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The Barnyard: Consider Miniature Goats

Growing up and living on a farm in rural Virginia has exposed me to a multitude of different animals and breeds both wild and domesticated alike. But there was one animal that seemed to never make it here to the farm. A friend called me up a few years ago and asked if I would like a couple free miniature goats. So I thought, “Why the hell not?” I’m always looking to interact with new animals. One day never had goats, next day, BAM! I’ve got goats.

I’ve always had an affinity for the “Bill and Ted” movies from the 80’s so I decided to name them Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted “Theodore” Logan. Together they were “Wyld Stallyns”. I did my basic research on their care (which you should always do before taking on a new animal) and then learned their nature and character on the fly. There are some breeds of goats that can reach 340lbs or more but Bill and Ted were miniatures. These are also referred to as pygmy, Nigerian Dwarfs, or dwarf and were about the height and weight of a medium sized dog. I learned quite a bit from my time with the miniatures and I’m happy to share it with you.goat kid

I’d recommend buying a miniature goat for a number of reasons. They don’t eat much (in comparison to a large goat) and they don’t need a high fence or enclosure. The females (does) are very gentle and docile as are the neutered males. The only real issue would be from a male (buck) that has horns. However, you can cut the horns off (debud) the males if you feel this could be an issue. I never had any problems with the Wyld Stallyns charging me because they recognize the size difference and because they were used to being around people. They’re social animals by nature. Like all animals, the more appropriate human interaction they have the better mannered they will be. Bill and Ted really liked flowering vines but would also gobble up weeds and even dead leaves. There has been a movement in which more people are buying and using goats as an organic way to essentially clean up their back yard or any wooded area with heavy vegetation. My friend whom I got my goats from was extremely allergic to poison oak and the backyard at his new home was overrun with it. He turned Bill and Ted loose and within a couple months the poison oak was completely gone along with 90% of the other weeds, vines, brush, and thick vegetation. Don’t want to spray chemicals on your yard or property? Just turn a few goats loose and allow them to do what they do best.

You don’t have to live on a farm to have a pet goat. Most cities and urban areas in the U.S. allow goats and they’re easily kept in a small fenced in yard. However, you should still check with local laws before taking a step towards obtaining one. Miniatures can be house trained and will sleep on a dog bed. Bill and Ted slept side by side in a dog house in their pen at night. miniature goat

The Wyld Stallyns were hearty animals and required little maintenance. They were fenced in at night to keep predators out, but I would let them loose during the day to roam around the yard and farm. They’re smart animals so training them not to wander far from the house was fairly easy. In the evenings they would follow their ritual and walk back into the fenced area on their own. They do need shelter from bad weather. My goats did fine with a couple large dog houses. Salt and mineral blocks set out in the pen is recommended and they will lick them as needed. Of course they’ll need fresh water and at least a little pasture/yard to graze. Vaccinations at birth are appropriate and you’ll need to keep some wormer around for parasites.  They love to climb so don’t be surprised if you see them on your porch, car, or even on tree limbs. When Bill and Ted weren’t coaxing me to scratch their backs and give them treats, I got entertainment from just watching them climb, jump, run, and chase each other around in the yard.

Miniatures are not big or intimidating and their gentle nature makes them more attractive to children. They’re great for FFA and 4-H projects and they give kids an opportunity to not only learn about managing animals, but also about responsibility in general. The goats can live anywhere between 10-18yrs of age so kids can get the benefits of raising an animal for years to come. The gestation period is 150-155 days. If your doe is pregnant, expect at least one little one but possibly as many as three. After a few minutes they’re standing and after a couple hours, they’re running around without problem.  Not only can your kids learn about birth and the life cycle from goats, but they’re a great way to teach them about sustainable living. One female goat can provide up to three quarts of high protein milk per day. She can do this up to 10 months after giving birth. They’re docile enough that small children can milk them and not only is the milk healthy, but it can also be used to make homemade ice cream, cheese, and even soap. Want to teach your child about responsibility, animal management, and self-sustainable lifestyle while also providing a furry friend? Get them a miniature goat.Bill_and_Teds_Excellent_Adventure_30252_Medium

There are plenty of reasons to have miniature goats around. They can teach your kids about sustainability, responsibility, and appropriate animal care. Keep them around to harvest milk or even put them to work cleaning up brush. So go on out and get a couple. I promise you’ll have fun. Just make sure you give them cool names.

Paul Craft
Paul was born, raised in the historic town of Fincastle, Va (just outside of Roanoke). He lives on a registered “Century Farm” that has been in his family since 1906 in a house that was built in the 1790s. His farm has over 300 hundred head of cattle, 6 donkeys, 17 chickens and various other animals along with his dogs, Mike, Buster, and Loki. Paul is married and has three step-children. Paul graduated from Emory and Henry College in 2004 with a degree in Geography and an emphasis in environmental studies. Paul works as a Mental Health Counselor and is currently working towards his Masters Degree in Counseling through Liberty University and will soon be a Christian Counselor.

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