So you want a Pet Goat or a "Weed Eating" Goat, Eh?

I get a tremendous amount of requests about information on "PET" goats.

I will be honest and tell you I most discourage them as pets.

Why? I love these creatures. But they are tough to properly care for, and most people
look at them as a novelty to keep a little while then pass them along, give away, sell or let them die.

They do not deserve that. I actually always recommend that homesteaders or farmers consider
raising those not suitable for breed stock sales for meat far over selling to the "pet" goat market.

One bad day beats a life like Elmer's (Click here for that story)

Anyway, because of the tendency for pet goats to receive poor care and for people to go into acquiring them willy-nilly, a blog on the matter seemed long past due.


Goats do not eat trash or grass (they sometimes nibble the top of it, but not enough to mow your lawn). They eat brush and weed stuffs like poison ivy, your favorite decorative plants, wild roses and leaves on most trees. They generally must have a high quality hay offered, as well, especially in the late fall, winter and early spring. You need many acres for a few goats to eat down without needing to offer hay. Pet goats aren't being bred and so don't require much grain, if any. Actually, wethers (castrated males) can get urinary blockages from mineral imbalances, so once they are a year old, it is ideal to not offer PET Male GOATS grain and just allow them to browse the land and offer good quality hay free choice.

They are hard to keep in without the right fence. Cattle panels and goat panels work well. Electric can work if you use enough strands and use a 6 Joule charger (200 mi, no matter how small the area). They rub, put weight on and beat on field fence and garden type fence. It will be useless. DO NOT consider chaining them. This is inhumane and dangerous to the animal. If you are watching the animal and need an area eaten down that has brush, make sure you watch the goat(s). Do not plan on tying out to be a long term habit though.

Goats cannot tolerate being wet, and their feet get horrible infections if they aren't in
a dry area almost constantly. A dog kennel, a tiny yard and the like will not work for goats. You need to be able to have an area large enough they do not stand in mud or wetness. They need a sleeping / loafing area with bedding and a way to stay out of rain and wind.

They HAVE unique mineral needs. So they do not get all they need, generally, without supplements. Since pet goats do not have breeding strains on their bodies, you can usually get by with a loose goat mineral and salt. Also, leave out some baking soda free choice to help prevent bloat.

Intact male goats do not make good pets. Ever. You will not be breeding your pet goats (the world doesn't need more pet anything, so do not plan to just breed these pets for the heck of it), so I always suggest 2 castrated male goats. You can opt for does or a doe and a wether. A doe is a female goat. A wether is a castrated male, FYI.

They must be in pairs or more. They are very herd minded and can literally grieve to the point of death from loneliness. No, your dog will not serve as a companion. Also, dogs can be a huge risk to pet goats. Make sure your dogs are goat safe. Many a pet goat has been killed by a family's dog.

Goat's hooves need trimmed as often as monthly. You need hoof trimmers and a basic understanding of how to work on them like seen in this video.

If buying goat kids, do not purchase goats being weaned sooner than 12 week of age. They need milk until at least 12 weeks old (ideally longer). If you buy a bottle kid, feed whole cow's milk 3x a day at 20oz a feeding. Feed with a large opening in the bottle, warm. DO not use replacer or 2% milk. If you have a Nigerian or Pygmy goat, feed less, at 10oz 3x a day. Goat kids do need grain while growing, so offer 1-3 cups of good goat grain 2x a day.

Most goats will be well over 100lbs fully grown, and Miniature goat breeds mature to be 70lbs or so, as well. They live to be 10-20 years old with good care. They are a large animal with a long term commitment.

Pet goats aren't breeding goats, folks. There are plenty of options for pet goats out and about, and there is absolutely no reason to breed your pet animals, be they cats, dogs or goats.

Lastly, goats are not native to America. Our weather and mineral deficient soils put goats at an extreme disadvantage. They are more susceptible to parasites  in many of our climates than their bodies can naturally fight off. So  worming and coccidia (another parasite not treated by wormer) are issues you probably will encounter. If you have young goats under a year old, first you will want to prevent coccidia. You can learn about this here. If you have adult goats, check their inner eyelid color monthly. If the color is pale, worm with QUEST horse gel at the rate of 1cc per 100lbs. Repeat in ten days.