Goats - farm animals that make great pets!

Updated on May 19, 2016
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Lela earned a B.A. degree in Journalism from Sam Houston University in Huntsville, TX. She has been writing for the online world for years.

The Face of a Goat

Goats have interesting faces
Goats have interesting faces | Source

Goats as Pets - a tale from a friend

To anyone who doubts if goats can be good pets I like to tell them the story of my first animal friend. When I was a small child my neighbors had a goat. My childish exuberance took over any fear and we soon started playing together. The goat was very friendly and followed me around everywhere. I named her Peggy. Soon, we became inseparable. Peggy would come at our front door every morning and start yelling until I’d wake up and come out to play. Peggy was my best animal friend as a child. I’ll never forget our bond. That is why I will never stop believing that goats can make great pets.

While most people don’t think of goats this way, more knowledge about them could quickly change their mind. The reason why so many people only see them as livestock is because the experience of owning a goat is not very well known. It’s certainly an unconventional choice and most people wouldn’t even know where to start. However, while choosing to have a pet goat can be new and challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding and actually easier than most would imagine. Goats are smart and resilient creatures that do not require much maintenance. They are very playful animals that are capable of forming strong bonds with humans.

Plus, goats are really cute.

The other side of the goat

Goats rarely turn the other cheek
Goats rarely turn the other cheek | Source

Miniature goat breeds - best for pets

Full size goat breeds should stay on farms where they have enough room to be themselves. Miniature goat breeds are best for pets on small acreage plots. A miniature breed would be about the same size as medium sized dog.

Some of the miniature breeds to consider are:

  • Nigerian dwarf goats
  • pygmy goats
  • Kinders
  • Mini dairy goats

And remember to consider the fact that goats are herd animals. Getting more than one goat is essential for their well being. A solo goat will be lonely and unhappy.

Neutered male goats are called wethers and make the best pets. Of course, if you want to breed them, it will be best to have a pair of intact male and female goats.

How to choose a pet goat

One of the first choices you would have to make as a prospective goat owners is choosing the type of goat you want to have. Here are some important aspects to consider before getting a pet goat:

  • Goats come in many shapes and sizes. Small goats are probably best suited to be pets but larger ones can be fun to own too.

  • You will need to provide ample space to your goat to keep it happy and healthy. Goats are very athletic animals. So you can expect lots of running around and jumping on top of tall objects or over fences. They can jump and climb up to the tops of roofs!

  • Goats are not very well suited to be house pets. They defecate and pee anywhere and anytime. House training a goat can take a lot of time and be extremely challenging. It’s probably best if you can provide a small shelter with a roof for your pet goats.

Your goats need a suitable home

Don't forget that goats are really good at escaping from regular fenced in yards! They also do not do well on a leash or on a tie line.

Research the types of enclosures that will make your pet goats comfortable and safe. Electric fencing may be needed to keep your pets in, and their predators out.

They also need a shelter to protect them from bad weather. Their home will have to be kept clean and dry.

Goats like the company of other goats

A group of goats is called a 'tribe'
A group of goats is called a 'tribe' | Source

What to feed your goat

You need to know what type of food goats will eat. They can generally eat pretty much any kind of vegetation. Goats are browsers, which means they like to browse between plants and eat a little bit of everything. They will even eat your flowers and break off branches from your trees.

You will probably want to provide them with an enclosure so that they have some boundaries for their safety and the safety of your plants.

One important food fact concerning goats is that they only eat clean food. If the hay you provide gets trampled, wet or mixed with dirt they will not eat it. One great solution is to hang their food somewhere higher from the ground, so they can pick it directly from there. They love the exercise.

Some of the favorite foods of goats are hay, leaves from tree branches, vegetables (only small amounts of cabbage) and cereals. They even eat human food, in small amounts, usually given as a treat. Most importantly though, you have to know that the staple food of goats is hay.

Never let your goats eat these!

There are however also plants that can be very dangerous to goats, especially in large quantities. Many common weeds and shrubs can be poisonous to goats but in small quantities they will only have small negative health effects. Here is a short list of some of the plants that are poisonous to goats:

  • Rhododendron

  • Bracken fern

  • Hemlock

  • Ragwort

  • Laurel

  • Linseed

  • Foxglove

  • Water Dropwort (Oenanthe)

Goats are not suitable for city living.

Do you have land and a desire to raise goats as pets or livestock?

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Goats and Water

Clean water is very important to goats. They should have water available in some container at all times. They can be a little aggressive with the objects in their vicinity. If you’re concerned about them breaking the container, you can bring them water in a bucket, a few times a day. You have to know that goats will only drink clean water. They will also refuse to drink if the container has had food or something else in it that gives a strong smell.

Basically, goats are great fans of cleanliness, especially concerning food and water. If the weather is cold outside, goats will only drink warm water. Their water intake varies depending on temperature and feed. Hot temperatures will increase water consumption. If the everyday food is made of fresh, wet grass the need for water will decrease compared to when they eat mostly hay.

Goats versus Dogs

Goats can and do get along with other pets
Goats can and do get along with other pets | Source

Do goats get along with other pets?

Some people could be inclined to think that goats will not get along well with other pets, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

All the goats I’ve owned got along wonderfully with dogs, cats and pigs alike. Of course, at first they will be fearful when meeting a dog, or any other animal, but given a few days or weeks together, they’ll grow accustomed to each other and become best friends.

The only danger is with very small animals, like small kittens, as the goats might accidentally step on them. Goats are not always mindful of their surroundings, especially when tasty food lies in front

Goat Behavior

Goats are some of the smartest herbivores. They are very curious and inquisitive. Your pet goat will love exploring every corner of the back yard. You can name your goat and the goat will learn it in time. They can understand a variety of words with enough training. However, while smart, goats are not as trainable as dogs. Your expectations should be realistic. The best aspect of their intelligence in my opinion is that each has its own personality and emotions, and they are capable of great bonding.

Behavior Problems in Goats

There will be some downsides to owning a goat as well.

They can be aggressive and sometimes even violent. Goats can hit you pretty hard with their heads, especially those that have horns. It sounds funny but goats are capable of taking ‘revenge’ if you annoy them or make them envious. Usually though, they will stop the aggressiveness if you establish yourself as the leader and dominant member of the herd.

Another downside will be that goats will chew up anything, even clothing or house plants, so proper delimitation of space is in need in order to avoid dealing with damaged property.

Time could be an issue as well, as feeding your goats and cleaning after them could take a portion of your day.

Finally, there’s the issue of noise. Goats can be very vocal at times and this can upset neighbors.

All things considered, owning goats as pets can provide some challenges, but these can be overcome and the results are incredibly satisfying.

Cute baby goats laughing and playing!

Questions & Answers

    Do you have an amusing story about goats?

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      • JanisaChatte profile image

        Janisa 4 weeks ago from Earth

        I'm actually thinking of getting a goat someday, but it's more for the free milk than anything else :D I really love cheese and would love to learn how to produce those myself, perhaps even using fresh goat milk

      • Austinstar profile image

        Lela 20 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

        I didn't know that gout would hurt the kidneys! I'm on 2 of them a day now. Don't remember the strength. But it does cut down on the gout attacks.

        I can't remember ever drinking goat milk, but I kind of like goat cheese!

      • profile image

        diogenes 20 months ago

        Latest on gout...had to cut my allopurinal back to 100/day as it was killing my kidneys, so far, no gout. I drink goat's milk and eat goat's cheese, love it, tastes so nutty.

        Keep goats, you are so lucky in the US; space, space. Britain is awful 1000 a mile nearly

        Bob x

      • Austinstar profile image

        Lela 20 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

        Hi Nell, I am still working on getting some goats, they are every bit as cute as puppies.

        I also wrote 'Lost Mountain' - a response to billybuc's challenge.

      • profile image

        Nell Rose 20 months ago

        I love goats, I always remember an uncle having a few when I was tiny, I don't remember much about it but I do remember cuddling them!

      • Austinstar profile image

        Lela 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

        @Bob - I take allopurinal and still get gout attacks. Ibuprofen and ice packs seem to help the most during an attack. I'm not supposed to take Ibuprofen, but it is the only thing that relieves the inflammation!

        @Alicia - I want goats for my 2 acres of WEEDS and brush. But Bob doesn't like goats. I've been trying to talk him into getting some for ages.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I enjoyed hearing about the goats that my father used to own when I was a child and have wanted some of my own for a long time. Thank you for sharing the facts and the advice about keeping goats safe and happy. I may never be able to have any as pets, but I love to daydream!

      • profile image

        diogenes 23 months ago

        Lela...I suffer with gout, too, take allopurinal 300 every day which keeps it down.

        Better to have a "goat attack!"


      • profile image

        kaili bisson 23 months ago

        The video at the end is great. I think goats are very cute, but unfortunately not suitable where I live. I wonder if they eat goutweed? If so, they would be very happy in my yard :-)

      • Austinstar profile image

        Lela 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

        Thanks! I will add a list today of the types of goats that make the best pets. There are hundreds! Right now, it's 3am on this side of the pond and I am icing down a gout attack :-(

      • diogenes profile image

        diogenes 23 months ago from UK and Mexico

        Good article Lela about an animal few will be familiar with. I have been butted by a Billy goat once...it was frightening! ...and that was through a fence!

        You might have mentioned more about the types available, like the miniature ones, etc.