Raising goats as pets can be a rewarding experience for those who are prepared to meet the needs of these animals, but do you think you know enough about this animal?
The goat is one of the livestock animals that has accompanied man since the dawn of his existence on earth and throughout the evolution of sheep farming. Traces of the first goat farms date back to 9000 BC and lead to some areas of the Middle East. Over the centuries, this animal has remained fundamental for humans but recently it has also been bred as a pet. An apparently bizarre choice, but shared by an ever-increasing number of people. Let’s see what lies behind this choice and the things you need to know if you too have the same inclination. So, raising goats as pets can be a great experience, but there is a number of things you should learn and evaluate before you actually consider getting one.
Domestic goat: general characteristics
The goat is a quadruped that is generally characterized by a stocky body, uniform and short hair, uniform or piebald in color. The size, color and other peculiarities vary depending on the breed. It has a long neck and very short tail, robust and vigorous legs equipped with hooves.
It is a ruminant that feeds mainly on grass, flowers and leaves and that man has bred for centuries as a livestock animal.
The first domesticators of goats were the inhabitants of the Zagros Mountains, in Iran, where traces of the oldest goat herders can be found. This animal was fundamental to the survival of nomadic and semi-nomadic communities for the production of meat, milk and skins. At that time, animals were herded in small herds from hill to hill in search of safe food sources.
The common characteristic of all goat breeds is the extraordinary ability to adapt to any habitat, including semidesertic ones.
Both due to physical hardening and natural propensity for a frugal diet, the goat lives very well even in extreme environmental conditions.
Behavior, character and habits
In spite of popular belief, the goat is by no means a stupid animal. Highly respected scientific studies have shown that the intelligence of goats is such that this animal can solve even complex problems and be easily trained.
In addition, its mnemonic ability is amazing: a goat, in fact, can remember lessons learned during a training for up to 10 months.
That they are intelligent animals is also clear from the aforementioned ability to adapt to a wide variety of conditions and environments. They are also courageous, stubborn, protective and territorial enough to live well in flocks only as long as everyone respects their space and group hierarchies.
Some breeds, such as the Tibetan goat, are particularly sweet and affectionate and are often chosen to be kept as pets. In some cases, domestic goats become so morbidly attached to their owners that they become obsessive.
They are sympathetic, funny, curious animals and have a soft spot for children. So, raising goats as pets may look like a funny and easy journey. Unfortunately, however, they have a bad habit of gnawing, biting and chewing everything under their noses….
Using goats in pet-therapy
Many educational farms and organic gardens welcome goats as animals suitable for pet therapy. This confirms the extreme docility and intelligence of this animal and its social usefulness. In particular, the goat is a pet-therapy quadruped that is well suited to therapies for hyperactive children or children with cognitive defects and mental deficits.
It is also a natural anti-stress for elderly people and for individuals with social difficulties, as they instill joy and joy of living.
Raising goats as pets: the basics
Anyone who decides to welcome a goat into their home to raise it as a pet obviously must have adequate space. Even dwarf goats and the most docile ones retain a wild nature that must be indulged and not repressed in a narrow space.
The goat, in fact, must be able to maintain its own habits and, unlike dogs and cats, cannot remain locked in the house. The ideal is to have a courtyard, a vegetable patch or a garden large enough to allow her to enjoy herself during the day.
As a companion animal, the goat demonstrates a friendly and positive nature and just like a dog it can suffer from estrangement syndrome if it is separated from its owner. Before adopting one, you need to find out about the breed and choose the one that is tamest and best suited to the family’s habits.
Also check local zoning regulations and bylaws, as some areas may have restrictions on keeping goats as pets, before you consider getting a goat.
What a goat eats: nutrition and care
The diet of a domestic goat is varied and balanced. Its meals should never lack hay, fruit, fresh grass and broad-leafed plants. Like dogs, goats can be victims of parasitic attacks by fleas and ticks, so specific products should be used and the animal should be subjected to periodic visits to the veterinarian.
Remember that the goat is an animal that lives well in a herd, so it is strongly recommended to allow it to live with other pets. During the night, she needs to sleep in a sheltered and cozy space that will protect her from the cold and keep her dry in case of rain.
How long does a goat live?
The lifespan of a goat varies between 10 and 18 years depending on whether it is wild or domesticated. Its life expectancy also depends on its environment, breed and sex.
For example, the Rocky Mountain goat in the United States has a life span of 10-12 years in the wild and can live up to 20 years in captivity. The Western Caucasian goat lives 10 to 14 years. On average, a goat measures 80 cm to 1 meter and weighs 15 to 80 pounds, depending on the breed.
To live long, a goat needs to eat grass and hay, like most farm animals.
However, be prepared for potential health issues that can arise with pet goats. Regular health check-ups and vaccinations are essential.
How much does a goat cost?
The cost of a goat can vary widely depending on several factors, including the breed, age, gender, purpose (meat, milk, pet, show, or breeding), location, and current market conditions. In any case, here are some general price ranges for goats:
- Meat Goats (Boer, Kiko, etc.): Meat goats are typically raised for their meat. The cost of a young meat goat (kid) can range from $100 to $300 or more, depending on factors like age and genetics. Mature breeding does and bucks can be more expensive, ranging from $200 to $800 or more.
- Dairy Goats (Nubian, Saanen, etc.): Dairy goats are bred for milk production. Kids may cost anywhere from $100 to $500 or more, depending on breed and lineage. High-quality dairy goats with a proven milking record can be more expensive.
- Pygmy Goats and Nigerian Dwarf Goats: These small breeds are popular as pets and can cost between $50 to $200 for kids and $100 to $400 or more for mature goats.
Reliable breeders who sell healthy and welfare-friendly animals have herds that generate substantial costs. And these prices are sometimes barely enough to cover their costs. So, to adopt a goat always contact experienced goat breeders who will provide you with all the specifics about the animal and its care.
Here is also a nice video we shot with some bred specimens during our latest trip:
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