Goats as Pets

Goats make the move from livestock to pets

Boy (4-7) touching goat, outdoors
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Goats, although traditionally thought of as farm animal, do make good pets. A perennial favorite in petting zoos, their curious, friendly nature make them good companions. There are a wide variety of breeds available, and the dwarf or pygmy varieties are probably the most commonly kept as pets.

More about Keeping Goats as Pets:

  • "Keeping Goats as Pets" by Gary Pfalzbot - An excellent description of what to expect if you decide on a pet goat.
  • "Pet Goats" by Cleon V. Kimberling, D.V.M - A good summary of the characteristics and needs of goats, from basic care and feeding to health care.

A Few Notes

Goats are herd animals, so should not be kept as solitary animals. A pair (or more) of goats will make a good addition to the right family. A decent amount of space (yard/pasture) will be necessary, depending on the breed and number of goats, so they are best suited for rural areas on farms or acreages. If you live in a city, bylaws may prevent you from keeping goats as they will likely be classed as an agricultural species.

You must also be prepared for the commitment to having goats. They do need attention like any other pet, and you need to consider who can look after the goats if you must go away, of if something should happen that means you cannot keep the goats.

For some basic information about the care of dwarf and pygmy goats, the following sites have good information:

  • Pygmy Goat Information - A brief overview of the characteristics and basic needs of pygmy goats (National Pygmy Goat Association).
  • Housing for Pygmy Goats - The housing needs of pygmy goats and how to meet them. By Lydia Hale, on the National Pygmy Goat Association website.
  • Feeding Pygmy Goats - By Dr. Ralph Bogart, an overview of the nutritional requirements of pygmy goats.
  • Goats - From the Irvine Mesa Charros 4-H club, a good overview of goat care.

You should also find a veterinarian who will treat your goats. They are susceptible to a number of infectious and chronic diseases. Vaccinations and routine preventative treatment for worms and other parasites are necessary and you should consult a vet for what is required in your area. It is a good idea to review some of the common problems. Health Topics is a collection of articles from the National Pygmy Goat Association about common health concerns of pygmy goats.

Be sure your goats are obtained from a conscientious breeder that practices good preventative medicine. If possible, it is always best to visit the breeder so you can see in what sort of conditions their goats are kept.

Most importantly, you will want to think about whether you can meet the needs of a goat and whether goats will meet your expectations as a pet a goat before committing to goats as pets.