The short answer is yes, raising goats for profit is totally possible. However, you need to be very clear in your goals, plan well, and understand where your revenue and expenses will be. Additionally, in order to turn an actual profit with goats, you should make sure to diversify your revenue streams in case one thing has a down turn for the year.
We got our goats initially because we thought they were absolutely adorable and couldn't imagine a world without them. But they can be expensive to care for, so shortly after we started to wonder, "Can you make money raising goats?"
So, let's go through a whole host of ideas that can help you make money with your goats so that you can turn them into more than just a hobby. This will allow you to make money with your homestead so it can fuel itself.
Raising Goats for Profit
Surely, it's a possibility. I mean, other people raise goats and seem to be doing just fine. So, you should be able to also.
Before we get into the actual revenue streams, there are several things you need to think abut and plan for if you want to be raising goats for profit.
Pick a Breed
If you don't already have goats, you need to make some general decisions like which goat breed you want. Make sure to think about things like how much space you have - if you want a mini or standard size breed. As well as what basic products you might want to sell - goat meat, goat milk, goat fiber.
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You will need to plan your budget. When thinking about how much a goat costs, it can be broken down into a few categories.
Start up costs and one time costs. These are things like the cost to purchase more goats, cost for infrastructure like shelter and fencing or one time big purchases like milk machines.
If you already have goats, you will want to figure out exactly what you are currently spending on your goats so that you will know what your breakeven point is.
Revenue & Diversification
First, decide how much profit you want to make with your goats. Profit is the difference between Revenue and Expenses. Since you already worked out your expenses above, once you decide on the profit amount you want you can easily figure out how much actual revenue you need.
Then, you can start brainstorming and figuring out the exact ways you want to use for your revenue streams (more on those below in the next section). It is important to have more than one revenue stream. It all comes down to one simple word: Diversification.
If you bet the farm (pun intended) on just one revenue stream, then a single miscalculation can throw off your entire budget for the year. But if you set into motion several sources of income, then a single miscalculation becomes a bump in the road but isn't catastrophic.
For example, in one of our past kidding seasons, we had estimated a certain amount of income based on a 50/50 split of baby boys and baby girls. The girls sell for about double (sometimes 3 times or more!!!) the cost of a baby boy, especially if the boy is going to be a wether and not a buck.
Well, in that particular season, the split was more 80/20 than 50/50 and we were overrun with baby boy goats. While it is an adorable problem to have, it could still have been a serious problem. Luckily (actually, strategically) we were able to avoid a financial catastrophe through the diversification of our income streams.
Ideas to Make Money Goat Farming
So, as you can see from the above example, raising goats for profit may not always be super easy, but with careful planning it is possible.
The best way to diversify your revenue streams is to find things that work together. For instance, if you are raising dairy goats and selling milk, also use some of that milk you already have to make value added products like goat milk soap.
This way, while you are diversifying your profit areas, you aren't having to branch into things that are totally different like raising hair goats and meat goats and dealing with completely different products and breeds.
Also, as you are picking your revenue streams, make sure to estimate what your profit will be with each one that way you know how many of each thing you need to sell to hit your goals.
1. Sell baby goats.
As I mentioned earlier, you can sell baby goats and make a decent amount of money but you can't control nature. Sometimes, you end up with too many boys or you are growing your herd and you retain too many girls (this is a very real problem. You'll see).
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The price you can get for baby goats will depend on their sex, breed, quality, if they are registered and your area. Unregistered mixed breed kids may start at $50 in most places. Whereas registered high quality doelings may start at $500 and increase into the thousands based on quality.
For this reason, it is good to figure out how to buy the best goats when you are getting started. Yes, they cost more up front, but will also allow you to command a more premium price moving forward
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3. Sell Adult Goats.
If you are trying to work on your herd genetics, it is important to retain doelings (plus they are super cute to raise from birth). But because no one has infinite space, you can sell adult goats for a profit and to free up some herd space.
The nice part of selling adult goats is they have a chance to prove themselves as having good genetics and thus can increase the selling price. Sometimes you can make some more extra cash if you sell a pregnant doe. Then the buyer is getting a doe, the promise of baby goats, AND a doe that will be in milk!
The price you can sell adult goats will vary wildly. It will depend on the breed, their quality, if they are registered and your area. As an example, ADGA registered Nigerian Dwarf Goat adults can go anywhere from $500 - over $2000 in our area based on their quality and genetics.
3. Sell a doe in milk
Maybe you want to sell the doe but want to keep the babies. If that's the case, you can sell a doe that has recently kidded to anyone looking for a milking goat. They get a goat, the goat is in milk (added value), and you can charge a little extra! It's win/win.
Same pricing for does in milk apply as for adult goats and kids - but does in milk usually can command a slightly higher price (in comparison to what she would be worth) than an adult that is not bred or in milk.
4. Charge a stud fee
I know what you're thinking. No, this is not a Magic Mike reference.
Not everyone has the space (or desire) to have a buck of their own (let's face it, they can get a little stinky). But these people still want to breed their does. Since this is the case, why not let them use your buck?
If you have a buck with quality genetics you can put the word out that you have an available stud. The buyer simply brings their doe to your farm, you meet them in your driveway with your buck and let nature take it's course. In the goat farming business we call this "driveway breeding" (I know, not very creative).
This isn't usually super lucrative, but it can help pay for the cost of your bucks feed for the year. Again, depending on breed, quality etc these stud fees usually start in the $50-75 range and increase from there.
5. Lease your buck
For the same reasons mentioned above (no space or aversion to stinkiness), some people are willing to lease a buck. This is usually when the breeder is not able to pay close enough attention to catch their does in heat. When they lease a buck they will likely put him in with their does for a specified period of time and he can breed any doe that comes into heat.
This can be pretty lucrative, I just caution that you are picky about where you let your buck go and make sure the leasing farm is up to date on their disease testing.
6. Brush goats
Sounds like a dream job, but this does not mean charging people to brush your goats (although you are welcome to give that revenue stream a try). A brush goat is one that someone will lease for a period of time to clear an area of overgrown brush. Goats love to eat forage, so this is a great job for them.
If you're wondering what goats can eat, the list is actually quite long. But browse and forage is some of their favorites.
Often times, this is someone who works a lot or is no longer physically capable of clearing land themselves. In these cases, a goat can be a great solution.
The same warning from buck leasing applies though it's not as dangerous since the leaser likely won't have goats to pass on any sicknesses. Additionally, they will need to lease at least two goats so they won't get lonely and sick.
7. Start a petting zoo
Maybe not a full blown petting zoo (unless you want to do that, of course). But there are plenty of kids out there who would L-O-V-E - LOVE to have some goats at their birthday party. Bonus points if you can take some bottle babies for them to feed.
8. Goat Photos
For the benefit of those with flash photography (or just a phone camera) you can charge to have pictures taken with your goats. Who wouldn't want to make their own calendar with 12 months of cute baby goats?
Another option is to rent your goats out to photographers to use as props in their photo shoots.
9. Goat Education/Classes
Since you are an expert on how you raise your goats, you can offer your advice and experience to others that want to follow in your footsteps. You can do this through on farm education classes.
Plan a few things you would like to teach (basic goat care, herd maintenance, how to hand milk goats, how to trim goat hooves, etc) and put the word out. You can hang flyers at your local farm store or announce it online (Facebook groups are great for this sort of thing).
10. Milk Shares
One way that a lot of goat farmers earn extra income is through something called herd sharing. Essentially, a herd share is when someone makes a monthly payment and purchases a share of your herd. The size of the share they purchase then entitles them to a specified amount of the goat's milk.
This is a way that some people are able to sell raw milk without being a registered dairy. You will want to check your local laws for any restrictions.
11. Sell Goat Milk Soap
If you have excess milk you can use it for hobby type projects. A great idea for the artistic crowd is soap making. You can get creative with the designs and have a wonderful, natural soap product to use yourself or sell for profit.
12. Goat Milk Soap Classes
If you happen to have a flair for soap making, take one of the options above and teach classes on soap making. You can even sell milk for soap making purposes (again, check local laws for milk selling restrictions).
13. Sell Milk for Feed
If you sell goat babies, you usually have to wait until their mother weens them. But if you sell bottle babies, they can go as early as two weeks old (but only to experienced goat farmers, for the baby's safety).
Since the baby will need milk and the buyer will have to buy milk, why not sell it directly to them? The baby will be happier because it will be milk, likely from it's own mother. The customer will be happy because it is way more convenient than buying and mixing formula. And you will be happy because you are making the money!
You can also get licensed to sell goat milk for other animal consumption like pigs, puppies and kittens.
14. Meat Goats
If you have meet goats, in addition to selling kids, you obviously can also sell goat meat. You will need to raise them to butchering age and then can either sell them live weight or you can take the to the butcher and sell the prepared cuts of meat.
If you are raising goats for profit and have hair goats, you can sell their hair or you can do value added products and sell clothes, blankets and other woven items.
16. Goat Yoga
Goat yoga has become super popular over the last several years. It is a good, fun activity for people to participate in. And, although, it may not provide a super great yoga workout, what with the goat snuggle breaks and babies climbing all over you. It is definitely a great way to bring money in with your goats.
The nice thing about goat yoga is that while you do have to market and make sure you get enough participants in for each class, the amount of profit you can make is not limited by factors you don't have in your control like how many kids a goat will have.
17. Goat Services
You can provide services for other people's goats. Things like disbudding baby goats, banding wethers or trimming hooves. These are things that not everyone feels comfortable doing on their own.
So, if you are well versed in doing these maintenance chores for your herd, then you can get paid to do them for other peoples herds. Make sure to price your services and take into account your gas, mileage and time.
18. Decrease Costs
Ok, so, while this isn't necessarily a revenue stream, it will help you keep more of the money that your revenue streams generate. The definition of profit is Revenue (money in) minus Expenses (money out).
So, if you decrease the amount of money out, you get to keep more money in and therefore your profits increase.
Main goat costs will be feed, supplies and vet/health care. Feed costs are the ones you are most able to control as you can't exactly control accidents and illness (you can work to prevent them though).
You can decrease feed costs by giving your goats more pasture or browse. You can rotate pasture area as well. You can buy actual feed, grain, beet pulp (or whatever other treats you buy for them) on sale and in bulk.
How much profit does a goat farmer make?
The profit that a goat farmer makes can vary greatly depending on their expenses and how much they are selling. Some goat farmers may never make a profit while others may make enough to support their family for the year.
Raising goats for profit can be difficult to do and unless you have super top dollar breeding stock or have a very high volume production, you probably won't be making tens of thousands a year with your goats.
How many goats do you need to make a profit?
Technically, you could make a profit raising just a few goats. Let's look at an example. Say you have 3 does. On our farm, each goat costs about $250/year. So, three is about $750 for the year. If you decided to breed them and pay a stud service fee which averages about $150 - $200. That would be $1200 in expenses for the year.
If each doe had twins with 50% being girls and 50% being boys. Figure that for a very average pedigree, registered Nigerian Dwarf doelings can sell for $500 each and wethers goats for $150 each. That would put your revenue for the year at $1950.
To get the profit you made raising goats for the year take the revenue $1950 minus the expenses $1200. And you made a profit of $750.
Of course there are so many different variable at play, it doesn't always work on to be this straight forward. But this is just a general example of how to make a profit raising goats.
These are just a couple of the ways on how to make money from goats. I'm sure there are many other ways. What revenue streams are you using? Let us know in the comments below.
If you need more help keeping your goats healthy and well taken care of, check out the G.O.A.T. Herd Management System - worksheets, calculators, supply management and more to keep your goats in tip top shape while cutting down on time.