Buying goats is a significant investment – not just in the animals, but in all the time and equipment needed to care for them. We share 6 Mistakes to avoid when buying goats, plus questions to ask your goat breeder, red flags to watch for and reasons to buy registered goats. For better or worse, anyone with excess goats can announce they have “goats for sale”, so it's up the buyer to protect their own interests.
“Mistakes are a great teacher, and I think when you make mistakes and you recover from them and you treat them as valuable learning experiences, then you've got something to share.”
— Steve Harvey
Goats for Sale – Some Background Information
I grew up in an itty bitty town in the middle of nowhere, where kids played in grain silos, teens raced to beat the train (not a recommended past-time), and two weeks off during deer-hunting season was an excused absence from school.
Wanting to escape the harsh winters, I moved to a tourist town by the beach and traded the notion of ever owning a homestead for flip flops and surf boards. It wasn’t until years later that I realized you can make a homestead right where you are with what you have, and so our journey began.
Our Urban Homestead – with Goats
Our first step was to make conscious decisions to live more responsibly for the environment and ourselves; we started gardening for more than just a hobby, next came the composting and organic practices, raising worms, and adding chickens. Our baby step plans towards a sustainable future were moving along as scheduled. The next phase of our homestead was to: add bees, fish, a solar panel here or there, and move on down the line of small, sustainable additions to our little beach paradise.
Then I got a call that would change our path and take our beach side homestead up a notch. A single mother had purchased two Nigerian Dwarf Goats (does), was going through a life crisis, and needed to find them a new home.
Now I consider myself a person of average intelligence and a pretty decent judge of character. I try to dot my I’s and cross my T’s in all of life’s situations, that is why it is embarrassing and humbling for me to share this life lesson. Failure to share my experience would put this lesson to waste, and the frugal side of me hates seeing anything going to waste, even a lesson. This specific life lesson has to do with buying livestock, goats in particular, and six BIG mistakes I made.
The goats came from a ‘reputable’ breeder that was well-known within the state. Her website still states that ALL of their goats are registered or can be registered. The prices start at $400.00 and go up. Discounts are offered for 2 or more.
The single mom, let’s call her Lisa, emailed said ‘reputable’ breeder, we’ll call them Addison’s Grasslands, expressing desire to purchase two Nigerian Dwarf Does to milk. Lisa wanted one Doe in milk and one kid doe (relation didn’t matter). Several emails went back and forth between Lisa and Addison’s Grasslands all the way to the pick-up day. Lisa paid $700.00 for both goats and was promised papers would be mailed to her because she (the breeder) didn’t have them at the moment (never do this, always have papers before leaving with livestock).
Lisa left with her two “registered” goats (one doe in milk and one two week old doe kid from another Dam) and went on her merry way. A couple more email correspondence took place about basic goat care and requests for the promised papers. Addison’s Grasslands said she would mail them on several occasions.
Fast forward 4 months, tragedy hits Lisa’s family and she needed to find them a new home. She contacted the breeder and explained her situation. Lisa asked if she (the breeder) would want them back. Breeder stated she was not interested in having them return but would help her find a buyer and would send her the papers to get her goats registered.
This is where I come in.
Goat Buying Mistakes I Made
After many, many, many questions to local breeders about owning goats, doing online research, and asking several questions to Lisa, my family and I agreed to buy Lisa’s two goats, on one condition; they came with papers. Lisa forwarded me every email she received from Addison’s Grasslands and I talked to another breeder about their reputation. The breeder was the President of our state Nigerian goat association, registered with the ADGA, and had a professional website, so I felt comfortable making the purchase (Mistake number one).
Addison’s Grasslands sent Lisa a message stating the papers were sent and should be there by the time I picked up the goats from Lisa.
Pick-up day came and no papers; trusting the papers would arrive any day, I bought them and brought them home (Mistake number two).
Six months went by of back and forth emails, texts, etc. and I FINALLY received the papers that were promised with purchase from the breeder, but they were not obtained easily. Each passing email and text became more bitter, offensive, and unprofessional to say the least. As a matter of fact the last message was “DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN” But I finally had the papers in hand so life was good and the past was in the past (Mistake number three).
Or so I thought.
I noticed on the papers I received that the breeder listed the kid’s mom as my doe in milk, which was not correct, but I didn’t see any harm since I had the papers and could now get them registered (Mistake number four).
I let a couple of months go by before I sent in my paperwork for my does (Mistake number five) because of my own life complications, stuff happens— right? But I was ready to breed my does and wanted to get those T-s crossed and I’s dotted.
Trying to Get Registered
I joined the ADGA (American Dairy Goat Association), the ANDDA (American Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Association), I became a registered breeder, had a wellness vet check-up, all the proper blood-work done on my does to make sure they were disease free and healthy, hubby built a birthing area for our does, found a reputable breeder (Crosby Lake Farm in SC) with a registered buck to hire for buck service, and joined every online goat group I could find. Check, check, and check. The last thing on my to-do list was to send in my paperwork for my does and get them registered in our name.
After I attempted to register my doe in milk (I needed to do this first before I registered the kid) with the ADGA, I received an Error on the registration papers stating the Dam of my doe in milk did not belong to the breeder at time of birth. WHAT??????*&^%$#@!!
After all of this headache I can’t register my Doe?!! I called the ADGA seeking guidance and advice. Not only was my doe in milk’s papers off but the kid as well. Turns out the breeder didn’t own the Sire to the kid and I wouldn’t be able to register her either. The only option they gave me was to contact the breeder and ask them to straighten out the errors. I was beyond upset. I did the only thing I knew to do and sought advice from social media.
Great thing about the goating world is that they are a tight-knit group of people who are very informative. They offered great advice and amazing support towards my situation, as well as some hard truths.
On the plus side, the breeder, Addison’s Grasslands, saw my post and contacted me expressing, although she didn’t like my post, (I never mentioned names or location-guess she made the connection) she wanted to help me get my does registered as she is a reputable breeder. WOW! I was shocked and equally overjoyed. I thought maybe I pegged her all wrong and this was all just a big misunderstanding (mistake number six).
To this day, I still don’t have the paperwork needed to get my goats registered.
My options now?
- Take the breeder to small claims court and or seek advice from attorney (with the help and cooperation from Lisa)
- Sell goats and start over with a registered herd
- Breed and sell unregistered goats
- Give up owning goats altogether
Honestly, I don’t like any of my options. I know getting rid of my girls are not an option in my, or my family’s eyes so what I do from here is yet to be decided but I am leaning towards court.
What are some of the character traits come to mind when you think farmer? Honest? Hard working? Trustworthy? Person of their word and you can make any deal with a Good ol’ boy handshake, right?
Truth is, we are all human. There is good in bad in everything; animals, investments, food, plants, and even people. Trusting someone is a good thing but blind trust is not. Making a purchase is an investment and should be treated like a business transaction. A reputable breeder will not have a problem producing necessary paperwork or be offended by any questions you have. No guilt, no shame, right?
5 Reasons to Buy a Registered Goat
- From a breeding standpoint, you can market to more people with registered goats. Many customers are looking to buy a registered animal. You will drastically reduce your future clientele if you choose not to register your herd.
- Registered goats have a pedigree to back them up and you can track their lineage
- You can enter them in shows and contest (4-H, county fairs, etc.)
- Registered goats command a higher price than unregistered (with Nigerian goats in our area the difference is $75-$200 for unregistered and from $200 up to $1000 for a registered).
- You can always sell a register-able goat without papers but you can never do the opposite
Questions to ask a Goat Breeder Before Buying Your Goat
- First and MOST IMPORTANT questions to ask is if the herd has been tested for CAE, CL and Johnes and if they can provide you with a copy of the results.
- Ask for pictures of the goat(s) from all angles
- Make sure all the paperwork (if buying registered) will be included at the time the sale takes place (ask for them to email you a copy or take a picture and text it to you)
- Ask what goat organization they are registered with*
- Ask about worming and feeding practices, general maintenance, etc.
*There are many organizations you can register your goat with, some examples are:
- AGA- American Goat Society
- ADGA- American Dairy Goat Association
- ABGA- American Boer Goat Association
- ANDDA- American Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Association
And all of those in-between. The two biggies are the AGA and the ADGA.
6 Red Flags to Watch Out For When Buying Goats
- Lack of CAE and Johnes testing papers
- No photos
- Lack of paperwork
- Unable to list what is included with purchase
- Lack of information about the goats Dam and Sire
- Poor living conditions for the goats or goats that look unhealthy
Before buying a goat, or any livestock for that matter, do your research. Talk to other breeders, join social media groups, and find out all the ins and outs. Connect with a vet that specializes in that particular livestock and ask for a copy of their price list. Seek a mentor who has experience; most livestock owners are happy to share their wealth of information. You can contact your local extension office for a referral. My best advice? Never be afraid to walk away from a deal that you are not comfortable with.
So there it is, six mistakes that I made, and I hope to help you avoid.
I want to send a special thank you for Crosby Lake Farms for guidance and advice with my goating ventures.
More Goat Information
- Holistic Goat Care – The Owner’s Manual for Healthy Goats
- Getting Started with Homestead Goats – choosing the right breed, basic goat care (food, water, shelter and fencing), additional goat resources
- Keeping Homestead Dairy Goats – What age dairy goat should you get? Breeding your dairy goat, Basic pregnancy Care, Kids and Weaning, Basic milking procedures and milk handling.
This post is by Amber Bradshaw of My Homestead Life.
Amber and her family moved from their tiny homestead by the ocean in South Carolina to forty-six acres in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.
While building their off-the-grid homestead, they live like the days of old – cooking without electricity, collecting water from the creek and raising chickens, goats, pigs, turkeys, bees, and guineas. They've recently filmed their journey for a TV show on the Discovery Channel and the DIY Network/HGTV called Building Off The Grid: The Smokey Mountain Homestead.