For the Love of Goats
If you are new to selling goats, you might feel like you can’t say “no” to any potential buyers. I am here to tell you otherwise.
You will hear two main points today as I tell you a few stories of people that I refused to sell goats to.
First, you should always ask questions to be sure that the buyer has done their homework and knows what a goat needs — and that they can provide that! After all of the love, care, and money you have put into raising healthy goats, you want to be sure that they go to a home that’s going to continue that same excellent care.
You also want to be sure that the buyer knows what to expect as a goat owner. Goats need proper housing and food, and no, they can’t be taught to not eat your rose bushes.
The second thing I talk about is requiring a deposit to hold goats so that you don’t wind up holding a goat and saying no to potential buyers because you think the goat is already sold.
For more information
Goats 365 – my online membership for people who are living with, learning about, and loving goats 365 a year
Should You Keep Pet Goats in the House?
Buying Goats: Mistakes to Avoid (and more!)
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In addition to what is discussed in the podcast, this video gives additional tips on what to do when baby goats go to their new homes.
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.
Deborah Niemann 0:19
Hello, everyone, and welcome. Today’s episode is brought to you by Goats 365, my online membership for people who are living with, learning about, and loving goats 365 days a year. For more information, you can visit Goats365.com. And you can also find my courses if you visit ThriftyHomesteader.com and just click on the “Courses” link.
Deborah Niemann 0:41
This is especially appropriate for today’s topic, because today’s topic is one of the things that we actually talk about in our monthly Zoom meetings—actually, twice-monthly Zoom meetings. That’s a chance where people can talk about any kind of questions that they have, any challenges that they have, with their goats. And that can be, you know, something about, like, housing or fencing or trying to find a good mineral in their area. We can also talk about buying goats and selling goats. And today, I’m going to talk about selling goats. Next week, tune in for Part Two of this, where I talk about being on the other side and buying goats.
Deborah Niemann 1:20
So, I get a lot of questions from people about selling their goats, because, you know, most of us really love our goats, and we want to be sure that they’re going to go to a good home, right? And when people are new, they’re kind of shy, because they kind of feel like, “Why should I be picky? Shouldn’t I just be happy somebody wants to buy my goats? And, no. No. Like, your goats deserve a good home, especially if you are taking really good care of them. You know, like, you’ve put all of this care and love into your herd and into your babies; you want to make sure they go to a home where that care and love is going to continue.
Deborah Niemann 1:57
And so, there are two things that are going—two common threads—that you’re going to hear over and over today. And that is: Ask questions, and require deposits. And I’m going to tell you a number of stories. I got my first goats in 2002. In fact, I will never forget. I brought them home on Mother’s Day 2002. So, I’ve raised goats, and I’ve sold goats a lot in those years. We’ve had 700 kids on our farm. So, you know, of course we can’t keep them all. So that means most of them have been sold through the years. And so, I’m going to talk about some of the people that I did not sell goats to.
Deborah Niemann 2:35
One of them was somebody who I was really starting to worry that she was an animal hoarder. And I have seen pictures of goats that were rescued from situations where somebody had more animals than they can take care of, and it is really just heartbreaking. I mean, it’s like the things you’ve seen if you know somebody that’s got 25 cats in their house, or, you know, way too many dogs or something, but it’s with goats instead. And not necessarily in their house, but, you know, out in a pasture that has no grass; they don’t have any hay, or maybe they’ve got a huge bale of brown grass hay that, you know, has no nutrients left in it because it’s all brown and it’s just grass. And so, this woman came here, and she actually… Because I’ve been teaching courses—or I was. Pre-COVID, I was teaching courses on my farm for well over 10 years. And this woman came for my class. And she was just constantly, like, getting excited about all the animals, and like, “Oh, oh, you have sheep, too? Oh, I want sheep! How much are your sheep?” And, “Oh, you’ve got geese, too? Oh, oh, how much are your geese?” And it was just really obvious to me, like, during the course of the class, that she didn’t have the facilities that she needed for the goats.
Deborah Niemann 3:57
And eventually—and this was, like, an unusual situation, right? Because I’m spending two hours with this woman in a class, lots of Q&A, so I really got to know her well. So, I didn’t really have to ask any questions. Like, everything just came out, and I was feeling very uncomfortable with the idea of selling animals to this woman. And she really wanted to buy animals. And I said, “I just don’t think that you’re ready yet.” And a few weeks later—or actually, I think it was a few months later. I heard from another friend of mine who raised goats. And she had gotten a phone call from another goat breeder in Illinois. And so, my friend was telling me about this other person who called her, and said that a woman had contacted her, and said that I wouldn’t sell her goats, and that she was wondering if she would sell her goats. Which I thought was kind of weird. That’s kind of scary. If somebody ever calls you and tells you that somebody else won’t sell them goats, you should definitely think twice about that. And anyway, that’s what my friend said to this other breeder. She said, “Well, you know, Deborah’s been at this for a long time. If she won’t sell this lady goats, I’d be kind of worried.” But the other person had quite a few goats, and she wanted to sell them. So she said, “Okay,” and fast-forward to the end of the story, this woman had told her multiple times that she was going to get the goats. And she didn’t; she kept having excuses. She said she wanted four or five goats, and she kept saying she had car trouble or something, and she kept missing the pickup times, and then eventually just never showed up. And so, this other breeder had, unfortunately, kept four or five goats—like, she took them off her sale page, and she kept them—even though this other person ultimately never got them.
Deborah Niemann 5:49
And so, I don’t know if that other breeder had asked for deposits. But that is why you ask for deposits. Whenever somebody tells you that they want a goat, it’s, like, okay, fine. Unless you’re going to pick it up, like, in the next two or three days—you know, like, unless you’re going to be faster than the mail—I need a deposit. And I’m not going to take them off the sale page. Like, if somebody contacts me and says, “I want to buy this goat,” and somebody has said, “I want to buy that goat, and I’m sending you a deposit,” I will tell the second person, “I am waiting on a deposit on that goat from someone else.” Now, sometimes people just don’t do it, you know? And, like, this is why you ask for a deposit. I would much rather, you know, be in that situation where I’m telling a potential buyer, “Give me a week, and if this person doesn’t send the deposit, then the goat is yours.” Because sometimes people just don’t send a deposit. And so, it’s much better to know like, “Okay, that goat is for sale, and I can sell it now to the second buyer,” than if you just sat there for weeks, or maybe even a month, with nothing and saying “No” to potential buyers because you think the goat is sold. So, you should definitely ask for deposits.
Deborah Niemann 7:04
And here’s something where I did something wrong. There was somebody who had already bought multiple goats from me, and then emailed and said, “Yeah, we want to get a buck from you this fall.” And I said, “Okay,” and I did not ask for a deposit, because I thought, “Oh, they’ve already bought several goats for me. They know that I’ve got great quality, I’ve got healthy goats,” blah, blah, blah. And I did not have that buck on my sales page. And unfortunately, this was, like, gonna be a couple months down the road. I don’t remember what his excuse was about why they couldn’t get him sooner. But honestly, a lot of people don’t even go looking for bucks until fall, because they don’t want to feed them. You know, it’s like, “I don’t need the buck until fall, so why do I want to bring him home and feed him for several months before that?” So anyway, it’s fall, and I haven’t heard from the guy. So, I sent him an email. And he goes, “Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot to let you know. We went to some event, and there was a buck there that my wife just fell in love with. And so, we bought him.”
Deborah Niemann 8:01
Agh. That’s really frustrating. So anyway, after that, it’s like, I don’t care how nice you are. I don’t care how many goats you’ve bought from me. If you really want a goat from me, and you can’t—and I’m more lenient than most people. A lot of people will say that a goat has to be picked up within, like, two weeks or a month, or after that you start paying a boarding fee. Which I think is completely fair, I just always feel weird. Like, okay, I’m charging $500 for a goat, so now I’m gonna start charging you like $2 a day for boarding? Like, that seems weird. But, you know what? It’s just motivation for people to come pick up the goats in a timely manner so that you don’t have them for several months.
Deborah Niemann 8:41
Moving on, there was someone who contacted me a few years ago, who I refused to sell goats to. And I actually did my very best to try to talk her out of her plan to get goats. And this is where asking questions is very important. If somebody contacts me and wants goats, there are two questions that I pretty much always ask. Number one is, “Are you looking for milk, show, or pets, or meat?” Because a goat that’s great for one of those is not necessarily great for another. So, I want to make sure that I’m matching the right goat to the right person. And then, the other thing I ask them is, “Do you have goats already?” And then, if they say “Yes,” then I ask them questions about their other goats. Like, “Do your other goats have horns?” Because my goats are all disbudded or polled. And things like that, to make sure that I’m sending my goats to a place where they’re not going to get beat up by other goats, and where they will have other goats. That they’re not going to be alone. And so, anyway, a couple years ago, this woman contacted me and said she wanted to get two bottle babies in time for Easter. And so, when I started asking her questions, I found out that her big plan was that she wanted to have two baby goats for her grandchildren to play with when they were visiting for Easter. And once the grandkids left, she was going to give the goats to a petting zoo.
Deborah Niemann 10:13
So, I really did not like that idea. I did not want to sell my goats to somebody who was just going to give them away to a petting zoo in a couple of days. I also asked her, “Where are you going to keep the goats while you have them?” And she said she was going to keep them in a dog crate on her back porch—which was also not a really great idea. Like, that’s fine when a kid is, like, two or three days old, and it’s, you know, had hypothermia at birth, and I’ve got it in here next to my desk for a few days. But as soon as it is healthy, it needs to be outside where it can run around, not cooped up in a little dog crate all day long. And so, that was a very hard “No.” And I did my best to explain all of this to the woman, and she was just absolutely determined that she was going to find somebody who was going to sell her goats. So, as soon as I was off the phone with her, I immediately posted on our Illinois Nigerian Dwarf Goat Facebook group, and said, “So, if anybody calls you looking for a couple of bottle babies for Easter, just be aware of this woman’s plan.” Because I know a lot of people who really love their goats would not want this for them. And she just thought that, like, oh, giving them to a petting zoo is just, like, this wonderful plan, and that there was nothing wrong with this.
Deborah Niemann 11:39
And that’s… I mentioned this a little bit. I’ve said “No” to many people through the years who have contacted me and said that they want a pet goat. I actually have a blog post about this. Goats are herd animals. And I am not going to sell a pet goat to someone. It’s not… You can’t keep a goat in the house indefinitely. You know, there’s the saying “Goats eat everything,” right? Well, that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. If you see that blog post—and I’m going to link this post in the show notes—there are photos in there of this poor baby goat that was being kept in someone’s house, and it ate all kinds of things. It ate hair ties, balloons, plastic toys, all kinds of stuff. And we know this, because the goat had to have surgery to have all those things removed from its rumen. And unfortunately, the poor kid died two days later anyway. And the owner took a picture of all the things that were pulled out of this goat’s stomach. And there’s a picture of it; you can see it on my website. And this is just why goats do not belong in the house. Because there’s too much for them to get into.
Deborah Niemann 12:54
You know, one time I had a baby lamb in my house, because it had suffered a really severe case of flystrike—which basically means maggots got into its skin. And I had to have it in the house so that flies could not continue to get to it and lay more eggs. And it was chewing on my charging cord for my laptop. Now, there are some cords that a baby goat could chew on that could cause it to get electrocuted. So, if somebody calls me and says that they’re going to keep the goat in the house, it’s like “No.” No, it’s a hard “No,” because it’s not safe for the goat. Because I’ve been contacted by people who’ve done it, and they’ve got a goat that’s, like, several months old, and it’s got all kinds of nutritional deficiencies and is having all kinds of problems because they’re trying to treat this goat like it’s a dog or a cat. And like, that’s not how goats work. They have four stomachs; they’ve got a rumen. They basically spend all their day either eating or chewing their cud. So, like, they’re out in the pasture, walking around, eating grass. If they’re in the barn, they’re eating hay. And then, once they eat enough to fill up their rumen and they go lay down, they burp it all up, chew it a second time, swallow it, and it goes into their second stomach. And, a goat in the house? Like, really, where are you gonna put a hay rack in your house?
Deborah Niemann 14:12
I wish I could say that I was confident that I had talked every person out of buying a goat. I know I’ve said “No” to them, but there’s no guarantee, and this is why I won’t sell my goats in a sale barn situation, because you have zero control over the buyers. And unfortunately, that’s probably where a lot of these people go when I say “No, I’m not going to sell you a goat.” They probably do go to the sale barn and then buy goats there, where there is zero vetting of purchasers. So, like, anybody can walk in and buy a goat. You know, and they can go home, and they can keep it in their house and other bad ideas.
Deborah Niemann 14:51
There was another woman, too, who I decided not to sell a goat to—and this was a really long time ago. This is when I was new. And I actually did not even have to tell her that I wasn’t going to sell a goat to her, thank goodness. Because, like I said, this is when I was still pretty new. I’d only had goats for four or five years. And this woman was quite obviously paranoid—like, off the charts, paranoid. And we’re out there looking at the goats, and she kept asking me all these different questions that clearly indicated that she didn’t think they were healthy. And then, this one little kid had its back end to us, and it had its head down eating grass. And she goes, “Oh, my God, that one’s throwing up!” And I’m just like, “No. That goat’s just eating grass.” It just has its head down, eating grass. And I’m standing there going, “Oh, please don’t want my goats, please don’t want my goats,” because I had no idea how I was gonna say “No” to her. So anyway, I really got lucky with that one in that she said she would think about it, and later, she contacted me and said she decided to get goats from somebody else. And I thought, “Oh, thank goodness.” But if that happened to me, now… And this is the thing, too. You don’t have to tell somebody why you’ve decided not to sell goats to them. You can just say, “I’m sorry, I’ve decided not to sell goats to you.” And if they have a deposit, just return the deposit. You know, just say, “I’m returning your deposit.” And that’s it.
Deborah Niemann 16:21
I will also post a link in the show notes to my sale term page. And this is really funny, because when I got started, I used to look at people’s sales pages. And, you know, they were really long. Like, if you printed them out, it was probably a page and a half, two pages, with all these conditions of sale. You know, it’s like, “I reserve the right to refuse to sell a goat to anyone. Putting a deposit down doesn’t mean that you are 100% guaranteed to get it goat.” Like, “There are situations where we might change our mind. In that case, we will return your deposit.” And then just all these other things. And I know when I was new, I thought, “Man, these people are paranoid or grumpy or something.” Like, “Well, like, most of this stuff just seems like common sense. Why do they have all of this stuff?” And then, every year that I had goats, my sales page got longer and longer, because every year, there was somebody who made it obvious to me, like, “Oh, geesh, I gotta put that on the sale page,” so that people know when they’re buying a goat from me, like, this is how I work. These are the rules, so that they don’t have any surprises.
Deborah Niemann 17:28
I will also do my very best to try and educate people about being a goat owner, because a lot of people have ideas that are not based on reality at all. I will never forget the man who called me and wanted to get a couple of pet goats to put in his backyard. And that just did not sound good. And so, I started talking to him, and found out that they had… They just had a fenced backyard, and they thought they could put a couple of goats back there. And he had no idea that goats would eat rose bushes and daylilies and all of your flowers. And he’s like, “Well, can’t you teach them not to do that?” And I said, “No, that would be like trying to teach a dog not to eat steak.” Like, that is just not realistic. And so, luckily, I did not have to say “No” to this man. Just by simply giving him the facts, he realized that having a goat would not work for them. And he said—we ended the conversation with him saying—”Oh, yeah, I’m really glad you told me all this. My wife would not have been happy if the goats started eating all her flowers.” And the thing about that, too, is like, if he had taken goats home, he would have been in a pickle all of a sudden. Like, “Oh my gosh, the goats are eating my flowers. What am I gonna do?” And then, what do they do? Like, either they’re calling you to try to get you to take the goats back, or they’re putting an ad on Craigslist and your goats are going to go to, you know, whoever. Like, you have no idea. Again, you are in a situation where you have no control over where your goats go, and they could go to somebody else who also doesn’t understand the unique needs of goats.
Deborah Niemann 19:12
It is also really important to know if somebody lives in an area where they can legally have goats. I will never forget the time that I sold two goats to someone who lived in St. Louis. And they asked us to deliver them. And again, this was kind of early years. We delivered the goats, and I realized like, “Oh, this is St. Louis.” Like, “They are in the city.” And I said, “Wow, it’s so cool that St. Louis allows goats. I had no idea.” And they said, “Oh, yeah, they don’t really, but we’ve read the ordinance, and we think we can fight it in court if somebody complains.” That right there, I should have said, “Uh, no, I’m going to take my goats home.” But I didn’t. And in retrospect, I really wish I would have, because the way that story ended: These people had a blog. And about three months later, I visited their blog. And there was a blog post, and it said, “We no longer have goats, but now we have goat meat in our freezer.” And I was absolutely devastated. That doe—because they had bought a doe and a wether as a companion—and that doe was out of a goat that was, like, my favorite line back then. It was producing my best milkers. And so, that doe had the potential to be a really great milker. Like, that’s what I knew the day she was born. You know, like, she’s got the potential, because her grandma is amazing, and all her aunties are amazing—even though her mom’s a first freshener, so I don’t know how mom’s gonna pan out.
Deborah Niemann 20:59
Well, the way mom panned out was that mom became my best milker of all time. She gave six and a half pounds a day at her peak, which is, like, really good for Nigerian. That’s over three quarts of milk. And she actually was on the American Goat Society’s One Day Test; she was actually number one in her prime. I forget whether she was three or four years old; she was number one on the AGS milk test list for that year. And the very frustrating thing is that she only ever had two more does in her whole life. She had bucks, and more bucks, and more bucks. She even had quadruplet bucks twice. And one of the only three does she ever had wound up in somebody’s freezer when she was only four or five months old. So, that was probably the worst, most unbelievable waste of genetic potential that I have ever seen in my 20 years of raising goats. Like, it was just incredibly sad. And what’s really sad is if they had contacted me and told me that they couldn’t keep the goats anymore, there was actually somebody on my waiting list who only lived an hour away from them, who would have happily taken that doe. So, it was very unfortunate that it turned out that way. But again, it was one of the many things that taught me that you have to ask questions when people are buying goats from you—even questions that you think are super obvious.
Deborah Niemann 22:40
I hope you have found today’s episode helpful. And above everything else, just remember that when you are selling your goats, you absolutely have the right to say “No” to people. And you should be asking lots of questions, so that you don’t wind up with a really unfortunate situation down the road.
Deborah Niemann 22:59
And that’s it for today’s show. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the “subscribe” button so that you don’t miss any episodes. To see show notes, you can always visit ForTheLoveOfGoats.com, and you can follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoveGoatsPodcast. See you again next time. Bye for now!
13 thoughts on “Tips on Selling Goats”
Thanks for this. This is our first kidding season and I really needed to hear this. =) So sorry to hear about the sad ending for the little St. Louis doeling. =(
I’m so glad you found this helpful! And hopefully empowering!
Yes to deposits! For wethers, I require payment in full if I am holding it. They sell for significantly less than does and have been permanently altered for a buyer. I do talk with people for a while so I know they are prepared for goats. I have actually had someone pay in full for 2 wethers and then never heard from them again even after trying to contact them multiple times. Maybe he was embarrassed to reply that he had changed his mine. No loss and no stress for me. Fed those guys longer than expected, but they were sold later that season.
Also, my first 2 goats were rescued from a house goat situation when the owner realized it was not sustainable. One of these is still an awesome herd queen 13 years later.
Thank you for sharing your story!
Thank you for the great tips. May I adapt your Terms of Sale page for our farm?
Sure! I’m glad you found it helpful!
This episode had great tips! Is there a way to get a rough copy of your sales contract or info on where to look to start making my own? I’ve only ever sold a couple of wethers previously to a family that is awesome, they still give me updates on how the boys are doing but now that I’m getting into having more bred does I’d like a contract for people to sign and don’t really know where to start. Thank you in advance and also thank you for such an informative podcast!
I don’t have a contract at this time, but here’s my terms of sale page:
A lot of this could be put into a contract.
Thank you so much!
How do you know how much to charge for someone who buys multiple goats from you. I have 4 wethers and someone wants to buy all four. I need to check them out first. But I usually sale each wether for $150 each for kiko/boer wethers. Can you give me some advice.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration because prices can vary somewhat from one part of the country to another. I personally don’t usually give a discount on multiple wethers, but if someone is buying a lot of breeding goats from me (4+), which adds up to thousands of dollars, then I usually give them a 10% discount.
Thanks so much Deborah! It turns out that the person who wanted to buy them I had to refuse to sell them to him. The next one who asked to buy them I had to refuse him as well.
Disappointing — but so important to listen to your gut in these situations.