Truth About Raising Goats

Find out what you need to know about goat breeds and raising these farm animals.


| January/February 2015



Goats Roaming in Winter

Even in winter, goats need access to the outdoors so they can get exercise.

Photo by dzain

Raising goats

Some days, you wake up wanting to butt heads with someone. That someone really acts like a silly kid, and you’re tired of the whole goat story. Well, then. You’ll really like what you’re about to read regarding raising goats.

Some 7,000 to 11,000 years ago, your ancestors took a gigantic leap. Instead of hunting for meat on the hoof, they captured Bezoar goats, assimilated them into mythology and religion, bred them, and gathered them in herds. Not only was this vastly easier for grilling purposes, but goats could also be used as mobile milk dispensers, and they could carry luggage. It didn’t take long, then, for goats to travel with farmers who used them as trade, and with ships’ captains who used the critters to feed the crew. In fact, goats were likely aboard the Mayflower.

No matter where they hailed from, DNA results say that all goats came from any one of up to five lineages. The oldest Capra hircus likely came from Asia. The other goat families came from Asia and the Near East and spread across Europe. It’s interesting to note that modern goats look almost exactly like their ancient forebears, so little have they changed.

Today, if you’ve a mind to, you can have a herd of some 300 different breeds of goats, wild and domestic. And goats can be both: It’s easy to tame a goat, but he’ll happily go feral if you let him. Although, the chances of surviving predation may be bleak, depending on the local pressures.

Your goat can have tiny, short ears (like the LaMancha), or you can get one with loppy ears (the Nubian). Your goat can sport a short coat, or he might require a goat beautician like Angora goats do. Your goat can faint (yes, indeed, that’s the Myotonic who falls over when startled), he can fit into a dog crate (the Pygmy goat), he can help you make a sweater (the Cashmere), or you can rescue him from the clutches of extinction (the beautiful Arapawa goat of New Zealand, which is not easily found in domestic captivity today).

If you’re ready to get your goat, there are a few things you’ll need to know. First of all, goats are social animals, so it’s better to have more than one. If space is at a premium, though, they’ll bond with almost any four-legged animal. Either way, you’ll want a sturdy fence for your new pet, because goats are the Houdinis of the animal world and will climb on anything that’s climbable.





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