An Introduction to Keeping Goats in Your Garden

Staring Goat

Recent research has indicated that goats, like dogs can read our expressions and use their own facial expressions to communicate with humans. They are very intelligent and can make great pets… but there are many other reasons why you may wish to consider keeping goats in your garden. Keeping goats has many benefits – goats may be used for their meat and/or milk, which can be turned into a range of goat cheeses. Keeping goats or other livestock could be the natural next-step if you have been growing your own food in your garden. Goats can also provide fibres for clothes making, and will provide a source of fertiliser for your vegetable and fruit growing efforts.


Anyone who has kept goats in a garden, however, will know that they are not always the easiest animal to keep. As with any livestock or pets, it is important to be fully informed before you make any decisions and to make sure you really are ready, and equipped, for every eventuality. Goats can be incredibly destructive - they will climb into trees to nibble off young shoots, eat the

Goat

bark off saplings, and even eat your washing off the line.


Goat

If contemplating introducing them keep them confined in small movable paddocks where they will do a reasonable job of “mowing” an area, they can be used to take the young side shoots off trees and will clear an area infested with shrubby weeds simply by eating them, all the while churning out droppings to re-fertilize the area. They do require constant surveillance otherwise they may convert the food forest to a food wasteland and it is best that they are penned when not in their movable enclosures. Never let them near young plants that are just getting established.


Goats

You will need to own at least two goats – goats are very sociable creatures and so will suffer if kept on their own. You will also need to make sure that you have enough space to keep them in your garden. While goats require much less space than, for example, sheep or cows, they will still need a reasonable amount of indoors (shed) space and for outdoors grazing. Exact space requirements will vary depending on the variety you choose – pygmy goats, for example, will need less space than larger types.


While not the most obvious addition to a garden, perhaps, goats can become a useful part of a garden ecosystem and, when properly cared for, can be a pleasing animal to keep.


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