Keeping Goats

 If you are thinking of keeping goats, here are a few important hints and tips:

Goat Housing

Goat housing should be a draught-free shelter which will protect the goats from the elements. It should have plenty of head room for the goat to be able to stand upright on its hind legs with its neck stretched out.

The goat shelter must also have enough height for you to work and tend to the goat standing up.

If you keep more than one goat, each goat should have at least 4 square metres of floor space. Pen and door heights vary from breed to breed but 1.3 metres is recommended. Dwarf goats obviously do not require such height.

Goat pen

Goats do like to see one another, even if they are penned separately, so it is a good idea to accommodate for this requirement by using gates and partitions that the goat can see through. A secure, well-fenced exercise yard is required, which should be 3 to 4 times the size of the pen/shelter.

The exercise yard should be made from concrete or of a similar hard surface that does not retain moisture and can be easily cleaned. If this is not possible, goats can exercise in a well-fenced paddock or field but not in bad weather. A separate shelter on the field is always appreciated by the goats.

One further important tip – to prevent bullying between goats, it is a good idea to house horned, disbudded and hornless goats separately.

You will also need a dry area or dry shed of some kind to store your goat provisions in such as hay, straw and goat feed.

On the exercise area and in the goat shelter, a constant supply of fresh water should always be at hand.

If you have a dairy goat and intend to milk it on a regular basis, a dry, clean, milking area is also required.

Of course there is always going to be some goat faeces and soiled bedding and an area for this waste disposal is also an important factor.

Other requirements for goat housing.

  1. Mains for electric lighting.

  2. Fixtures and fittings in the goat shelter such as hayracks, food and water buckets, bucket holders (these are useful for preventing food and water buckets from being tipped over and do not forget to place them where they are not subject to contamination from faeces). Hayracks can be bought ready-made or constructed yourself out of wood or metal. They should be placed at the height of the goats head so that the hay cannot be soiled. A lid is also recommended to stop the goats pulling the hay out of the top or to prevent Kids from jumping into the rack and getting stuck.

  3. Salt or mineral licks are also a necessity for goats at all times.

  4. Good ventilation in their shelter is important, but not draughty.

  5. For kid goats, a small bench of some kind is a must. They will jump on and off the bench and also lie on or underneath it.

  6. Goats do like companionship, so it might be a good idea, not to just buy one goat, but have two or more instead.

Goat Diet

Goats are herbivores and love green stuff. Goats require a daily supply of good quality hay and vegetables. Goats must have a varied and interesting diet and access to bushes and branches as well.

Goats should also be fed concentrates (high energy foods enriched with minerals and vitamins) at certain times in its life such as when pregnant or milking, to ensure they get essential nutrients.

General Care For Goats

Goats should always have some vet care. Goats need regular worming and general health check-ups frequently to ensure they are fit and healthy. Goats also require their hooves trimming every 4 – 6 weeks. Routine vaccinations need to be given to protect them from serious diseases. Do not forget, if you go away on holiday, you will need someone to take care of them, particularly someone who knows what they are doing. And most importantly, your time and interest for the rest of your goats life.