I've been doing some research on goats as I know very little about them. We have a small farm in Cincinnati, OH and were looking to bring our horse to the farm instead of boarding. We feel the horse really needs a companion(s) and goats came to mind first. They will share a 5 acre field with a horse and have access to a barn stall. We are not looking to breed, milk, and raise for meat, just something more on the lines of a pet as well as a companion for our horse. I was thinking a larger breed perhaps just to have a little size compared to the horse, and I also read bottle fed wethers may be the route to go.
I came across this site in doing research and thought I'd ask your opinion on topic. Which breed or breeds should I limit my search to? Would you suggest one or more breeds over the others? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Hi there - you are correct that goats certainly make a good companion for a horse. And, the key is finding a friendly, non agressive goat, without horns. Bottle raised wethers (castrated male goats) are indeed a good way to go. But with that said a doe/female goat would also work - their breeding cycles are not symptomatic and their attitude stays the same as other times. The main item is what is available to you in your area and what you can find locally without spending too much money. Contacting your local 4H extension office and getting in touch with local 4H goat projects could help find a goat for you that perhaps a youngster just no longer uses or perhaps that youngster is off to college and does not need the goat anymore.
As to breeds of goats - almost any breed or cross breed of dairy goat would work, bottle fed is best as this makes the goat friendly/mellow and generally non aggressive. We raise the Oberhasli breed of dairy goat - they are extremely mellow, do well with other livestock (we have had ours with horses, cattle, sheep and pigs and they all get along very well)and are very quiet (breeds such as the Alpine and Nubian can be talkers). Fencing would be an issue too - most goats will go through barbed wire - horse fencing/field fencing works well along with an added hot wire at chest high to keep the goats from standing on the fence, but perhaps you already have this for your horse as they can be hard on fences too.
Goats are generally very healthy and require little medical care, although need hoof trimming, worming and yearly vaccinations, all that can be done by you. I can give you more information on those if you need.
I would check out what is available in your area - then, if you find a goat you are going to look at you can either e-mail me about them or call me at 360-742-8310 and I can tell you what to look for.
Hope that helps - Donna