The Dairy Goat Handbook: For Backyard, Homestead, and Small Farm
by Ann Starbard
I borrowed this book from the library in preparation for my first kidding. Although I already have several goat books, I wanted to view as many resources as possible to learn as much as I could in a short amount of time. I mentioned in my last post that it would have been nice to have this book on hand, but I didn’t want to get birth fluids on a borrowed book! Once I read through the chapter on birth, I went back and started from the beginning to read the whole thing.
The layout of the book follows the general standard in animal care books, beginning with breed selection and setting up an appropriate home for the animal, to feeding, management, birthing, kid care, and milking and dairy products. There is even a chapter on business, discussing various ways to make your goats work for you.
The full color pictures on each page are a joy to see, with all types of goats featured, many different housing styles shown, and available equipment for various needs pictured. There are also many sketches to add diversity to the illustrations. All of this is wonderful as a new goat owner to see how others care for their goats, to gather ideas to implement onto our own farm, or to determine what would not work with out current infrastructure.
There are many tables of reference information, such as normal goat vitals and other important information, body condition scores, estimated weight with heart girth measurement, and kid feeding schedule. This makes it easy to quickly refer to information needed instead of sifting through long paragraphs of words.
This book is easy to read and provides a wealth of information. Different management styles are discussed with pros and cons listed for each in an unbiased manner. There are small tidbits of farm knowledge littered throughout the book, such as “Climb over gates at the hinges to decrease the tendency of gates to sag.” I especially like that it tells not just the abnormal positions in birth, but also how to correct it if assisting in delivery. There’s a table for that too.
I plan to purchase The Dairy Goat Handbook to keep it on my shelf and refer to whenever I have a question about my goats. I have a feeling I will have lots of bookmarks scattered throughout to easily find the most commonly needed information.