My Go-To Goat Resources
It’s hard to believe but we’ve only had goats for a little over a year. (It seems like much longer!) We did a lot of research before ever bringing home our first two goats, and I’m always reading and learning more. Below are a few of my favorite resources — websites, forums, books, and more — for good information on goats. If I missed any of your favorites, please feel free to share them in the comments!
Goat Websites and Groups/Forums
- Fiasco Farm is pretty much the online authority in everything dairy goat related. One thing I truly appreciate about this site is they give you both the “traditional” way to do things (e.g. vaccine schedules, wormings, etc.), as well as methods using less chemicals and more organic/holistic practices.
- Onion Creek Ranch is focused primarily on meat goats, but has an enormous library of helpful articles that apply to all goat breeds.
- Better Hens & Gardens has quickly become one of my very favorite blogs. They raise gorgeous Nigerian Dwarf goats and frequently post useful articles about topics ranging from general health and kidding to how ADGA linear apprasial and showing works.
- Backyard Herds is a free forum that covers a variety of livestock including goats, sheep, rabbits, cattle, pigs, and more. (Chickens are covered at their sister-site, Backyard Chickens.) If you have a question you need help with, I find searching their forum or adding a post here will get you a lot of helpful responses, and unlike a lot of other online communities, this group tends to be pretty welcoming and supportive of newbies.
- Nigerian Dwarf Goat News, Info, Discussions and WEEKEND Sales is Facebook group that is fairly specific to Nigerian Dwarfs, but again a lot of the information shared there applies to all breeds. Normally I find Facebook to be a cluttered mess with very little useful information, but this group is a refreshing exception to that rule. There are lots of experienced goat owners there that share information and answer questions, and of course LOTS of people share photos and videos of their goats. (Especially this time of year–adorable kid pictures galore!)
Keep in mind, online resources are great, but it’s worthwhile to consider that in emergency situation, the internet may not be readily accessible. I like to keep a binder with printed articles that I find especially helpful so that they’re readily available.
Storey Publishing is always my first resource for how-to books on any new livestock that I’m considering adding to our little farm. If you don’t want to spend the money, their “Guide To…” books are almost always available at the local library. I try to borrow goat books from the library first whenever possible. If the book has enough good information and I find myself making copious notes (which go in my binder with printed articles), then I make a point of purchasing the book to have in my home library. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed:
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Jerry Belanger and Sara Thomson Bredesen
- The Backyard Goat: An Introductory Guide to Keeping and Enjoying Pet Goats, from Feeding and Housing to Making Your Own Cheese by Sue Weaver
- The Dairy Goat Handbook: For Backyard, Homestead, and Small Farm by Ann Starbard
- Raising Milk Goats Successsfully by Gail Luttmann
- Practical Guide to Small-scale Goat-keeping by Billie Luisi
The last two books are out of print, I believe, but I was able to find them used on Amazon. You might also find them at your local library or used bookseller.
One thing that I hadn’t realized when we got goats was that it’s not always easy to find goat supplies locally. Now, if you live in an area of the country where goat farming is more popular, that could very well be different. But around here, it was worth my life to find copper boluses as an example. Also worth noting, sometimes when you are able to find goat items, they’re sized for larger dairy goat breeds, and are much too large for Nigerian Dwarfs or Pygmies. In general, you’ll tend to have better luck with local co-ops and feed mills rather than the big box stores, but sometimes you have to order online. When you do, I can recommend the following sites to order from:
Other Sources of Goat Information and Support
- Your veterinarian (obviously) should be your first resource for anything health related. Ask around and find a reputable livestock vet you feel comfortable with and can count on.
- Depending on where you live, the county extension office can be a helpful resource. Try Googling “[your county name] county extension office”. In Pennsylvania, for instance, Penn State runs the extension offices for the various counties.
- Local goat clubs can be challenging to find sometimes (again, try google or ask around) but they’re a great resource that can answer questions that are specific to your location — e.g. selenium and copper deficiency in your area, climate concerns, etc.
- If you have young children, getting involved in 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FFA) is a great idea. Our whole family has gotten involved in 4-H and has learned a lot and made some great friends.
- The American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) or American Goat Society (AGS)
- Finally, being a good customer at your local feed mill or co-op can help connect you with a larger community of farmers in your area. Inevitably there will be a bulletin board where you can find flyers or business cards of other farmers who are selling hay, might have kids for sale, etc. If not, ask the person behind the counter and very likely they will be able to connect you with someone to help with your questions.
Amanda lives with her family on a little red farmstead in northwestern Pennsylvania. By day she's a web developer specializing in WordPress and in her off time she enjoys working with goats and other livestock on the farm, canning, knitting, and crocheting.