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Five Great Reasons To Get Your Goat

posted February 28th, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

Five Great Reasons To Get Your Goat

BY Nancy Gallimore, CPDT-KA

It was a pleasant drive to a spot in the country just outside of Claremore, Okla. I drove up a winding, tree-lined drive to find a lovely home in a clearing. I was there to meet goats, to learn about goats, to write about goats. Yet, there was not a goat in sight. Huh.
As I got out of my Jeep and looked around, I could see fenced areas with shelters. I could see hay. I could see feeders. But goats? None.
Just as I was starting to wonder if I was at the wrong address, Sharon Wilson emerged from her home with a warm greeting. We introduced ourselves, and I asked the obvious question, “Where are the goats?”
Sharon smiled as she glanced around. “They’re around here somewhere.”
She picked up a little bag of goat treats and started calling, “Goats! Here, goats!” I waited, I watched. It didn’t take long. One shake of the little bag of goat chow, and I heard the first bleat. Suddenly, like funny, little horned elves, Wilson’s Nubian goats stepped into the clearing to check us out.
At first, they seemed a little shy and unsure with strangers in their midst, but another rattle of the food bag did the trick; they scurried to us to collect on the promise of a quick snack. Suddenly, we were surrounded by curious faces and agile little lips gently and quickly nibbling goat pellets from our palms.
As we enjoyed their company, I talked with Wilson about her goats and why she considered them good pets. Our conversation, combined with information from other goat enthusiasts, led me to the creation of my top five reasons to (or not to!) add goats to your life.
Goats will likely give you an opportunity to meet your neighbors.
When considering sharing your life with goats, you need to know that they don’t always stay where you want them to. In fact, they could well be the best escape artists in the barnyard, and they do love to roam. You may even find them standing on your neighbor’s front porch.
According to Wilson, the majority of her little herd came to live with her because they were consistently escaping from their former home at Shepherd’s Cross, a nearby working farm. Because the farm was located near a busy road, the owners feared the wandering goats would be injured.
While Wilson admits that she hasn’t been 100 percent successful in keeping the goats contained, her 100-acre property allows the goats to roam safely, and they don’t seem to get into too much mischief. Because goats are at risk to predators, such as coyotes and stray dogs, Wilson does secure her goats in pens by the house each night.
The pens are enclosed with 6-foot-tall chain-link fencing that does keep the goats contained and safe when necessary. Standard stock fencing, like the fence at Shepherd’s Cross, is generally not adequate for thwarting determined goat escape attempts. I have personally seen a small goat hop on a hay bale to hop onto a horse’s back, allowing it to then hop right over a corral fence to freedom. The general consensus among goat owners I have talked with is a goat will almost always find a way out, no matter what type of fencing is used.
Goats are natural landscapers.
Goats are great for weed control. Wilson said she acquired her original two goats, Billy and Bobby, to help control weeds on her acreage. Goats are browsers whose diet consists of about 70 percent non-grassy plants and brush, so they do not compete with other grazing animals for grass and can actually improve lawn and pasture conditions.
At the same time, if you decide to plant a garden or ornamental landscaping around your home, your goats may see it as just another buffet line. Wilson was quick to point out that goats are smart, curious, and can be destructive. If you plan to invest in extensive landscaping, you might first want to invest in really secure goat fencing.
Goats just might teach your dog a thing or two about agility.
Once the picnic was over, the goats meandered away from us and into a fenced area where there were some pieces of equipment generally used for dog agility training. In this case, however, the agile dogs were agile goats.
They immediately displayed their climbing ability by scampering up a narrow ramp to perch atop the dog walk… um… goat walk, a 12-inch-wide plank positioned about 4 and a half feet off the ground. These guys could definitely win an Olympic gold medal in the balance beam competition. Three of them maneuvered around together on the plank with ease.
According to Wilson, if you are going to house goats, it is a good idea to build them plenty of things to climb on. If you don’t give them something to climb on, they will likely find something on their own. That something could very well be your car. Seriously. Goats will hop right onto your car. Wilson, and about a million other goat owners with slightly scratched and dented cars, can confirm this fact for you. She eyed my too-nearby-for-comfort, still-new-to-me Jeep with unconcealed concern. Thankfully, the goats decided to climb elsewhere during my visit.
If you want to have a pet goat, you should double your pleasure by having a pair of goats.
“Goats need companions,” advised Wilson. “You don’t want to have a solitary goat; you need at least two.” But be careful—without a little herd management, it can become a dozen goats in no time at all.
When Wilson originally decided to get goats for weed control on her property, she bought a pair, Billy and Bobby—neutered males, called “wethers” in goat-speak. When she added the goats from Shepherd’s Cross to her little herd, there were a few does and a buck named Joseph in the mix.
With Joseph’s “attention” (keeping it PG-13!), after about five months, the few goats suddenly became a herd of a dozen goats. Nubian goats often have multiple babies, so it is not unusual to see a doe give birth to twins or triplets. This means your herd can grow quickly.
Five of the babies were rehomed, as was the amorous Joseph, but apparently not before he wooed the ladies once again. With a sigh, Wilson pointed to a couple of the does who were displaying suspiciously large bellies.
It appears the stork will visit Wilson’s farm one more time in the coming months. There are few things cuter than baby Nubian goats with their huge, pendulous ears, bright eyes and mis-chievous antics. I do believe this story will require a follow-up visit, and I can’t swear I won’t leave with two baby goats in tow.
If you have goats for companions, get ready to laugh. A lot.
“Goats are clever, funny animals. Ours give us lots of laughs every single day,” Wilson said.
In just the time spent with Wilson and her crew, which includes Billy, Bobby, Mary, Molly, Emma, Sissy and Joey, I could easily understand the entertainment value of having goats around. Some were affectionate; some were shy; some were very curious—I actually cleaned goat lip smears off of my camera lens—and all were enthusiastic when it came to each goat claiming his or her share of the treats.
Honestly, I could have sat and watched this herd for hours. They bounced around, played, and loved climbing on their custom jungle gym, as well as on the agility equipment I suspect was really in place for Wilson’s beautiful Samoyed show dogs.
Of course, when considering adding any animal to your family, it is important to understand the specific care requirements of that animal before diving in headfirst. In addition to fencing challenges, and the need to have at least two goats for company, goats do have some specific diet and care requirements.
Wilson said that while she lets her goats graze freely on her property, she also supplements their diet with quality hay, alfalfa pellets and goat pellets. She also provides them with minerals essential to their health. And of course, fresh, clean water must be available at all times.
Goats also need to have their small, cloven hooves trimmed routinely and be wormed and vaccinated on a regular schedule. Wilson also counsels that you have to watch your goats carefully for any signs of illness, such as dullness or a yellow cast to their eyes, diarrhea, lack of appetite and any nasal discharge. As with any animal, early detection of illness is vital to their wellbeing, so diligent supervision is required.
Despite their hardiness, goats are susceptible to pneumonia during cold temperatures. Wilson stressed that goats need adequate protection from cold wind and damp weather. She has several straw-filled shelters in her pens, which allow her goats comfortable snuggle space out of wind and rain. She works to keep these shelters clean and the bedding dry and fresh.
If you are considering goats as weed-eating pets, information provided by Gary Pfalzbot, author of the website Goatworld.com, suggests it’s important to first define your expectations for a pet goat.
“If you are looking for a pet that sits in your lap while watching TV, a goat is not that kind of pet,” stresses Pfalzbot in an article on his site. “If you are looking for the type of pet that you need to pay very little attention to and feed perhaps once a day, a goat is not that kind of pet either.
“Having a goat as a pet primarily means that you are willing to let it be the type of animal it is—an outside animal that you cannot necessarily have sleeping on the bed with you each night. A goat basically needs to be outside in natural elements.”
Another important consideration when thinking of acquiring goats is to be sure that you live in an area where they are allowed and where you have proper habitat to allow them to thrive happily. For example, goats are not generally allowed within city limits and must be kept in areas that are zoned agricultural. A goat would not do well kept in a small enclosure in a backyard.
Wilson’s goats are all Nubians, a popular breed for goat enthusiasts. Nubians were developed as dairy goats with milk rich in butter fat. They are pleasant, friendly, people-oriented animals with a little spark of mischief readily visible in their eyes.
In a couple of months, when Mary and her other herd-mates deliver new, tiny, floppy-eared bundles of bouncing, prancing joy, I can’t swear I won’t be the first in line to see them and fall in love.
In the meantime, I’m heading to my home in the country to rethink my fencing just in case I “need” to add a couple of goats to my fold. For now, I’m still entirely too fond of my Jeep to even entertain the idea of my future goats tap dancing on the hood.