Q. Are there any restrictions or
licences required for keeping goats?
A. Yes. You will need to be
registered with DEFRA (Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as
a goat keeper. You will be allocated a
Holding Number and a Herd Number. You
will need to keep medical and movement
records required by law. For details
contact your local DEFRA office.
Q. Will a goat be a good lawnmower?
A. In a word - no! For one thing
they need a lot more attention and
maintenance, i.e. they are not happy
shut up for the winter and expected to
work to full capacity on the first
Spring day dry enough to get on the
Whilst goats will eat grass,
it is not their preferred forage. They
much prefer something they can get their
teeth into, e.g. thistles, brambles,
docks, most types of hedge, trees and,
of course, those prize roses!
Q. I have a large back garden. Could I
keep a goat tethered so that it can't
eat the plants?
A. It is
possible to tether goats but it is not
desirable. A tethered animal needs
constant access to water and shelter.
The first thing that is likely to happen
is that your goat knocks over the water
bucket. Next the rope or chain will get
twisted and tangled, probably around the
goats legs, or around itself until the
goat is choking. The goat can no longer
eat the grass because it is pinned to
the tethering stake, assuming that the
animal has not become so frustrated that
it has yanked this out of the ground and
is tucking into those prize roses or
Tethering requires CONSTANT
supervision so you might as well put the
goat on a lead and walk round the garden
Q. Can I keep one goat as I only have a
small paddock and shed?
Whilst it is possible to keep a goat on
its own, this is not recommended. Goats
are herd animals and naturally seek
company. They are quite likely to make
their escape and go in search of others,
especially during the mating season, at
which time they can also be very noisy.
En route they are likely to explore the
possibility of finding something nice to
eat in your neighbour's garden!!!
Q. I have a field with a dry stone wall.
Is that suitable for my goats?
Goat heaven! Something ideal for
demonstrating their skill as
mountaineers. Your dry stone wall will
rapidly become a dry stone heap and the
goats will display another facet of
their nature - curiosity - by exploring
beyond the now flattened boundary.
Q. What is the best way to keep goats in
A. The answer to
this question is not simple. Such a lot
depends on your particular goats, how
they were brought up and how they are
used to being contained.
speaking a height of around 1400mm
(4'6") is needed to prevent animals from
jumping out, although it has been known
for this height to be cleared by a billy
when there are nannies the other side
and vice versa!!
Hedge will be
Wooden fence with horizontals
is great for putting front feet on and
craning the neck to reach .........., so
it needs to be very sturdy.
fencing is also good for standing on and
will get mishapen. It can be protected
by putting a rail at about 450mm(1'6")
high but ......see 'wooden fencing'.
Electric netting can work, though it is
very easy for the goat to get tangled in
if it goes the wrong way trying to get
away from it. Two or three strands of
electric wire at appropriate heights,
e.g.150mm(6"), 450mm and 900mm, or 200mm
and 750mm, can work very well. A wooden
fence can be protected by running a
strand of electric wire round at about
Barbed wire is
definitely not a good idea - a nanny
with a full udder plus barbed wire
Q. I just want a goat as a pet not to
breed from. Would a male be suitable?
A. If not castrated definitely not.
Castrated males can make good pets, but
see question about keeping one goat on
its own. Males, even if castrated, can
grow quite big and strong, and goats can
Q. How much land do I need to keep
A. As much as
possible. Goats are browsing animals so
like to wander, eating a bit here and a
bit there. The larger the area and the
greater the variety of forage the
better. Having said that, it is possible
to keep your goats with a shed and yard
for exercise. They need constant access
to water, hay, shelter, fresh air and
room to exercise. The less forage that
is available the more fodder needs to be
brought in for the goats.
English goats are kept because they make
good use of rough forage so they may not
settle to a stall-fed regime.
Q. Do I have to feed concentrates to my
goats if they have plenty of browsing?
A. In theory, if your goats have
access to plentiful and varied forage
which can satisfy all their nutritional
requirements, then you may not need to
feed concentrates. It is unlikely that
this is true in most cases. Growing
kids, milking nannies and working males
especially need adequate forage/fodder.
How much of this is made up of
concentrate feed depends on the quality
and quantity of other forage (not
including hay which essentially provides
roughage). Permanently housed goats will
require higher levels of concentrates.
English goats are good at converting
rough forage so tend to require lower
levels of concentrate feed than the
larger breeds bred for high milk yields.
This means they are more economical for
the smallholder or as a 'house goat'.