Higher milk prices are attracting many farmers into goat farming. Independent nutritionist Tom Chamberlain and vet Matthew Pugh from Belmont Vets, Hereford, share their top tips.
1. Be careful with forage quality, storage and management. Goats are more susceptible to problems (such as listeriosis) caused by poor-quality forage and can also suffer from acidosis.
2. Goats yield a lot less than cows, typically between 3 litres/day and 6 litres/day so it is worthwhile starting with a reasonably large herd of 800-plus goats for a commercial business. This will also dilute your fixed costs.
See also: Goat farmer increases yield by 21%
3. The majority of abortions in goats are caused by toxaemia. Aim to keep abortions below 3% a year by monitoring Bhb levels pre-kidding.
4. Coccidiosis and cryptosporidium are two major parasitic diseases affecting kid survival, so good hygiene at kidding is critical.
5. If you are buying-in goats ask about their health status. Johnes and TB are both risk factors. Pre-movement tests are worthwhile.
6. If indoors, make sure goats are averaging more than 3 litres/day or 1,000 litres/year to ensure it pays.