Well, youíve got your fence built, and a shelter built. Now comes the most important decision that you will make. What kind of goats to get, and where to get them. There are a number of breeds to consider. Do you want to have milk goats or meat goats? Do you want to go with full blood stock or with a line of stock that are a predominantly large percentage of one breed? With the popularity of artisan goat cheeses and various other related products, milk goats may be the way you want to go. Just looking at the variety of equipment and supplies that you need for this type of operation in the Hoegger Supply catalog makes my head spin! Folks, I will be the first one to admit that I donít know anything about dairy goats or their management. Please consult someone that knows about them and do your research.
Meat goat varieties include Boer, Fainting, Kiko, Savanna, Spanish, Tennessee and Texmaster. Plus there are various cross breedings of all the various breeds. Do your research and go yourself to get a good look at them before you make an important decision like this because once you decide, you are going to spend quite a bit of money on just a small foundation herd.
Okay, youíve decided on the breed you want, so where do you go to buy them? You could go to the sale barn, but remember ďBuyer beware!Ē I havenít bought any goats at a sale barn, but I have heard of people who have had success. Remember that most of the goats at a sale barn are there for a reason, they may be culls, they may not be able to breed or when they have a kid they may not take care of them. Its possible that you may buy them, load them in the trailer, and in six months or a year later bring them back to the sale barn for some reason. Just because the price is right doesnít mean the goat is right for you!
You could buy your goats from individual breeders. This is the way I prefer to buy my goats, because you can put your hands on them, and ask the breeder about any faults or problems they may have. Breeders who sell goats by private treaty will usually be open about them and sell their goats with the assurance that they are healthy and productive. You wouldnít want somebody talking bad about you for selling them a bum goat, wouldya!
You could buy your goats at a production sale or herd dispersal sale. Breeders associations and ranches have these sales to sell their best stock or for herd liquidations. I have found that most of the goats at these sales are a good buy. You can get in there and look at the goats and ask the individual breeders any questions you may have. One of the drawbacks is that if you have your eye on a good looking goat, someone else probably does too! Another drawback is that if you try to get a goat at a really good price and bid low, you may not take that goat home because the breeder has given the auctioneer a bid limit higher than what you bid. Your perception of what the goat may be worth can be different from the owners. Iím not trying to choose sides in this instance because Iíve sat on both sides of the fence, but the breeder has put a lot of time, effort, and money into what they think is a good goat. Conversely, you, as the buyer, may think that the goat just is not worth that much. Unfortunately there is no winner in this situation. Dispersal sales usually happen when a breeder is getting out of the business due to various reasons i.e. health, etc. You can get some good goats of all ages and conditions in this manner. The aforementioned drawbacks apply.
Breeder associations have pen sales, where they pen their goats in small lots and sell them as a private treaty sale. The price is set by the seller and is negotiated between them and the buyer. This is an excellent way to buy goats. If you donít like the price you can do some bargaining, and if the seller is flexible then the sale is done. If things donít work out then thereís no problem. Buying at a production, dispersal, or pen sale is usually a good deal because you can be assured that the goats you get are in good condition.
Whether you buy your stock at the sale barn or at a pen sale, you want to buy goats in good condition. I can admit Iíve bought some bums and some good goats. If you have doubts about your abilities as a goat picker then keep your ears open and ask a lot of questions when you go to sales. Go to sales with no intention of buying at all and ask others why they like certain goats. When you go to goat ranches and see something you really like, donít be an impulse buyer. Reputable goat breeders wonít pressure you to buy right away, if they try to then leave and come back later, or donít come back at all! In most associations you can find someone that will be willing to go with you and take a look at what you are going to buy and give you their honest opinion and that other person may see faults that you donít. Once again, this is a good practice, but everyone has their own preferences. One mans fine breeding nanny may be another mans cabrito!
You need to decide if you want full blood registered stock or stock that is a percentage of a certain breed. Many breeders with small acreages prefer full bloods because of their higher value. Some of the prices at sales for this type of stock are very high, up into thousands of dollars. When Gwen and I got our start, we bought percentage nannies. If you are just getting started, and are worried about the cost of goats until you become accustomed to raising them, then percentage goats may be the way to go. When we first started, we bought five mixed breed goats. As our area that we pastured them in grew, so did our herd. We increased our herd by breeding our nannies to borrowed Billies (of radically unknown blood lines), and purchasing a few nannies here and there. As our knowledge of goats increased so did the percentage of Boer blood lines in our goats. You can do this with whatever breed you decide to go with. Percentage nannies can be registered with various breed associations. Check with the breed association of your goats for more information.
Well, Iíve told you of some of the ways to buy goats, now hereís some ways to find sales. For information on dairy goat sales there is the United Caprine News out of Crowley, Texas. Phone: 817-297-3411 Website: www.unitedcaprinenews.com. For information on meat goats there is the Goat Rancher out of Sarah, Mississippi. Phone: 888-562-9529 Website: www.goatrancher.com. Many sales are advertised at www.BoerGoats.com. They also have a free classified section that includes sales and individual goats. The Showbox out of Crockett, Texas is the official publication of the Texas Club Meat Goat Assn. and have a lot of ads about meat goat sales. Phone: 936-544-2787 Website: www.theshowbox.com. The Country World is a weekly rural newspaper that is very informative and carries goat sale ads. Phone: 903-885-2030 Website: www.countryworldnews.com.
I hope that this information will help you when itís time to make your big purchase. My best advice is to take the time to do your research and donít be an impulse buyer.
Bye, for now.