Do you have a question about keeping goats? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of people are curious about the best way to care for their new pet goat. In this blog post, we will answer the question: Is it ok to keep a goat by itself? The answer may surprise you!
Is it OK to Keep A Goat Alone?
Have you ever thought about getting your own goats, but don’t have the space or funds available to buy two?
Perhaps you’ve seen a single goat advertised, and you’ve wondered whether you could bring it home with you. Or perhaps you had a pair of goats but have faced the agonizing pain of losing one of your beloved pets?
Whatever the case might be, getting a goat is a massively exciting time – but there’s an important question to consider here: can goats live alone?
Many people forget to check whether a goat will be OK by itself before purchasing their new goat. Luckily, our expert is on hand today to help you find out more about this topic.
Will a Goat be OK By Itself?
Before we go any further, it’s important to first answer the main question here: will a goat be OK by itself?
This question is a little tricky to answer since it depends on many different factors such as the individual goat, their temperament, and how they have been raised. It also depends on factors such as their environment and so on.
Generally speaking, however, it’s worth considering that you should never buy a goat with the intention of keeping it on its own 100% of the time.
Herd animals like to flock together
Goats are herd animals by nature, which means they are much more comfortable (in most cases) living as part of a group. This is why you’ll often see herds of goats huddled up together in small groups of twos and threes, even when they have access to a huge amount of space – they like having the company and take a lot of comfort from it.
So, if you’re buying a goat for the first time, you should never aim to keep a goat on its own. It’s best for the goat to have company from another goat – but if this isn’t possible, you should at least ensure the goat has other herd animals to stay with.
For example, some goats have been known to make close friends with horses or sheep, especially if the animals have grown up together. However, if buying a goat that has always been in a large herd situation, it’s best not to try and take them away from this.
Bottle-reared goats can be an exception
The main exception to this is usually when a kid has been reared alone on a bottle and has never been integrated into a goat herd. These kids may be less dependent on the herd structure and, if slightly older, they may struggle to adapt to the herd way of life, which is strongly based on the pecking order and hierarchies.
Still, we recommend purchasing a goat that has been raised like this, as they will likely be very stressed and demanding of attention.
Can Goats Live Alone for a Short Time?
If you need to keep goats alone for a short period of time, they should be OK – but don’t allow this to be prolonged. For example, you can usually keep a goat alone in a trailer for a short while, as it should settle down during the journey.
In addition, if making changes to groups, you may be able to leave a goat alone for a few minutes while bringing in some new friends for them. However, they may stress during this time. So, always keep a close eye on them after to ensure this doesn’t progress into an illness.
Isolation due to Illness
Another common reason to keep a goat alone is if it’s in isolation – for example, if a goat has been unwell and you don’t want them to spread the illness to other goats in the herd.
Similarly, if your goat has been poorly, it may be picked on in a group pen environment, so keeping them alone during this time can help prevent bullying.
Still, you should ideally – at a minimum – ensure that the goat can see and hear other goats to reduce its stress and turn the goat out with the herd again at the first possible opportunity.
As a herd animal, part of the goat’s natural instinct is to run with the herd. As such, goats are not usually comfortable with being alone, and while there may be a handful of exceptions where goats can live alone (for example, ex-bottle-fed kids who never truly learned to join the herd), this is definitely not the norm.
As such, we strongly recommend that you never keep goats alone; you should always have at least two goats, or ideally three to prevent one from being alone if the worst happens.
Alternatively, if you don’t have an option to keep multiple goats, your goat may be happy with another herd animal as a companion, such as a sheep, cow, or horse. However, not every goat will be comfortable in this situation, so we’d still recommend ensuring they have other caprine companions for company.
A passionate owner and breeder of Boer Goats, Charlotte is ensconced in daily goat farm life at Himmon Boer Goats in the UK. A member of the British Boer Goat Society, she spends her spare time also involved with goats. You could say, and she would admit, she is somewhat obsessed!