A goat as a pet? Consider this

Have you ever looked at a young, little goat – called a kid – and thought that a goat might just be such a cute and different pet to have? But before you start your search, it is strongly advised that you do proper research to find out what you can expect. It would be a good idea to follow and join a Facebook group called ‘Goats, sheep and pigs in the house’, if you are keen on getting a goat as a pet.

Conquering a mountain

Goats like to climb. It would be wise to build an interesting but safe obstacle course to prevent boredom in your pet goat. The obstacle course must include a tall peak, because goats want to be ‘king of the castle’!

In an uninteresting environment, a bored goat’s mind will turn cars and houses into interesting objects to conquer. Goats are very innovative and could combine a climb on the roof of your house with a slide down the thatch followed by a well-ordered but very costly landing on the car. Ensure that there are no places where legs can get caught, because goats tend to break their legs easily, especially when they are still young.

Chewing away and supplements

Goats chew on anything. Being ruminants, they should adapt to a consistent but varied diet. Rapid changes in what they consume can lead to pulpy kidney, rumen acidosis or even a blockage when they eat interesting but indigestible objects like socks. Beware of poisonous plants in your garden. Remember that all goats are browsers and cannot live from the lawn alone. They are not dogs or cats, so they should not eat dog or cat food.

Supplementary feed may be necessary during winter and should consist of good-quality hay, goat pellets and a sheep/goat lick. The feed and licks should be kept dry.

Who’s the leader?

Dehorning might be necessary, but please ensure that this is done at a very young age, preferably by a veterinarian. Goats (especially bucks) will challenge you for leadership. This problem will be even greater if the goat was hand-reared. The owner must be in control at all times. ‘NO’ must mean ‘NO’. Goats won’t hesitate to use their horns as weapons in an attempt to become dominant. Castrating a buck could help decrease aggression and also assist with managing other offensive habits that entire bucks develop as they mature sexually.

Love and care

Housing should be safe (no protruding nails or loose wires), well ventilated and dry. In winter, some goats might love a doggy jacket, but again, beware that they might eat that as well. Goats defecate anytime and anywhere. They are clever but they are very difficult to housetrain.

A veterinarian will assist with the vaccinations and give advice regarding housing and management. If external parasites (ticks and mites) are a problem, your vet will be able to assist you with a relatively safe product to combat these.

Goats need plenty of love and human attention, and can be taught to walk on a harness like a dog. They are intelligent animals and quickly fall into a routine. Some breeds of goat, like the Angora and Saanen, don’t make ideal pets, because they are more susceptible to stress and require much more attention than the hardier breeds, like the Boer goat and Cameroon dwarf goat.

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