Pro and Cons of Urban Goats

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We post a lot about the benefits of backyard goats but any prospective goat tender should also be aware of the other side of the coin.

Goats are not dogs. They can be trained to some degree but at the end of the day, they are still goats and will behave as such. If you keep a goat in your backyard, it may destroy things. Things you’d rather keep intact. Like your siding. And your lower level windows. They will tap dance on your lawnmower and chew on the rubber tubing.

Just like puppy owners and new parents have to dog proof and child proof their homes, you will need to goat proof as much as possible. You’ll miss something. It’ll be a good learning experience. Put away anything you don’t want trampled or chewed on. This includes flowers, flower pots, bags containing anything, boxes, plastic bins, bowls, lawn equipment, tools, string, wire, tie wraps, and anything remotely dangerous or interesting to a creature to whom you can’t explain its use.

Goats poop. It’s a fact. Poop smells and attracts flies. Also a fact. While goat manure isn’t as strong as, say, cow manure, it’s still poop. If you live in town and have to clean up goat poop, you will at some point have to find somewhere to dispose of it. If you have two goats, this is fairly easily accomplished. More than two and you have a herd. Poop production is exponential.

Goats make goat noises. If your neighbors don’t want to hear how excited or lonely or bored your goats are, you will have a bit of conflict. Get quiet goats and find them something to do to entertain themselves besides banging their heads on the side of your house or jumping on your car.

Another fact: small goats do not make substantially less poop, less noise or less of a mess than bigger goats.

Don’t assume you can tie your goats up like dogs. It’s not a good idea. While many people tether goats without complication, it only takes one broken neck to prove why you should have a fenced enclosure instead. Your goat on a leash isn’t thinking, “Gee, I only have 15 feet of rope and this is such a safe environment, I have nothing to concern myself with.” It’s thinking, “Oh my god! There’s a really alarming noise somewhere over there and I’d better run away fast!” In addition, unless you use monster sized chain, whatever small chain or rope you use is going to get caught between the goat’s toes and wrapped around its legs and it’s going to be unhappy which will prompt more noise to entertain the neighbors who are probably already really tired of your goats.

I’m an advocate of backyard goats but just as I believe all dog people should be responsible, I also believe anyone who wants to keep a goat in town had better be even more diligent. Cities don’t have to allow us to keep livestock in our yards. The only way we will continue to have that luxury is to be responsible in their care and respectful of the neighbors.

– NJ

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All Things Goat was created by Naimhe Jeanne (Nee-Vah Jeen,) of Illinois, and Martha Ann, of Vermont, who believe in the humane treatment of goats whether they are pets or raised for milk, meat or fiber. Through news, profiles, recipes and editorials, All Things Goat illustrates how our caprine friends improve the quality of life for many worldwide. Our All Things Goat intern is Lela Perez, of Killeen, Texas.

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