Should I Raise Goats? A Guide to Sustainable Living and SelfSufficiency

1. Why Raise Goats As Pets?

Raising goats as pets can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for many reasons. Firstly, goats can make excellent companions and are often found in petting zoos where children and adults alike can interact with them. Dwarf or pygmy goat varieties are particularly popular as pets due to their small size and friendly nature. These pint-sized goats are adorable and generally easy to handle, making them suitable for families with children or individuals looking for a unique and entertaining pet.

In addition to being great pets, goats have been domesticated for thousands of years and are still primarily raised for various purposes, such as milk, meat, fur, and skin. This long history of domestication ensures that goats are generally docile and can form strong bonds with their human caregivers. Many goat owners find that their goats quickly become part of the family, enjoying attention, petting, and even eating out of their hands.

However, it is important to note that raising goats, even as pets, requires advanced care and commitment. Goats are living beings that deserve ethical treatment, and providing clean, spacious conditions with access to fresh water and proper food is essential for their well-being.

2. Different Breeds Of Goats

When considering raising goats as pets, it is crucial to research and understand the different breeds and their temperaments. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goats, each with its own characteristics and suitability for various purposes. Some breeds are better suited for milk production, while others excel in meat or fiber production. Furthermore, certain breeds are more adaptable to specific climates or terrains.

One of the smallest goat breeds in the world is the Nigerian Dwarf goat. These playful and friendly goats only reach about 17 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder for females (does) and slightly taller for males (bucks). On the other end of the size spectrum, the Boer goat is the largest breed, averaging around 30 inches tall.

By considering the breed and its specific traits, potential goat owners can ensure they choose the right goat for their lifestyle and needs.

3. Care And Considerations For Raising Goats

Raising goats requires a long-term commitment and a deep understanding of their needs. Before bringing goats home as pets, it is crucial to check zoning regulations and restrictions regarding goat size or weight in your area.

Goats are best suited for rural farms or homes with ample acreage. They require a significant amount of space, which varies depending on the breed and the number of goats. Smaller breeds may need approximately 135 square feet per goat, while larger breeds may require twice that amount.

In terms of enclosure and housing requirements, it is important to provide a secure and well-maintained space. Goat enclosures should be fenced with a height of 4 to 5 feet to prevent escape. Additionally, goats need areas that provide sun, shade, and protection from the elements. Goat shelters or barns should be draft-free and feature doors for added security against predators.

When it comes to feeding, goats are picky eaters and prefer food that has not fallen on the ground. Their diet should primarily consist of hay, grains, and greens. Certain plants, such as roses and toxic plants, should be avoided if goats are kept near gardens. Goats also require high protein grain and supplemental minerals.

To ensure the health and well-being of goats, frequent consulting with a veterinarian experienced with farm animals is recommended. This will help in providing the best foods and preventing common goat diseases such as Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE), caseous lymphadenitis (CL), coccidiosis, bladder stones, sore mouth, enterotoxemia, and G-6-S.

4. Goat Enclosure And Housing Requirements

When raising goats, providing appropriate enclosure and housing is vital for their safety and well-being. The size and space needed for goats depend on the breed, with smaller breeds needing approximately 135 square feet per goat and larger breeds requiring twice that amount.

Fencing is essential to prevent goats from wandering off or becoming vulnerable to predators. The fence should have a height of 4 to 5 feet and be sturdy enough to withstand goat pressure. Regular inspection and maintenance of the fence are necessary to address any potential weaknesses or damages.

Goats also need areas that provide sun, shade, and protection from the elements. A shelter or barn is crucial, offering a draft-free environment and doors to prevent predators from entering. The flooring of goat barns is usually either dirt or rubber mats for the comfort and cleanliness of the animals.

It’s important to keep in mind that goats can be destructive to fences, housing, and gardens. Providing adequate space for exercise and enrichment can help prevent boredom-induced destructive behavior.

5. Goat Diet And Nutrition

Goats have specific dietary requirements that should be carefully met to ensure their health and longevity. While they are known for their ability to graze, goats are picky eaters and prefer to consume food that has not fallen on the ground.

The primary component of a goat’s diet should be high-quality hay, which serves as a good source of roughage. Additionally, goats require grains and greens to supplement their diet. Consulting with a veterinarian is important to determine the appropriate balance of hay, grains, and greens for specific goats.

It is essential to note that certain plants, such as roses, can be harmful to goats, and toxic plants should be avoided if goats are kept near gardens. Additionally, goats require high protein grain and supplemental minerals, including copper, to meet their nutritional needs.

Fresh, clean water should be available to goats at all times to prevent dehydration and promote overall health.

  • Goats prefer to consume food that has not fallen on the ground
  • The primary component of a goat’s diet should be high-quality hay
  • Goats require grains and greens to supplement their diet
  • Consulting with a veterinarian is important to determine the appropriate balance of hay, grains, and greens for specific goats
  • Certain plants, such as roses, can be harmful to goats and should be avoided
  • Goats require high protein grain and supplemental minerals, including copper
  • Fresh, clean water should be available to goats at all times

6. Common Diseases In Goats

Understanding and preventing common diseases in goats is crucial for their well-being. While goats can be generally hardy animals, several diseases can affect them.

Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE), caseous lymphadenitis (CL), coccidiosis, bladder stones, sore mouth, enterotoxemia, and G-6-S are among the common diseases that can affect goats. It is important to recognize the symptoms of these diseases and consult a veterinarian experienced with farm animals for diagnosis and treatment.

Preventive measures for goat disease prevention include:

  • Maintaining good hygiene
  • Providing a clean environment
  • Ensuring a proper diet

Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations can also help in preventing and managing diseases.

7. Grooming And Maintenance For Goats

Grooming is essential for maintaining the health and appearance of goats. Regular brushing removes loose hair, dirt, and burs, preventing matting and offering comfort. To ensure a gentle and effective grooming experience, it is important for goat owners to use appropriate grooming tools specifically designed for goats.

Hoof trimming is another crucial aspect of goat care. Trimming hooves every six to eight weeks prevents overgrowth and discomfort. Goat owners should follow proper trimming techniques to avoid causing injury.

For accurate techniques and guidance on maintaining overall hoof health, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian or a professional goat hoof trimmer. Their expertise will provide valuable assistance in upholding the well-being of your goats.

8. Important Considerations Before Owning Goats

Before bringing goats home as pets or for any other purpose, there are several important considerations to keep in mind.

Owning goats requires a significant commitment of time, resources, knowledge, and facilities. They are not low-maintenance pets and need careful attention and care. Goats can be destructive, noisy, and have specific needs that must be met daily.

Additionally, male goats tend to have a strong smell and can be more aggressive, while female goats require twice-daily milking if they are producing milk.

Selecting goats from conscientious breeders who practice good preventive healthcare is essential. Visiting the breeder and observing the conditions in which the goats are kept can provide insight into their overall health and well-being. Requesting test results for diseases like CAE is also advisable to ensure the goats are healthy.

Before bringing goats home, potential owners should assess their ability to meet the needs of a whole herd of goats. Goats require adequate space, appropriate shelter, regular feedings, grooming, and veterinary care. It is important to have the necessary resources and time to provide a suitable environment for these animals.

In conclusion, raising goats can be a rewarding experience for those who are prepared and committed to meeting the needs of these animals. They can make great pets for energetic owners and offer sustainable living and self-sufficiency opportunities. However, owning goats requires careful consideration, preparation, and dedication.

Is it a good idea to have a goat?

While goats may be cute and can provide milk or meat, it is important to carefully consider the potential downsides before getting one. Their destructive nature can lead to costly repairs of fences, housing, and gardens. Additionally, their loud bleating might not sit well with neighbors, causing potential issues. Uncastrated male goats can emit a pungent odor and display aggression, making them unsuitable as pets. Even castrated males can be strong and challenging to handle, limiting their suitability for domestic environments. Ultimately, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons and assess if the responsibilities and challenges of owning a goat align with one's lifestyle and surroundings.

Are goats good to raise?

Goats are indeed a fantastic choice for raising. Apart from being social and easy to train, they offer a range of benefits. Due to their manageable size, they are convenient to handle, making them an ideal option for those with limited space or resources. Additionally, their versatility allows them to thrive in various environments, making them adaptable to different climates and terrains. Whether you are seeking milk production, fiber, or even as companion animals, goats can fulfill a multitude of purposes, making them an excellent addition to any farm or homestead.

What are the pros and cons of goats?

Goats offer numerous advantages as pets or livestock. They provide companionship and entertainment through their playful and interactive nature with humans. Furthermore, goats are low-maintenance when it comes to feeding, as they are capable of consuming a variety of plants, including weeds, thereby reducing the need for specialized diets. Additionally, goats are a suitable choice for individuals with limited space, as they do not require large areas for grazing.

However, owning goats does come with a few drawbacks. Noise can be a potential issue since goats tend to bleat loudly when seeking attention or during specific circumstances. This can be problematic for individuals who prefer a quieter environment. Moreover, goat owners must be prepared for the regular upkeep and maintenance involved in caring for goats, such as trimming their hooves, which require specialized tools and knowledge. Despite these challenges, the overall benefits of goats, including their joyful nature and resourceful eating habits, make them an appealing choice for many.

How many goats should a beginner start with?

To set a strong foundation as a beginner, it is recommended to start with a minimum of two goats. These social creatures thrive in companionship and having a fellow goat by their side helps prevent boredom and loneliness. Opting for two does or a doe and a wether can provide a harmonious dynamic that allows for a little goat herd to blossom and grow. By starting with a pair, you'll be ensuring their well-being and happiness while embarking on your exciting journey as a goat caretaker.