One of the most popular occupations for goats these days is simply being companions. More and more people are discovering the joys of keeping goats solely as pets.
Just about any breed of goat can make a good pet, though the smaller breeds are more popular as backyard companion goats.
Pygmy goats are one of the most popular breeds of goat—no doubt because they are so small and cute. An adult doe or wether grows to be 16 to 23 inches at the withers and weighs 40 to 80 pounds. Pygmy goats breed year-round, which means kids are available at any time of year.
Pygmy goats aren’t the only goat breed that make good pets. Kinder goats, a breed that was created by crossing Pygmies to Nubian goats in the mid-1980s, have found a place in the pet-goat market as well.
According to Pat Showalter, president of the Kinder Goat Breeders Association, a number of factors make the Kinder goat a good candidate for a companion goat.
“They are a nice size, so even children are able to handle them if they are bottle-raised and friendly, and they transport in a dog kennel if need be,” she says. “They are intelligent and affectionate and are easy to train, whether it’s for milking or something like cart-pulling. They love to be with their owners, so they make great companions for walking, hiking or even camping. They are natural comics and are great entertainment.”
Even goat breeds typically used for milk or meat can become wonderful pets. Goat owners can enjoy stress relief and relaxation when they are with their goats.
There can be downsides to keeping goats as pets, however. Pet goats can be messy and picky eaters. They like to climb, and, if allowed, can sometimes be destructive. The key to deterring bad goat behavior is effective management.
Some pet goats have the easy task of simply providing companionship to another animal, such as a dog. There’s something about goats that makes them great to be around, even for other four-legged creatures.
Although many pet goats don’t do much but lounge around, entertain their owners with their charming characters and browse to their heart’s content, some companion goats are asked to perform part-time jobs.
Some pet goats help their owners give back to the community by working as therapy goats. These goats accompany their humans to schools, assisted-living facilities and community centers.
The Delta Society, an organization that tests and registers pets for therapy work, includes goats in their list of animals eligible for registration. To become a registered Delta Society pet therapist, a goat must pass a test that shows it to be controllable, reliable and predictable. The goat must have good manners in public places, and have the social skills to seek out and visit with strangers.
Goats have so much to offer their human companions. It’s no wonder more urbanites are choosing to share their lives with pet goats.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is a technical writer by day and an urban farmer by night (and on weekends). She and her husband live on a 1/2-acre urban farm in Norco, Calif., where they keep horses, chickens, rabbits, cats and a dog.