How to Keep Goats As Pets or Livestock
Goats may be kept as dairy animals, for meat, fiber, as companion animals for other livestock, or as pets. Goats are also kept for controlling brush growth in the pasture, and are sometimes even used for light draft duties.
There are many different goat breeds (which will not be covered here) be sure to select the right breed for your purpose.
Most goats are born with horns but they are removed by disbudding when the goats are young.
Goats are fairly easy to keep (other than angora goats), but not quite as easy as sheep. The complications with goats are that they often climb fences, and need dehorning. As well they need a bit more shelter than sheep, but do not need shearing like the wool sheep.
Goats are herd animals, they do not do well when kept alone, you will need at least two. You can keep goats with sheep but the concern is that goats need copper in their diet while copper is toxic to sheep.
As far as space needs go, a goat may need 10 to 15 sq feet of space in a barn, and 120 to 250 sq feet of space outdoors. The fence must be one they cannot climb or get under. Goats are not very tolerant of cold weather and particularly do not like drafts or rain, they require a shed they can get into freely when out on pasture and a proper barn in the winter, and when kidding. The pasture itself should he sloping so it is not continually wet as this will cause hoof problems.
Goats browse, they prefer to eat leaves off trees but will graze when this is not an option. Dairy goats need a grain ration, as do pregnant, or nursing, does, but otherwise most goats will do well to browse or eat hay. Goats like to play on rocks or other raised areas, even a picnic table will do. Keep these climbing things away from the fence and barn or the goat may use them to escape.
Check with your livestock feed store to see what minerals are lacking in your soil (if any) and select an appropriate salt and mineral mixture, as well your goats will need soda for digestion. Remember if you keep sheep, sheep cannot have copper. Your goats will also need fresh water, and should not be expected to eat snow in the winter.
Bucks can become aggressive if handled and treated like “pets” it is best to keep your relationship with your buck as “hands off” do not ever hand feed him or he may head butt you as he demands more feed, or attention. Otherwise goats can be fitted with collars and trained to walk on a lead.
Wethers are castrated male goats, they make the best pets or companion animals. Bucks are intact males, they often grow long beards which they urinate on and can become smelly. Does are the female goat, they are old enough to breed at 6 months of age, but should be prevented from doing so until at least 8 to 10 months of age, so they will be full grown when they have their first kids.
Does are pregnant for 5 months, give or take 10 days. Twins and triplets are common but goats can have more, if a first time mother has 3 or more kids she may have difficulty caring for them all and some may need to be bottle fed.
Kids, baby goats, should remain with their mother (the nanny) for at least 3 months.
If you wish to breed goats you will probably want to consider disbudding the kids because horns can become a real problem, as well you will want to consider wethering (castrating) some of the males.
This has been just a basic guide on keeping goats, you should do further research before getting your goats. A good option to goats is hair sheep.
Llamas, donkeys, alpacas, or certain types of dogs, can be used to guard goats if you have predators in your area. You will also want to check laws in your area to be sure if you can have goats, especially if you are in a subdivision, or within a city.