(Insert TV game show voice here)
Ahhh, theeeee ultimate show down.
Allow us to enter our contenders into the ring!
First up, we have the goat. A smaller, and often times glorified version of the homestead dairy animal, the goat is a fierce contender. With their varying colour patterns, quirky personalities, and overall cute factor, the goat is a serious threat to win this competition.
Second to enter the ring is the dairy cow. The cow has something going for it the goat, however, does not. Years and years of being THE go-to dairy animal. They were a common family staple for hundreds of years, and they do something goats cannot. They produce cream that naturally separates making it ideal for all sorts of dairy products.
So who will it be? The quirky dairy goat or the tried and true, ever faithful dairy cow? The decision is up to you.
Let’s get into it!
Ok, but honestly, I thought it would be good to compare the two animals. So often, when first starting out, people will turn to the dairy goat. They are smaller, can be easier to house, and are much cheaper to purchase than a cow. So, if you’re trying to decide what to go with I hope this showdown will help.
Also, in the spirit of honesty, I will try to keep this as unbiased as possible. Just the facts, plus my own experiences with both animals, not my opinion. Because, y’all know where I stand on this argument.
(April inserts link to blog post titled I hate goats. Also inserts picture of a homemade stick of butter.)
Ok! That’s the last of it, I promise.
- Cheaper to feed
- Cute. Especially baby goats
- Depending on the breed you pick there are all manners of possible colour patterns.
- Don’t weigh as much. This is useful in giving medications (wormers, copper, vit. E, selenium, probiotics, etc. You don’t use as much), transport, and when milking (getting kicked by a goat is far better than getting kicked by a cow)
- Less milk – if you don’t go through milk very quickly or don’t need that much milk
- Their milk is easier for the human body to digest
- Less manure. Also their manure doesn’t need to age so you can put it directly on your garden/plants
- They poop pellets (so much nicer to walk in than a cow pie)
- Shorter tail – when milking you don’t get smacked in the face with a tail
- Overall, are a less dangerous animal
- They eat bushes, scrub brush, and are useful for clearing overgrown land
- Only have two teats instead of four, making milking easier
- Easier to transport
- They’re noisy
- They don’t respect fences
- They are foragers not grazers. They don’t stand and eat they run and nibble. This tends to make them think they have less food than they actually do and they will test fences to eat your rose bushes
- They’re thieves. If they know where the grain storage is or the chicken coop, they will make it their life mission to get into it and eat all the grain
- They’re constantly rubbing their heads on outbuildings, fence posts, etc. This causes damage over time
- They rub themselves on fences which wear them down, bend them, and mangle them over time
- They need their hooves trimmed bi-yearly
- Intact males stink
- They can get their heads stuck in the fence
- Are huge wasters of hay
- It’s difficult to get cream. If you want butter or whipped cream you will need to purchase a cream separator
- Cream line. Butter.
- Quieter than goats
- Easier to fence
- Don’t get their heads stuck in the fence
- More milk
- Providing minerals is easier (Just a small note on this: We are in a copper and selenium depleted area. I found the goats always needed supplements. This has not been the case for the cows. It may be worth looking into your area to see what supplements you will need. We do provide free choice minerals for our cows and did the same for the goats, but goats didn’t seem to consume enough of it on their own)
- Calves are worth more
- They don’t waste hay as much
- They aren’t as rambunctious/choatic
- They are more content animals
- Produce a lot of manure for the garden
- They are tasty to eat (should you get a male calf, or a defective or miserable cow you can just butcher them)
- More expensive to feed
- Need more room (pasture and shelter wise)
- Are a more dangerous animal
- Bulls are hard to deal with
- More milk – if you aren’t prepared to handle it, it can be overwhelming
- Overall, they cost more to purchase and to vet
- Transportation. Unless you have a cattle trailer of your own, it can be expensive and difficult to move them.
A Final Note
At the end of the day, I will say I was happy I started with goats. When you are first starting out, and if you have no farm experience what-so-ever a goat is easy to learn on.
I learned how to hand milk, how to deworm an animal, how to assist with birth, what to do when a mother rejects her baby, the ins and outs of breeding, the importance of fencing, and many other tiny lessons that aren’t coming to mind right now, all from the goats. I will forever owe them that.
Plus, if you’re trying to decide if a dairy animal is even right for your homestead, purchasing a goat is far less expensive.
That being said, I do still believe that cows are less of a handful.
What is really all comes down to is what you are happy with. The first glass of milk from your own dairy animal is amazing. Cheers to that.
Do you have a dairy goat or a dairy cow? Weigh in in the comment section below, is there pros/cons I missed?