Goats have been called “the poor man’s cow” but I would suggest the amount of space required for a cow and the amount of milk they produce in a day has far more influence in the choice of a goat for home use milk production. One cow will average 6 times the amount of milk produced by a goat and eat six times as much feed. The same is true for people who want a sustainable source of meat – cattle simply require more space and feed. Goats just seem to be a part of every homestead for a variety of reasons.
Beginners with livestock are wise to start with an established milk goat, perhaps even one that has been recently bred. Goats are friendly, affectionate animals that are easy to work with and starting with a doe that is accustomed to being handled will make learning far more fun. Just like training a dog, the more time you spend with your goat the more comfortable and cooperative it will be with you. One of our sons uses goats to pack his camp when he hikes into sections of the forest without roads. He doesn’t need to have lead ropes on them, they love him and just follow him like his dog does.
We have several books on raising goats in general and one on milk goats specifically. Since our daughter did goat projects in 4H we also have the manuals and handbooks published by the University Extension System. But I do believe I have found one of the most complete books on the subject in a downloadable version. Ted Allen’s ““Raising Goats / The Beginners Guide to Raising Goats” is definitely worth the $29.97 even if you didn’t get the 9 extra bonus books.
My strongest piece of advise before your bring your goat home? Be sure your fence is adequate!