The Urban Caprine

Haven’t you heard? The caprine’s the word.

That’s right, goats.  In case you aren’t already in the know, I’m here to show you that a goat can be a valuable asset to your backyard farming experience.

Here’s a quick run through of some of the unique benefits to keeping goats:

  • Fiber: Dwarf and pygmy goats can provide fleece. Pygora and Nigora goats are bred especially for this purpose.
  • Fresh milk: Nubian, Mini Nubian, French Alpine, and African Pygmy are dairy breeds. You can make homemade cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and soap.
  • Garden and yard maintenance: nitrogen rich manure for fertilizer and weed reduction
  • Sustenance: Goats can be used for meat consumption.
  • Companionship: Apparently, goats make great pets. Wethers, neutered male goats, are best for those seeking pet companions.

But wait! Before you jump in…

Make sure to think ahead before becoming an urban goat keeper. Use your imagination first: What do you want from your goat? This determines breed, sex, and number of goats you should keep. Make sure you have enough time to invest. Pygmy lifespans are about 8-10 years. Does will need to milked at least once a day. Keep in mind that goats are companion animals, so solitary goats can get lonely.

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association provides some useful information about various kinds of goats. It’s also helpful to find a local connection too. You can start here in Albuquerque by contacting Christine Chavez, of the Valley Flowers Farm located at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm. She has a wealth of knowledge and can hook you up with a local kid, doe, or buck.

Assess any potential obstacles before taking your goat home. Talk to your neighbors about it and give them some information about goats to help avoid potential issues or quarrels. Remember, if you have a buck, he is going to smell. Research the local zoning laws pertaining to livestock. In Aluquerque for instance, as long as a residential lot is at least half an acre (21,780 sq. ft.), one goat can be kept per 4,000 sq. ft. of open space.

Determine what kind of supplies, shelter, storage, and other necessities you will undoubtedly need. Proper fencing will discourage the escape artist goat (or potential prowlers). Avoid planting things in the goat’s vicinity that you don’t want eaten. Play space and climbing structures are good to have. Naturally, goats love to play so climbing structures are ideal. Anything from a pile of rocks to a small playground structure will work.

So now you have a goat, then what to do?

Have fun with your new goat friend. Christine recommends joining a goat club. Clubs are fairly inexpensive and offer competition opportunities for you and your goat. The worth of a goat who receives prizes is higher than a goat who hasn’t.

Experiment with and perfect you cheese and soap making skills. There are so many different DIY goat milk products you can make. Involve your friends or neighbors too. Maybe you can barter for other local food items

Get out with your goat. Go up to the mountains for a grazing excursion or maybe just a leisurely afternoon walk? The possibilities are wide open, you just have to decide if you are ready to embark on a new form of urban farming!

-Posted by Jill

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