Costs of Raising Goats in 2019

About a year ago, I worked up what it was costing us to raise our registered Nigerian Dwarf goats.  It was a fun exploration and I thought I’d do it again this year since a number of things have changed – surprise!  The original Costs of Raising Goats concluded that our total annual cost per doe is $415 and $390 per buck. Let’s see how those numbers compare to 2019.

Hay

We changed suppliers this year at a vastly increased cost.  We were paying $70/ton for hay from a family member.  We switched to a no-spray supplier and, with the cost of hiring a semi for delivery and a couple kids to help unload and stack, we paid $200/ton.  Sure was nice to have it all in, stacked and put away in a single day though!

To offset that, we made some silage and tree hay.  This accounts for only a small amount of their feed for this season, but we’ve had great results so far and plan to increase both silage and tree hay at a cost of almost zero to us outside of labor costs.  I’ll have to work that out this year when we do the next batch.

At a rate of $200 per ton and an estimated 600 pounds per goat per 180-day feeding season, the cost of hay per animal is $60, up from $23 last year.  However, our overall consumption is way down this year because of weather factors and the addition of the silage and tree hay.  We want an average cost though, so the $60 per goat figure is still accurate to work with.

Minerals

We are still using New Country Organics minerals and are very, very happy with them.  Fed free choice to a herd that ranged from 14-20 adults plus kids, we only used about 5 bags last season, at a total cost of $200, which lines up with last year’s estimate of about $10 per adult per year.

Grain

We changed grain suppliers this year too, to a local family operation that sources unsprayed whole grains.  Hooray!  The cost increased, of course, but it’s an investment we feel contributes to herd health.  We probably won’t keep feeding sunflower seeds due to cost of organic, so this year’s milk stand mix will probably be 1 part peas to 2 parts each of barley and oats.  We bought all three in 1-ton sacks:

  • Cull peas $.14/#
  • Whole oats $.12/#
  • Whole barley $.12/#

Assuming we milk a 305-day lactation (we never do, I typically dry off earlier because I get tired of milking), the cost of grain per year per doe, based on last year’s grain calculations, would be $37.21.

Parasite Treatment

Cost for this is negligible.  We may worm once per year at $.25 per goat.  In addition to that, we used sulfur powder topically and MSM powder internally at an annual cost of under $20.  I’ll estimate a total of $1 per goat per year for overall parasite control.

Blood Testing

I skipped blood testing in 2018.  I imagine costs have not changed much so I’m copying what I wrote for 2018, which is $10.76 per animal.

Copper and Bo-Se

This cost has been completely eliminated with consistent use of New Country Organics minerals.  We no longer need to administer copper and have discovered through liver testing that our animals are high on the selenium range due to environmental factors.  Hooray!

Medicines

Last year I figured I’d allocate $150 per year for herbal medicines.  We’ve pretty well stabilized and have a large medicine cabinet, much of it wild foraged.  I will allocate $50 per year this year for whatever might come up; $50 seems to be a reasonable maintenance figure.

Veterinary Care

We budgeted $200 for veterinary care last year.  I think we spent around $100.  Our vet requires an annual visit to be able to prescribe medicines over the phone, so I took someone in, I don’t remember who.  We did spend about $100 on a liver sample for cause of death on a doe.  $200 is reasonable for 2019 as well.

Supplies and Equipment

I figured $150 average per year based on past expenses, but we’re at the point where there’s not a whole lot left to buy.  Clippers, tattoo outfits, hoof clippers, etc., all last years.  I will reduce this to $100 as an annual budget item for things we don’t yet know we need.  This would be where buying a milk machine would be budgeted, for example, although we’ve decided we’re done with milk machines.

Registrations

I estimated a per doe registration cost average of about $25, including annual membership and a couple registrations per doe.  I will keep this estimate for 2019.

Fencing

Here’s what I wrote in 2018:

“It would cost us about $4,500 to replace our perimeter fence, which we estimate at every 10 years. It’ll likely last longer than that, but budgeting that ($450/year) allows us funds for cross fencing, putting up additional pens and replacing posts as needed.”

Website/Hosting

We pay $8 per month for hosting and around $14 per year for the domain, for an annual cost of $110.

Labor

We run a pretty hands off operation and are moving forward to less labor time.  Our figure last year of $3,000 per year for labor is probably good enough to go with for 2019.

Insurance

Last year I wrote:

“The farm portion of our homeowner’s policy is about $1,000 per year.  Goats are about half of our farm activities, so I expect them to pay half of this premium, $500.”

A major change from this for 2019 is that goats will make up nearly all of our farm activities.  We don’t have puppies and we got out of pigs, so the goats need to bear the full cost of the insurance burden of $1,000.

Linear Appraisal

We are signed up for linear this year.  The maximum we’ll spend is $285, but that will be reduced by visiting herds as we are a host herd.  For now, we’ll budget the full amount as a cost.

In Summary
Hay $60
Minerals $10
Grain $37.21
Parasite Treatment $1
Disease Testing $10.76
Total annual costs per milking doe: $118.97

Bucks and dry does get all of the above except grain, so $81.76.

Other costs:
Medicines: $50
Veterinary: $200
Supplies: $100
Registrations: $400
Fencing: $450
Website/hosting: $110
Insurance: $1,000
Labor: $3,000
Linear: $285
Annual total: $5,595 (divided by our current 19 head), $294 per goat.

While our total costs went up, so did our total numbers.  Here’s how the two years compare:

2018’s total annual cost per doe was $415 and $390 per buck.

For 2019, the total annual cost per doe is estimated at $413 and $376 for bucks.

We have 3 bucks and 16 does. If you divide the cost of 3 bucks ($1,128) across 16 does, that’s another $70 per doe. In order to break even, we need to sell $483 worth of kids per doe per year.  This figure was $480 last year, which means our overall cost position has changed very little from year to year.

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