Raising Goats in the City

Blissful are the days we hear goats’ bleating on the wind.

Ripples went on yet another field trip to bring you the experience of raising goats.  Since we’re not keeping goats ourselves yet, and still trying to decide which animals would be the best fit for us on our homestead, we’ve been visiting friends with animals and learning from them. 

Andrea offers grain to the mother goat.

You might remember our post on raising chickens, which was tons of fun and an incredible learning experience too!  We’ve visited farms with pigs, cattle, and other livestock.  Someday soon I’d like to visit our friend’s duck pond and learn how she raises her ducks.  I just love ducks!  Today, though, we’re learning about goats, which are cuties too, and really interesting animals with square pupils in their eyes.  A goat’s rectangular eyes help them see all around them, even at night, with vision that’s much better than a person’s.

The goats pictured here are Pygmy goats, a breed from West Africa that was imported to the United States during the 1950s and which is now common in petting zoos.  Pygmy goats are often kept as pets, used for meat, or occasionally for milk production.  We learned from the owner that these goats are not the best for milking.

A baby goat is called a “kid” and these kids love to play!

Females can be more difficult than males in terms of temperament.  Neutered male Pygmy goats are much more friendly and outgoing than the females.  Pygmy goats in our region love to eat privet, bark, leaves and bushes, and can get spoiled on grain.  These goats are not grazers – they won’t mow the yard for you!  They’re browsers, and dine on vegetation.

This female was quite protective of her two young at first, while the family got used to their new home in an urban backyard.

Two kids.

Pygmys can easily catch pneumonia in the rain, and absolutely hate getting wet.  Whenever it rains, they run for cover under the shelter of a goat pen.  Tiny roofed enclosures are really attractive, and don’t take up very much room.  I was under the impression that every farm animal needed a barn, thanks to typical city-slicker education from picture books as a child.  Our Arkansas climate is mostly mild, anyway, and these goats were happy and healthy.

They can be noisy, though, and sometimes quite intimidating when they demand grain loudly.  But from a distance, their bleating sounds perfect for a day walking the woods in the mountains.  Waking up with the sounds of goats is one of my most peaceful, happy memories.  The day feels good with a goat!

Our trouble is that originally, we were planning on raising chickens for the eggs to use in Ripples’ Cookies; of course now I can’t eat eggs due to a food intolerance.  I’m not supposed to be having dairy right now either, so raising animals like goats for their milk is out.  There’s no way I’m going to raise animals for meat, as a decades-long vegetarian-now-vegan.

I should just move to a farm and do the work for somebody else. 🙂

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