Pet Goats: Tips for Keeping Your Horned Friend Happy

A white goatWhen you were little, did you ever imagine having a pet goat? Not many children do, but these days the goat is becoming a surprisingly more common household friend. Goats and pigs are amongst the most blossoming categories of fancied domesticated animals today.

However, many with the idea of keeping a pet goat have little to no information on the proper equipment and techniques needed to help you fill your role as guardian to these furry little critters. Reading the information beneath will give great insight on some of the obligations you are committing yourself to when looking to become a goat’s best friend.

Giving your goat a happy and safe home

Before bringing a goat home, be sure to ask if it is of “companionship stock”. There is a difference in temperament between goats bred as pets and other caprine varieties. Regardless, these animals require a companion and if you leave one on its own too long, it will get a little cranky and crazy.

Goats are quite happy making a friend of other animals. If not giving it another goat or two to build a relationship with, at least try other livestock. They are usually quite liked by horses, sheep, and even pigs. They are also quite capable of reciprocating the fondness, buddying up with the other animal as if they were two of a kind.

If matching a goat with a larger animal for companionship, as a pet owner you must keep a keen eye on food supplies. If paired with an animal like a horse, a goat may not get the necessary food supply it needs. You will have to take time to watch and make sure the goat gets a fair shot at the eating trough.

A new pet owner must be a protector to his or her charge(s). A goat that is young and/or small is vulnerable to attack from typical city-dwelling dogs. If you have your goat in a yard, you must make sure the fencing is dog-proof because some dogs will get a kick out of chasing a goat or possibly even attacking it. It is in many dogs’ nature to hunt such animals.

Training and exercise

When attempting to train, expect this horned critter to pay as much attention to you as you do to the number of hairs on its body. A highly intelligent pet, goats are quite capable of figuring things out themselves and are very independent creatures. Unlike dogs they are not good at performing tricks you teach them. However, just like dogs, if you teach them a “job” at an early age like pack carrying, they will be good at that throughout their life.

An active and clever animal, goats know who to trust. They will also try to keep up with their owner. If your pet runs away from you, chasing it will only make it keep trying to escape you. Much like a puppy, it likes playing such games. If yours runs away, simply match its boldness by running the other way as if you do not care. Likely the goat will try to chase you down and if your new pet does not respond well to that, try keeping a can of grain in your hand. Running away from it with a supply of food is sure to make your doe or billy chase. Exercise is important to keeping your goat healthy, and games like this are an excellent way of making sure your goat keeps fit. (It does you good, too!)

Feeding your pet goat

As a responsible keeper you will also need to know what to feed your goat(s). The average person may think these creatures like grass but they are indeed much pickier eaters. Grass will generally account for under 30% of their diet.  Like deer, this horned pet of yours likes to forage and find variety. Kids, bucks, and nannies will differ in diets but typically like shrubbery, healthy leaves, and hearty tree bark to nibble on. Alfalfa (also known as lucerne) and oat hay are things that will need to be mixed into diet. A rich food, hay is particularly needed during the colder months. If you want to give a “goat treat” try tossing or handing your kid or adult chopped apples, carrots, and grain.

When thinking of grain and dietary supply, there’s also a pre-meal tip to know. Call out the goat’s name or repeat saying a catch phrase like “Goats, come and eat!” whenever it’s time to eat. If they get used to hearing a call when it’s meal time, eventually they will understand and react to you calling for them every time.

A salt/mineral block will be needed to the side of their food tray as well. In granular form, it will entice goats to get as many licks as they want. Alongside it have fresh water readily available.

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