The top seven questions people ask about goats

I was lactose intolerant child, which meant that I couldn’t drink cow’s milk for most of my childhood. My Mom would buy me either special lactose-free milk or goat’s milk to drink.

I grew to love the goat flavor in both milk and cheese. There’s nothing better than fresh goat’s milk, it’s even better than store-bought goat’s milk, which is delicious. Once I had fresh goat milk for the first time, I knew I would never go back.

Add to it that as far as I’m concerned, cheese is a food group all it’s own.

My passion for cheese can’t be understated. All cheese, but particularly a beautiful goat cheese, can change your whole day. There’s really nothing better than crumbling a soft goat cheese over a fresh crisp salad, a warm crusty bread, or steaming pasta and then drizzling over the top a spicy olive oil.

A little less than a year ago my husband and I moved only a few miles – but took a big leap. As foodies who love the slow and local movements, we decided to join the farm-to-table revolution. We bought just a few acres north of Denver – zoned for agriculture – to start our little farm.

I knew one of the first things I wanted to do was get my own milk and cheese makers. Enter – goats. All my friends had all the questions. So, I’m going to answer the ones you didn’t even know you had, today.

Do they smell?

Yes, and no. Goats have a distinctive scent – just like their cheese has a distinctive flavor. This can only be described as “goaty” and if you’ve ever had goat cheese, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s distinctive and unique, but not really bad. Some people hate it. I find it kind of musty and sweet. The same way horses have a distinctive smell.

The goats who smell most goaty are bucks – uncut males. Even that’s only primarily around mating season. It’s really not too bad unless you decide to keep a huge herd around for some reason. I’ve met people who have goats in their backyard in the suburbs and their neightbors have no idea.

Do you do yoga with them?

I could, I guess. We have baby goats on the way right now, so that might end up being a lot funnier. I guess the real question is “do you do yoga at all?” The answer would be “no.”

Right now, my favorite thing to do is pull out a blanket and sit on the ground when it’s nice out with my goats during happy hour. They’re great to hang out with and sip wine as the sun sets.

Do they eat everything? Cans? Fence?

That’s a myth. Goats don’t eat cans or fencing. They have taken a few chunks out of the side of the chicken shed, but for the most part, they’re grazers. Goats are a great part of comprehensive land management because they tend to eat weeds first and leave the grasses until later. It’s been really good for us to get our weed problem under control.

What does the milk taste like?

It’s a little hard to describe. Different breeds of goats have different milk butterfat percentages – so not even all goat’s milk tastes the same. The smallest goats give the highest fat milk (like little cream machines) while the larger dairy breeds give a higher volume of milk but lower fat percentage. Goat’s milk has a sweetness and a depth that feels rich and velvety on your tongue.

Are they nice? What are their personalities like?

Goats are sweet. They’re not like dogs though. Although domesticated, they can be skittish if they don’t know you. Some people bottle feed their baby goats to help them become more people friendly at a younger age.

We got some of our goats from a milking herd who took a while to warm up to us. But we also got one of our girls from – and I am not making this up – a lady at a suburban house who was just keeping them in the back yard. She was raised with children playing with her all the time, so she’s basically like a puppy goat.

How big are they?

Goats can run the gamut from the size of a medium dog to the size of a small pony. It all depends on the breed. Although we only own miniature goats, we have a friend who boards her larger dairy goats with us as well. So we have goats ranging from 30 pounds to 200-plus pounds on the property.

One of our goats is a hybrid of a larger dairy breed with the smaller miniature goat. The hope is with her we’ll get the high butterfat content milk from the mini breed with the higher volume milk from the dairy breed. Also, the smaller the goat, the less they eat.

Can I get one?

It depends. It’s actually crazy to me all the places I’ve seen people keep goats – particularly the smaller ones. You pull up to a normal looking house in a normal neighborhood and walk into the backyard and there they are – goats!

Check with your zoning to see if you can have one. Like with any animal, make sure you try to at least meet one first before you jump in. That said, goats are herd animals so you have to have at least two. Maybe you’ll start collecting them like me.

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10 thoughts on “The top seven questions people ask about goats”

  1. Thinking about goats makes me think of my late aunt. I don’t think she used the milk. She was just a sucker for any animal–like all of my maternal relatives. (She had various rescue dogs, cats, chickens, goats, and even a llama named, of course, Dolly.)

    Anyway, one of my favorite memories of her was from Christmas Day dinner at her house. She was wearing sweats and a corsage. (Yeah, well, on her it made sense.) She leaned over to pet one of the goats, who immediate ate the corsage.

    Lovely image. Enjoy your goats!

  2. Gorgeous animals. My husband talks about bringing home the mini versions to help with upkeep of our six acres, but luckily the HOA prohibits livestock and chickens. Don’t think I’m cruel. Over the 24 years we’ve lived here, we have rescued and nurtured a couple of dozen stable cats wandering up from surrounding farms and equestrian centers. We have five right now. Plus, we have five dogs (HOA = 2), four Chihuahuas gained on a quest for two purebreds, and a shepherd/Labrador mix dumped on us by my brother-in-law just before Thanksgiving. He knows a sucker when he sees one. The Chi’s staged a jail break last fall running completely around the house on the opposite hill and ending up at the end of the court where a neighbor (president of HOA) was walking his dog. My better half indicated we were dog sitting, as if every neighbor doesn’t know exactly the actual score.

    1. As someone who has had both labs and a Boston Terrier – I think 4 chis count as 1 dog so you’re probably safe with the HOA. I’m just smiling imagining a pack of chihuahuas running up the hill at full tilt. One idea, if you want goats for weed control is there are some companies who will come out set up temporary electric fencing and will let the goats clean out your yard. It’s like a rent-some-goats deal.

      1. That is an intriguing idea: An on-site, temporary petting zoo and lawn service. I’ll check for purveyors. if spring ever returns, we can set them on the dandelions rather than lay chemicals. Thanks!

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