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Goat books for beginners

Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy GoatsI know that some weeks it seems like all I do is talk about goats and books. So why not shake it up...and talk about goat books?!

When I first started researching goats, my first stop was Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats. The Storey series is usually a safe bet for encyclopedia-style information on livestock combined with beautiful pictures, and this book was no different (although a little less in-depth than some). If you've never met a goat before and are only going to get one book, this is probably the one to buy.

But once I finished that beginner guide...I still felt like a beginner. So I moved on to Raising Goats Naturally. Deborah Niemann's book is also an introduction to goat care, but it's written in a more chatty, first-person fashion (a lot like my own books), which I suspect turns some people away. However, since I'm aware that all one-author books inevitably share that person's biases and Raising Goats Naturallyknowledge gaps, I enjoyed the honesty of Niemann's book and definitely pulled out some interesting tidbits that weren't covered in the Storey guide. Specifically, I learned that you should always breed miniature or partially miniature goats with bucks that are as small as the doe or smaller so that you don't have to worry about extra-large kids causing problems coming out. This and other factoids probably seem obvious to many of you, but I sucked them up happily, glad to have someone else's experiences to help me avoid beginner mistakes.

By the time I finished Niemann's book, I was starting to feel more like an accomplished goatkeeper...but I still didn't have goats. Since I couldn't move up our goat-arrival date, I settled on getting another book instead, this time Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby. I'll admit up front that our two spoiled darlings arrived when I was only a Natural Goat Carequarter of the way through Coleby's book and my attention quickly turned to real, live goats, so I've still got a lot left to read, but I think that this book makes a very good addition to the beginning goatkeeper's knowledge-base...as long as you take the contents with a grain of salt. Coleby veers a little too far toward the personal-experience/no-science side for my tastes in a few spots, but most of her book walks a more middle ground. And she presents intriguing suggestions about how the prehistory of goats impacts their current needs, explaining that goats' tendency to browse on tree leaves means that the animals can develop mineral deficiencies when dining primarily on short-rooted grasses in human-build pastures. In turn, Coleby asserts that those cravings are what spur goats to break out of our pastures...which may be wishful thinking, but is worth considering.

I'd be curious to hear from our readers. Which other goat books do you feel help beginners turn into permaculture goat herders? Did I miss an obvious introductory text from my lineup?



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Is there a lot of unnatural goat care?

Or are there artificial goats?

Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Nov 20 14:16:10 2014
I just learned that Elizabeth Bishop kept goats in Brazil...haven't tracked down what she wrote about them, tho. Carl Sandburg's wife, Lilian "Paula" Steichen, a Phi Bet from the U. of Chicago, kept goats at Connemara Farm, outside of Asheville, and there is a video of this (Goat Tell It). Also, I think she wrote The Year of the Goat which I haven't yet checked out.
Comment by adrianne Thu Nov 20 18:14:24 2014

Laura Childs' Joy of Keeping Goats Very practical and open and with fantastic photos

Comment by JD Sun Nov 23 16:13:52 2014

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime