Goats have been called the perfect backyard animal. Why’s that? It has to do with a lot of things: their adaptability, their ease of care, and even their intelligence. Many backyard farmers love raising goats, but they’re not quite for everyone. Here’s a brief overview of some of the high and low points of raising goats.
One of the best things about keeping goats is how adaptable they are. They can deal with just about any temperature range and eat a wide variety of food. As long as they have a three sided shed to stay out of winter winds and some grain and hay to supplement their browsing they stay pretty happy. In return, a female can provide you with up to a gallon of milk a day. This milk is delicious and easy to digest. In fact, people who have trouble digesting cow milk have reported that they have no trouble with goat milk. Your goats can also be used for meat, giving you several very tasty meals and a hide that can be used for rugs or other uses.
Another factor in favor of goats is their personalities. Goats are one of the most intelligent backyard animals you’ll find. They’re curious and playful and easy to fall in love with. Of course, this curiosity has a downside. If a goat can find a way out of his pen he will – the draw of the unknown is just too great for him to refuse! Goats’ sweet personalities can also make it difficult when it comes time to slaughter, especially if it’s a doe that has been around for a while.
Of course, no animal is perfect and goats are no exception. Because they’re intelligent and curious they can also be talkative. If you’re sensitive to noise their constant bleating might get on your nerves. It may also sabotage your relationships with your neighbors if you live close to other people.
Another thing that might hurt your neighborhood relations is the scent that goats can give off. This is particularly problematic with males during mating season. They give off an odor that can spread very easily and is strong enough to cause nausea in some people. If you live in a densely populated area goats might not be right for you for this reason.
As with all backyard animals, it’s important to check in with your town or city to see what sort of ordinances there about keeping backyard livestock. You’ll also want to keep the size of your yard in mind. Goats like to browse around and nibble on trees and bushes. If your backyard is the size of a postage stamp you may not have enough room for a goat to get in all his nutritional requirements.
If you have some space in your yard and some distance from your neighbors, there’s really very little stopping you from getting a goat of your own. This fun, friendly animal will provide you with companionship and food with very little needed from you in return.
Pic by mikebaird.