1. Goats are not a lawn mower alternative
You have probably heard that goats are good lawn mowers and well eat anything and everything including all your all your weeds. This is simply not accurate. Yes they will eat a bit of grass and weeds but goats need so much more than that to remain happy and healthy.
Sheep are “grazers” and make good lawnmowers but goats are “browsers” which translates, in my experience, to “picky eaters”. Before they will give your lawn a second look they’ll find the most nutritious and sweetest tasting weeds, leaves, bushes and bark. You do need to be prepared for the work and cost of feeding them hay, grain, minerals as well as letting them forage for the things above.
2. Goats are herd animals
Goats naturally live in herds which means you can’t have just one goat and keeping a goat with a dog or sheep or some other animal as their heard does not count. Goats on their own are unhappy goats with all the issues that presents.
3. Goats live a reasonably long time
Goats can live for between 12 to 15 years and potentially longer. Being a goat owner is not a short term commitment and finding new owners for unwanted goats is not always easy
4. Goats are not set and forget
Goats, just like any pet needs ongoing attention. Making sure their diet is balanced and providing what they need, hoof trimming, worming, vaccinating and more.
5. Goat need adequate housing
Goats need shelter from wind and rain. They are not like sheep that will happily take shelter under a stand of trees in a downpour. Sheep have thick water resilient coats to protect them from the rain and insulate them from the wind.
Goat housing should be a three sided shed set to back onto the prevailing winds. It does not have to be full height. From my experience they prefer to tuck themselves into smaller cosy spaces. Extra large dog kennels and IBC’s with the fronts cut out and a roof put on are simple solutions for housing if you have just a couple of goats. But you will need one for each goat!
6. Wethers make the best pets.
Often people ask if it’s best to have a Buck or a Doe as a pet and my answer to that is neither. Does come into heat every 21 days if they are not bred and while some does you would not know they are in heat some will scream out for hours and days on end. The downside with Bucks is that they pee on themselves and fight and can be more than a little stinky.
Wethers on the other hand are non hormonal and don’t have the issues that you will have with breeding goats.
While Bucks and Does can run into many hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the breed, Wethers are normally around a few hundred dollars to buy.
7. Always buy from a reputable breeder
Even if you are just buying a pet it’s advisable to buy from a reputable breeder.
A good breeder will make sure you are fully educated in how to feed, house and care for the goats you purchase from them and they will be only too happy to answer any question you have.
They will have disbudded and in the case of wethers castrated the baby goats before you pick them up and they should also have had their herd tested for CAE and Johnes.