This is a collection of ideas on how to make the most out of your herd, and help off-set operation costs of your Homestead.
Once your herd gets to a certain size, as we quickly found out, there comes a point when your milk production exceeds your own ability to use it all.. OR you may even be looking over what you spent last year in feed, and realized this year your herd has doubled! You may not have been able to sell/ eat all your goats, or may have decided to retain a few.. in either case, its time to start figuring-out how to get your goats to pay for their feed!
How to make extra income off your Herd:
Now this is where things can get a bit tricky-- as certain items will require either A) Special equipment or B) Licensing/Inspection by your State Health or Agricultural Departments... or even BOTH! But none-the-less they are after all options! And you will need to look into your state requirements to be sure that what you are doing (or plan to do) will not land you in hot-water! I am in no way advocating looking for loop-holes in State/Federal Laws, Breaking Laws, or being 'sneeky' to avoid being caught by the Law.. So please, do your research!
Breeding Stock : This is going to be your #1- Income off your herd. So it pays to invest in the stock you are working with to ensure you have desirable animals worth selling. No farm/Homestead keeps all the kids they produce--even if you plan on using most of them for home-meat production, there is going to come a time when you are going to want/have to sell some of your babies/adults.
Petting Zoo: Do you have a CSA? Market stand at your property? Incorporating animals at the market for people to feed is not only entertaining for children/visitors, but you may make some extra money selling the feed. Taking your animals to parties if they are well trained, and enjoy attention is another option, or even doing other interactive events may help generate some income.
Packing Adventure/ Day Hike: If your goats are pack-trained, why not take visitors out on a picnic? Camping excursions, hunting expeditions, or touring with goats is environmentally friendly, plus you may be able to utilize your animals in a way that helps generate income.
Educational Courses/Classes: If you have been raising goats for a while, hosting classes on basic care, nutrition, and product making are not only useful to beginners-- but will also help off-set feed costs for animals on the Homestead.
Manure/Compost: Goat manure is exceptional for gardens! Few weeds/seeds make it past the goats thorough digestive tract, and it is less-hot than chicken, cow, or horse manure.. making even fresh goat manure a safe additive for veggies, fruits, lawns, and more. Goat manure is like gold, and if composted, may be sold as garden soil.
Meat-Sales: Some years you will have more bucklings than you know what to do with. If they are wethered they will grow quickly, making them perfect for meat production on the homestead. Sale of live wethers to families looking for healthy meat sources can provide an extra income, as well as bless your community with hormone-anti-biotic-FREE protein grown locally.
Milk Sales/ Milk Share: Once your cooler is packed with cheese, butter, cream, and milk-- what are you going to do with the extra? Some states permit the sale of Raw milk through a milk-share program. Others may require you to have licensing, bottling equipment, and pasteurization-- but starting a small local dairy can be rewarding!
Fudge/ Caramels: Confections are a real treat at the farm-stand. And so easy to make! If you are not a fan of cheese-- making confections to sell may be a viable option!
Cheese/yogurts: Cheese is a very popular goat milk product. But not all states will permit cheese sales without proper licensing/ health inspections. So please check your local state laws as to the requirements of Cheese Sales.
Lotions/Soaps: Easy to make, and a great outlet for helping generate income through healthy/ useful home care products. Soaps are very popular to make and sell, and are a fun way to generate a revenue!
Fodder: Some folks prefer to feed their left-overs to other live-stock. Which can also help generate an extra income.. or help you save money in other places! Livestock that can benefit from milk include Calves (that can be sold later for beef/dairy) & Chickens (raised for meat or eggs).. or milk can even be useful as a soil amendment for the garden!
Tanned Hides/Leather: Hides and Leather is another product that can be produced. If you have a desire to work with leather, goat is very much like deer hide, and can be made into textiles, purses, chair cushions, and much more!
Bone Tools/Knives/Buttons: Rustic bone knifes/tools are a great way to appeal to folks looking for something truly had-crafted. Bone/Horn buttons and combs are also very beautiful and unique. Plus, a fun way to make the most out of the bi-product produced from butchering your own meat.
Skulls/Horns: Painted, Decorated, or Left Natural. Skulls and Horns add a rustic flair to décor, and can be sold mounted or loose for wall hanging etc.
Generating income off your herd is really limited to your imagination-- or to what you are willing to invest. Whether you dream of operating your own dairy, sell gourmet cheese, or just make the most out of your milk at home!
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