There is so much truth in this saying especially when it comes to livestock! This has been a slow sales year for us, but certainly not 'less interesting.' This year we have had an increase in the volume of people contacting us to only tell us about our 'over priced' goats and hot accusations that we are basically a 'puppy mill' for goats! Lol. Well folks--you get what you pay for ;)
Our goats were not purchased on a whim--in fact, I researched what it was going to take, and how to care for our new investment. However, as many attest--and I AFFIRM, you can own goats for 10 years and still learn something new every day. Farming is an everyday event. Not a weekend 'hobby.'
Unfortunately, for goats in general, there seems to be an influx of 'pet-owners' looking for goats to adorn their 'homesteads.' Many are looking to dress their properties up to 'look like a farm' and for whatever reason have chosen goats. I assume firstly because they are small. And second, that these folks assume (incorrectly) that they are easy to care for, and lastly that they are 'CHEAP' (also wrong).
So, what does a 'Puppy Mill' for goats look like? How about any number of goats 4-100 that literally have no purpose. Sure you milk one or two goats, but the other number... they just crank out babies. You keep your buck with all your does and his kids so he can get them pregnant too. You have no idea when animals are bred or not.. they just drop babies left and right, they are inbred to their teeth, you don't provide basic care like deworming, copper bolus, or regular hoof trims. And since you cant afford to feed X amount of goats--you need to sell them. So every so often you 'bail-out' half a dozen goats for a hard to resist price (usually $75 and under) so you don't drown in your feed bill.. which really isn't much since you feed moldy cow hay and chicken scratch anyway...
Do you have a breeding goal other than 'more babies?' Sure do! You want a 'rainbow' of goat colors and a few cool looking goats.. maybe throw a Boer Buck in with your Nigerian, Pigmy, Nubian mixed herd to make some 'dual purpose' goats. Maybe you buy nothing but blue-eyed goats because you just want a herd of beautiful goats, and want to 'specialize' in blue eyes, or you *fill in the blank*.. Or, you think 'mini' goats are a fad, and you want to make your own to sell 'cheap' because you think they are popular or that breeders are a rip-off.
Miniature Dairy Goat Breeder VS. Backyard PET breeder::
1)Minis are produced by using high-quality REGISTERED ANIMALS. Not cheap Craigslist unregistered goats with NO milking/Dairy history that can't be proven. Just be cause you say your La Mancha is from Mint*Leaf and is unregistered doesn't make it so! Just because you purchased an unregistered Nigerian from 'Blunderosa' lines doesn't mean the goat you are using is a good dairy animal its self!
2) Mini Dairy goats are not 'Labradoodles' You don't milk your dog (at least I hope not). If a farm is breeding non-registered goats together to make a 'non-registered mini' RUN! What makes a mini is not just size. They need to produce at a minimum 1/3 the amount of a standard goat. If you don't have papers to prove the lineage/breeding of the mini-- ITS NOT A MINI--PERIOD!
3) Farms making 'minis' that are not registered/registerable ARE 'puppy mills for goats' and ARE trying to take advantage of a fad-- no papers, no milking history = they don't care about what is being produced, because their name isn't on it. Once an animal is sold, the buyer has no way of knowing, or tracking back to, who bred/owned the goat.
4) Registered goats = Accountability. Whether good or bad, a registered goat breeder is accountable for the animals they produced, and are available for other people to contact them--either through facebook, a web page, or registry membership/breeder list
Non-registered goat breeders are not some sparkling image of 'Mother Theresa' level of humanitarians. Eagerly providing dozens of 'affordable' babies every spring...winter...fall...summer...er--when ever your goats have kids is flat out irresponsible. If all you can tell a client about your goat is that ""it is from great milking lines, and that it is a beautiful Nubian that makes beautiful kids""--that is a wasted investment of time/money period... I cannot tell you HOW MANY times I have watched people go the 'cheap' route only to get burned in the end. If you are into goats for any other purpose other than being a lawn ornament or BBQ you had better educate yourself first, AND BUY FROM PEOPLE who care about the quality of what they are selling!!!!!!
As they say in ANY animal circle-- YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR-- if you cant afford the price tag, then you cant afford the feed, vet, or other care cost associated... You may need goats milk--that doesn't mean you need the goat!
Our Goat Farm...
Are we a Puppy Mill? Do we breed minis for the 'fad' of having small cute goats?? No. We are a true to the bone HOMESTEAD that raises miniature La Manchas for the purpose of providing, milk, meat, and other products. Our goats are not 'pets' they are high-octane dairy animals. They are not boxed into a tiny pen/personal petting zoo. They get to wander outside of their pens, go on grazing walks, and enjoy the homestead life.
And no, our homestead is not suburbanite 'pretty' because we are working from the ground up, and with what little our low-income situation provides (coupled with using income earned from our goats/garden) we are very slowly making improvements. Patience is a virtue-- and its part of our goal to become independent from Modern 'LIFE.' We use kerosene lanterns, candles, and hand powered tools. We get blisters, sweat like we live on the sun, and make everything home-made from scratch. We don't have time to make you tube videos, or have a quaint 'pioneer woman' designer lifestyle.
We also do not pander to spineless 'PETA' ethics, or 'go-natural' imagery-- our goats get castrated, get eaten, get disbudded, have their scurs banded for maintenance, will receive a chemical de-wormer for their health, will receive conventional treatments/medications if the situation arises, and will get the best quality life I can afford to give them (even if it means I eat rice and beans with salt for a month)--, Sorry!
Are our goats over priced?? That depends on what you define as overpriced. Our goats babies are sold to purchase feed for the herd through the winter. And to help offset other necessary herd expenses. Then, there is the evaluation... do we need another milker? Are we happy with the offspring produced/ would we keep them if we had the space(do we have the space)? How is/was the parents productivity? What did mature siblings produce?? Pricing is set based on these questions and more. The 'perfect goat' with the high productivity, perfect udder, great conformation--is most likely going to stay. All other animals may/will be sold or eaten blue-eyes OR NOT! Animals for sale may not be 'perfect' (not many goats are)-- but they do have traits we feel could be easily improved on, or at least they are sufficient to be used on a family homestead where they may not be used for show.
In short--I'm not God, I don't get to dictate what genetics an animal has. And I'm not particularly fond of pricing animals based on superficial things like: pedigrees (based on who the ancestors are), specific coat Color/Patterns (moonspots as an example), and definitely not for BLUE EYES-- I need milk, so prices reflect to my best ability as a breeder to asses my animals ability to MILK. Not to be someone else's idea of perfect, so--if you don't like my evaluation of what it cost me to produce the animal listed for sale--DONT BUY IT.
** If all you want are animals with shinning pedigrees with familiar/famous ancestors-- hold on to your chair-- I will absolutely purchase animals from 'unknown' or 'unfamiliar' farms to use in my herd. I am not afraid to out-cross, and while I do have some 'sparkling' pedigrees-- I'm not a brand hound. I want MILK, not pretty papers. I have used bucks from 'no-name' farms back East and have had tremendous results! If you want pretty papers--there are farms out there to purchase your minis from that will fill that need-- mine, probably won't....
**If you are 'dying' to have a blue-eyed goat, or only want a blue eyed goat--I suggest you look at my sales list. If you see a goat with blue eyes buy it. I don't focus on blue eyes, don't care if my goats have blue eyes, don't try to predict blue eyes--and if my goats never had blue eyes it would be fine by me. If you want a blue eyed goat, and wont put a deposit down on anything but blue eyes--this is not the farm to buy from....
**Moon Spots (dappled goats)--I don't select my animals based on having moon spots/dapples. And just like blue eyes--if you see a goat with dapples and you want dapples--buy it. I don't breed for it, don't care for it, really don't want it in my herd because like blue eyes--its popular, and other traits that are more important are usually overlooked--- this is not a farm to find popular colors from period--animals are selected for breeding purposes based on 1) Milk-ability--2) Correct body structure--3) udder structure.
We strive to breed to standard and work toward improving/maintaining good conformation and show quality animals, but again.. not every breeding is going to produce that 'TOP TEN' breed leader ELITE animal. And I don't expect it to. If the goat Milks, but probably wouldn't win a show-- it is going to be priced based on milking quality (over $300). Why?? Because if the right buck is used, the offspring could become show-quality. And vise versa. If an animal is show quality, but milk production is a little low--if bred to the right buck milk production can increase in future generations.
This is called 'room for improvement,' and where your skills as a breeder get tested. Are you making the right breeding choices in YOUR herd, and selecting a buck to help improve on the current negative traits of the doe you own? Or do you assume that is my job, and are more focused on having cute multi colored-blue eyed kids and bashing a breeder because you didn't get a perfect replica of their top-goat for under $100???
If you want milk and show quality-- I suggest you inquire about our retained junior animals; I may offer a few of them for sale after they have freshened at least once, and I can give you my assessment--as well as pictures to help you make a good decision for your herd. But, be aware, that the BEST animals will stay here! That is why I breed, to make improvements and work up, not to sell off every goat dirt cheap and quickly... If you want a 'pet' non-registered doe-- I suggest finding another farm. I don't throw my work in the trash, and as of 2017 ALL animals will be registered before being offered for sale--no more letting owners fill out applications.
Now, If you only want a wether, and don't care if its registered or not, we have plenty of those on a regular basis that would make a good pet/ or even as a companion for your green beans in the freezer. Our wethers are never sold registered-- I feel that is a waste of money for an animal that is not going to be used for breeding. Our wethers are priced 'affordably' and no matter what they look like, how many moon spots, or what their eye-color--they will always be $150.
In short-- if you are not satisfied with our work, don't buy from us. If you want a dirt cheap goat, like the ones you are accustomed to seeing on craigslist-- don't contact us to haggle. Our goats are geared more toward fellow breeders, hobbyists, and homesteaders looking to make their herd self-sustaining, and who have a vested interest in the breed we raise. Our goats are bred specifically for MILK (proving they are useful as a dairy breed) & SHOW (proving they are correct/ bred to the standard).
We do our best to represent our animals accurately, and that is really all we can do. But I am not going to sell my animals for peanuts because you know someone who has 'minis' for under $150. Our prices reflect the work put in-- and someday I hope that work is more obvious. But starting out in the Southwest has not been easy. NO ONE breeds quality minis in our immediate area, and finding people to purchase from to keep making improvements or to collaborate with--forget it. We have been saving little bits of money here and there for 4-5 years to be able to IMPROT animals from across the US in order to get the genetic diversity necessary. So now, because we are investing EVEN MORE into our herd, I am definitely NOT going to entertain low-ball offers because you think we are no different than the rest of the junk in this state.
A 'REAL HOMESTEAD' raises animals/gardens for the purpose of making their life-style self sufficient not getting a cover photo in Better Homes and Gardens. Self-sufficient doesn't just mean that I raise my own food. It also means that my lifestyle is not a perpetual hole in the ground, and does make a return on my investment. Cattle farmers, vegetable/fruit growers don't do what they do to just 'give' their work away. Their work supports their life-style. Pioneer homesteaders weren't just raising animals on their farms for 'the look', or just for their own gain--they sold and produced quality breeding stock to sell in nearby towns as well as: milk, cheese, meat, soap, or other products their community was in need of.
In like manner-- our goat herd is intended to be self-sustaining. So, unless you would like to pay my feed bill (about $2500/yr). Pay to import quality bucks for breeding ($800-$1000 every 1-2 years, or as needed). And Pay for all my goats other miscellaneous needs for the year ($1000 average) --not really interested in hearing complaints about my pricing. What I sell my animals for BARELY covers the feed costs if I am lucky.
Where you buy from typically makes a difference::::
The difference... in a picture....
Are 'breeder's goats' really THAT different from the $100 goat on Craigslist??? They cant be worth the ridiculous $400-$1000 price tag! Really? For a goat???!
A picture can say a thousand words... here are some pictures of goats that were actually offered for sale locally, AND were being listed as excellent DAIRY/MEAT quality animals. Lets see which "breeder" is ripping people off----
What ever--registered goats are just for 'LOOKS' of course they 'look better', that doesn't mean the goats to the left aren't good milk producers. True... if you don't actually need high quality milk. And don't care that your udders are going to be difficult to milk/ mastitis prone as they sag with age...
Some of the goats listed as examples above are all registered--and have ugly udders/poor productivity. Why? Well folks the harsh reality is that some breedings look great on paper and then just don't pan out. The other issue is when people purchase from breeders thinking they should/or do have the best animals and forget (or neglect) to breed up! And worse--some breeders sell their culls because they dont 'have the heart' to eat them; and then neglect to let people know they are buying trash.
Animals that breeders sell are not always gem stones-- you still NEED TO BREED UP. Don't just buy a goat because it looks good in a picture, then randomly breed it. Look at how the udder looks on BOTH sides of the family, and determine if the buck you are going to use may help increase positive traits that may be lacking in your herd-- focusing breeding goals is not just for 'show', it strengthens your goats offspring, and makes them BETTER suited for milking. Why buy a goat that will be useless at 6 years old when they live to be 15+?? Wouldn't it be better to buy from a farm who has goats that are 10+ years old with udders like the goats on the right?? I think so, and so do the people that buy from us!
The goat on the left is the FIRST craigslist ad I have seen with honest pricing. And the seller even gave a very honest opinion about the goat, and what a buyer should consider when breeding. Sadly this persons advise will likely go un-noticed. The doe herself was also listed for sale for $250-- and if bred to the right buck, her offspring may yet turn out to be excellent milking animals... not EVERY First Freshener is going to be a rock star like the doe on the right!
Our best milker had a FF udder like the doe on the left--we kept her in milk for 12 months, then I re-bed her. She peaked at 2 GALLONS A DAY as a second freshener. Which is why I will NEVER promise my goats will be 1 gallon a day milkers. A lot of our goats are, but as a first timer, they may not be--and for us that's okay. I don't buy FF for their production, I buy FF for their dairy strengths, and know that they will improve with time--but if they aren't where I want them to be by 4 years old, THEN I will consider if I need to make room in the freezer--not before!
The Question + The Answer::
Are breeders trying to rip people off?? Not if you buy from people who care about what they produce--they tend to talk a lot, and will happily point out the faults in the goat they are selling to help you make a good choice--not necessarily to discourage you! However, not every person who calls themselves a breeder is focused on herd improvements either ;) You don't need to have a fancy web page, or pipe corral fencing, with a $3,000+ breezeway barn-- in fact a lot of breeders don't have those things. But not every breeder shows, or works on making any improvements in their herd either. Finding a GOOD reputable breeder is going to depend on YOUR personal goals for your herd...kinda like knowing what you are shopping for.
If you don't think the goats on the left are 'bad' or you would rather own one of them.. no worries. 90% of goat owners have animals just like these, even breeders with fancy pedigrees! A fault doesn't mean your goat is doomed--they may have a redeeming trait that would compliment another bloodline. But if you flat out don't care that your goat will be able to hold up to years of milking-- buying from a backyard breeder may be your best option, and most will reasonably price their animals; unless they purchased from a breeder and think their animals are gold--and offer non-registered, poor milking, poor body condition, horned animals for sale at $200+.
Unfortunately, only 10% of goat owners are actually focused on the breed(s) they raise with the intent to breed them to the breed standards. And even fewer of that 10% show in competitions/evaluations to see if their program is on-track or not. V-shows are not that popular for some good reasons.. and few people have the time to take their goats to a live evaluation...let alone pay for an extra expense.
My hat is off to those who can and do show. It takes a tremendous amount of work. But we are not able to partake. Being off-grid means we take cuts in a lot of places. We do however partake in V-Shows and DHIR, and use these tools to help us make the most out of our herd. We do all this work, and pay the extra expense in our effort to provide a better quality mini to our state. And from what I see coming out of 'backyard' herds who just put two goats together for the heck of it--ours out perform them hands down. And the people we buy from, their minis would put just about any average 'PET' standard La Mancha in our state to shame!
** If buying from poor people who focus 100% on their animals 'bothers you,' and you cant stand the thought that I am going to buy hay, pay for registrations, medications, or build a barn for my beloved goats with the money earned from selling their babies, mature milking animals, culled wethers, etc. in order to make my herd SELF-SUSTAINING--please don't buy from me! You would be so much happier, and I would not have to deal with deleting your list of entitlements from my over crowded email...
** If you want a 100% guarantee that you are going to have the hottest FF doe in town with the best udder, and 2 gallons a day production.. I'm going to be honest, you're going to be disappointed. I breed to the breed standard, not to the standard of an expectation. Which means, there is a lot of room for improvements to be made depending on which family line of goats you purchase from-- And again--please save us both some time-- don't buy from me if your expectation is sky-high, Its that simple.
I breed the best goats I can produce--which takes time. Trial and Error, and a whole ton of $$ to import good complimentary bloodlines; which is money I often don't have. I work with the best resources available to me. And strive to have goats like the ones on the Right. And fortunately for me-- I have been able to fill my herd with animals like them, or pretty darn close!
But not every doe produced has been an exact replica of their parents as we have wished--that's genetics-- and yes, we have sold them knowing if they were bred to a different buck other than what we were working with, they would have produced offspring with more 'correct' features.
However, we do eat our bucks who don't measure up, and rarely if ever offer them for sale! First, there is no demand for top-grain miniature la mancha bucks in this state. Everyone breeds to a pygmy, Nigerian, la mancha, some unregistered mix, or are simply not willing to invest in their herd because milking goats is 'for fun.' Therefore, we don't produce them-- and I am certainly never going to sell them at the price of a wether. I have no intention of selling a buck with our herd name on it that is not going to be used in a way that benefits the breed--so thankfully our family benefits from the meat produced.
In conclusion-- If every goat we produced was top-grain my pricing would be 2-3x what they are currently because very few people have a herd of 'perfect' dairy goats... and they would command top dollar to be used for breeding programs across the US; My animals wouldn't be just limited to the local market value, and would be highly sought after. Right now, that isn't the case, so they are priced according to the AVERAGE REGISTERED MINI OF EQUAL VALUE OUT-OF-STATE.. since that is where I would need to go to buy a replacement for ANY of my current stock.
Our Goats VS. the 'LOCAL FLAVOR'
In the market to add a 'dairy goat' to your homestead??? Remember--You get what you pay for!!
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