New kids on the block? Vets issue ‘must-know’ facts on keeping goats as Chinese Year of the Goat starts

17 February 2015

As Chinese New Year on Thursday (19 February 2015) ushers in the Year of the Goat, leading veterinary experts have issued some surprising facts and must-know advice to goat lovers and keepers in the UK.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Goat Veterinary Society (GVS) have issued six facts that will surprise many but are critical to ensure that goats are happy and healthy:

  • Think dogs are man’s best friends? Think again – goats are friendly, inquisitive and gregarious animals, and genuinely love the company of humans.
  • Goats need friends – never keep a single goat on its own. Goats are herd animals and will be miserable if kept by themselves.  Two goats together is the absolute minimum.
  • Toys are a must!  Goats should never be kept in a barren environment. Enrichment is key as goats love to climb onto and over obstacles – a straw bale is a plaything for goats!
  • The Great Escape (or The Goat Escape!) – goats are great escapologists. Any building or paddock must be “goat proof.”
  • Stretching (as well as climbing and bouncing) – goats stand on their hind limbs and can reach up to 2 metres above the ground.
  • Choosy but chewy – contrary to popular belief, goats won’t just eat anything as part of their staple diet but they do love to nibble and chew on anything new. Keep electric cables covered!

John Blackwell BVA President said:

“As goats come into the spotlight as the Chinese New year celebrations start, we would advise anyone thinking of keeping these lovely animals to fully understand their needs and what it takes to keep them happy and healthy. Our colleagues at the Goat Veterinary Society are dedicated to improving the health and welfare of all goats in the UK and have a wealth of information to offer. The Animal Welfare Foundation’s leaflet on keeping goats is a good place to start and your local vet will be able to advise on the health and welfare needs of your animals.”

David Harwood GVS Chairman said:

“Goats are delightful animals to keep – inquisitive, intelligent and keen to be in the company of both other goats and their human keepers, they are a joy to care for. But as with any animal, they have specific welfare needs and these should never be forgotten. For example, however well-meaning the owner, keeping a single goat in a paddock with no enriching features to satisfy the goat’s curiosity and energy and with no playmates will result in a lonely, stressed animal. Talk to us and to the British Goat Society about whether or not a goat is the best choice of animal for you and if you are going to keep goats, what sort of goats would be best suited to you and your lifestyle.”

Further information

For more information, please visit the Goat Veterinary Society website 

The Animal Welfare Foundation’s “Introduction to Goat Keeping” leaflet has more information and advice on keeping goats  

BVA Media Office