Have you considered keeping goats as pets? Cats and dogs are the most popular pets, along with hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs also being amongst the favourites. Those wanting a more unusual choice may perhaps opt for a snake or tarantula, but these aren’t exactly cuddly or cute choices. If you want a slightly unusual pet that has lots of personality and can also be petted, consider keeping a couple of goats. Yes, you can’t keep them inside, but they do make truly great pets.
Goats are intelligent and inquisitive animals with lots of character and energy. They are also social animals, so as well as enjoying your company, it’s important to keep at least two together so they have company all the time.
Female pygmy goats are a popular choice. This is because they are small, have particularly friendly personalities and have a hardy constitution which makes them easy to look after. If, on the other hand, you opted for females of a dairy breed, these would require milking twice a day whilst they are lactating. This is time consuming, so may be best left to professionals who have both the time and expertise. It’s also important to note that although each goat has a unique character, male goats can be difficult to look after, with uncastrated males particularly so, as there is a risk they may be aggressive.
If you still like the sound of keeping goats, you will need to decide if it’s feasible to keep them on your own land. They need plenty of space to graze, exercise and explore their environment. They evolved in mountainous terrain, so they are good at balancing on small ledges and young goats, called kids, particularly enjoy jumping up onto things when playing. Bear in mind they are good at jumping, but also at damaging fences, so you will need to make sure you have secure fencing of reasonable height to make sure they don’t escape.
It’s important to provide goats with a shelter to protect them from the elements. A shed with an open doorway is a popular choice as they are relatively warm and dry inside. You will also need somewhere to store feed, such as bales of hay and cereal grains. Food for goats is relatively inexpensive, however, their health is affected by the food they eat and it is important to give them a balanced diet. For example, cereal grains are a good energy source but if goats eat too much then this causes a build-up of acid in their stomach, which is harmful.
Goats have fast growing hooves, which once would have got worn down in the mountainous terrain they evolved on. Therefore they will need regular trimming, either by you or a professional. Goats also require regular veterinary care including vaccinations and worming. It is also advisable to insure for emergency healthcare or retain enough money to cover such emergencies. Goats can live for over 10 years so taking them on can be quite a commitment, but an extremely satisfying one, as you have the opportunity to build up a bond.
Although keeping goats does require a bit more work than keeping cats or hamsters, they will reward you with their intelligent personalities and social nature.
Written by Sally White on behalf of Minster Vets