Goats have lots of character and can make really appealing pets. However, owning goats is a big commitment and can be very time-consuming and expensive. If you are thinking of getting some goats, please consider reading our free booklet:
An introduction to goat welfare and ownership (PDF 1.1MB)
Here are some very important points to consider before you decide to get some goats.
Laws on goat keeping
Because goats are farm animals, goat owners must comply with extra laws that don’t apply to pets such as cats and dogs. For example, there are laws on the way goats must be identified, the registration of the land on which they are kept, transport, and the keeping of medicine records. Further information is available from Defra.
Goats need the company of other goats
Goats are social herd animals and you must plan to allow at least two goats, which get on well, to live together.
Goats are not gardeners
An overgrown garden or hedge is not a good reason to get some goats! They need a carefully balanced diet of high quality hay, grass, ‘browsings’, and additional supplements.
Some types of goat do not make suitable pets
Uncastrated male goats have a very strong odour and can show aggressive/sexual behaviours that many people find unpleasant - they should only be kept by experienced owners. Males of smaller breeds that have been castrated before they become sexually mature (wethers) can make good pets. However, castrated males of the larger breeds are still powerful animals that can be difficult to handle.
Dairy goats that are lactating (producing milk) need to be milked twice a day and can produce over 4.5 litres/7.9 pints per day. You should only consider getting a goat of a dairy breed if you’re prepared to put in the extra work and time needed for milking.
Can you provide suitable housing, fencing and other facilities?
Goats need 24 hours-a-day access to dry, well-ventilated housing of sufficient size, construction and containing suitable facilities. Fields and paddocks must be carefully (and sometimes expensively) fenced, as goats are very good at escaping.
Goats should not be tethered
Tethering is not an option for keeping goats - they need to be kept in a secure fenced area. There is a danger that tethered goats might become tangled/strangled and they cannot escape from bad weather /dogs / children, etc.
Goats need regular veterinary care
Vaccinations, worming, general health checks and emergency veterinary care are very important, and can be costly.
Goats can make a lot of noise and mess
Goats can be destructive to fences, housing and gardens and can call loudly, which neighbours may find a nuisance.
Breeding of goats should only be attempted by experienced owners
If bred, goats will often produce twins, triplets or even quads. Owners must take responsibility for the welfare of the offspring, including the humane and legal euthanasia of any kids that cannot be kept or rehomed.