So why keep goats?

Benefits and responsibilities relating to goat keeping

source: Jenny White
Country Smallholding July 2002
starts p 62, 2 pages long

Goat keepers have a number of legal responsibilities, such as registering goat premises with the DEFRA Animal Health Offices in their localities, and this includes keepers of pet goats. There are also regulations for goat keepers selling milk, who need to obtain a licence from the DEFRA Dairy Inspector, and be registered with the Environmental Health Office of their locality, as food producers. There are also restrictions on moving goats, which apply to pet goats as well as goats kept for farming purposes. Any goat that was born after February 11 2002 has to have an individual ID number and its herd number, which should be marked on the goat's left ear, so British Goat Society and other numbers can go on the right ear. The marking has to be carried out within a year of the goat being born.

Goat's milk has a number of benefits, both for humans who cannot tolerate cow's milk, and for other animals such as kittens and piglets. Some goats can carry on producing milk even when they have not kidded each successive year. This ability is partly genetic and is also affected by how well the goat is looked after. Goats like company, and many people have two, with each kidded alternative years. The milk can be frozen and kept for up to four months, though strict hygiene is needed, and a four star freezer, using the coldest part for storing the milk.

Goats can also produce angora wool. Angora goats can be bottle reared so they are friendlier to humans when they grow up. Angora crosses tend not to have good quality wool, and even when crossed with dairy goats, they may not be good milk producers either.

Some people think that goats can clear ground for them, but it is easier to clear it with the right tools, such as mowers and sickles. Goats can be poisoned by some plants, such as ragwort, buttercup and bracken, and can be killed by yew, laurel and rhodedendron. They do, however, like stinging nettles, after the flowers have appeared, and will eat thistles.

People who take on goats should have affection for them. They are intelligent, and need commitment. Their coats are not waterproof, so they should have shelter from rain, and they need good fencing. Tethering is unwise, since accidents can happen leading to injury or death of the goat. It is possible to take goats on walks using leads and collars, if they do not have a field that is properly fenced.