How to Choose the Right Goats for Your Needs

Nothing is worse than buying some goats, bringing them home, getting attached to them, and then discovering that they won't work out in your situation, are the wrong type, or aren't what the seller represented. Here are some characteristics to consider when looking for goats to buy:

  • Goats need company: A lot of people make the mistake of getting only one goat. Goats are herd animals. They live and move in groups and respond to each other's cues. They bond to their family members.

    You'll have a much easier time if you buy a pair from the same herd and, unless you want them to be unrelated for breeding purposes, from the same family. They adjust more quickly if they're with someone they know.

  • Size matters: Unless you have unlimited space and feed, you need to consider the size of the goats you get. If you live in the city or have a small acreage, consider small breeds such as the miniature dairy breeds for milk, the kinder (a Nubian/Pygmy cross) for meat, or the Pygora (Pygmy/Angora) for fiber.

  • Horns can hurt: Even if you object to removing horns, think carefully before you bring home a goat with horns. Horns can cause physical pain to another goat or person; they can also hurt your pocketbook when you have to replace a fence, pay for a lawsuit, or pay medical or veterinary bills.

    Find out whether the breed you want is one that is normally kept horned. Fiber sheep, for example, need horns because the horns provide them with natural temperature control in the heat. Some meat goats are also not normally disbudded.

    If you get a breed that is normally disbudded or polled, selling kids may not be as easy if they still have horns. You also won't want to keep horned and hornless goats together because they aren't evenly matched.

  • Registered or unregistered: If you just want a couple of goats to love, spend time with, and use for help keeping down the noxious weeds, then you don't need registered goats. Registered goats cost a little more, but they aren't necessarily any better. Registered goats are required to have identification, such as a tattoo or a microchip, which can be helpful if they are stolen. Registration also gives you some assurance that the goat is the breed and has the potential the seller claims. Registered goats are more valuable, so if you want to sell surplus kids, you can usually get more money for them than for unregistered ones. Most goat shows require entrants to be registered.

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