It depends on what kind of pet you’re looking for. Goats are not the same as cats and dogs, after all. However, many people love them as pets, anyway. They’re favorites at petting zoos and are often kept as outside pets year-round.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect goats to act like dogs or cats — because they aren’t. They haven’t evolved over thousands of years to be companions for people. They have been tamed for centuries, though, which typically means that they are somewhat suitable as pets.
Still, they were evolved mainly for practical purposes, not as companion animals. Therefore, many of them have behaviors that aren’t appropriate for a companion species.
If you don’t expect them to act like cats and dogs, you may be able to keep goats as pets.
There are over 300 different breeds of goats, with some being better pets than others. Some breeds are more commonly kept as pets, while others are mostly found on farms. The species that you choose is vital.
Some species just aren’t designed for companionship, while others can do a decent job.
How Much Attention Does a Pet Goat Need?
Most people think of goats as low-maintenance pets, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. When kept as a pet, these animals require a great deal of attention.
They are herd animals, so they need constant care and companionship. If people are their only source of socialization, you can expect them to be needy. They need hours of socialization each day, so they aren’t a good option for families with day jobs.
You can keep multiple goats as pets to get around this problem. When you have more than one goat, they will do much of their socialization with each other. Having multiple goats can lead to its own set of problems, though.
Goats can become somewhat jealous of each other, especially when they live close to their people. If goats think another one is favored, they may become moderately aggressive. This behavior varies from breed to breed. Some breeds are specifically prone to jealousy, and some need more attention than others.
Pet goats (or any goat, for that matter) love attention. Before you purchase one, it is essential that you can provide them with the attention that they need.
Where Do You Keep a Pet Goat?
Goats are not well-suited to living in small areas. Even when purchased as pets, goats need quite a bit of room. They work best in homes with acres of land available. In many cases, they will spend most of their time in their designated yard.
Be sure your area allows you to keep goats. Many cities classify them as agricultural animals and don’t allow them in certain areas. Even if you aren’t using the goat for commercial purposes, they still count as an agricultural animal.
Pygmy goats are a common companion species. However, even they need a bit of room to thrive. The average miniature goat needs at least 135 square feet to roam around in. Larger goats may need as much as twice that. This measurement is per goat. If you decide to get multiple goats, you’ll have to multiply those numbers.
Goats are also escape artists. They can climb exceptionally well. After all, it isn’t odd to find wild goats on the sides of mountains! A 4- to 5-foot fence is required to keep these goats in. Make sure everything is pushed away from the fence — you don’t want them climbing up on a piece of play equipment and then jumping over the fence.
Goats need protection from the elements, just like every other species. Shade and sun should be provided to help the goats balance their body temperature. They will move between areas as they need to.
A shelter is also necessary. Barns and sheds are standard options. Either way, be sure the shelter is draft-free to prevent illnesses and diseases. Windows are not necessary and should be well above the goat’s head. They’re notorious for getting their head stuck in windows.
Can You Keep a Goat as a House Pet?
Goats cannot be housetrained in most cases. Therefore, there is no way to prevent them from making a mess of your house.
They also love to eat and climb on just about anything. They can easily chew through anything vaguely edible and climb on things until they break. You don’t want a goat on your kitchen table — trust us!
Goats are far too large to contain to an area when you can’t supervise them. Many animals, like rabbits and ferrets, can be contained and then allowed to roam around supervised. But goats need at least 135 feet of space at all times; you probably don’t have a room big enough in your house that can be dedicated to a goat.
Goat-proofing a house would be nearly impossible. These animals can get into just about anything and will make quick work of most household items.
When you keep a goat as a companion animal, they need to stay outside in an appropriate yard. Do not expect your goat to have house manners. That isn’t how they work!
What Do Pet Goats Eat?
Pet goats should be provided a similar meal to other goats. Despite their reputation, they can be picky eaters. This behavior is mainly for their safety, though, as it prevents them from consuming rotten food.
They will typically only eat food that has not fallen on the floor. This behavior makes it unlikely for them to consume soiled food of any sort from a practical perspective. An above-ground feeder stocked with hay, grains, and greens is necessary.
Goats will graze on whatever they can find in their pen. However, your typical yard foliage is not enough to keep them sustained. You should avoid planting potentially dangerous plants near them, though. They will eat whatever they can reach, as long as it is fresh.
Goats eat quite a bit more than you might expect every day. Be prepared to spend more than you’d expect on food. They are active animals and burn a great deal of energy, which translates into big appetites.
Supplements are usually necessary too, including copper. Typically, you can provide these supplements as a powder over their food or as a saltlick.
Are Pet Goats Healthy?
Goats tend to be hardy little creatures. They don’t have as many health problems as other pet species, but that doesn’t mean that they are always healthy. Goats can catch illnesses just like any other animal.
They need various vaccinations to protect them from certain diseases. Routine prevention for parasites is also necessary, similarly to heartworm medication for dogs. You’ll need an exotic vet to access these vaccinations and routine preventative care, so be sure to locate one in your area before adopting a goat.
Can You Own a Goat as a Pet?
Local laws differ on whether you can own a goat without a permit. Most areas label them as “agricultural” animals, even if you’re keeping them for companionship purposes. Many cities do not allow agricultural animals within city limits, for instance. The size and type of goat that you’re allowed to have may also be controlled.
In some areas, all animals must be kept a certain distance from other’s homes. Therefore, you may need to measure the distance between your designated goat area and your neighbor’s homes. You may have to place your goat in a specific area, or you may find out that you don’t have room for one at all.
Goats can be noisy, so they aren’t always the best pet for those with close neighbors. This largely depends on the neighbors, though.
Goats can be great companion animals as long as you have a clear understanding of what you’re getting into. As herd animals, they require a great deal of attention. Many people keep more than one goat to reduce the amount of socialization that their pet needs each day. It can be overwhelming when your goat solely relies on you for all their socialization needs.
Goats also need quite a bit of space. They can’t be kept inside practically, so a large outdoor yard with a shelter is required. Local laws may dictate where and how you keep goats.
Goats are often a bit more high-maintenance than many people think. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, don’t get a goat. They are quite a bit of work, especially if you’re only keeping one.
Featured Image Credit: FitMum, Pixabay
Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!