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So, how much does a goat cost? It seems like a simple enough of a question. But the answer has a few more layers than a simple dollar amount.
You have to take a few things into consideration when figuring up the cost of goats. Do you really want to know how much a baby goat costs? Or maybe, how about a Nigerian Dwarf goat if you want to breed her? Or how much do pygmy goats cost if I want a neutered boy as a pet?
So, how much does a goat cost?
As you can probably tell, the cost of a goat is variable depending on what you want to do with them.
The most obvious differences in goats that play a factor in their price is their purpose and their breed. Do you want milking goats, goat’s fur for textiles, do you want to raise meat goats, or do you want a couple pets to play with?
For example, Nigerian Dwarf goat milk is very sweet and tastes more like cow’s milk but are not heavy milkers (a good milker will give you on average 2 quarts a day).
Whereas, a Nubian is much larger and will give you more milk but will have a more traditional “goaty” flavor. Those are just two of several different dairy goats.
You can also find mixed breeds of goats. These do not qualify for registration but are often much less expensive than a purebred goat.
Goat Care and Maintenance
So the question isn’t exactly “how much does it cost to buy a goat?”. The question should be how much is a goat…after you factor in their purchase price, food, shelter, vet care, and supplements?
Your goats are going to need to eat. If you have plenty of browse and pasture land, that can help cut down on your total cost. But goats eat more than just grass.
Your biggest and most reoccurring feed expense will probably be hay. A good quality hay will give your goats the nutrients they need, keep their rumen running properly, and provide them with warmth and insulation when it’s cold (they will ALWAYS find a way to pull it down for bedding).
Prices will vary depending on your area but in our region of the US hay runs anywhere from $4/bale for straw and upwards of $8 or more/bale for high quality alfalfa hay. When we milk regularly we feed alfalfa hay. When we aren’t milking we like to feed a mid range orchard grass/alfalfa mix.
Our average hay delivery is around $350 – $400 for 50-55 bales and will last about 6 weeks for 20 goats.
It is entirely possible to just feed hay and pasture and have a perfectly happy and healthy herd. But if you don’t have good land for grazing or can’t find a decent hay supplier, you may need to supplement their feed to make sure they are getting all of the nutrients their bodies require.
Usually, this will come in the form of a pellet feed, compressed alfalfa, or a sweet grain. When we have a goat that needs to put on a little extra weight, we tend to give them a mix of alfalfa pellets and black oil sunflower seeds.
The price of these bags will vary but you can expect to spend somewhere in the $12 to $15 range for a 50 pound bag of feed.
Fencing and Shelter
Goats hate, hate, HATE! getting wet. If it’s raining and they don’t have anywhere to go, they will be miserable. So they are going to need a shelter with a reliable roof and enough walls to give them a wind break. basically, they just need somewhere to stay warm and dry.
You can always go the DIY route and make your own shelter. You can also repurpose old tool sheds (or buy a new one).
Fencing is incredibly important with goats. They are energetic, fun, and most of all, curious creatures. They love, love, LOVE! to explore. If you have a weakness in your fence, they WILL find it and they WILL bounce around freely through your neighbors backyard…even if that neighbor is a few acres away (trust me).
You will need to factor in the cost of building a fence or making an area that is secure for your herd. We have gone down this road and can also help offer some tips and tricks to cut those costs down.
Goat Health and Wellness
I’ve heard many farmers say that goats are in a race to die. While we think that is a bit dramatic, we can’t deny that goats seem to have a penchant for getting sick or injured (maybe it has to do with their aforementioned curiosity).
Whatever the reason may be, your goats are going to need medical care. You can always be prepared and make sure you have the essential goat medical supplies on hand.
But you will also need a good livestock vet. Unfortunately you can’t just take your goats to a regular vet like for your dog or cat (no, not even dwarf goats). We are lucky in that we found a vet that also runs a regular vet. So their prices for a checkup are about the same as a household pet.
How much does it cost to buy a goat?
We’ve come this far and have not actually thrown out an actual goat price. Before giving out any averages, I wanted to make sure you knew all of the factors that can influence the cost of a goat.
Now that you have that information, we can get to the point. Unregistered goat prices can be all over the place but are generally cheaper than a registered goat. The averages that we have seen for registered goats within and around our region (the Mid-Atlantic area of the US) are:
Wethers: $50 – $150
Bucks: $150 – $500
Does: $350 – $700
I will add the caveat that a stellar buck or doe could go into the thousands but these prices are around what you should generally expect.
How much are baby goats?
These are for adults as well as the baby goat price. Pricing is based on genetics so there will likely be no difference between the two.
To register or not to register…
Registration is one of the biggest influences over the price of a goat, no matter the breed.
Some people don’t care about having registered goats. Some are completely comfortable buying a goat off of Craigslist or at auction.
These are almost always going to be unregistered goats. Goats without registration papers are definitely cheaper but also carry a lot more uncertainties. The only information you have is what the owner can tell you (and you have to take them at their word)
Goats with registration papers often have a record of their family history. This history let’s an owner track desirable traits and make accurate predictions about future generations. If you will be breeding goats, having them registered makes it much easier to plan breedings because of this.
For example, if you want a milking goat, you will likely want a goat with a family history of high milk production. Registered goats are able to go through milk testing and gain milk stars (Not sure what a milk star is? Here’s a whole list of goat terms for you).
If a goat is not registered, it is much more difficult to determine if a new baby goat is going to produce the volume of milk you will need.
Registration also creates a personal history for that specific goat. Any honors it has received is added to its record. So, if a goat has placed well in shows or has a proven record of top notch kids, registration will reflect all of this information.
Personally, from a health perspective, we are more comfortable buying from an owner that has gone through the registration process. We feel if a goat herd owner has gone through the inconvenience of having their herd registered, it is more likely (but not always the case) that they also practice good herd disease management.
Because of all of the above mentioned reasons, registered goats are almost always going to cost more. You can use the registration information to help make a breeding plan.
Bucks Vs Does Vs Wethers
Another factor in price is the gender of the goat. As a general rule, wethers are the cheapest option, does are the priciest, with bucks falling somewhere in the middle.
If you want a pet or a companion animal for another goat, you will likely want a wether, i.e. a fixed male. Since wethers have no functional purpose (like breeding or milking) they are usually pretty cheap. In fact, sometimes a breeder will offer a discount or even send a wether along with a purchased doe for free.
Bucks range in price depending on their pedigree. A proven buck can go for thousands of dollars but the laws of supply and demand can really make the price vary. Since most people only need a buck or two for a herd of dozens of girls it can sometimes be difficult to sell a good buck and thus will drive the price down.
Does are almost always the most expensive, especially if they are registered. Does are the goats that will give you milk and more cute baby goats. Because they have so much opportunity for added value to your herd, they are the most expensive.
Your spot on the map
Your location will also influence how much a goat costs. Some areas have a ton of goat farmers while others are spread out. This is another case of supply and demand. If you live in an area with a lot of herd options, you will likely pay less than in an area with a single super star filled herd.