When Christopher Columbus sailed from Cadiz in 1493 for his second voyage, he carried everything needed to colonize the New World including dogs, cats, chickens, horses, donkeys, cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. While we should expect to need no less, there are a few that are perhaps more essential and practical than others are are.
After storing food and water, calculating your garden food requirements and saving your seeds, look at eggs, chicken, rabbit, goat, cows, pigs, fish, etc. to be sure you have enough meat to eat. Goats are the most popular red meat around the world, especially in poor countries that live more sustainable lives. They are small (easily consumed before spoiling), hardy, can eat most anything and provide milk and meat. Once there is no feed store, goats will come in handy.
Seventy percent of the red meat consumed in the world is goat AND they can provide wholesome milk for a family. Goats can forage for food better than any other livestock and can reproduce every 6 to 12 months. For this reason, they are highly recommended as the best sustainable food supply source. They are also very mobile and can browse on the move if you are traveling, bugging out on foot, or living a nomadic life style. They are also great for bartering with.
It takes about 3 – 8 months after birth for the kid (baby goat) to be ready for butchering. The gestation period is 150 days or 5 months. Under ideal conditions, healthy young does can produce one, occasionally 2 kids per year. Older does produce 2 – 3 kids per year. A doe will continue to produce until about 10 – 12 years old. So if you want to eat one young goat per month, then you need 6 to 12 does in theory, possibly as few as 6, but have extras to be safe and for barter. A goat will dress out at about 50% of their live weight. For example, a 100lb live goat each month will yield about 50 pounds of meat, or 11 lbs / week. With chicken, this would be enough meat for 1 adult providing you have a good prepper garden. With six to twelve does and a buck to breed them, you can raise a 100 lb young goat to process each month, and probably more.
An alternative plan is to raise the smaller Nigerian Dwarf goats. Instead of having 6 large 120 pound Boer goats, have 12 small ones (60 lbs) and raise one (possibly 2) each month giving you about 30 pounds of meat per month or 1 pound per day for your family to eat, sell or trade. Nigerian Dwarf goats make good “pets” (smile) if you live in the city. Note some cities prohibit livestock, but allow “pets” that are named. You would need a city security plan to protect your livestock during hard times.
Most meat breeds like Boers (above, the most common US goat), Spanish, Fainting, and Pygmies and occasionally Nubian (most popular dairy goat) will breed all year around. In this case, you can breed one doe each month to have a regular supply of young goat (kid) to eat. They can be bred at 6-8 months of age when they reach a typical adult weight. Boer, Nubian & Nigerian Dwarfs are known to have multiple births, i.e. 2 kids at a time. Spanish goats and a New Zealand breed called Kiko are the hardiest, lowest maintenance & best foragers. These Kiko or Spanish goats are what I would want if I could only have one type animal and was on the move (nomadic). I'd lean toward Boers for a secure stationary retreat in a secluded area.
Dairy breeds are seasonal breeders, like deer, and have a limited breeding season, usually from about Aug. to Dec. The does will come into heat every 21 days and the bucks will stay in rut during the entire breeding season. These are slightly less suitable for Prepper livestock and maintaining a steady supply of food, although you can raise more (~12+) during the breeding season and process one each month as needed. This means you must be feeding a lot more goats and for a longer period of time than birthing a new one each month and processing an older one (4-8 months old) each month.
Pygmy goats are small and good to eat. Nigerian Dwarf goats are small and good milk producers. After a few laying hens, this is what I would get if I lived in the city.
Goats consume about 4.5 pounds of grass or hay per day per 100 pounds of body weight. For example, a 100 lb goat would eat 4.5 lbs of hay and a 50 lb goat would eat 2.25 lbs (4.5÷2) of hay per day. In addition to hay, goats also need to eat some brush and feeding a little grain is good. You should plan to feed one pound of grain per day per goat. Keeping six goats on three acres of land should be sustainable, but they should be rotated to different 3 acre pen every 30 days. Considering this three does and three kids, we can expect to produce about 120 to 240 lbs of meat per year or 10 to 20 lbs per month. Note that a buck is also required for reproduction.
While a great sustainable food source, goats will eat anything and everything and can be a nuisance, especially if you don't have a good fenced area. But that is not a show stopper; just don't let them get in your garden.
For additional information see the following links:
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Complete Sustainable Living Plan