Goats are intelligent creatures, which makes them hard to keep. Fencing is a big concern, because a goat will figure out how to get through just about any fence. We have tried many different methods, and a 5 strand electric fence seems to be the best. They’ll touch it once or twice, but never again.
Goats are prolific grazers as well, although not just of grass. They are browsers, which means they try a little of everything, but not much of any one thing. If you are in shrub land or a deciduous forest, you are in goat heaven! It is important to let them graze as much as possible to avoid problems like worms, parasites and overgrown hooves. They are also much happier when they have plenty of room to move around. We rotate our goat grazing so they don’t destroy the shrubs. On average a goat can graze about 1/8 acre in 1-2 months, depending on the quality of the land, without causing any long term damage. They do need some sort of shelter, even just a simple a-frame, and milking areas are a must. I like stalls or stanchions where each goat has a specific area for milking, and no one gets loose until everyone has been milked.
Goats can be great fun or a royal pain in the ass, depending on the situation and their mood. If you have an orchard, you’ll want several lines of defense, a 6ft fence, electric barbed wire, dogs, armed guards, whatever you can find! They’ll stop at nothing to get to food once they know where it is.
Goat’s milk is much richer than cow’s, and man is it good! When we make ice-cream, we do not use any additional cream, just milk. Goat cheese is also easy to make and is quite good.
One of our favorite summer treats is “licuado”. You take frozen bananas (or any other fruit) and milk, and put them in a blender. The result is a thick, cold, delicious milkshake-like piece of heaven.
Cream is very finely emulsified within goat’s milk, so it is hard to separate. One way to get around this (separators are expensive) is to make Devonshire cream.
If you allow the cream to ripen a little, the butter will be more flavorful and easier to churn. Do not let it ripen too much or the butter will be sour.
You need rennin to curdle milk. This is naturally present in the stomach of newborn kids, calves and lambs, but you can buy rennet, which contains rennin, from dairy suppliers and some pharmacies.