The first thing to know: You need to adopt at least two.
You’ve tried goat yoga. Perhaps you’ve tried goat golf. Or maybe you’ve even checked in at the Goatel in Corvallis, Oregon, for a week of therapeutic goat experiences. Perhaps you’ve rented a goat for your birthday party, or a whole herd to mow your weeds. Maybe you want to adopt a baby goat of your own.
It’s a little more complicated than bringing home a puppy or kitten from the shelter. Here’s what you need to know.
The laws about keeping goats vary
If you live in a rural place, you’re all good. But if you live in an urban area or a suburban zone, consult with your local authorities about the codes and bylaws that pertain to keeping livestock. Not all municipalities allow goats, and those that do typically have limitations on the number you can have and how they are kept. Many municipalities allow only dwarf goats.
It’s hard to potty-train a goat
The Internet is chock-full of irresistible photos of goats prancing around in hand-knit sweaters in someone’s living room. Look closely and you might also see what looks like chocolate-covered raisins all over the floor. Unlike dogs and cats, goats will drop their dung on the go rather than find a place to crouch and do their thing. This genetic difference makes it very hard to house-train goats. Indoor goats usually become outdoor goats very quickly.
A lone goat is a lonely goat
It’s cruel to have just one goat, no matter how much time you spend with it. These are herd animals, and they are extremely anxious when left alone for even short periods of time. If you have other herd animals, such as horses and llamas, you may have success integrating a single goat with them. Otherwise, plan on adopting a minimum of two goats.
Goats need infrastructure
If you don’t already have a sturdy four-foot fence with wire mesh installed below ground to a depth of 12 inches to keep out burrowing dogs and coyotes, plan on making this investment before adopting a goat. You can’t exactly take a goat to the park to run around — they will try to eat everything in sight and may not come back when you call them — so you need plenty of space for them to run around at home. One-eighth of an acre is the minimum for a pair of dwarf goats, while a quarter acre is the minimum for full-size goats. You’ll also need a weatherproof but well-ventilated shelter, at least eight by 10 feet in size, for a pair of goats, and it should be built to withstand any predators in your area that might want to eat them.
How to obtain a goat
Once you’ve checked off the above items and educated yourself on the dietary and health care requirements of goats, it’s time to adopt. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a goat rescue service in your area — these are geared for people who want goats as pets. PetFinder.com is another option. You could also try posting a note on the bulletin board at your nearest feed store, asking at the counter for local farmers that might have kids for sale or checking on Craigslist. Sometimes farmers are looking to cull unhealthy goats from the herd and make a buck in the process, so it’s wise to bring the goat in for a quick checkup with a vet before you commit to the purchase