While goats have traditionally been kept as sources of milk and meat, many people are discovering that they can be wonderful companion animals, too. Charming and sweet, goats offer a lot of affection and make intelligent, loving pets. And, with a life expectancy of 15-18 years, goats can be your companions for a decade or two! If your city is zoned to allow goats and you have access to a nearby large animal veterinarian for their care, consider these reasons why they may be the unexpectedly perfect pets for your family — without “getting your goat.”
Goats are loyal and affectionate. The adage about stubborn goats isn’t always true. Goats can be very loyal and affectionate, particularly if they are bottle fed and reared around humans. The more they socialize with humans, the more cooperative goats can be, as they really do want to please you. They will have capricious moments, though, so be prepared to be firm but kind to keep their behavior on track. When their needs are met, goats can be as loyal and affectionate as a dog. They don’t, however, make the best pets to lie in your lap.
Taking in goats is never a “party of one” affair. As herd animals, goats like being in groups, so they aren’t self-sufficient. They need a lot of attention and do better in pairs or groups, so plan on getting at least two goats as companion animals. For best results, avoid getting bucks with horns, because they can be very aggressive during mating season. For best results, take in a pair of baby goats that have been debudded. And get your goats from a reputable breeder to get the healthiest animals possible.
Goats are curious and adventurous. As pets, goats are no shrinking violets. Natural explorers, goats are curious about their environment. Because of this, they need room to roam. So, if you’d like to bring them into your home as pets, make sure you have a medium- to large-sized yard to keep them in. They need pens outside that are at least 4 x 4 feet each to keep them safe and contained when needed. And make sure you have fencing to block off any landscaping features or gardens you’d rather your goats not express their curiosity on.
Goats are good eaters. Goats are indiscriminate eaters who like a varied diet of plants, fruits, veggies, and more. They will munch on plants and flowers in your yard, though, so make sure your pet goats are separate from your prize-winning petunias. You’ll need to get their feed–mostly alfalfa hay — at a feed store, such as IFA, rather than at a traditional pet store. Their diet needs to be supplemented with minerals, so you’ll need to provide salt mineral blocks and other trace elements. Do research before bringing goats in your home, as milking goats and goats with access to little pasture have supplemental dietary needs. And be prepared — goats can be messy eaters. So make sure their feed time isn’t inside around things you’d like to keep neat.
Goats can be fantastic companion animals in the right environment and under the right conditions. Talk to other goat owners in your area before taking them in, so you’re prepared for these unique animals.
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By Jennafer Martin