How to Look After Goats: Should They Be Locked Up at Night?
As a goat owner, there’s naturally a lot that you will need to consider to ensure your beloved goats stay healthy and well. However, the ideal system of care and management will (naturally) vary from goat to goat; as such, there’s no clear answer as to whether you should put goats away for security and safety purposes at night.
With this thought in mind, today, we’re answering everything you need to know about “should goats be locked up at night?” Hopefully, this may help you find the most effective solution for your goats.
Should Goats be Locked Up at Night for Safety?
We strongly recommend that you always have suitable shelter available for your goats, regardless of whether you put goats away at night; after all, since goats don’t naturally produce lanolin in their coats, they aren’t waterproof and the option for cover and protection against the elements is beneficial for the overall wellbeing of your animals.
The decision to put goats away will often come down to personal choice since there is not necessarily a requirement to lock goats indoors if you have the right setup. However, it is important to consider that this will vary from herd to herd.
In our case, we do not put our goats away overnight since our Boers are bred specifically to live outdoors – with a herd of over 100, bringing them all in at night would not only compromise their welfare (they’d be far too crammed in), but it would be a huge job for us.
However, it is important to consider here that safety is always vital. Our goats are always behind locked gates – multiple gates, in fact – and the barn is always locked as well to increase security further. We also do not turn out young kids, which helps increase their safety overall.
The Dangers If You Don’t Put Goats Away at Night
As someone who doesn’t put goats away at night, I’d like to think I have a very real understanding of the potential dangers this can entail.
Of course, the most obvious worry is the thought of theft – it does happen, and goat meat is growing rapidly in popularity, too (upping the price for black market meats). Therefore, if you do not have the ability to secure your paddocks, it may be worthwhile to put your goats away at night.
But should goats be locked up at night if your paddocks are fully secure? It largely depends on the age of the animals. Young kids, for example, may be at even greater risk of predation during the night, so locking young kids away could help keep them safe – it’s part of why we turn out later, once kids are large enough to get away from buzzards and foxes.
In addition, we should also point out here that, in many cases, goats may be more prone to getting caught in fencing and the like when outdoors than if they are put away at night. As such, if your fencing is likely to put the goats at risk overnight – when you are not able to check on them – it could be worthwhile to bring them inside instead.
However, we must stress that you should only bring your goats inside if you have safe facilities! For example, if bringing your goats in at night means putting them in a tiny pen as part of a large group, you could easily end up compromising their welfare and increasing the risk of fighting. So, always consider your personal situation to determine whether this is right for you.
Goats Should Always Have Some Form of Shelter if you Don’t Put Goats Away at Night
If, at this point, you have decided that you should not lock your goats up at night, it’s worthwhile to ensure they still have a shelter that’s safe.
Goats, unlike sheep, do not naturally produce lanolin in their coats; this means that they are not waterproof, and any nighttime rain may soak through quickly. As such, we strongly recommend that you always ensure your goats have some form of protection from the elements.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, and a growing number of people are using just natural shelter for breeds such as Boers and feral goats. However, if you choose to go down this route, inspect your goats regularly to ensure that they can still thrive in this system.
Many will be fine, but some goats may struggle if exposed to the elements more than others (especially if it is new to them).
We strongly recommend that you always have shelter available for your goats, regardless of whether you put goats away at night; after all, since goats don’t naturally produce lanolin in their coats, they aren’t waterproof and the option for cover and protection against the elements is beneficial for the overall wellbeing of your animals.