If you are a new goat farmer or simply looking to own a couple of pet goats, you must know how to keep your goats healthy and happy.
Goats are a great choice compared to larger farm animals such as cattle due to their smaller size and space requirements, plus comparatively lower feed quantities.
On top of all this, goats are also a good choice if you live in the suburbs or have a large backyard to keep the grass maintained and provide hours of entertainment.
But to keep them in good shape, you need to know how much room they need.
As a rule of thumb, goats need a minimum of 200′ square feet per goat. However, more space will only result in happier, healthier goats. Goats must be kept with at least one other goat to prevent loneliness, so plan on at least 400′ square feet to accommodate the goats, shelters, feed, and other necessary equipment.
Keep on reading to better understand how to properly house goats and some other considerations to be a successful goat owner.
How Much Space Do Goats Need? (Indoor/Outdoor)
For your goats to have enough space to roam and forage, a minimum of 200′ square feet per goat of pasture space is sufficient.
However, additional space will only have more benefits.
The majority of this space should be pasture, allowing the goats to browse for nutritious plants.
A benefit of having extra space is planting grass in this space provides the goats an additional food supply, will cut down on hay costs, and provide a more well-rounded diet for the goats.
Another benefit of additional pasture space is it provides the goats additional space to exercise and play, improving their happiness.
Finally, planning extra space allows you to expand your herd in the future!
On top of pasture space, it is important to provide a three-sided goat barn to cover them in case of rain or cold weather.
A 20′ square feet goat house is sufficient space for each animal, and you will likely notice your herd will keep huddled close together in inclement weather and rarely form more than one huddle.
However, it is important to have plenty of covered space because if the goats need to compete, the lower-ranking goats will be left in the cold while the dominant animals take cover.
Related: How far will goats roam and can you let them free range?
Other Considerations For Keeping Goats
In addition to the space you need to keep goats, you’ll need to make some other considerations before going out and purchasing a herd.
The first thing to check is local laws, especially if you live in a suburb or city, to ensure you’re allowed to keep goats in your area.
The next important consideration to keeping goats is making sure you build an escape-proof goat pen.
A fenced pasture with fencing 4-5′ feet high depending on the breed of goat to prevent escapees.
Electric fencing is another alternative to tall fences.
This is a good idea if you plan on using a pasture rotation and moving the fence from area to area.
But if you want them to stay in one place, a normal fence provides fewer areas for failure.
Goats are pretty curious animals and excellent escape artists, so providing an area to meet all of their needs makes happy goats who are less likely to escape.
Food and fresh water are equally important; providing a constant supply of clean water, high-quality hay, and additional supplements will keep your goats happy and healthy.
Can I Keep A Single Goat?
In short, keeping a single goat is a bad idea.
Goats are social animals and must be kept in a herd of at least two to prevent loneliness and give them a partner to huddle, cuddle, and play with.
While some people may report success in keeping a single goat or a goat with another companion animal such as a sheep, donkey, alpaca, chicken, or any other animal species, nothing can beat the companionship another goat will provide.
However, it does not matter if you want to keep does (female goats), a doe and a wether (neutered male), two bucks (intact males), or any combination you’d prefer.
Remember that a doe and a buck together will result in kids, so plan accordingly.
When keeping goats, keep animals about the same size to prevent injury, especially in smaller herds.
Providing at least one other goat will produce healthy goats and an ideal environment for these herd animals.
Can I Keep Other Animals With My Goats?
While goats need to be kept with at least one other of their species, this does not mean goats can’t live with other animals!
Goats are one of the most compatible farm animals when cohabitating species.
Cows make great companions for goats, provided you have ample space for both.
By the two of them preferring different greens while feeding on pasture, they form an excellent team to keep the grass and weeds down.
Horses and donkeys also provide great companions for goats with some caution, depending on the temperament of the individuals.
However, for the most part, this combination has few issues.
Cats and most dogs get along with goats; however, some dog breeds may terrorize your goats, so this is something to keep an eye on.
Related Reading: Goats and Dogs: Does it Work?
Chickens, especially free-range ones, have no issues making goat friends.
However, it is important to keep goats away from the chicken feed as it can cause bloat or other issues when eaten in large quantities.
Sheep are another companion to keep with goats as they are similar in many ways.
However, they share many of the same parasites, and goats require a copper supplement which may be toxic to sheep and adds a layer of complexity when keeping the two together.
On the other hand, pigs are popular farm animals who need to be kept at a distance from your goats.
Further Reading: Do pigs and goats get along?
Before introducing any two species of an animal together, make sure to do additional research to introduce them properly and prevent stress and injury.