How to Take Care of Goats

Out of all the homesteading animals you can choose, goats are one of the easiest to care for, in my opinion, especially if you make sure to bond with your herd. This guide will take you through how to take care of goats to keep them healthy and well-behaved.

How to take care of goats: a spotted kit and a brindle kid in a pen.
Photo by DIY Homesteading 101, Alina Bradford

Setting up a place for your goats to live

Creating a suitable environment for your goats helps keep them safe, healthy and happy.


Goats are notorious escape artists, so having secure fencing is essential to keep them safe and prevent them from wandering into unwanted areas. So your first consideration is fencing. Barbed wire is often used on goat pastures, but smaller goat breeds can often slip through. Hog panels that are 4 feet high are your best option.

Pasture and grazing areas

Goats are natural foragers and thrive on grazing. The best area on your property is where your goats can browse on a variety of vegetation. They like grasses, but brambles also keep them healthy.

Water sources for goats

Access to clean and fresh water is crucial for goats’ overall health and well-being. If you don’t have a pond, troughs and automatic waterers are good choices. If you just have a couple of goats, you don’t need anything fancy. Start with a 5-gallon bucket. As your herd grows, you can upgrade their watering system.

Regularly check and clean the water containers to prevent the growth of algae or the buildup of contaminants. Also, add 1/4 of a cup of apple cider vinegar to a 5-gallon bucket of water or 1 to 2 cups per 20 gallons to help prevent UTIs and diseases in goats and to help with indigestion.


Of course your goats will need protection from extreme weather conditions, such as excessive heat, bitter cold, wind and rain. The shelter should be spacious enough to accommodate all your goats comfortably and allow for proper ventilation. Bedding material, such as straw or wood shavings, should be provided to keep the goats cozy and prevent health issues caused by damp or dirty conditions.

What to do with the poo?

Proper waste management not only prevents stinky odors but also minimizes the risk of disease transmission and parasite infestations.

To clean out the floor of a pen or shelter, scoop out wet bedding and hay and poo with a large scoop shovel. Some people use a garden fork, but the tiny goat pellets can fall through the tines, so you’ll have better luck with a scoop shovel.

Don’t waste the manure and soiled hay and bedding! Start a composting system for goat manure, which can later be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden or crops.

Scoop shovel
Scoop Shovel

How to feed goats

Two goats eating
Photo by DIY Homesteading 101, Alina Bradford

Goats are ruminants, meaning they have a four-compartment stomach that allows them to digest plant material efficiently. Their digestive process involves regurgitation and rechewing of partially digested food, a process known as rumination. Like other farm animals, goats need a particular diet that fits their digestive system to keep them healthy.

Foraging is the foundation of a goat’s diet. Providing high-quality forage ensures that goats receive the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Different forage options, such as grasses and brambles, keep your goat healthy.

While forage forms the bulk of a goat’s diet, you’ll need to supplement their intake with a balanced diet. This includes providing goat feed, which you can buy at any farm and ranch store or feed store.

Also, goats need mineral supplements since they may not get everything they need from feed and foraging. Deficiencies can lead to various health issues. Goats have unique mineral requirements, including calcium, phosphorus, copper, selenium and others.

Providing a balanced mineral supplement helps prevent deficiencies or imbalances that can lead to health problems such as weak bones, poor reproductive performance or compromised immune function. Keep loose goat minerals around for your goat to eat as they need. Your vet or county extension office will be able to steer you toward the best mineral supplement for your goats.

You’ll typically need to offer your goats hay in the winter if you live in cooler climates. Alfalfa hay is usually the best choice.

Goat minerals
Manna Pro Goat Minerals

How much feed does a goat need?

Generally, adult goats need around a cup of feed per feeding, and kids should get half a cup, but make sure to consider your goat’s needs before deciding on how much to offer.

If you ask your goat, it would probably say you should feed them all the time, all day, every day. In reality, if your goat has plenty of grass and brambles to munch on, they don’t need that much feed or hay, if any at all.

Concentrated feed is mostly for goats that stay in pens and can’t forage or as a supplement for goats that need extra nutrition like growing kids, rutting bucks and pregnant and nursing does. If your goats are rutting bucks and pregnant and nursing does, they need more feed than other adult goats because they are burning more calories. Rutting bucks may need triple the regular amount, for example.

Health and Veterinary Care for Goats

Probably not surprisingly, daily health checks help with the early detection of any potential health issues in your goats. During your daily health checks, you should check for signs of parasites, monitor weight, inspect hooves and observe overall behavior to look for anything strange.

Common goat diseases and their symptoms

Goats can be susceptible to various diseases and illnesses. Familiarizing yourself with common goat diseases and their symptoms is essential for early recognition and appropriate treatment. Some common diseases include respiratory infections, internal and external parasites, mastitis, enterotoxemia (overeating disease), bloat and foot rot. Knowing the signs and symptoms allows you to take prompt action, consult a veterinarian, and implement the necessary treatment protocols to ensure the well-being of your goats.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has a good guide on common goat diseases that you should bookmark.

Vaccinations for goats

Vaccinations play a critical role in preventing and controlling infectious diseases in goats. Consult with a veterinarian to establish a vaccination program for your herd based on local diseases and risk factors. Common vaccines for goats include those for diseases such as Clostridium perfringens type C and D, tetanus and rabies. By following a vaccination protocol, you can protect your goats from potentially life-threatening diseases and promote their long-term health.

Parasite control and deworming goats

Goats are highly susceptible to internal and external parasites, which can cause significant health issues if left unmanaged. You should only deworm your goats when they need it. Symptoms of worms in goats include:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale mucous membranes around the eyes (light pink or white) and mouth
  • “Bottle jaw” (swelling under the jaw)
  • Weakness

You should also consider ways to prevent worms, such as rotational grazing and keeping feed off the ground.

How to find a reliable veterinarian for your goats

A veterinarian can provide guidance on preventive care, diagnose and treat illnesses and offer valuable advice specific to your herd’s needs. Research local veterinarians who specialize in farm animals and check that they have experience with the specific breed of goats you own. See if they have emergency care options, too, such as after-hours veterinary services or emergency clinics.

Breeding and kid care

If you decide to breed your goats, goat care gets a little more complicated. Here’s what to expect.

Goat reproduction cycles

Goats are able to reproduce at five to eight months old. Female goats, known as does, go through estrous cycles, also referred to as heat cycles. During that time they can mate. The length of these cycles varies among goat breeds but typically lasts around 12 to 36 hours and happens around every 21 days. Signs that your goat is ready for mating may include increased vocalization, tail wagging, restlessness, and swelling of the vulva and discharge. Once she’s pregnant, it will be 150 days (5 months) on average until the kid is born.

Goat pregnancy care and preparing for birth

Once a doe is successfully bred, proper care during pregnancy is needed for the health of both the doe and the developing kids. As mentioned earlier, your doe will need extra food since she’s eating for two (or three). As the due date approaches, give her a clean and comfortable kidding area, known as a kidding pen, where she can safely give birth. Once that’s done, most does can give birth on their own. One day you may wake up and there’s a new baby goat.

Ensure that the kidding pen is warm, dry and free from drafts to prevent hypothermia. Your mamma goat will be able to take care of nutrition, but be sure to monitor the kids to make sure they are healthy. Look for a strong suckling reflex, steady weight gain and activeness.

Here are some ideas for naming your goats.

Handling goats

If you raise your goats from babies, they typically will see you as The Giver of Food and will follow you around and allow you to pet them. If you didn’t raise them, or you bought them as older kids, you’ll need to train your new goat to like you. There’s no better way than offering them treats, like sweet feed, to get in their good graces. You can hold their feed bucket while they eat so they associate food with you. Petting them often will also make them love you.

How to milk goats

I’m not a pro at goat milking, so take a look at this video from someone who is:

Video: How to Milk a Goat


What are the benefits of raising goats?

Raising goats offers a multitude of benefits, making it an appealing venture for both hobbyists and commercial farmers. One of the primary advantages is the provision of fresh, nutritious milk. Goat milk is prized for its high nutritional value, digestibility, and unique flavor. Additionally, goats can be raised for meat, offering a lean and flavorful alternative to traditional meat sources. Furthermore, goats produce fine fibers such as mohair and cashmere, which can be used for crafting luxurious textiles. Beyond their practical uses, goats are intelligent, curious, and sociable animals that can bring joy and companionship to their owners.

What are some different goat breeds?

Before starting your goat-keeping journey, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the various goat breeds available. Each breed possesses specific traits, temperaments, and suitability for different purposes. For instance, the Nubian breed is renowned for its high milk production, while Boer and Kiko goats are prized for their meat production. Additionally, certain breeds are better adapted to specific climates or terrain. By understanding the characteristics of different goat breeds, you can make an informed decision when selecting the right breed that aligns with your goals and environment.

Maybe. There may be rules on zoning restrictions, the number of goats allowed per acre, or the need for specific licenses. By familiarizing yourself with the legal requirements, you can ensure you’re legal while avoiding potential conflicts with neighbors or authorities.

Resources and References:
American Goat Society
National Pygmy Goat Association
American Dairy Goat Association
USDA: Goat From Farm to Table

Disclaimer: This guide is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional veterinary advice. Always consult with a qualified veterinarian for specific guidance tailored to your goats’ individual needs.