Buying Your First Goats: Where To Get Them (& Where Not To)

Toggenburg wether looking at me though the fence

When you are finally ready to get a few goats of your own, it’s tempting to grab the first group you find for sale and take them home with you! I completely understand!

Hold on a sec, is that the best way to start your goat enterprise?

Buy your goats from an established breeder, who is raising goats in the same manner you will be raising your goats. Do not get your herd from a cull goat source, like an auction.

It’s simple: Where you get your goats will be a huge part of your success or failure as a new goat raiser.

I know how exciting getting a new animal can be, believe me! However, a bit of caution is required here!

If you want your goat raising future to be happy and successful, it only makes sense to start with the goats that will help you get to your goal.

Before we go into where to buy your goats, you’ll need to have a basic idea of what you are looking for.

Here are a few articles to check out if you are still wondering about what type of goat to get.

If you are looking for a few cute goats to have as pasture buddies, basically pets, then get what ever goat that catches your eye!

However if you are looking into goat for a business, please do not go any further until you know what you are looking for, specifically.

Starting with the type of goat that works best for your area and farm will give you the best start towards being a successful goat raiser.

Of course, you can get started with any goats you like, it will take longer to get to profitability than starting right to begin with.

Best place to buy goats is a farm

The best place to buy goats is from a caring, reputable breeder who is raising goats in the same way and same area that you will be raising your goats.

Buy your goats from a reputable breeder

There are two important parts to that sentence, so we’ll take each section separately. First off, the caring, reputable breeder part.

Nothing is more valuable than years of experience, you can’t buy it, you have to earn it.

A breeder who has put in the time and been through the ups and the downs of raising goats can help you get started towards success.

She will know her goats and know how they will perform for other people.

She will be able to tell you about the common missteps new goat raisers make and how to avoid them.

Two of my doelings, Carol on the left and Debbie on the right.

A reputable breeder is a resource for you!

A reputable breeder will also be able to tell you if her goats are likely to be a good fit for you and your planned management.

In short, a reputable breeder is more than a source of great goats, she is an incredibly valuable resource for you!

Expect some questions along the lines of what your plans are and what you want goats to do for you.

A reputable breeder has the responsibility to her goats to make sure they are placed with people who will be successful with her genetics.

Just like not all dogs are the same, not all goats are the same. Your breeder will help you figure out if what she has is likely to work for you.

Buying goats from a similar area as yours

The second part of looking for a breeder is where is she located? The closer she is to you and the more similar your goat management, the higher your likely success will be.

You can buy goats from a very different area than you, of course. If you do, you’ll need to be ready for some of the goats to not do as well in your area as you had expected. This may mean extra feeding, medication or culling.

The best way to ensure your goats will do as well as you hope they will is to get them from a farm that is operating like you plan to.

The more similarities between your farm and the breeder’s farm, the better your new goats will adjust to their new home.

The more differences between your place and the breeder’s farm, the more the goats will need time to adjust and not all will be able to make that adjustment.

This seems complicated, I just want goats!

Maybe you are thinking “what’s the big deal here? A goat is a goat, right?” Wrong, all goats are not the same!

Goats are very different, actually, in both breed and purpose.

If you are looking for pet goats, super! Goats are fun, so I see why you would want them for pets! Pets still need to come from a reputable breeder!

As long as you are willing to make up for any mismatches in the strengths of your goats compared to the resources you have available, no worries! Happy goat shopping!

If you are looking for a potential small business, or just a hobby that will pay for itself plus generate a bit of cash, then you’ll need to choose more carefully.

Not all goats will be at their best in all situations, that’s normal. The closer you match the goat to what you plan to do, the better your results will be.

Want to make your goat raising life as easy and fun as possible? Get the right goats from the start!

Getting Started With Meat Goats is a PDF of a webinar from Michigan State University Extension. Scroll through it, it won’t take you long and it covers a lot of beginner type questions.

Should you buy registered goats?

Quite a few people get hung up on registered livestock, goat raisers included.

Whether registration is worth the money and effort is for you to decide. First, let me clear up some potential misunderstandings regarding registration.

What is goat registration?

Registration in neither good nor bad, it is simply a record of the genetics of the goat. Are those great genetics or not so great genetics?

That is where visual inspection and research come in to play.

Do not take the registration paper as a guarantee of high quality or profitability!

You need to evaluate the goat and the goat breeder to see if the registration papers are for a high value breeding goat or just a goat.

When you need registered goats

Depending upon your situation, the registered goat could be giving you value for your money and well worth seeking out registered stock, like for show goats or if you specifically want to raise registered goats.

When you don’t need registered goats

Other times the registration is of little value, like for anyone planning on selling market kids.

Even a great looking, wonderful commercial doe will still only bring in so much money per year with or without the papers.

The quality of the genetics matters a great deal, I’m trying to point out that great genetics, profits and registration are not always together.

The other time that registration means little is when the registered goat is of poor quality.

All this set of paperwork can tell you is what to avoid in the future it does not give you a better goat now!

Should you get registered goats?

Should you have registered goats? That’s up to you. I have one, just one! Will I work on registering the other ones I have? I’m still debating that one.

I’m leaning towards no, simply because as a business decision I don’t think it will pay.

Be clear as to what your goals are with your goats and decide if registration will help you get your goat raising to success or does the paperwork not matter to your buyer?

Meat Goat Production And Budgeting is a good overview type article from Ohio State University Extension.

Worst place to buy goats is an auction

The weekly livestock auction is the worst place to buy your goats. Don’t do it. While it is possible to get a nice goat there, it is not likely!

Auctions are not breeding stock quality goats

Think about it, if you had really nice goats where would you sell them? At the weekly sale along with all of the other no name goats?

Probably not, especially if you want a decent price for them! High quality goats get advertised online or by word of mouth, not run through the weekly sale.

While there are a few acceptable goats that run through most auctions, the majority of the adults there are culls.

You don’t want some else’s worst performers as your starter herd!

Disease risk of taking home auction goats

The second down side of auction goats is they are exposed to all of the other goats in the sale barn, so any sickness that was in the barn that day can be in any of the goats.

Add this exposure to the stress of the ride in and the day in an unfamiliar place and you have the recipe for sickness.

Breeding stock sales are the exception!

There is one exception to the auction rule and that is breeding stock sales.

At a breeding stock sale these goats are chosen as high quality animals from a specific farm that has extras or wants to reduce herd size.

Goats being sold at a breeding stock sale are not culls!

These are good goats, the farm they came from just has too many for the year or the owners time so they are selling a few.

A breeding stock sale as a learning opportunity

For a new to goats enthusiast, a breeding stock sale has the advantage of putting multiple goats from multiple genetic lines together in one place.

You now have the opportunity to look around and compare the goats.

Actually, it would be worth the trip just to see the options and get a feel for what you like in goats and what you don’t.

Don’t buy any goats if you are not ready, just looking around will be valuable.

An example here is where I got one of my goats, from a bred doe sale.

All of the goats that were entered in the sale were for the purpose of breeding stock as opposed to the weekly auction that is anything and everything. (Quite a bit of which you do not want!)

Here is a barn tour type video of some of the goats for sale at an annual breeding stock sale held in our area. It’s mostly Boer goats. Remember, you still need to evaluate the goats!

You’ll still need to evaluate the goats!

You’ll still need to look them over carefully, not all goats at breeding stock sales will be what you are looking for!

The advantage here is that overall, the quality of the goats is higher so your chances of getting a few good goats are also higher.

The down side is this still leaves you guessing as to how the goats were raised and as to their temperament. If either of these are important to you, buy from a breeder!

pet goats
Mixed herd of pet goats.

How many goats should you buy?

Goats do not like to be by themselves, so you’ll need a two or three, at least. Keep in mind your plans for your goat operation.

Are you going to be selling any of the goats or do you plan to keep them?

Where I’m going with this is if you buy a few bred does, your herd numbers will be increasing rapidly.

Do you have the space for the moms and the kids? If not, get a lower number of goats to start with so you’ll have the room to keep the kids as your herd expands.

If you are getting milking goats

A second reason to get more goats than you might think you need is for dairy goats.

Not all dairy genetics can milk through the 9-10 month lactation period. Especially if you have a lower producing doe, she’ll not go much past 6 months.

What do you do for milk for the rest of the year? A possible answer to this situation is to have two does that are on a 6 month apart kidding schedule.

Ideally, the first goat has her kids and milks for 6 months then as she is going down in production the second doe has her kids.

This type of a schedule will keep you with milk to drink for the entire year.

What are the best goats to buy?

For me, this is always a hard question to answer. Why? Because the right or best goat for you depends upon you and what you want or are trying to do.

The more specific your needs the more your need to be particular about the goats you get.

The best goats for pets

The best goats to buy for pets are the ones that make you happy! If you want friendly goats, colorful goats, short, tall, and so on, if you like it get some.

mix breed goats, Asphodel and Cracker
These two characters are my daughter’s pets, Asphodel (big one on right) and Cracker. She keeps them in this outdoor dog kennel and relocated it around her yard.

The best goats for a business

The best goats to buy for a person looking to run the goats as a business is more complicated.

You need to know what sells well in your area and what genetics will give you what you need for the amount of resources you are willing to put in.

Resources could be time, money, feed, facilities, deworming, fencing, etc. You get the idea.

The goats that are the best are the ones that you will keep the most profit from when you sell them.

Notice I did not write have the highest selling price, I wrote keep the most profit from. It is a seemingly small distinction that has huge consequences.

A high selling price that you keep near none of the money, it all went to expensive feed or paying for an outrageously priced buck, will not make you money.

That is just moving money around, not keeping it.

If this is what you want your goat business to look like, go for it, seriously.

Just realize, that when you tally up the yearly totals the numbers may not look the way you had anticipated they would.

Profit is the “name of the game” with any business, your goats included. Get the goats that will help you keep more money in your pocket!

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