Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably

To Enroll – Start Here

Instructor: Deborah Niemann-Boehle

Webpage: http://www.thriftyhomesteader.com/

Overview: This course explores the differences between conventional, organic, and sustainable methods of raising goats and managing a dairy, whether for home or commercial use. It will cover planning and managing the dairy, as well as natural methods of raising goats. It will integrate current research on goat health issues with management practices. Breeding and birthing issues will be discussed in detail, as well as raising kids. Basics of cheese and soap making will be included, as well as composting waste and using milk or whey as fertilizer or to raise other meat animals, such as poultry, pigs, and calves.

Learning Objectives – students will learn to;

  • Explain the difference between goat management systems that employ conventional, organic, and sustainable methods.
  • Plan housing, fencing, and milking infrastructure required for the number of goats they plan to milk.
  • Evaluate goats to purchase.
  • Explain how management practices can impact the use of antibiotics, anthelmintics, and coccidiostats.
  • Recognize behavioral and physical changes of a sick goat, a doe in heat, and one about to give birth.
  • Recognize the normal birth process, as well as variations and danger signs.
  • Make simple cheese.
  • Make milk soap or a meal with goat meat.
  • Develop a plan for extra buck kids.
  • Develop a plan for using whey from cheese making process.

Course Components: The course is presented in an online learning environment through PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio lectures, and online discussions.

Grading: Because this is an online class, there will be some type of written assignment every week, such as an online discussion or blog post. There will also be a short quiz every week.

  1. Four blog posts* (2 @ 10 points each; 2 @ 20 points each)
  2. Quizzes (questions 1 point each)
  3. Online discussions (3 points for initial post; 1 point for each response to other students’ posts)
  4. Final exam (20 points)

* Blog posts will provide an opportunity for students to experience the difference between writing as a marketing tool and writing as a scholarly activity. The blogs will be written as if you owned a dairy and were writing them for your customers. The difference between them and the online discussions is that your instructor and classmates will be the only audience for the discussions. In the past, these discussions have provided a place for students to talk through potential issues that might cause marketing challenges in some areas, such as selling extra bucklings for meat.

Required text: Niemann, Deborah. (2018). Raising Goats Naturally: A Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More, second edition. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC.

Tentative Schedule

Unit I:  Planning Your Dairy
Introduction: Why are we all here? Online discussion about goals
Goat breeds Blog post: What breed will work best for your dairy?
Buying goats Evaluate five goats for purchase (found online)
Fencing Fencing budget
Housing and equipment Online discussion; budget
Goat nutrition Quiz; evaluate commercial goat feeds
Unit II: Managing Your Dairy
Day-­‐to-­‐day life with goats Online discussion, dealing with waste
Parasite control Quiz
Illnesses & disease Quiz & online discussion
Breeding, pregnancy, birth Online discussion
Raising kids Blog post: What will you do with extra bucklings?
Milking & milk handling Quiz
Unit III:  Dairy Production
Cheese making Blog post: Make cheese
Soap and meat Blog post: Make soap or prepare a goat meat dish


Caldwell, Gianaclis. (2012). Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.

Caldwell, Gianaclis. (2010). The Small Scale Cheese Business: The Complete Guide to Running a Successful Farmstead Creamery. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.

Caldwell, Gianaclis. (2014). The Small Scale Dairy: The Complete Guide to Milk Production for the Home and Market. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.

Karlin, Mary. (2011). Artisan Cheese Making At Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses. Ten Speed Press, Berkley, CA.

Kindstedt, Paul and the Vermont Cheese Council. (2005). American Farmstead Cheese: The Compete Guide to Making and Selling Artisan Cheeses. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.

Matthews, John. (2016). Diseases of the Goat. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA

Niemann, Deborah. (2017). Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC.

Pugh, D.G., Baird, A.N., Edmondson, M., and Passler, T. (2021.) Sheep, Goat, and Cervid Medicine. Elsevier, Inc., New York.

Solaiman, Sandra G. (2010). Goat Science and Production. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA.

Smith, Mary C. and David M. Sherman. (2009). Goat Medicine. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames. IA


Annual Schedule for Online Classes

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.

If you are not interested in earning college credit, there are many non-credited workshops and short courses you can take outside of the university.  For a list see: non-university workshops and courses.

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