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Extension > Food > Small Farms > Alternative and small-scale livestock systems > Sheep and goats > How much does it cost to raise dairy goats?

How much does it cost to raise dairy goats?

Laura Kieser, Extension educator, Carver/Scott Counties
Published in Dairy Star March 2, 2008
Reviewed by Wayne Martin, Extension educator, 2012

Doe goat with kids

Raising dairy goats as a hobby is about more than just economics.

There has been a lot of interest in the dairy goat industry over the past year. I get many calls asking about dairy goats, how much land it takes to raise them, what to feed them, and how to manage them. The one question I get asked very rarely is: how much does it cost?

Expenses

The numbers in Table 1 are representative of current input costs. There is a difference between costs on a hobby operation (10 does) and a commercial operation (100 does). The scenario for this article represents a hobby operation with 10 milking does. Replacement does are not included. The costs for a commercial dairy goat operation will be discussed in a future article.

Table 1. Hobby Enterprise: 10 milking dairy goats per year. Average 2050 lb milk per lactation.
  Cost Per Doe % of Total
1825 lb hay @ 200/T (5 lb daily) $182.50 18
1025 lb grain mix @ $0.21/lb
(3.3 lb average during lactation, 1 lb while dry)
$227.85 22
Bedding (straw - 100 bales @ $2.50 bale) $25.00 3
Breeding (cost of keeping a buck) $41.78 4
Vet costs $50.00 5
Operating expense (supplies, utilities, maintenance) $150.00 15
69.4 hours of labor @ $5/hr $347.00 33
 
Total $1024.13 100
Cost of producing 100 lb milk $49.96  
Cost per gallon $4.30  

As can be noted in Table 1, the largest expense in raising dairy goats is labor, as is the case with other livestock. Labor cost used is a conservative $5 per hour for mostly family labor. You may value your labor differently. If raising dairy goats for fun, and not as a business, perhaps a value for your labor is not important to you. Table 2 shows how labor was broken down by task:

Table 2. Labor Use per doe on a 10-goat dairy.
  Hours Annually % of Time
Milking, 305 days (15 does/person/hour) 40.7 59
Set-up & clean-up (20 min. daily) 12.2 18
Manure handling & bedding (10 min. daily) 6.1 9
Feeding hay & grain (6 min. daily) 3.7 5
Heat detection (10 min./day for 6 months) 3.0 4
Breeding (20 min. X 2 breedings) 0.7 1
Miscellaneous (.5 min. daily per doe) 3.0 4
Total hours 69.4 100

Income

Let's look at alternative income sources for a 10-goat dairy operation.

Summary

There are many reasons that people choose to raise dairy goats, and usually economics is not the first reason. Interest in goats is usually driven by the personality of the animals, developing friendships with other people with similar interests, finding a solution to a dietary issue, wanting a way to connect to the land, or creating a homestead environment on a small amount of acreage.

It is important to determine your own costs and budget. Table 1 is for illustrative purposes only. As long as your budget fits with the goals you want to accomplish, everyone can be happy - including the goats.

For more information, contact me in Carver and Scott Counties at 952-492-5386 or 952-466-5306 or via email at torb0022@umn.edu.

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