all living things within the environment. Since animals are an integral part of the earth itself, it seems unnatural to me to leave them out of the equation.
I provide my goats with food, water,shelter, companionship. In return they give me milk and cheese, trim overgrowth including trees, provide compost in from betting/shit and meat if I choose to slaughter the baby boys.
Will I be able to slaughter these sweet little creatures? I don’t know yet. Maybe I wont have any boys just little milkers, LOL. I have decided that my personal decision regarding the consumption of flesh shall come to this question though. In my estimation factory farmed meat by and large is not raised with the same concerns for the animals quality of life that I can give them. If I distrust factory farming techniques I am left with wild game, witch is very sporadic, or raising my own. If I am unable to slaughter my own livestock and be ok with it, I think I should become a vegetarian.
So there you have it vegans. Despite your clamor, the decision is a personal one for us all. It is possible that there will be one more life-long meat eater added to your roles.

Daniel

Goats rock for all the aforementioned reasons and more!

Their hardiness, intelligence, personality and social proclivity is legendary. The milk is substantively better and healthier (than cow’s milk) for all kinds of folks, including human babies! The compost is not just a “welcome addition” but is a “cool”, “high carbon”, easy-to-use “miracle” amendment thats been the #1 factor in our 16 years of organic farming success. … And also they keep us mentally “steady” and “regular”, through harsh and mellow seasons alike, with their “reptilian” love of routines, rituals and patterns of daily life. Most folks either love goats, or…!!! We cannot imagine life here without our family of beloved, caprine comrades…

Scarlett

Corinne – I have a herd of 6 Nigerian Dwarf goats and they are delightful. Small in size and easy to handle. Their milk is rich and creamy and has the highest butterfat content. It’s great for drinking, making cheese, yogurt, and more. I hand milk my girls, so unsure about using a human breast pump, but I know there are milking machines you can get. My girls are all pretty well behaved. I’ve had no troubles with them staying in their pastures or chewing up things they shouldn’t. I guess it’s matter of making sure they’re happy with what they have where they are. I practice rotational grazing so they have fresh pasture and I provide different things within those pasture spaces for them to climb and play on. Hope this helps.

Greg

My Dinner poops on yours.

Corinne

Thanks Scarlett. How much land would a person need for grazing, playing, etc…to keep just two or three? I know they can be very loud and I hope I wouldn’t run into complaints from neighbors; maybe they can be taught not to bleat a lot since I’ve heard they are almost as smart as dogs? Also, how many kids do they birth?

Craigslist is a great way to get cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, and more.

Brandon.. they should still check out the source and have enough experience to know what to look for in livestock- or bring someone who does know with them. Craigslist is also a place where disreputable people unload sick animals.. even stolen animals. It can be a source to track down local breeders- a better one would be talking to your vet- which you’ll want to make sure larger animals are well vetted before you buy them. Skip chickens from Craigslist.

Goats are browsers and need weed, bushes, etc. If you have them in just a pasture and all they do are graze they are very susceptible to parasites. I learned this from experience. Keep hay up off the ground (there are different designs online to use pallets, chicken wire where they pull out the food). Goats are very social and if you mingle and play with them daily it makes it easier when you have to worm them or give them any meds. I loved my goat herd. I had 26 at one time. Because of work commute I had to sell them. And I miss them so. They were my stress therapy. Also, stay away from purchasing from stock market because the entire experience for the goat is very stressful and you usually buy a goat that has been exposed to parasites and need to be in a dry lot and immunized and watched for several weeks before putting with your herd. Really do your research before you start. It will save you a lot of grief not having sick goats if you do. But the JOY they bring with their personalities and milk or meat is well with it!!! I had kiko’s (meat) and nubians (milk). Good luck.

Megan

You need to add LaManchas they are a far superior breed and made in America!

Murry Aschenbrenner!

Ariki Dallas Hawkins

Murry Aschenbrenner

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