For those thinking of starting or stocking a small holding, an ideal livestock animal is the goat, although you should always have at least to two, as they are very social creatures.
Goats are hardy animals,and only require a large garden in which to live. They don’t like rain and wind, so access to shelter is required 24 hours a day. Shelters provided for them, need to be draft proof, especially at ground level. Ideally, a concrete floor at a slight slope, towards a drain will help to keep their enclosure and bedding dry. A bed of straw, topped up regularly, provides these animals with a suitable place to rest. Ensure the enclosures are mucked out at least every three weeks during winter months, and weekly during the summer.
Goats are actually quite selective eaters, and will not use soiled food or water. Ensure that there is always a supply of clean, fresh water and nutritionally formulated pellet feed available. As 80 to 90 percent of their diet is long feed, free access should be provided to green hays like Lucerne, clover, meadow and rye grass; and to fresh green grass. Hay can be supplied by using a hay rack, mounted on an enclosure fence, high enough to prevent spoilage, but also allowing easy access.
In colder, and wet climates, they are sometimes kept within large shelters at all times except for the summer. Within enclosed shelters, goats generally need a space of four feet by four feet each, and also require an exercise yard.
Goats are usually bred or stocked for three reasons, the dairy breeds provide milk, and butter fat which can be turned into butter, milk or ice cream. The large fleshy breeds are raised to provide meat. And some goats are raised to provide fibres for spinning. Although having goats as pets is on the increase.
Goats generally come in two sizes, standard about 26 to 32 inches (66 to 81 cm) at the withers, and miniature or pygmy, about 16 to 23 inches (41 to 58 cm). They should be handled from a young age, to get them used to people. This helps with milking, and medicating and if they become pets.
To provide amusement and stimulation for the goats, who like to climb; create a rock or wood pile, or install a jungle gym style climbing frame. If the goats are kept stimulated, they are less likely to try and escape.