Sunday, February 17, 2013

Goats as pets

A Wonderful Pet

I've owned several goats during my life. They were personable, brave, and fun to interact with.
My dream is to someday have a small place with room to have a couple more nanny goats to brighten my day.

My First Goat

My first goat was a birthday gift for my 8th birthday. I am still not sure why my parents gave me a goat; I wanted a horse! But there she was, and I named her Flopsy. She was a heavy set, white goat of indeterminate breed. My parents had bought her from the neighbors on the next farm who used goats to protect their sheep.
We had a lot of fun when I was younger. I tried to ride her her, but goats have very bony spines. I discovered a horse halter could fit over her chest like a harness. My brothers and I tied the halter and Flopsy to an old Radio Flyer wagon, and off we'd go. She seemed to enjoy pulling us as much as we enjoyed being pulled.
She and I also liked to butt heads - literally! I would get down on all fours and hit the ground with one hand. Flopsy would stomp the ground with one forefoot, then run at me and we would head butt. That may be the reason for my memory loss - not getting older!
I used a dog collar to keep her tied out. If she was loose, she would hang out with the two draft horses we still used on the farm. When Flopsy came into heat, she would run back to the neighbors herd and "hook up" with their billy goat.


My second goat was bought as a companion animal for my daughter's horse. Her name was Fawn, but we ended up calling her "Goatee."
She was extremely friendly. Not satisfied with the oats she and the horse received, she would attempt to come into the house with the dogs. I did let her in briefly on occasion, but as I didn't want to clean up goat "pellets", she was relegated to the outdoors.
She got along very well with our German Shepherd and Dachshund. Too well. They chased each other around, and Fawn decided to use my brand new Durango as a getaway. My husband did not find this as amusing as I did, and after a few hoofprints on the roof, it was decided that Goatee must go. She went to a friend with some acreage, and became a loved member of his family.

Goat Uses

Goats are raised for four main purposes: meat, milk, wool, and as a pet.
Boer goats are an example of a meat breed.
Popular wool breeds are the Angora and cashmere goat.
Two types of dairy goats are the Nubian and golden Guernsey.
The pygmy and fainting goats are good examples of pets. The fainting goat was originally a meat goat, but started being bred to emphasize the genetic condition which causes them to "faint" when startled.

Keeping Goats

A goat's agility and sociability should be considered before buying one. A fence will need to be woven wire or electric. Goats love to climb and play, so consider that anything in their pen could be used as a "mountain."
They can be tied out on a tether. A dog collar works well, and the tether should be nylon or a cable. Provide shade, water, and shelter if they will be tied out for long.
I have never seen a goat eat a tin can, but they do eat just about everything else. This is great if you want to clear an area of weeds, but not so great if they get into your prized roses!
I don't recommend a male goat unless it has been neutered. If you have ever smelled a mature intact male, you know what the phrase "smelly old goat" really means!

What to look for in a pet goat

Goats have been domesticated for thousands of years. All breeds would make great pets. Here are some things you may wish to consider before purchasing a goat:
Will it be just a pet? If you wish to have milk, look at the dairy breeds. You will need to have the nanny bred once a year to have milk. If you want fiber, look at the woolly goats breeds. If you want meat - you are reading the wrong article! ;)
Small or large area?If you have only a little land on which to have goats, consider one of the pygmy goat breeds. They stay small and need less room to play, and less food to eat.
Horns? If you have small children, look at breeds which do not have sharp horns. Even a friendly goat can do damage when it is playing.
Male or female? A neutered animal is best if you want companion animals. A female goat may stray when she is in heat. Billy goats smell awful!

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