Let's start with a general overview on why goats sometimes work out better than cows.
1. Cost. Where we live it costs at least 500 dollars to buy a dairy calf, and anywhere from 1,000 dollars up to 2,500 dollars to buy an adult dairy cow. In comparison, goats around here at most cost 300 dollars. Which is high but that is for a purebred, registered goat.
2. Space. Obviously a cow is going to need a lot more room to roam, and a lot more feed. It's recommended to have about 4 acres a cow. And because cows are herd animals you have to have at least 2 cows, which means you are looking at needing about 8 acres of land to support them. Whereas you can have about 6 goats on one acre.
3. Housing. You don't need a huge shelter to hold goats. A lot of people even use large dog igloos to shelter their goats with.
4. Equipment. As cows are larger, the equipment to hold and restrain them is as well. And because this equipment is bigger, it is also more expensive. On the other hand you could easily make a stanchion to hold your goat out of leftover materials.
5. Size. An 800+ pound cow is more difficult and dangerous to be around, versus a goat that at most will weigh 150 pounds. Because of their smaller size, a single person can usually handle, and restrain a goat, whereas it may not be as easy with a cow.
6. Cost Effective. A goat produces more milk per pound of feed than a cow does.
Note: I don't want anyone to read this and automatically think goats are a dream to own and work with. A lot of people blindly get into goats thinking they are extremely hardy, and perfect little creature. In fact there are a lot of things to be aware of, and to think you can buy a goat, place it in a pasture and get lots of delicious milk is not the case. More on this in a future post!
So, let's answer some commonly asked questions...
Q. Why do you want to own a dairy goat?
A. There are a few different reasons why I chose to buy our dairy does. I have no experience dealing with a hooved animal, and thought it would be easiest to learn with a something smaller than a cow. They are cheaper to buy, and I wanted to know where my milk was coming from.
Q. What is wrong with store bought milk?
A. Regular store bought milk is pasteurized homogenized, contains additives and preservatives, contains hormones, and antibiotics. Store bought milk is from cows that live in small spaces, they are fed foods that contain genetically modified organisms, not to mention they are fed feeds unnatural to cows, such as soy and cotton seed. Raw milk is a living organism, it's full of bacteria that is good for us and our digestive systems. It's what God intended us to drink. (Source)
Q. Why on Earth would you milk a goat instead of a cow?
A. Goats are smaller, tidier animals. Especially as I am a novice and complete newb, I feel a goat who doesn't kick in the same manner as a cow, and one that is easier to control is my best option.
Q. What makes goats milk so special?
A. To get straight to the point, goats milk is less allergenic, naturally homogenized, easier to digest, matches up to the human body better than cow milk,and rarely causes lactose intolerance. (Source)
Note: Homogenization for cows milk works by forcing fluid milk through a tiny hole under tremendous pressure. This destroys the fat globule cell wall and allows the milk and cream to stay homogeneous or suspended and well mixed. The problem with this is that once the cell wall of the fat globule has been broken, it releases a superoxide (free radical) known as Xanthine Oxidase. Free radicals cause a host of problems in the body, not the least of which is DNA mutations which often lead to cancer. (Source)
Q. EWWWWWWW! Doesn't goat milk tasty nasty...and like...goats?
A. To be honest, I've never actually drank goats milk. However, from what I've heard store bought goats milk is exceptionally nasty. Due to the rough handling, and the health of the dairy goats. According to all the goat owners I've talked with goats milk from healthy goats, and properly handled tastes just like cow milk but better. It's a little sweeter and richer, and most people fall in love with it.
Do you have any dairy or goat questions? Feel free to ask away in the comments!