Smoky Mountain Dairy Goat Association

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Goats 101- Basic Information  

Goats are related to deer, so they are browsers, not grazers. They prefer lots of variety and tend to eat "up" instead of "down".

There are three basic goat types - dairy, fiber, & meat.

Dairy goats are primarily raised for goat milk. They also make good companions, go to petting zoos, and are shown at fairs and other shows.  Common breeds of dairy goats in the US (those registered with the American Dairy Goat Association) are: Alpine, LaMancha, Nigerian Dwarf, Nubian,  Oberhasli, Saanen, Sable, & Toggenburg. For more specific information about a dairy goat breed, go to

  • Female goats are called does.
  • Male goats are called bucks .
  • A male goat that has been neutered is known as a wether.
  • The young offspring are called kids.
For Dr. Samantha Collins'  (Former UTCVM Resident) informational Presentation please view the Photo gallery "October2015Meeting"!



Goat Data

Body Temperature: 102.5 avg (101 to 104)

Pulse/heart rate: 60- 80 beats per minute

Respiration rate: 15 to 30 breaths per minute

Puberty: 4 to 12 months

Estrus ("heat") cycle: 18 to 23 days

Length of each estrus: 12 to 36 hours

Gestation (length of pregnancy): 150 days (Mini breeds 145 days)

Breeding season: Nigerian Dwarf - year round; Other dairy breeds: typically August to January

Lifespan: 8 - 12 years, some up to

Dairy Goat Care & Management


 Like any other animal, a goat can survive without food for several days, but not without water. Some goat owners provide automatic waterers in goat pens, and others use buckets to provide water. In the winter, water warmers are available, or you may haul warm water in buckets twice a day. Water should not be "topped off" - it should be fresh daily.

Roughage should be supplied daily in the form of pasture, browse, and/or hay. The type of hay may well depend on the area you live, but strong consideration should be given to alfalfa where available. Winter pasture and browse should be supplemented with good quality hay.

For full nutrition to the dairy goat, grain should be supplied daily. There are many types of grain available, but a commercial grain is most convenient for most people. These can be purchased at your local Farmers Co-op or feed store.

For more information on feeding goats see the American Dairy Goat Association website at 

and Hoegger Farmyard at



 Some type of simple shelter should be provided for your goats to provide against rain and cold weather. It need not be elaborate but it should be dry and free from drafts, yet well ventilated. A small three sided shed is usually sufficient. Most sources recommend a minimum of 15 square feet per goat.

If you are planning for your dairy goat to provide you with milk, you may wish to consider building a milkhouse with a milking stanchion.

Some bedding should be provided such as straw or woodshavings. Keep this clean by removing the manure regularly. Use the manure on your field or garden.



You will need to provide fencing around the area that your goats will be in. About 200 square feet per goat is needed. The fence should be secure to keep out stray dogs, coyotes or other predators. Be sure to use a good gate fastener as goats learn to open many gates.