Hello and welcome back to the Gubba podcast!

I did a podcast two years ago going over dairy cows versus dairy goats, and in the end I shared how I will be getting dairy cow. Well, fast forward two years and I no longer have a dairy cow, and I have dairy goats.

I LOVE THEM. When I say I love them, I absolutely love them and I want to share with you everything I have experienced with my goats, so you can decide if they are right for your homestead.

Also, if you didn’t know, I have a website gubbahomestead.com that is filled with recipes, homesteading guides, and all kinds of preservation and food storage tips. So if you are ever wanting to learn more about a homesteading subject, head on over.

Differences between dairy goats and dairy cows

Two years ago, I dove into the differences of dairy cows and dairy goats while trying to make a decision on which one would be my first homestead dairy animal.

After careful consideration, I ultimately decided that getting a dairy cow would be right for me. I loved that the milk wasn’t naturally homogenized, so I could scoop the cream off and make butter.

I loved that cows are supposedly more respectful of fences. I dove head first into it and got a Jersey dairy cow. Her name was Moo, she was beautiful, but not quite what I was expecting.

Again, I had no idea what to expect because I had never grown up with a dairy cow. A few weeks prior to getting her, I had hand milked my neighbors dairy cow for the first time, so everything was new and fresh to me.

Is a dairy cow right for me?

Well, I quickly discovered that a dairy cow was not a right fit for my homestead. This may sound amazing to some, but for me, it wasn’t a good fit—she gave 3-5 gallons of milk a day.


Now, with a large family, that would be incredible. You could have enough milk to drink plus extra for butter, cheese, and other dairy products. Unfortunately, I quickly become inundated with milk.

I could have maybe started to sell it, but to be honest, I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of selling products direct from my farm. Micro, family-led dairies are popping up all over the place where raw milk is legal and people are purchasing raw milk and getting shares, but that just wasn’t something I was ready for.

And I don’t know if it’s something I would even want to do, maybe one day. I ended up trading raw milk for my neighbor’s strawberries in the summer, and it was lovely. She has a big family, so they were able to take gallons of milk from me.

Are dairy cows difficult?

Another thing about dairy cows is well, they are a bigger animal. Catching them, treating them for ailments, and managing them can be more difficult than a smaller animal like goats.

Well, catching goats is another story but we will get to that. After my dairy cow had given birth to twins, I had to keep an eye on her afterbirth which is fetal membranes or retained placenta material and making sure she didn’t get any infections as her afterbirth took longer than normal to detach and be expelled.

Veterinarians wanted to intervene and pull her afterbirth out, but I just didn’t feel right about that, so I managed it myself with herbs and other supplements for my cow.

Corralling a big cow for drenches especially when she has calves can be quite the experience. Of course, my setup may not have been the most optimal as what someone may have who has had cows before or experience with them.

So, consider your setup.

After spending months with my beloved dairy cow, I had come to the hard realization that a dairy cow just wasn’t right for my homestead at the moment and my setup. She ended up going to another farmer who had 6 kids and they absolutely adore her.

I received a message about how they loved her so much and she was just perfect, and that made my heart happy because I knew she went to a great home where 3-5 gallons of milk a day would be no issue.

Are dairy goats right for me?

Fast forward to last year, I had the dairy animal itch again. I had tried a cow and realized it wasn’t a fit, but I hadn’t tried goats. I had been so deterred by goats because every goat owner had told me how the males smell so bad and how they will test every fence.

And I was also deterred because they didn’t give as much milk (which I know now is a better fit for me) and because their milk is naturally homogenized meaning the cream and milk are together and don’t separate. I decided I wanted to give goats a try regardless.

What is the best dairy goat?

After months of researching dairy goats and deciding what I wanted, I landed on Nigerian Dwarves.

What sold me on this breed is that their milk is 6-10% butterfat cream while a traditional dairy goat like Nubian and other breeds milk is only 3-5%. 

Nigerians will give less milk because they are a smaller breed, but I like fat and want fat in my diet, especially raw milk fat, so it seemed like a no-brainer for my homestead to venture in Nigerians.

What goats are dairy goat breeds?

What you will want to consider is the size of the goat. Nigerians are a smaller goat breed, a dwarf breed, so I liked that idea because I am a smaller person and wanted a dairy animal I can easily manage and pick up if I need to.

Breeds like Nubians and Lamanchas are larger dairy goats and are lovely but puts you into the boat of management again.

Because they are bigger, can you pick them up?

They will be harder on your fences and enclosures, but they will reward you with more milk. Again, you have to decide personally what breed will work for your space and diet.

Pros and cons of keeping a goat buck, male goat

One thing that deterred me from getting goats is the smell of the male goats. I was told by so many goat owners that the smell is unbearable and you can’t have them near your house and it is not great for the area.

I have a good nose, an incredible sense of smell and I am sensitive to different aroma shifts, so I thought they wouldn’t be a good fit.

Of course, keeping a bull for your dairy cow or a buck for your dairy goat isn’t necessary. You can rent a buck when the time comes for breeding or drop your does off with a buck when they are ready to be bred.

The problem with this is that you will then no longer have a closed herd, meaning your herd is sectioned off from the outside world, and you can open your herd up to the possibility of disease.

If you rent a buck, where else has that buck been? Have the other herds been tested from disease, does the buck owner test the buck between breedings

Like who the heck knows. If you drop your girls off somewhere to be bred, is it a clean farm? Who comes and goes? 

The dairy goat farms I got my girls from, would not let me around the goats and if I was to be around them, I had to sanitize my shoes and hands. This procedure is in place to help prevent the spread of disease.

And another thing to consider, is without a male you do not have a self-sufficient herd. You can’t breed your girls without a male.

My goal is self-sufficiency so getting a buck made sense to me, but how was I suppose to overcome the smell?

Do male goats smell?

I ended up getting a male goat, and I quickly discovered that yes, they do smell. Male goats urinate on themselves to smell better for the ladies.

Weird, but whatever works.

But I also discovered that they do not smell as bad as I feared. If I touched the male goat to move, my hand would smell, but it was nothing that was unbearable.

Of course, this will vary from animal to animal but I’ve had two males now and both of them have been the same, they stink but I can be out there just fine with no sensory issues. So don’t let smell issues detour you.

Do goats escape fences?

The next issue that scared me from goats is how they are notoriously known for being escape artists and getting out of their enclosures. Yes, they absolutely will if you have shotty fencing and didn’t take the time to secure it.

Do they escape if you have proper fencing and regularly check on it to ensure it is stable and in-tact?


The people who complain about goats escaping are the ones who simply don’t have secure fencing. Don’t place logs near borders of the fence because they can jump over fencing. One of my goats learned how to open their gate, so I now have to lock it.

But I have no security issues when I set up proper fencing. Proper fencing means t posts with hog panels. If you have goats that have horns intact, be careful as their horns can get caught in fencing. Hog panel squares are small enough a goat cant stick their head through.

In my experience, I was told that cows respect fences. They touch the hot fence and they are done. Well, that isn’t the case. I had more escapes of cows with hot fencing than I have with goats with t posts and paneling. Again, this goes back to your setup and what is ideal.

How to care for goats?

Another thing about goats that I have discovered that is more of a pain than caring for cows is that they are incredibly finnicky. Meaning, they require special minerals, cows do too, but that because they are goats, they get the short end of the stick when it comes to commercial minerals and hay.

Mineral deficiencies in goats

Copper and Selenium are going to be the biggest mineral deficiencies that you will battle most likely. You will need to supplement with a proper mineral that has what they need, plus more. For example, when I had started I got a specific mineral labeled as “goat mineral” from a reputable livestock mineral place.

I consulted with the dairy goat breeder I got some of my girls from who is extremely knowledgeable on goat minerals and goat health and she informed me that that mineral was not sufficient for goats even though it was labeled as goat mineral and many goat owners she had assisted with, she does herd consultations, they were using that mineral and had serious birth defects, pregnancy issues, and health problems due to the mineral not providing what goats actually needed. She suggested fertrell mineral which is what I use.

I use specifically the grazers choice with copper. If you have sheep, you wouldn’t want to use this because sheep are sensitive to copper and it can kill them.

How to deal with a copper deficiency in goats?

Everything was great with my herd until winter hit and my girls started to exhibit copper deficiency. Their coats faded and some began to get fishtails where their tails separate and look like a fish fin.

I scratched my head and wondered how is this happening because they have mineral with copper.

Upon further research, I learned that my well water is abundant with calcium which is an antagonist for copper and can prevent absorption. And I also learned alfalfa hay, which is great for does in milk because it increases milk production, has Molybdenium in it that is also a copper antagonist.

They had switched from pasture to hay for the winter months and that’s when the copper deficiency presented itself.

As you can see their coat can give you a warning sign of what’s going on in their system. I began monitoring this and noticed balding on some of their noses which also means copper deficiency.

To combat this, I administered copper boluses which are vegetable capsules full of copper rods that deposit in the rumen and slowly release copper overtime.

How to administer copper to goats?

And this is another one of those examples where people said online that administering the capsules was a horrible experience because you have to get the capsule down their throat and it is upsetting for the owner and the goat.

I discovered that they didn’t care at all with the injector I used which is just an animal pill inserter. For my male goats, I opened the capsules and poured them into the middle of a fig newton and they were happy to eat the newton, no issues at all.

I have discovered an even better mineral solution for my goats than just a free choice general loose mineral and that is having a mineral buffet. That means having individual minerals out for them to graze on.

During different times of the year, they may need a larger amount of one mineral, so they can get that mineral without over-doing other minerals like they would in an all-in-one mineral. I haven’t set up the buffet yet, but it really does sound like a great solution.

I have the minerals, but it will require 10 different mineral feeders so it will be a project for spring when I can get into their enclosure and set it up. For example, if my girls were feeling like they need a lot of copper, they will consume lots of the free choice fertrell mineral but that has the potential to overload them on a mineral they didn’t need.

With a mineral buffet, they can pick and choose individuals. Once I have this setup and running, I will do some blogs and maybe a podcast with my discoveries.

Parasite management in goats

Another element of goat keeping that you don’t have to worry about with dairy cows is parasite management. Goats are susceptible to parasites and if not treated, they will die.

You can treat them with medicines from your vet or local feed store or you can go the herbal route. I prefer the herbal route of a mixture of black walnut, cinnamon, cloves and other herbs. I give a mixture of herb powder and molasses to my goats weekly for maintenance.

If you live in a wet or marshy area, you will want to treat more often and keep an eye on their worm load. This is something that you don’t have to worry with cows, but once under control, you can figure it out with whatever route you choose.

So keep in mind goats are finnicky health wise, but once you have a system and understand their individual needs, you are smooth sailing for the most part.

What does goat milk taste like?

Now let’s get to the milk. One of my most commonly asked goat questions is “what do goat milk taste like?” I feel like goats have such a bad reputation when it comes to milk.

I have a theory this is just a rumor to steer people away from goats milk because of how healing and replenishing it is. I much prefer goats milk, well, my goats milk anyway. I have had a lot, and I mean, a lot of raw milk from different cows.

Different cows have different flavors, sounds crazy but they do. Flavoring of the milk also depends on diet and what the animal eats. So taste of raw milk all boils down to the individual animal and their diet.

My neighbors dairy cow got into some rotten weed and they had to toss the milk out for a week while it worked through her system.

My dairy cow had a distinct flavor of milk that I enjoyed, but my goats.. wow! Their milk is smooth, creamy with no strong flavor. I am absolutely in love. Goats get a reputation of having a grassy flavor.

That isn’t the case at all with my goats. Of course, they are on a premium diet of pasture, organic hay, and minimal grains and treats. If I do give treats, most of the time it is just herbal treats of sorts.

I love goat milk and think everyone should try it. I do believe that if I fed my goats like goat feed or all-stock feed from the feed store or even low quality hay, their milk would taste different.

You are what you eat, and I don’t want to eat junk so I don’t feed my goats junk. In this case, I don’t want to drink nasty flavored milk so I focus on high quality feed, minerals, and supplements.

When to give goats grains? 

I will give my goats grains, only when they are in milk at the milking stanchion. I give them a grain-ration that I make myself with kelp, alfalfa pellets, and other goodies to help boost their milk production and get them excited for the milking stand. I haven’t milked my girls all winter, but they still beg to come to the stanchion because they have high hopes for grain.

How to build a goat shelter

Aside from foods and minerals, another aspect (and the last aspect I will touch on in this podcast today) about keeping goats is shelter. They need at minimum a three sided shelter to shield them from wind, rain and snow drifts.

I would even go as far as to say that a four sided is optimal with a door as long as there is good airflow and doesn’t accumulate stagnant air if you live in a cold area like me.

We had a harsh cold-snap and I couldn’t imagine my girls just standing there with one side of their shelter open. I know goats are tough and roam the mountain tops, but these are homestead goats and should be pampered.

How much land do you need for goats?

A minimum of 500sq ft. for two goats, Nigerian and traditional dairy goats. Make sure to get two goats because goats are a herd animal. Smaller spaces will mean higher maintenance and parasite prevention.

Well, I hope this podcast helped you on your journey to learning more about goat keeping and if dairy goats are right for you. I love my goats and would recommend them to anyone with ample space and the right setup. I am confident you would love them to. Thank you for spending your time with me, and I will see you next time!

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