How to Keep Goats as Pets
If you’re looking to add some farm animals to your household, choosing between chickens, ducks, rabbits, and even guinea pigs, there’s no doubt that sheep and goats are our favorites. They’re smart, cute, friendly, relatively quiet (as long as they aren’t being chased by a farmer), and their wool makes great sweaters. Plus, they eat up all sorts of yard waste grass, leaves, twigs, and more!
They also produce milk and cheese, which are a tasty treat for both humans and dogs alike. Despite having such an impressive list of benefits, owning livestock isn’t always practical for everyone. If you want a furry friend but don’t have land or enough money to buy one, then consider getting a goat instead. Goats make excellent pets because they’re low maintenance and extremely adaptable. Here are some basic tips on how to own goats.
What Do You Need to Know Before Getting a Pet Goat?
Goats require very little space and they’ll happily coexist with other domestic animals. However, you may find that when you first bring them home, they graze excessively without any regard for where the plants grow or what type of vegetation your lawn needs protecting from. It takes time for goats to learn where certain areas are safe and where they shouldn’t go.
Goats can be quite destructive and this damage can harm young plants, shrubs, and trees. Because of this, many people who choose to raise goats try to contain them inside during these early months so they won’t cause too much damage. This means confining them to a fenced area or pen that has been built specifically for them.
They’ll feel secure within this enclosed space until they become familiar with their new surroundings. Once they’ve learned where they can roam around freely, you can open up the fence.
Although goats don’t typically bark like dogs, they do communicate with each other through bleating sounds. These noises are usually produced when they’re feeling threatened or distressed. When you hear this, it’s important not to scare them away. Instead, approach them slowly and calmly while making eye contact. You could also let them out into the larger area to see what they’d prefer.
How can I get my goat?
You can purchase goats at most local farms or breeders. The best way to start off buying goats is to check out nearby farmers’ markets. Many of them sell purebreds, which allow you to experience what it feels like to raise baby goats.
But beware many sellers only offer adult goats for sale, so take note of the age listed on the tag. Adult female goats are usually 1-1/2 years old and males are two years old. Both genders reach sexual maturity at about 12 months of age.
Another option is to search online classified sites like Craigslist and Backpage for local goat sales. If you want to breed your own goats, you can look for a reputable breeder in your area. Some of the largest suppliers include:
? Boyd Goat Farm
? Holland Dairy Goat Breeding Co.
? Jenny Lind Farms
? Meadow Brook Farm
? Pine Hollow Farm
? Silver Spring Miniature Goat Farm
Once you’ve found a source for goats, you’ll need to prepare yourself emotionally and financially. There are many things to consider before purchasing a goat including: how much room does your yard already hold? Do you plan on keeping several goats or just one? Are you interested in raising dairy goats or meat goats?
Is fencing available for the size you’d like to keep? How much do you want to spend per month on food? And finally, will you be using a veterinarian? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to consult with a vet before acquiring a goat. Where will it live? What about housing, feed, etc.?
It’s recommended that goats stay indoors whenever possible because they tend to nibble anything green. Their natural habitat is outside, however, and they enjoy spending time outdoors just like we do. So, it’s essential that you give them adequate shelter from rain, wind, and sun. A barn or shed provides protection from all three elements.
A typical barn consists of large walls made of wooden slats with spaces in between to create air circulation. In order to keep your goats healthy, you should provide them with clean bedding. It’s also helpful to place hay bales around the perimeter of their enclosure for additional warmth.
Feeding goats hay helps them regulate body temperature and aids in digestion and growth. For daily consumption, you can mix grain supplement into their diet. While goats are naturally herbivores, they still require vitamin supplements to prevent deficiencies.
In addition to keeping your goats sheltered and fed, you should monitor their water supply. Even though goats drink plenty of water, it’s important to watch over it closely. Make sure you regularly change fresh water every day and replace dirty water on a regular basis. Also, since goats are herd animals, they’ll likely form small groups called “clusters.” These clusters can sometimes clash with another group that’s huddled together nearby. To avoid aggression, you may want to separate them with a barrier.
What kind of health insurance is required?
Your state requires that you obtain a license prior to obtaining any pet. Licenses vary depending on the state, so you should research the requirements in advance. One thing to remember is that you don’t have to renew your license every year. Your annual fee varies based on your location.
Some states require vaccination against hoof and mouth disease (also known as BMP) and foot and mouth disease (FMD). Others require that you receive a certificate stating that you were vaccinated. Consult your local county extension office for further details.
What happens if your goat gets sick?
The good news is that goats rarely get sick. Most illnesses are caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and worms. Because goats are generally resistant to disease, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately if your goat displays unusual symptoms or behavior.
There are plenty of ways to protect your goats from illness. First, ensure that you wash your hands after handling them. Next, wear gloves to help prevent spreading germs. Clean up poop and urine frequently so that flies don’t lay eggs. Keep your goats free from ticks, lice, mites, and hornworms. Finally, keep your goats away from other animals that carry infectious diseases.
What should I avoid feeding my goat?
As mentioned earlier, goats love to eat a variety of different foods. Grass is probably the most common and preferred food source. Other options include alfalfa, timothy, clover, and oaten hay. Avoid giving them vegetables and fruits, as well as grains like corn, soybeans, and wheat. Caring for goats requires lots of patience and consistency. As soon as you notice signs of malnutrition or dehydration, you should begin providing a high quality, nutritious diet.
Goats are highly social creatures and they often hang out with their flock. Since they’re easily startled, they may run back and forth across fences. They also urinate and defecate near their shelters, which can lead to odor problems. Keeping them confined to a smaller area can mitigate these issues. Just remember to exercise caution when approaching your goats, especially at night.