How to make your goats feel at home

Goats are social animals that enjoy the companionship of other goats, and some human interaction. Each goat has their own cheeky character, and it can be lots of fun watching them play.

Goats are natural browsers. This means they prefer to forage in hedgerows rather than graze your lawn or field – so they shouldn’t be kept as lawn mowers. Although goats are not for everyone, if you’re lucky enough to be able to offer them the space you may never want to be without them again!

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Keep your goats happy and occupied

Goats love to play, jump and climb – they’re very active and sociable animals. Their natural environment in the wild is full of trees, rocks and mountains, so an active lifestyle comes naturally to them.

You can use lots of different toys and activities for your goats – including picnic benches, foraging poles and tractor tyres. Tree stumps, logs and up-turned large buckets make great stepping stones and objects to climb on and to use as scratching posts.

Replicate their natural behaviours

Goats are natural foragers and will make every attempt to reach bushes and trees, rather than grazing on grass. If they don’t have access to bushes, brambles or trees, provide an alternative, like willow in forage poles or hanging from the roofs.

Hanging vegetables and plants from trees and benches is a great way to make your goats’ day-to-day living more rewarding. Tying old broom heads or doormats to the side of your fence is another easy and inexpensive way to occupy your goats. Goats love to scratch – especially between their horns, as this is one of those ‘hard to reach’ areas.

Remember, place large items away from fence lines to prevent your goats from using them as an escape route.

How many goats should you keep?

Goats are naturally a herd species. They really do depend on the companionship of other goats to keep them happy and to feel safe. Always keep them in a minimum of pairs, although a small herd of four to six is ideal.

Horned and non-horned goats can live together, but ideally, have at least two of both. That way, if they choose not to socialise with each other they have the companionship of a similar goat.

Goats’ herd hierarchy is a natural behaviour. In the wild, the younger and stronger goats will fight off the old or sick so that predators focus on these, keeping the majority of the herd safe.

To prevent unwanted goats or interbreeding, your male goats must be castrated once the vet has advised they are ready.