A lot of people who are homesteading are making a very nice profit by growing different types of livestock. No matter what kind of livestock you choose to raise you will still be able to make a profit if everything goes well. When it comes to livestock and generating a nice income, two animals are on the top, goats, and cows. Both of them are raised for their meat, milk, hide, and in the case of some species of goats, for their wool.
When it comes to making a profit, goats are a lot more profitable than cows. Goats are cheaper to buy, they tend to eat a lot less food, need a lot less space, and are a lot easier to transport. Although the milk yield of cows tends to be around 3x times higher than the milk yield of an average goat, but goat milk and dairy products tend to be more expensive.
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There are a lot of conflicting opinions on which one makes the more profit, although in a certain aspect this is fairly subjective. If you have been raising cows your entire life then you would probably say that the cows make more profit, and if you would have raised goats your entire life you would have said that goats are definitely the best. The truth is somewhere between, in some areas raising goats has become extremely popular, on the other hand, the demand for cow’s milk is always there no matter in what corner of the world you live.
The biggest limiting factor on how much profit either goats or cows can generate is how many of them you can actually raise. Generally speaking, most homesteads are not big enough to raise a lot of cows or goats, so they will most likely raise a couple of goats and cows as well if they have the available space. The price of cattle and goat meat is growing slowly every year, and in the past couple of years, grass-fed beef and goat meat have increased significantly.
If you only have a couple of animals then you most likely will sell your products at the local farmers market where you will not get the best price for them as the competition at these markets can be fairly high. If you want to make an even higher profit then you should definitely ask around at local restaurants, these will pay a lot more for fresh produce. If you are a beginner homesteader and you want to know what livestock you should begin with then check out my recent article Best livestock for small homestead ( Top 11 ).
Initial investment for raising goats and cows
The first thing which you have to consider when thinking about which kind of animal you want to raise, either goats or cows, is the initial investment. Generally speaking, the cost of a goat is a lot cheaper than the price of a cow, no matter if they are younger or mature animals. In addition to this, you will also have to think about fencing, the size of land, and how much food they actually need. Goats tend to eat a lot less food than cows although they also produce a lot less milk. If you want to take a look at one of the better states for living off the grid then check out my recent article Off grid living in Virginia ( Mother of States ).
Size of land required for goats and cows
The size of the land will determine for most people if they get either goats or cows. Goats tend to need a lot less space than cows do, although you will need to make a sturdy fence for both of them as they tend to test the breaking point of any fence. A lot of people make the big mistake of thinking they have enough space, and not thinking about how much food they need to grow for the livestock.
Market demand for goat milk and cow milk
The market demand is high for both animals, the market demand for milk is growing every year, and so is the demand for their meat. Although in the past couple of years the milk of goats has started to become a lot more popular, and the price of goat milk is a lot higher than the price for cow’s milk. Some would argue that goats tend to produce a lot less milk than cows do, which is true but goat’s milk is a lot more expensive than regular cow’s milk.
Grazing habits of goats and cows
The grazing habits are extremely different between goats and cows, generally speaking, cows tend to graze only on grass, although in larger farms they are fed corn as they grow a lot faster with it. On the other hand, goats eat anything which grows in the soil, from grass, weeds to even bushes. In fact, a lot of people use goats to make a clearing, they just let the goats loose in an area, and in a matter of days, they have cleared the area.
When you think of which animal makes the most profit then the grazing habits are extremely important. Most people will stick with growing goats for this reason, as they can eat almost anything and they tend to eat a lot less than cows. Although if you let them wander in your vegetable garden they will probably eat everything in no time.
Breeding habits of goats and cows
The gestation period for cows tends to be around 280 days, and if the cow is carrying a bull calf then the gestation period is even longer. The gestation period of goats is only around 150 days, and they tend to birth 2-3 babies. Both cows and goats can give birth around once a year, cows birth one calf, and the goats tend to give birth to 2-3 babies. The problem is that it is extremely difficult to get cows to make a calf the next year if it already gave birth, this would mean that in 30-40 days after giving birth it should get pregnant, which is highly unlikely.
Milk yield of goats and cows
Generally speaking, a mature cow produces around 3 times more milk than an adult goat. So with a simple calculation, you can estimate the milk yield per year, both for your cows and your goats fairly easily. You can make different dairy products from cow and goat milk, although the dairy product made from goats milk tend to be around 3-5x times more expensive, this of course also depended on the region where you live and on the demand.
Are goats or cows more dangerous to keep?
A buck goat is a male goat, and sometimes it might become hyperactive and extremely destructive, but not dangerous. On the other hand, bulls can be extremely dangerous, this is most likely due to the high amount of testosterone which they have, and the bigger they are the more testosterone they have. Bulls that have been bottle-fed are extremely dangerous, as they consider you as a part of their family and when they angry they will attack.
Getting rid of dead livestock
Far too often people who are new to homesteading do not think about what would they do if an animal dies, although they tend to die from time to time, especially while giving birth. Smaller animals like a goat can be made compost from it fairly easily. On the other hand, if a cow dies, you will need some heavy equipment to move it to the compost pile. Things get even more complicated during the wintertime when the ground is frozen.
If the ground is frozen then you might be able to fit a goat into a freezer and wait for the spring, on the other hand, you won’t be able to put a cow into the freezer. If the cow is completely frozen, you won’t even be able to chop it up with a chainsaw, and don’t even think to make a bonfire as you will ruin the soil.
Animal feed during the winter for goats and cows
Most homesteaders tend to slaughter their animals during the fall, this way they do not have to feed the animals during the winter. Cows and goats are not picky eaters, they will eat most types of grass and weeds. The problem comes if there is a drought during the summer, which will limit the amount of hay you can harvest. Hay is fairly cheap, but if you have to buy hay for the winter you will most likely spend a small fortune on the shipping of the hay than on the hay itself.
Noise made by goats and cows
Generally speaking, cows tend to be fairly quiet trough the day, however, this is not the same case for goats. Young goats tend to cry a lot, the more goats you have the higher will be the noise. If you are not used to goats crying then this can be a nightmare. Goats are social creatures and from time to time they will cry and scream, mature goats tend to channel their aggression into destroying the fence, and the young ones tend to cry a lot.
Options of transport for goats and cows
Sooner or later you will have to transport your goats and cows, either to the veterinarian or to the market. If you have a pickup truck then you can easily transport a couple of goats at a time. For transporting cows you will need some heavy-duty transport as cows tend to be larger. Transporting bulls is extremely challenging as they tend to become fairly aggressive. Most homesteaders who have to transport cows tend to transport several cows at a time as transport is a lot cheaper this way.
Larger numbers of goats and cows
The more animals you have the more profit you can make, for goats this won’t be a problem as they need a lot less space and food than cows. In addition to this, you will get a constant supply of milk, the problem is that milking several cows a day will need some serious investment, in terms of specialized machinery. You will also have to hire a couple of people to operate the machinery which all comes out of your pocket.
Butchering goats and cows
Most people who raise cows and goats tend to butcher the animals themselves. You will have a lot easier time selling a butchered animal than a live one, butchering a goat is fairly simple as long as you have a freezer and some space. Butchering a cow, on the other hand, can be a challenge due to the size of the animal. You will need a designated space to butcher a cow, a fairly large freezer, and some specialized tools.
As you can see there are a lot of differences between keeping goats and cows, generally speaking, goats tend to make a lot higher profit than cows. In the past couple of years, the demand for goat milk and meat has increased substantially, and if you can make dairy products from goat milk then you will increase your profits even more.