Keeping a goat is a good way of providing your household with fresh milk, yoghurt and cheese, and it will take up less space than keeping a cow. If you keep you goat shelter near your vegetable patch, you can create a three-bed compost system and use the manure to fertilise your soil.
Goats are easy to care for; caring for them takes less than an hour each day (roughly 20 minutes each morning and evening). Female goats will need milking every 12 hours, and feeding every day if they are not allowed to roam outside. Outside the shelter, you will need to keep them fenced off from your garden, as they are prone to eating everything in it. Goats live in herds, so you should buy more than one so they can live as close to their natural living requirements as possible.
Building a Shelter
You will need to provide a shelter for your goats, providing them with roughly 6m² per goat. It should be dry and free from draught, with sufficient space for the goats to stand up on their hind legs. If you keep the goats penned separately, ensure they can see each other as this is important to their well being. It’s a good idea to construct a few benches in the barn for young goats (kids) to jump up and down from. You’ll also need a dry place to store bedding materials and food, and a clean area where you can milk the females.
Outside the Shelter
As well as a shelter, the goats will need an area or paddock outside where they can exercise and form natural behaviours. The paddock should be well fenced, to prevent them from wandering into your garden, and have a small lean-to (or similar) where they can shelter from bad weather.
Free range goats may be kept outside all day to graze and provided with shelter each night and during bad weather.
Tethering goats involves tying them to a post with rope, where they may graze within a specified area and moved once they have eaten all of the grass within that area. Tethering goats is not recommended, as it is time consuming, and can cause the goat distress. The goat will need moving regularly and provided with shelter from the rain and sun. You will also need to ensure it has a source of water close by.
Feeding Our Goats
Goats need a steady supply of water to drink. The will eat almost anything, and prefer to graze. If you have the space, let them graze freely in a paddock. Otherwise, goats will thrive on greens, branches, and cut grass.
Goats are friendly, sociable animals and a joy to look after. They will reward you with fresh goats’ milk, which you can use to make butter, yoghurt and cheese. They don’t need lots of space or care, and as long as they are provided with sufficient food, space and shelter, living in a herd, they will look after themselves providing you with a steady supply of food and manure.