Goats make delightful pets – no kidding

It’s the Year of the Goat, at least it is if you’re Chinese, so I thought it might be useful to offer some surprising facts and must-know advice to goat lovers and keepers.

As a mixed veterinary practice, and especially one that has such diverse expertise, we encounter all sorts of unusual pets. Animals that were traditionally regarded as inhabitants of farmyards are becoming increasingly popular as pets – goats (especially the Pygmy varieties) among them.

So where else to turn for a few factoids than the British Veterinary Association and Goat Veterinary Society? Take heed of the following and you will ensure that your goat is happy and healthy.

l Think dogs are man’s best friends? Think again. Goats are friendly, inquisitive and gregarious, and genuinely love human company.

l Never keep a single goat. Goats are herd animals and will be miserable if kept by themselves. Two goats together is the absolute minimum.

l Toys are a must. Goats should never be kept in a barren environment. They love to climb onto obstacles – a straw bale is a plaything.

l Goats are great escapologists. Any building or paddock must be ‘goat proof’ so good quality wire fencing is a must.

l Stretching, climbing and bouncing – goats stand on their hind limbs and can reach up to 2m above ground.

l Choosy, but chewy. Contrary to popular belief, goats won’t eat anything, but they do love to nibble on anything new. Keep electric cables covered.

l Goats are delightful animals – inquisitive, intelligent and keen to be in the company of other goats and people. But, as with any animal, they have specific welfare needs. For example, keeping a single goat in a paddock with no enriching features and no playmates will result in a lonely, stressed animal.

Talk to us and the British Goat Society about whether a goat is the best animal for you and if you are going to keep goats, what sort would be best suited to your lifestyle?

We would advise anyone thinking of keeping these lovely animals to fully understand their needs.

The Goat Veterinary Society (www.goatvetsoc.co.uk) is dedicated to improving the health and welfare of goats in the UK and has a wealth of information. The Animal Welfare Foundation’s leaflet on keeping goats is a good place to start, (find it at www.bva-awf.org.uk), and of course we at Robson and Prescott are ideally placed to advise on the health and welfare needs of your animals.

Happy (Chinese) new year!

By CHRIS GREEN, Director