Giving Goats

Giving Goats Program

Our Giving Goats program is a way for people to enjoy the wonders of goats which in many ways can become the new dog. We are happy to offer adoption of our Giving Goats to good loving homes.

Goats are smart, fun and athletic so they can become a part of your family. They can be house trained and even go for walks just as any dog can, or are happy to roam the yard for nibbles. Goats are known to be descendents of the Great Houdini and have come to coin the term "Escape Goats". (Just kidding... no pun intended!) so of course proper fencing is a must. 

Goats make great pets, as well as help with weed wacking, hedge trimming and even provide milk and cheese. There are even opportunities for goats in the entertainment business, when trained properly, where they are known as "Show Goats" and in the sport of canoeing where they happily sing "Row, row, row, your goat".

Most importantly, in the world of human-animal interaction, goats when properly nurtured, respond wonderfully to help humans in therapeutic settings and as emotional support animals.

If you are interested in adopting one or more of our Giving Goats please fill out the Adoption Request Form below and we will contact you within one business day.

All About Adoption

Regardless of where you plan to get your goat, these are some important questions to consider before bringing a goat home:

Is it legal to have goats in my county, city, & neighborhood?

Do I have enough room for at least two goats to run, play and be active? Two average-sized goats need at least 3,000 square feet of fenced space.

Do I have a sturdy, goat proof fence in place with a strong gate? Good goat fencing is at least 4 feet high, with small enough openings that a goat can’t climb out or get stuck.

Do I have a three-sided shelter that will protect goats from all weather, including sun, rain and wind? 8 square feet of shelter space per goat is ideal.

Am I willing to buy hay to feed goats? While pasture and weeds will often be enough in the spring and summer, when the plants are dormant goats need supplemental feed, approximately 4-6 lbs per goat per day.

Am I interested in learning how to trim hooves or willing to pay a farrier to do it every 6-8 weeks? Goats will not wear down their feet on their own. Lack of regular hoof care leads to painful arthritis, hoof rot and other problems.

Am I be prepared to pay for planned and unplanned vet bills? Just like cats and dogs, goats require annual vaccinations and parasite testing.

Who will check on, feed and care for my goats when I am away from home?

Have I considered that goats can live well into their teens?

No matter what breed or gender, goats are usually not happy alone as they are herd animals. As herd animals, it is very stressful for them to be alone, and they will tend to be nervous, cry more, and spend a lot of energy trying to get to other goats, even animals or their people. Goats can live alone with people but consider their need for socialization when deciding.

Though many dogs and goats can get along, and can become closely bonded, we strongly recommend that dogs and goats not be left alone together. Even the gentlest dog is still a predator, and an innocent game of chase or jump the log can quickly turn into someone getting hurt. Hunting breeds of dogs as well as those with a wild streak tend to smell goats are prey rather than play.

All About Goats

General Care

Be aware of the dynamics at feeding time.  Feed competition can be a real problem when feeding even a herd of two.  An older or more timid goat may be bullied away from the food, leading to weight loss.  We recommend having multiple feeding areas, ideally one more than the number of goats, to alleviate this.  It may be necessary to feed a “low status” goat separately to ensure that he/she gets enough to eat.

Water

As with all animals, access to clean water at all times is vital to every goat’s health. There should be clean, fresh water at all times. Unfortunately, goats’ butts are often at the same height as the water tub, and they sometimes poop in their water. Of course then they won’t drink it, which is why it must be checked daily.

Many goats will not drink extremely cold water. A tank heater or heated bucket will keep the water above freezing, which will encourage them to drink in cold weather (and you won’t have to chip out the ice). This is especially important for wethers. You can also add frozen apple juice concentrate, Gatorade, or other sweet juices. This may entice them to drink more even if it is cold (always also offer plain water). Access to salt will also encourage drinking.

Trace Mineral Salt

Free choice, loose, mineralized salt or a mineralized salt block must be available at all times. This provides micro-minerals that may be deficient in forage. Here in the northwest, our soils are deficient in selenium. The desire for salt gets the goats to consume the minerals they need. Salt intake also increases thirst, and therefore gets the goats to drink more water. Again, this is especially important for wethers.

There are many kinds of “goat minerals”, loose powder, small crumbles, large bricks. Any will accomplish what’s needed. There are specialized “goat blocks” on the market, they cost more and are usually the same as a mineralized block, with added molasses.

Forage

Goats are ruminants; they have a four-chambered stomach, and they chew their cud. Ruminants meet their energy and protein needs by ingesting high quality forage. In order to keep their rumen healthy and functioning properly, the majority of their diet should come from roughage.

Goats are browsers by nature, preferring weeds, brush and trees to grass. Though they will graze, they will usually seek out weeds such as dandelions, blackberries, thistle, salmonberry and alder first. When not grazing summer pasture, and in the winter when plants are dormant, they do well on good quality grass hay. Do not feed large quantities of alfalfa, which is too high in calcium & protein. Goats that are in production – breeding, milking, etc – do well on alfalfa. For pet goats, it is too rich, leading to fat goats and potential urinary tract & bloat problems.

Tossing them downed branches (of safe trees), un-adorned x-mas trees, and other safe yard waste makes them very happy. For goats, variety really is the spice of life!

Do not feed grass clippings, as they ferment quickly and can lead to bloat.

Be sure that neighbors and kids know not to feed your goats any yard waste without
checking with you first, as many common ornamentals are toxic.

Hay

Goats should eat approximately 2-3 pounds of hay per 100 pounds of body weight. The crude protein requirement is 7- 9% (for non-production, adult goats), therefore grass hay is generally adequate. Your goats will let you know what they need – if they are wasting a lot, you can cut back. If they are cleaning up every scrap, you can increase the amount fed.

Moldy, dusty or poor quality hay is not good for your goat.

Straw is bedding, not food, even though they might eat it.

Hay pellets do not provide the long fiber necessary for proper rumen function. However, pellets and cubes are a great option for senior goats who no longer have enough “tooth” left to chew hay. Moistened pellets/cubes are easier for the old guys to chew and digest.

Grain

Grain is generally not necessary for pet goats. This refers to all grain feeds, pellets, highly digestible corn, oat, barley (COB) products as well as commercial feeds. Just about anything that comes in a sack contains grain. Bread, cereal and crackers are grain!

Just because it has a goat on the bag doesn’t mean your goat needs it! Though grain or feed is recommended for does that are producing milk, or wethers being fattened for slaughter, most pet goats don’t need it. It is usually too rich, and too high in protein. Grain can certainly be given in small quantities as a treat, and can be a necessity with older goats who don’t have enough tooth left to get enough nutrients out of hay alone.

A common problem with wethers (neutered males) is urolithiasis (urinary tract blockage). To prevent occurrence of urinary calculi (stones), wethers should not have any hay that is more than 10% alfalfa, or grain that has alfalfa as a main ingredient. Too much grain or feed can also lead to stone formation.

Sudden access to large quantities of grain (unintentionally) can cause “grain overload,” a potentially fatal rumen acidosis (bloat). Be sure to store any grain securely, in an area outside of the goats’ pen.

Chicken scratch can change the Ph in a goat’s rumen causing painful bloat, it also doesn’t dissolve well, and can clump up and block the intestine.

Baking Soda

Many people keep a tub of baking soda in the goats’ pen.  This is most often seen with dairy goats, who are fed large quantities of grain.  Goats with a mild rumen acidosis will often self-medicate this way.  Though it can settle an upset stomach, baking soda is not a cure for severe acidosis, or bloat.

Treats

In moderation, treats are an important part of any goat’s life.  Carrots, apples, bananas, watermelon, peanuts,  graham crackers, saltines, bread, horse treats, if it is yummy and vegetarian, most goats will love it.  We give veggie and fruit scraps to the goats, peels, cores and all – instant compost.  Be aware of grain in treats.

Most does will go into heat every 18-21 days from September through December, though some breeds (like Nigerian Dwarf Goats) cycle all year, and it will usually last 1-3 days. If there is no buck around, she may or may not exhibit any signs that she is in heat.

Don’t push… they will just lean into you! Pushing on a goat’s head is an invitation to play. We recommend instead teaching them to walk with a collar or halter and lead. Goats are very smart, they can learn this just like a dog. Another way to move them a short distance is to cup one hand under the chin, and use the other hand to pull the tail forward, up over the back. Don’t yank or pull too hard, just lift forward. For most goats this is a great “go” button.

Goats that are in good weight can withstand cold temperatures without any problems. They develop a good undercoat (cashmere) in the winter, and will curl up with a buddy for warmth. Heat lamps are not necessary if they have good shelter, but are usually appreciated!

Persistent shivering can be a sign of illness. The best way to keep a goat warm is to provide more hay. The slow fermentation process of digesting hay creates long-lasting internal heat. Grain and mash digests quickly, providing less internal heat that dissipates quickly. Of course, a nice cozy goat-coat can be a great thing for an elderly or thin goat.