They’re little, they’re clever, they’re so adorably sweet, they’re your pet goats! You most likely have snagged these friendly farm animals for their companionship and relatively low maintenance, whether you have one goat or a few of them. That naturally raises the question, how long will your goats be left alone? Will you arrange goat-care after a day or a week if you’re planning on leaving town?
How long will your goats be left alone? Goats do not have a single, constant number of days that they should be left alone, although there are not many general rules of thumb. While items such as shelter and food to graze on can be given for them, goats need daily feeding, care and wellness checks.
When deciding how long to leave your goats alone at home, here are 9 things you should remember.
Table of Material
Goats are grazers, but goats often have feeding criteria that a person who knows better should actually supervise. They also eat shrubs, trees, flowers and bushes, while they eat grass, which you certainly do not want them to kill. But the fact of the matter is that, while your stubborn goats may not know it, from grass hay and leaves alone, they do not get adequate and full nutrition.
Goats must be supplemented with alfalfa or oat hay, feed and a lick of salt or minerals in their diets. They will not be able to locate such items for themselves alone (the curse of cloven hooves over thumbs) and if they are left all at once for a few days’ supply, they lack the foresight and willpower to not eat the whole stash in a day.
Water is also a big problem, since at all times, goats require fresh water. If you have automatic waterers, that can fix the issue (although they can still freeze if especially cold), but otherwise you need someone to change the water of the goats.
Bacteria and moulds, which are massively harmful for goats, are grown in standing water. Plus, there is no telling how easily they will drink water (or spill or freeze it) and it is important to be able to hydrate anytime they need it.
They are also a funny mixture of “will eat anything” and “persnickety eaters,” meaning that it is a constant challenge to balance keeping them from consuming something they shouldn’t eat and ensuring that their everyday food is appropriate to them and consumed as required.
Goats The Houdini of the Barn World Goats
It doesn’t mean they’ll consent just because you think you’re leaving your goats safe and happy. In fact, goats are known as escape s, so they need daily oversight to ensure that they stay where they should be!
A goat will impress many with how quickly they can find their way out, from jumping to crawling to even squeezing through impossibly small spaces. And a goat alone and unattended only means time to get a barnyard away from Alcatraz.
- Four-Legged Mode of Destruction
We’ve covered so far that when it comes to feeding and escaping, goats are extreme creatures, but it doesn’t stop there. Taking it a step further, goats can do some serious harm when left to their own unsupervised devices.
Goats may use fence posts and boards as scratching posts with a little too much enthusiasm, breaking and knocking them down in the process, especially in the spring when they are actively shedding a thick winter coat. For the fun of it, they can also push or kick at the fence.
They can turn to nervous chewing, too, out of boredom and anxiety. Fences, houses, ladders, etc.-the dreaded goat chew may all be victims.
- Enrichment / Mental Health
Goats, with a good sense of routine, are social animals. Not only can they feel the effects of isolation if they are left alone for too long, the tension of their daily routine being upended can manifest in anxiety and anger.
Aside from the physical outbursts, this can lead to (as described above), the emotional and mental well-being of your poor baby goat can be seriously harmed.
- Milking Milking
Are you going to use a doe for milk? If so, is she still breastfeeding her children? Milking controls her warmth and well-being. For too long a period, you should not leave her unmilked or she will feel pain from her engorged udder.
Plus, this can also interrupt the entire milk production cycle as it informs her that her milk is no longer needed, causing her body to respond by stopping producing, although in an incredibly painful way for her.
There’s not too much to think about if you’re going to be gone for just a few days, if she already has a baby or two suckling kids. If, however, you wanted to raise her babies in a bottle, someone will have to milk her every day.
- The Climate
A pain can be mother nature. Another score for confusion, but if no one is around to check-in, conditions and winds will wreak havoc on the life of a goat.
All goats need dry, covered shelter, and sometimes that shelter will fail if there is a torrential downpour or massive winds. If a storm affects your goats’ only run-in day one of a seven-day holiday badly, that means those poor animals are left for six days exposed to the elements.
Goats are infamous for disliking being wet, so they are tortured by something less than a dry living situation.
- Curiosity-Cats and goats are acquired
Goats are also very naturally curious, going along with their social, friendly personality. They’re going to want to experience new smells, new species, new sights, virtually everything.
That can lead to dangerous circumstances when left unchecked without an awareness of the world around them. Expect unsupervised goats to chew on gates, pull on latches before they open, tug on wires, even stick through fences with their heads!
Without any human caregiver interference to save them, a goat with its head through too small of an opening can then quickly get trapped.
- The Inesperate
Look, we want to think, of course, that our animals will be protected and healthy. But Murphy’s Law seems to be particularly fond of the vet’s office and holidays, so keep in mind that there is a risk that when you are away, your goats may injure themselves or fall ill.
Goats still have the possibility of injury or illness from an unintended injury from any fear kicks to food poisoning from ingesting something they do not have to have a bug bit blown up to a fence nail scratch that becomes contaminated and beyond.
And if they are not checked on, it may take too long for a wound or infection to go untreated and become worse, more costly to treat or even fatal.
- Neighbors to the
You have to think about your neighbours, too. Going away and leaving your goats alone affects more than just them. Bleat the Pigs. Scream Goats. Crying goats.
Goats have the propensity to be very loud, let’s face it.
In a time with no supervision, even goats that are typically very calm and even-tempered will seize and vocalise their distress, their hunger, their boredom, everything.
Your goats are going to make noise, particularly if you’re gone for more than one day, and that’s only going to bother your neighbours unfairly and potentially result in some unnecessary complaints.
If you live on a vast ranch or have a plot of land that is decidedly smaller, goats are perfect backyard pets. They are much less supportive than, say, a horse or a puppy, but they do need care.
Note, livestock have been domesticated and so they depend on people to ensure that they are protected, secure, well-fed, comfortable and respectful enough to work in a functional neighbourhood quietly.
If you intend to leave your goats for more than a day, make sure that you have some sort of care and check-ins planned so that your goats remain healthy and that you can enjoy stress-free time away.
Checklist for Holiday
There are only a few things you should remember before you go out on holiday:
Have additional buckets of water in the pen.
Have enough food at your disposal. If your goat sitter is going to feed on a daily basis, consider portioning food for each feed to make it easier for your goats to get the right amount of hay.
Using a hay feeder or stack it neatly while feeding free-choice hay. If goats are going to stay unattended for long periods of time, stop using hay nets.
Make sure you are in good condition with your goat shelter and pen.
In case there’s an escape, have extra rope, lead ropes and goat collars open.
Prepare your goat sitter for unexpected incidents such as a crazy cold night where the water hose is frozen or a crack in the pipe and the water has to be turned off, etc.
Have emergency numbers available for yourself, your doctor, and one or two friends with goat savvy.
Have a list of the total number of goats as well as a photo guide for the name/picture of the goat if possible. If your friend has to call you with a goat problem, this would be much more helpful to you than “the white one looks sick,” especially if there is bad service on either end and a picture is not going to go through.
How much do you see your goat sitter?
It is entirely up to you how much someone wants to check in on the goats. Your goats and farm are best known to you. If you’re free-feeding goats that have many sources of water and no risk of frozen water, it could be OK every other day or even every few days.
A regular check is best, whenever it is possible. If you or a friend can’t check on your goats every day, consider investing while you are away in an economical video surveillance device for your goat pens.
Although not perfect, you can keep an eye on your goats with a few well-placed cameras and be sure they are OK. It’s well worth the peace of mind. The whole idea, after all, is that you are enjoying your holiday!