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ORIGIN: United States

Extension Goat Handbook

This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies.

DOCN 000000005
NO A-5
AU C. Short; Fort Collins, CO
RV G. F. W. Haenlein; U. of Delaware, Newark
DE The Goat Industry

1 4-H Projects
Dairy goats have become an increasingly important part of the 4-H program in many states. One of the most impressive qualities of the dairy goat is that a goat can be handled with equal ease by the youngest 4-H member to the oldest. This is an advantage over large livestock species, such as beef and dairy cattle, where adult help in handling the animal may be needed. Most states require that the 4-H members provide most of their animal's care in a livestock project, often as high as 80 Dairy goats are ideal for such a livestock project, because even young children can handle the care of their animals.

2 Dairy goats require little space in comparison to horses and cows. Because of this, children with limited space can still participate in a 4-H livestock project by choosing dairy goats. Dairy goat projects may also be an ideal opportunity for city or suburban children to participate in a 4-H livestock project, because goats are often tolerated in neighborhoods where other small livestock, such as pigs and sheep, are excluded.

3 Goats have the type of personality that make them ideal candidates for 4-H projects. They are unique among livestock because of their tendency to become companion animals, as well as livestock in the more traditional sense of the word. A bond is quickly formed between a child and a goat, especially when starting with a young animal. Chores are often more willingly done due to this sense of companionship.

4 The initial investment to start a 4-H dairy goat project does not need to be large. Kids, even purebreds, are usually within the reach of even modest budgets. Dairy goats do fine with only a simple shed, provided they are free from drafts and protected from rain and snow. Fencing for goats, however, is a special concern. Although fancy fences are not necessary, fences do need to be tight and high enough that the goats can not jump out or sneak through between strands especially on the bottom.

5 Dairy goats can be transported easily in any type of vehicle. Horse or stock trailers are handy, but goats can be satisfactorily moved in pickup trucks, station wagons, or even economy cars. Extensive training and equipment are not needed in order to show goats at 4-H fairs. A collar is required for the goat; the exhibitor ought to wear clean, white clothes.

6 A 4-H dairy goat project has a special advantage for younger and more sensitive children, because it is a breeding project rather than a market project. Breeding projects usually mature over a period of years, with the activities of one year blending into the next and long term goals more important than short term goals. Breeding projects are more enjoyable for many 4-H members than market projects where the end goal of the year's effort is to sell an animal for meat, no matter how strong an attachment for the animal was formed.

7 One goal of 4-H livestock projects is to show a profit at the end of the project year. Projects involving the dairy goat, with its efficient conversion of feed to milk, 10-month lactation, and multiple births, can realistically be expected to show a profit. The milk can be a welcome supplement to the household food budget and extra milk can be used to feed calves, pigs, and lambs as a source of income or meat.

8 There are many reasons why dairy goats and 4-H are such a positive combination. For example, children learn that animals need care every day and cannot be neglected. Being responsible for the care of goats, even when the weather is unpleasant or other activities look more interesting, is a big step toward growing up.

9 4-H dairy goat projects can help children learn how to select animals. Judging activities, including giving reasons for how animals were placed, develop the ability to recognize desirable type in dairy goats and to weigh strong and weak points within an animal and between animals.

10 A 4-H dairy goat project is often the start of the life-long interest. Participating in the project develops the skills and discipline necessary to be successful at livestock breeding and management. Rigorous record keeping is usually required in 4-H dairy goat projects, including information on income and expenses, animal pedigrees, breeding and kidding, illnesses and health care, milk records, kinds and amounts of feed used at different times of the year, and equipment and housing values and depreciation. Many 4-H record books require a detailed description of the member's goats, including their strong and weak points. They may even ask for a rationale for the bucks used in the breeding program in terms of the buck's ability to complement the strong points of a doe or correct her weak ones. This careful attention to detail and analysis of herd management decisions is an important skill for anyone involved in raising livestock.

11 The objectives of a 4-H livestock project include increased knowledge and skill in animal selection, breeding, feeding, management, fitting and showing, marketing, record keeping, and business transactions. The small space requirements, payback potential, relatively small initial investments, companionship potential, and ease of handling and transporting make dairy goats an ideal 4-H livestock project.

The National Dairy Database (1992)

ORIGIN;United States


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