Small goats, with their bouncy personalities and mischievous grins, are endearing animals that have sent the Internet into a flurry over their silly antics. It’s no wonder, then, that they’re capturing the hearts of college students everywhere.
According to the Huffington Post, goats are finding homes in places some may argue resemble their traditional on-farm abodes: frat houses. Whether it’s the novelty of keeping a pet outside the realm of the typical four-legged species or the goat’s puppy-like manner that attracts students to create a more literal animal house, more and more goats are learning to adjust to college life.
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But as farmers, we have to ask: Is this OK for the goats?
Ryan Walker from The Livestock Conservancy, a nonprofit that works to protect endangered livestock species, says he doesn’t have a problem with it—of course, with one caveat: The goat must be well cared for.
“As far as farm animals go, goats are probably about as close to dogs as one will find,” Walker says. “They are innately curious and generally very sociable, which makes them a better choice than other species if a lot of people will be around.”
In fact, small goat breeds, like Pygmies and Nigerian Dwarfs, are often raised as companion animals, much like dogs. Here are tips Walker offers to ensure a goat’s transition from farmyard to frat house goes smoothly.
1. Lay Off The College-Kid Diet
Pizza and potato chips have no place in a goat’s diet, even if they bat those adoring eyes at you, begging for a nibble. Commercial goat feed contains balanced nutrients good for goat bodies. As browsers, goats also need plenty of roughage—so let them loose on the college green for a snack.
2. Get Plenty Of Exercise
“[Goats] need room to run around and things to climb on in order to get appropriate exercise,” Walker says.
Just make sure to block any escape routes—goats are notorious escape artists. “This isn’t as much of a problem for small goats,” he says, “but they are still very clever and know how to jump well and fit through tight spaces.”
3. Practice Good Hygiene
The hooves of goats that live mostly outdoors naturally get worn down, but those that spend a lot of time indoors may need more frequent trimmings. Regular trips to the veterinarian are also important to ensure the goat stays healthy, so make sure there’s a vet that will treat goats in your area.
4. Make Good Friends
Single goats—even those living among a bunch of college students—can get lonely if they don’t have one of their own to hang with. “Goats are herd animals, and although some may argue that the fraternity is their ‘herd,’ they still enjoy the companionship of other goats,” Walker says. “If they have a choice, they prefer to be with other goats. There are many social dynamics for goats that people just can’t fulfill.”
So if you’re thinking of bringing a goat to your college campus—or even just your backyard in the city—keep these things in mind. Come to think of it, college students could benefit from this advice, as well!