Caring for goats in the city is not nearly as hard as you may think. Do you long for your own fresh milk? Are you or your child lactose intolerant, and you've had trouble finding fresh goat's milk? Do you dream of living a more self-reliant life, but can't afford to move to the country?
Then having a couple of goats may be a good option for you, and the good news is, they are easy to take care of and don't require that much space. Unlike a cow that requires an acre of grass to maintain, the backyard goat needs far less room.
Also, because they're smaller and weigh less, they're easier to manage than a cow. Plus, a goat weighs about the same as a large dog, so it hurts a lot less when they step on you.
So why consider caring for goats in an urban setting?
Given the way the economy is starting to look, it's a wise investment to be producing your own food, even if it’s only in limited quantities. Goats kid twice a year and can provide an extra source of meat.
Check your city ordinance to see what requirements, if any, they have for caring for goats in town. If your city specifically forbids goats, then consider working to have the ordinance changed. Many people are working to have chicken ordinances passed in their local communities, and the same procedures could be used to have goat ordinances passed as well.
Goats are fairly quiet critters, so they are less likely to be a nuisance than, say, a rooster who crows a lot. Goat droppings are also much cleaner than that of a cow or horse, and much easier to clean up. Plus, they provide great fertilizer for your garden.
If you plan on keeping goats, you will need a goat hay feeder and good strong fencing. Consider portable stock pens; that way it will be easier to take them apart and move them about your backyard from time to time.
You will also need a shelter to provide your backyard goat a break from the wind. If you keep a dwarf breed, a dog house or dog igloo works wonderfully for this.
As Oliver Douglas used to sing in the opening of Green Acres, one benefit of caring for goats is..."The Chores!" While having to get out in the middle of the day during the heat of summer isn't always the most fun, I do appreciate having an excuse to be outside more.
Plus, when you have a backyard goat or two to care for, it forces you to think of the needs of others. You come to know the personalities of your goats. It's fun to watch them at work and at play.
Caring for goats means you will need to feed them every day, twice a day, three hundred, sixty-five days out of the year. If you plan to go out of town, you will need to find a goat sitter.
Also, if you want milk, you will need to breed your does at least once every two years, and preferably once a year. Breeding does leads to kids, and you will have to decide what to do with them. You will have to either sell them at auction or butcher them. If your backyard goat gives birth to a male goat, you will need to castrate him or butcher him before he is three months of age.
But these downsides are minor compared to the many benefits you get from keeping your own small herd of goats. So give it a try. Goats are one of the funnest hobbies out there.
Related article: Finding the right breed of goat for you.