The bad news is that they are costing more than we can really afford. Certainly more than we would spend on millk and goat cheese yearly. The good news is that if we stay organized and motivated we have the potential to sell enough shares in our herd, which in a convoluted way allows the exchange of money for keeping of goat, and that goat's milk... that the goats will at least pay for a significant portion of their expenses. Here are some of our current feed costs:
- Brome Hay $7-10 for 50lb. We buy a variety of hay. This year we bought about half our hay from a farm nearby for $7 a bale, the bales weighed heavy, we had to be very selective and the quality varied greatly. The other half of our hay we had to drive 45 miles for, it was beautiful, the goats love it, but it was $10 a bale plus gas and time...
- Alfalfa hay, we've been paying $39.99 for 90-100 lb. bales of imported alfalfa from the feed store. I really need to find a cheaper source of Alfalfa. We just started feeding it to our milkers again, as they really need it the extra calories, the higher protein and the calcium this time of year.
- Alfalfa pellets, at 18.99 for a 50 lb. bag, I don't see why we are buying these when we can just feed the fresh stuff, but we keep them around and feed them when we are out of alfalfa hay.
- Whole Oats 10.99 for 50lb. We could and should get these cheaper by buying in bulk. Same with the Barley.
- Whole Barley 10.99 for 50lb.
- Black Oil Sunflower Seeds 24.99 for 40lb.
- Wheat Berries $38.00 50lb
- Sweetlix vitamin mineral supplement for goats $29.99 25lb.
- Looking over the last years receipts we pay around $150 for herbal supplements, herbal wormers and herbal tinctures.
I broke down the feed into how much each cost by the pound. For vet expenses, vitamins, herbals and the miscellaneous expenses, I divided the total estimated amount, or receipts by our winter herd number which was and should continue to be about eleven goats.
We are feeding our milkers each a day when in milk:
- 5 lb. brome hay (took nine dollars per 50lb) .90
- 1 lb. alfalfa hay .39
- 2 lb. whole mixed grains, whole oats, whole barley, BOSS, and wheat berries .82
The rest of the goats are less money to keep. The bucks do fine on brome with a small amount of mixed grain and alfalfa pellets. They also get herbal wormer, b.soda and sweetlix vitamin supplement. They cost closer to $36 each a month, $432 a year, $1554 for all three. The kids and yearlings cost the least, they eat less hay and grain, but they do often take a toll on their dams, continuing to nurse long past when they need it.
So it looks like we are spending close to eight thousand dollars a year to feed and care for our goats. Where does that leave us? Well, it is going to take quite a bit more math to figure out exactly how much milk we get for our money. I think instead of figuring what we should be getting, for each pound of hay and grain we are feeding, I'll be keeping track of what we milk this year and adding up how many pounds of milk we get each month.
With the current amount we are charging for goat shares and milking fees, if we provide eight months of milk- which we won't this year, we would take in $4,450 for ten shares. We could most likely double that if we got better at milking twice a day, and weaning the kids on time etc. So the potential for the herd to pay for itself is there. Now, the question is, are we game? Or, rather, am I game?