Every so often, I will come across someone interested in a dairy goat. These people sometimes want to come out and see my herd, spend precious hours chatting, then they ask my prices. When I tell them, I get a reaction like I must be out of my everlovin' mind to think a goat could be worth three, four, five hundred dollars.
Occasionally, I will get a story about what a great "deal" someone got on goats on Craigslist or at the auction. I'll admit, sometimes there are great deals to be had out there. But I am not a sale barn.
I'm writing this today, because I heard through the grapevine that I was accused of being rude by one such person. I remember the visit well, and I was certainly not rude.
So why are my goats priced so much when you can get a nanny at the auction for $100?
First off, all my goats are registered and from registered stock. My does and bucks have cost me $350-700. It then costs me about $8 a goat to register the kids.
My goats are disease tested (with negative results). I test at least biannually for CAE and do random samples for CL and Johnes. We have never had a positive result, nor a case of any of the big bad diseases on the farm. This costs me about $125 a year.
They are kept up to date on vaccinations, Selenium, and Copper boluses. This is another $40 or so a year.
Then there's worming and coccidia prevention. That runs another $150 a year.
We participate in linear appraisals. A judge comes to our farm and rates all the girls on their body conformation and gives them a score from 0-94. It's like a grade in school, but the highest you can get is a 94 since nobody's perfect. My goats scored an average of 86. This means you can expect long, productive lives from them. This cost $140 and a great deal of time grooming them to be ready and setting up extra pens to act as a host herd.
We also participate in DHI (dairy herd improvement). Each goat has her milked weighed and sampled and sent off to the lab at Langston University each month. There it is tested for somatic cell count, butterfat, and protein. If they reach a standard set by the American Dairy Goat Association, they are awarded a star * for production. Every milker I have earned her star last year. I have one new milker this year- she has a few months left to earn hers. This runs me about $45 a year to sign up for the program and another $25 a month for the sampling and postage.
When you add all this up, my goats are probably a bit under-priced, but then I haven't been breeding as long as some people. A goat from me will be healthy, of good conformation for a long and productive life, and she's going to milk for you.
If that's not what you're looking for, there's always the sale barn. You may get lucky.