When Are Goats Good Pets?
What Small Goat Breeds Make the Best Pets?
Are goats good pets if you don’t live on a farm or homestead?
Many people have become goat owners because they fell in love with a tiny goat kid and decided to give goat ownership a try. Is this a feasible option for an animal commonly raised as livestock? Under the right conditions, the question “are goats good pets?” can be answered with “yes.”
Goats Prefer the Buddy System
While you may love cuddling that one kid that stole your heart, goats do not do well alone. In some cases, a sheep, horse, or donkey may be a companion for the goat, the truth is they prefer one or two other goats for true happiness. Bringing home only one goat rarely works out well. A lone goat will be trying to escape to find his herd.
Generally healthy and hardy, goats won’t require lots of veterinarian visits when cared for properly. A yearly checkup and routine vaccinations are usually all that is needed. Be prepared to trim goat hooves regularly or find someone that can do this task for you. It’s not hard to learn and goes a long way to keeping your goat in good health.
Goat Care and Requirements
Goats have certain care requirements not much different from the family dog. In fact, goats and dogs can be good companions for each other. Goat care requirements include suitable housing for protection from the elements. Goats do not like being wet. Fencing will be needed or the goats will be roaming your neighbor’s flower garden in no time flat. Be sure to choose fencing that is sturdy and has smaller openings. Goats are notoriously good at climbing. In addition, larger openings in the fence lead to goat heads being stuck as they reach through the fence for the greener grass on the other side. Fencing and containing goats as pets are areas that might make you skeptical when asked are goats good pets.
Jess Knowles, farmer and owner of The 104 Homestead website raises Nigerian Dwarf goats in rural Maine. She has no trouble keeping goats warm in cold weather with simple barn-style shelter. Jess recommends goats as pets. She states, “Goats are better than TV. Every day they discover something new and fun. It’s an absolute pleasure to watch them.”
Proper food must be provided because goats really don’t eat “anything and everything.” The best food for goats is good quality timothy or grass hay. Alfalfa hay may be appropriate for milking does. The pet goats won’t be trimming your lawn, though. Goats prefer to eat weeds, brush, and tasty leaves from low-hanging branches. They will make short work of any growth they can get to, so be prepared to fence off the areas you want to keep as a yard or garden. Don’t forget the daily fresh water. In the heat of summer or the frigid winter, the water might need changing more often.
What do Goat Owners Say about Goats as Pets?
According to Rose Dutra Duncan, homesteader and owner of the website Wholesome Roots, goats make wonderful outdoor pets. Rose says, “Goats are perhaps the best AND worst homestead pet there is! They can take a lot of work, knowledge, and patience to raise properly, keep healthy and productive. With the right determination and attitude going into it, they can be the best companions you ever dreamed of. They have seriously strong personalities and form lifelong bonds like a dog.”
Once you have determined that you can provide the care requirements for pet goats, be sure to check the local ordinances about owning goats in your town or county. Some areas are very strict with a no-livestock policy. Other towns and municipalities may allow certain sized goats and small herds.
Are Goats Good Pets for the House?
I think most people familiar with goats and goat behavior would quickly say no to having a goat in the house. Take a look at the nature of goats. These same qualities that make them so much fun to watch and interact with outside can be detrimental to your home. Goats are boisterous and often a little loud. They love to climb and their hooves can easily damage furniture and carpets. Goats love to jump, too. The party can get out of control quickly and result in lots of damage. And then there’s the whole topic of housebreaking a goat.
Housebreaking refers to training a pet to eliminate in a certain area or when taken outside. Ruminants eat often and urinate and poop more often than the typical house pet. It takes a special kind of determination to attempt to house train goats to go outside to do their business. Sanitation alone has me saying no to keeping goats in the house. We have had short term goat house guests when injury or illness required special care. One of the factors that usually pointed to the end of the stay was the number of goat droppings I had to clean up once the goat was on the mend.
Goats With Benefits
Even if the goats have to live in the backyard with a separate shed for shelter, the companion benefits are still great. Goats provide endless entertainment and seek out our attention. Our goats will happily browse around us on the farm while we do chores and repairs. They even want to help, although running off with my work gloves isn’t my idea of helping.
Keeping your property trimmed of weeds is a wonderful benefit for those who ask are goats good pets. If you raise a milking breed such as the Nigerian Dwarf or Nubian, you will have delicious goat milk for drinking or making cheese if you have the doe bred. Mohair goat breeds such as the Angora and Pygora are great pet goats for the person who loves fiber arts. Spinning, knitting, or crocheting with fiber from your pet goat is a wonderful benefit.
What Goat Breeds are Best for Pet Goats
While I do not like to single out breeds because individual goats from any breed can be wonderful pets, certain breeds tend to be more popular with families looking for pet goats. The smaller breeds such as Pygmy, Nigerian Dwarf, Pygora, and Kinder may fit the requirement if local zoning requires goats under a certain size.
What Can I Do With a Pet Goat?
In addition to companionship, milk, and fiber, you might be interested in showing your goats in breed shows. Or you may want to volunteer with a community outreach group that teaches the benefits of small scale homesteading in urban areas. Therapy goats are trained to visit nursing homes and schools. These goats must be controllable, reliable in temperament, and have good manners. They need to like being petted by strangers. Many goats are great ambassadors!
No matter what goats you get as pets for your family, be sure to give them the care they require. Those factors don’t change with any reason for raising goats. Love them and enjoy their antics and pet goats will repay you with the gifts of laughter, good memories and affection for many years.