Raising Goats For Dummies, by Cheryl K. Smith
One can learn a lot about the preoccupations of an author by reading their books. And although one might think that a book in a series like this one would be devoid of individual personality, that is far from the case. If there is one thing above all that I learned from this book, I learned that the author cares strongly about the fact that one cannot feed goats and sheep with the same minerals because goats require far more copper than sheep do, apparently. I did not know why this was the case, but the author felt it necessary to repeat it several times, so from that I can infer that the author failed to realize this and had some goats suffer accordingly from a lack of copper, and perhaps even had sheep suffer from having too much copper, thus learning a difficult and likely expensive lesson. Of course, having learned that lesson, she wants everyone else to learn it as well, and this is only one of the many quirky lessons that this book contains regarding keeping goats, which are nothing if not pretty quirky animals, it must be readily admitted.
This book is a bit more than 300 pages long and is divided into five parts and nineteen chapters. The book begins with a friendly introduction. After this the author spends some time encouraging the reader to get acquainted with goats (I) by discovering the joys of raising them (1), some vital goat statistics that may be of interest to the reader (2), knowing one’s goats in terms of anatomy and behavior (3), and getting one’s property ready for goats so that they can be properly sheltered (4). After that the author talks about bringing goats home (II) through building shelter (5), knowing what to feed goats (6), choosing, buying, and transporting goats (7), working with goats (8), and handing routine care and important tasks like castration and dehorning (9). The author discusses goat health and breeding (III) by outline some basic health requirements (10), addressing common health problems and ailments (11), discussing breeding and the care of pregnant goats (12), and working with kids (13). The author does not stint on the discussion of profit motives (IV) in chapters that look at the sale of goat milk (14), goat meat (15), as well as fiber, breeding, and weed control (16). Finally, the book ends with the part of tens (V), which include ten common mistakes that goat owners make (17), ten tips for showing a goat (18), and ten misconceptions about goats (19), after which there are some goat-milk recipes in an appendix and an index.
The author, like most authors I have read concerning animal husbandry, do not tend to think of raising animals as a good way to earn a lot of money, which makes sense given my own personal experience in such matters, but all the same there are clearly some goals in self-sufficiency and there are profits that can be made from goats depending on how one goes about it–raising goats for meat or resale, for example, or having goats that can make money as show goats. Beyond this, though, the book is written with a broad perspective and so while it may not contain as much specific information about the sorts of goats one may want to raise, it does cover goat raising in a broad enough way that it can inform those who wish to learn about the various types of goats that can be raised: dairy goats, meat goats, show goats, and work goats among them. The book also does a good job at providing information on how people can be well-informed in terms of making shelters and preparing their property for goats as well as keeping goats healthy, which is by no means as easy a task as it should be in an age where multiple births are often necessary to balance one’s expenses in taking care of goats.