All goats should live in a suitable and comfortable environment. A goat’s home, which includes its home, the feed and water, other animals around it and many other things, affects how they feel, think and behave. Providing your goat with adequate shelter and a comfortable resting area is one way you can make sure that your goat stays healthy and happy.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Freedoms is: Freedom from Discomfort. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your goats have the right environment and shelter they need to be free from discomfort.
Goats are curious and active animals. A goat will need a lot of space and plenty of opportunities to browse and eat, climb, explore and play in a safe environment.
There needs to be space for items such as climbing frames and rocks for exploring and jumping on, a sheltered bedding area for resting and sleeping, preferably off the ground, and interesting areas for browsings (eating). It is not a good idea to get a goat if you have limited space, as your goat is likely to get very bored, and can quickly eat everything growing in such a small area.
A bored goat can become destructive, and worse, your goat’s welfare will decrease - they will not be happy in a small area with nothing to do.
Your goat’s housing area will also need to be fenced very securely to keep them from wandering, to protect them from the road and cars, and to keep other animals that could hurt your goat out.
Goats are active, social and intelligent animals. Some people get goats with the intention of using them purely as lawn mowers to eat their overgrown grass. Sadly, lots goats in New Zealand end up being tied on a chain all day, every day.
The chain around their neck can cause injury and potentially cause accidents.
Keeping a goat like this is not ok. Goats who are kept like this will not have good welfare and are unhappy with the environment they live in. They are likely to be very bored, depressed, lonely, frustrated and potentially unhealthy.
If you are going to keep a goat at home, you need to make sure you provide him or her with a good home where they will not be neglected and left chained up all day.
A goat’s housing area needs to be warm and dry. Goats hate getting wet, so their new shelter should be warm, comfortable and safe from the wind and rain.
Your goat should not be housed in a shelter made entirely out of metal, as this is too cold in winter and can become too hot in summer.
The flooring of your goats' housing area should be sturdy and firm. Dirt floors (or gravel) are recommended over wooden ones, as this will prevent your goat from slipping over and damaging joints and hooves.
However, don’t forget to use hay or wood shavings to cover the floor to make it more comfortable for when your goat wants to lie down to digest food. If concrete flooring is used in your goat’s shelter area, rubber mats can be put down which will help make the floor less slippery.
You can also use old pallets (check for nails and other rough bits), covered in a tarpaulin and hay to keep your goats off the ground as well.
If your goats are housed in a barn or similar housing, you will need to keep the floors clean, often giving the floor a good sweep with a broom is enough to make the area clean enough for your goat again. If outside, taking out old, dirty hay and adding more will keep your goat happy in their house.
A goat’s bedding should be made out of an appropriate material such as straw, hay or wood shavings and needs to be deep enough to provide warmth and comfort.
You will need to remove damp straw and bedding regularly and don’t forget to replace it with fresh stuff. Depending on how many goats you have, and the type of weather you have, you may need to do a bigger clean more or less often.
Just like you and I - a goat won’t be comfortable in a dirty, smelly environment for very long!
Goats are very active and inquisitive. They like to explore and browse for things to eat, so they need a lot of space to do so. Goats love to adventure which requires lots of space. Due to this, you should have a strong, tall fence to keep your goats safe.
Goats are excellent climbers, so the fence must not be able to be climbed over and should be very durable so it cannot be knocked down by any curious goats.
Your fence should not be made of any hedges or plants, as they can easily get through these, no matter how thick they are. Most steep banks and stone walls are also no object for a goat to climb, so these should be avoided as fencing as well.
An adult or professional fence installer will need to ensure the fencing is appropriate for your goat. Goats like to rub up against fencing and use it as a scratching post, so be sure to check your fence is strong enough for this.
Goats will also sometimes dig under fences, so it is best to check your fencing every day for any signs of damage or weak points which your goat could get out of.
Suitable fencing for goats tips:
Goats are naturally very curious. Sometimes this curiosity can get them into trouble! Goats can get badly injured by being too curious, as they taste, chew and explore things that are not safe for them. An adult should therefore take care to remove any dangerous objects or items from around your goat’s environment and aim to make their home as safe as possible.
Tips for adults on keeping your goat’s environment safe: