Goat Age Guide: Life Expectancy by Breed

Have you ever wondered how long your beloved goat is likely to live? While the potential lifespan of a goat – in optimal conditions – could reach 15 to 20 years, in most cases, a goat won’t likely live this long. With this thought in mind, considering how long your new pet goat is likely to live is worthwhile to help you choose the perfect new addition to your family or herd. 

But, of course, we should point out here that there are so many different factors that come into this decision, and many may be well outside your realm of control. With this thought in mind, remember that this is typically a “best case” scenario when considering how long a goat lives. Illness, freak accidents, incorrect nutrition, and the like could all result in your goat passing away sooner. Sadly, it’s an event that none of us can really prepare for, no matter whether you have two goats or two hundred!

How Long Does a Goat Live on Average?

The average goat lifespan can be a little difficult to define since this depends on countless different factors. However, when kept in captivity, the average lifespan of a non-productive pet goat is likely around 10 to 20 years, with around fifteen years being relatively attainable. For production goats, this lifespan may drop significantly to around six to twelve years, depending on how hard they work and their overall care level. Similarly, wild goats will usually live around seven to twelve years. 

However, as with anything, this all depends on the individual goat. As such, if you’re not quite sure, one of the best things to do is contact the breeder of the goat to see how long the bloodline typically lives until. However, if your goats come from a production home, it is worth considering that some keepers may send goats to slaughter before they die of a full, natural lifespan. Therefore, if you intend to let your goat live out its days, its final lifespan may vary. 

Do All Breeds of Goats Have the Same Lifespan? 

Not all goat breeds have the same lifespan, which is highly important to factor into your decisions and estimates about how long your goat is likely to live. For example, “how long do pygmy goats live” is a very different question to asking, “how long do Boer goats live?” This can come down to several different factors, as we’ll explain in the next section.

However, generally speaking, different breeds of goats will have different lifespans. For example, Boer goats and Kiko goats are usually bred to be lower-maintenance than other production breeds, which means that they often live for around eight to twelve years or so. Contrastingly, pygmy goats are often able to live for around 12 years, while the similarly sized Nigerian Dwarf may live for around fifteen years. Contrastingly, some dairy breeds, such as La Manchas, may not have quite such a long lifespan at around seven to eleven years.

However, this really depends on the individual. Plus, some people believe that crossbred goats will typically have a longer lifespan than purebred goats due to hybrid vigor; however, this may depend on personal experience.

What Affects the Lifespan of a Goat?

Breed can impact a goat’s lifespan to a degree, but generally speaking, health and the level of care the goat receives will have a much more significant influence on the goat’s lifespan. Indeed, some of the most common health challenges that goats experience include internal and external parasites, incorrect nutrition, or kidding difficulties for production animals. All of these can be a little tricky to manage unless you have support from another experienced breeder or a veterinarian who knows goats. 

So, make sure you’ve done your best to implement suitable strategies on looking after your goats to keep them healthy and extend their lifespan; while this alone may not be enough to keep them going to a grand old age, it’s a step in the right direction.

When is my Goat Too Old to Have a Good Quality of Life?

At some point, if your goat is getting incredibly old, you may want to consider whether it’s time to say goodbye. This often comes down to personal choice, and there’s no right or wrong answer necessarily; however, many people tend to agree that if an animal is suffering and its prognosis is poor, it may be time to let them go. Goats can suffer from many complications as they age, such as lost or weak teeth, an inability to graze or maintain weight, a greater tendency to parasites, arthritis, and the like. If you notice that your goat may be struggling due to its age, it may be worth having a discussion with your vet about whether or not anything can be done to help them recover (or if the chance for your goat to recover from their condition has passed).

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been wondering “how long does a goat live,” there are numerous factors potentially at play here. Of course, every goat is unique, and with the best will in the world, we can only do our best to keep them healthy and well. As such, while it’s important to keep in mind how long your beloved goats are likely to live, don’t keep this as gospel; in fact, it’s entirely possible for your beloved goat to pass sooner than this due to illness, injury, or just for their natural lifespan. Still, if you notice that your goat is getting older and is starting to suffer, it may be worth considering your next steps with your veterinarian.

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