We have American Alpine milk goats. For us, we considered many different breeds...looked at the Nubians..Kinders..Nigerian and Saanen. Before we decided on which worked best for us, we spent a number of days volunteering at local small farms...helped out and learned a LOT, while getting to know the various breeds. In the end, once we had met our first Alpine, there was no going back.
The Alpines are a full sized goat...very intelligent, personable and loving (as well as mischevious) but they don't do well with adding in other breeds (we've been told). Our Alpines give a good, high quality milk that isn't too "goat-y" and we use it for everything from our whole milk..butter..cheese and yogurt.
There are "seasons" with our girls....right now we're approaching our kidding season and we have 4 bred does that will all be kidding in the next month or so. Typically they have twins but you can get 1 to 4 in a single kidding. You will have a couple of months that are a bit hectic...tending to the new kids and twice daily milkings of the does...as the kids reach weaning, things get a little less chaotic before we start looking at breeding season....By December we're starting to prep for our next round and the does are drying off from the years kidding season, before it all starts over again.
We've never had an escapee through a fence but we did a bit of overkill when we set things up...5' woven wire goat fence on the outside perimeter with 5 strand electric on the inside (1,3 and 5 hot).
For us, we also found it very prudent to bring in Great Pyrenees as livestock guardians. We're in an area with a fair amount of predators (coyotes and the like) and the GP are awesome guardians...kind of the mindset of anything they can see belongs to them and they WILL protect it. If they perceive a threat, our girl will gather the goats up and stay with them, while our boy goes out to track the perceived threat down and address it directly. Really amazing creatures to watch.
Personal opinion but we don't feel the goats are a lot of trouble, though they do require not taking off for long time periods. We keep a full hay rack for them we have to fill every day...fill water...replace their goat block as needed (average once a month)..we feed meat goat feed (we have heard bad tales on giving them sweet feed) with black oil sunflowers as a treat.
Generally we pencil in about a day a month to trim hooves, and anything ese they may be in need of. For us, we opt to feed the girls individually in a milking stanchion for the 1-on-1 time with them (and it allows us to give each one the once over m,orning and night for any sign of a developing problem). By making their feed pans individually, it allows us to top dress their feed with anything that particular doe may need...but lots of folks opt for feeding them all together, it's just a personal choice.
If we dont have kids around or does in milk...this time of year it's fair to say we allot an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening for goat feeding/watering (Four Does). I'm sure if one was doing the goats all together, the time would be cut down considerably.
I also researched the dairy breeds before choosing the Oberhasli for my micro dairy. I've had several other dairy breeds through here over the years, but for us the gentle nature of the Oberhasli wins hands down. Most goats are nice and friendly, but Obers are known for it, as well as having the most "cow" like milk in terms of taste and texture.
I have never (repeat, never) had any of my goats get out. Of course I don't have the typical three board fencing either, but a variety of typical medium critter fence and have no problems. Like mentioned before goats can not take wet and wind as well as other farm animals, but it is so easy to build a small little shelter if there isn't enough room in the barn. I'm a small woman and by myself I can build a goat house with purchased lumber in one afternoon.
Caring for goats is very easy and you do not "have" to milk on a strict schedule like cows. If you are after production levels, or as much milk as a goat can produce, then yes a 12 hour strict schedule is the way to go, but many owners find a good compromise and some owners like myself milk goats once a day after the babies are taken care of. It takes some thought about setting up a schedule that works for you/the goats and sticking with it, but it is not hard at all. I milk my goats by hand right after the morning chores and it only adds about 10 minutes per goat.
Once daily gives me plenty of milk for things like... yogurt, cheese, ice cream, fudge, custards, soap, and of course regular cooking and baking. I actually have a fudge business on the side that stemmed from goat milk.
(Yes, goat milk fudge is by far superior to any other fudge using processed milk. Never would have convinced me until I made all the different types of milk fudge for myself. Plus my customers are NOT happy when I have to use store bought milk for my annual "time off from milking" fudge.)
There are some really good sites that address goat ownership on all of its levels, how to milk, health care, and everything in between. If you want to PM me I'd be happy to pass them along to you.
I was very anti-goat when I started my farm. Smelly things... who would want that? Then I learned about them and how valuable they can be and now I don't think I will ever not have a few around. It is only the bucks that smell bad and I cure that problem by letting my buck live at a friends goats farm for most of the year with her goat herd. Keeps us both much happier.