Goat care is somewhat different than typical farm and household animals. It doesn’t help that there are some very silly, very wrong myths about goats.
You love animals and your home is starting to look like a zoo.
Now that you have chickens gobbling up insects and giving eggs in their beautiful chicken coop, rabbits multiplying as they are prone to do, and a lovable old farm dog sitting on the porch and watching all of the craziness, it occurs to you that you’re missing something really important – goats.
And now … you’re getting a goat!
Goats are wonderful. Not only are they adorable to look at, but they’re fun and intelligent.
It’s important to realize, though, that goats aren’t quite like other farm animals, and goat care is going to be a bit more involved than chicken care.
To make sure that you can give the kind of attention and care that all your animals need before you add goats on the growing list, you have to be certain that you can commit to the task. If you have a full time job and you are doing this to relax after a tough day at work, find someone who will look after your pets whenever you are not at home.
You may have been a very experienced pet owner, but you are still a novice when it comes to looking after goats.
Let’s look at three very important things that you need to know!
Goats Eat Everything …. Not Quite!
We’ve all heard that goats will eat anything. Tin cans, old boots – nothing is safe if you have a goat.
That’s SO far from reality, though. You can’t just turn your goats out on any green area and expect them to thrive. The truth is that if your goats don’t like the plants or the hay that’s provided, they’d rather not eat!
If the food is on the ground, they’d rather not eat it.
If something got in or on their food, and they don’t like the look of that thing, they’d rather not eat.
Where did the myth come from, anyway? After all, it’s so clearly wrong.
Well, goats use their mouths to explore and understand the world. They will ‘taste’ everything to see if it’s good to eat or not because that’s how they learn. But while a goat may pick up a tin can and taste it, she won’t eat it.
Feeding is a goat is actually more like handling a child who is a picky eater.
You know what they want to eat, and you know what they need to eat. Proper goat care means it’s your job to make it happen for them, unless you’re okay with your goats starving themselves to death.
I know, your doctor says your child won’t starve herself to death. Your goat will, though.
Goats need a small amount of high quality grains (males need almost none), plenty of fresh grass and hay, and clean water every day. Most of them need extra vitamins and minerals, which are often as difficult to get into them as getting vitamins into children. They also need loose minerals and access to baking soda to prevent bloating.
They’re sturdy and can handle bad weather
They hate it when they get wet.
They will stand like a statue for hours before willingly walking through mud or a water puddle. If their food is on the other side of that puddle, they’d rather starve.
Dogs, chickens, and even cats might brave a storm to get what they need. I’ve seen our chickens leaning forward, bracing themselves against the wind and rain because they really wanted … well, who knows the mind of a chicken, but they were determined to get there.
A goat will stand in one place and bellow for the world to hear her unhappiness.
Whoever started the myth that domestic goats can handle rough weather must have also started the myth that goats eat anything.
*cough* *cough* And as a reader of mine just pointed out – there are always the exceptions. You might end up with a goat who thinks she’s a dog and wants to be out in all sorts of mud and weather (just as you could have chickens who panic at the sight of a snowflake or a gust of wind).
They’re like children – just when we think we have a handle on what they’ll always do, they do the exact opposite and make us look like liars.
You’re going to need a shelter. It doesn’t have to be heated, but it definitely needs to be dry and clean. You will have happy (well, happier) goats if you make a bed for them that is raised off the floor because goats will almost always seek the highest ground before resting.
What happens if you don’t ensure that your goat has clean, dry shelter for winter and rainy weather?
Your goat won’t sleep.
If your home is anywhere near the goat shelter, you won’t, either, because you will hear the constant cries of an unhappy goat morning and night.
You only need one goat
I’ve had a few people tell me they were getting a goat. One goat, all by itself.
What an awful idea.
Goats are extremely social animals. They really have no idea what to do with themselves if they’re separated from the herd.
Actually, no, I shouldn’t say that. They know what to do – cry.
A lonely goat will cry day and night. But more than that, your lonely goat will become depressed and stop eating.
Yup, a lonely goat is eventually a dead goat. The answer is simple – have more than one. Chickens, goats, and cookies – all things that require more than one.
Are you still ready for life with goats? It’s rewarding and heart-warming. But be sure that you know the truth about this common – and very wrong – myths first!