2001-Sun Dec 04 19:34:41 EST 2016
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You may have heard the expression, “He really gets my goat!”
But what do you get, when you get a
goat? People think about getting backyard goats for lots of reasons: for milk,
entertainment and companionship, or even for help in keeping some of the weeds
trimmed. But before you consider getting a goat, it’s important to know how to
keep them healthy and happy. Here are 10 things you should know:
Before getting a goat, make sure they are
allowed where you live. Check your town’s regulations to ensure goats can be
kept within your city’s limits and whether there are any restrictions regarding
goat size or weight. Also, be aware many cities regulate how close animals can
be housed to dwellings or neighboring properties. Goats also can be very loud so
before you adopt or purchase one, make sure your neighbors will be tolerant.
There are two sizes of goats, miniature and
standard-size breeds. Standard-size breeds, such as the Nubian or Alpine, weigh
between 100 and 200 lbs. or more. Mini-goats, such as the pygmy and Nigerian
dwarf, tend to be more popular in urban areas because of the many local
restrictions on goat size and weight (these smaller breeds tend to weigh 100 lbs.
or less). If your backyard barnyard is miniature as well, make sure that the tiny
“kid” goat or goats you bring home won’t grow up to be bigger than you are expecting
(baby goats are called kids, female goats are called does, uncastrated males
are called bucks and castrated males are called wethers).
Goats are active and playful. A miniature goat requires a minimum of
approximately 135 square feet of romper room space; a standard goat needs twice
that, with the square footage multiplied by the number of goats you have. Goats,
whether big or small, need a yard that provides part sun and part shade and is
protected from strong winds. Goats also need an attached and draft-free shed or
barn for cover, sleeping and protection from predators and extreme temperatures.
Any windows in their enclosure should be higher than the head of the tallest
goat when she is standing on her hind feet. If not, the windows should be covered
with bars or screens so that a goat can’t poke her head through. Indoors, a doe
and her kids need a 4’ x 9’ stall for comfort. You’ll also need somewhere to
safely store their food and somewhere to dispose of their soiled bedding.
Goats like to rub on fences, especially
when shedding, or try to stick their heads through any openings to eat some
delectable item just out of reach. Goats are also clever about getting out of
their enclosures. All of this means that goats are hard on fencing. It needs to
be reinforced with strong wood posts sunk deep into the ground and needs to be
escape-proof with slats close enough to prevent their heads from slipping
through. It also needs to be high enough to keep them in (4’ high for
mini-goats; 5’ high for standard). If you use wire, make sure it is sturdy
enough that a goat can’t bend it or push it down to escape. Goats also love to
chew wood, so if you have wooden fences, be prepared to replace them every few
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