The Tethered Goat

When you tether a goat you are making captive one of the most freedom-loving animals in the world. One of the most important factors to remember when you rob it of this heritage is that love and a little daily attention will compensate for the lack of natural living, however the ideal scenario is to allow your goat to be free roaming.

Shelter: Goats detest getting wet, not just because they are fastidious, but because they are thin skinned. As goats have so little fat under the skin, they are very susceptible to chills.

In the bush they have caves and trees for their protection, so when they are tethered they must be provided with a wooden box, perhaps fitted with skids for easy mobility, or even a barrel (not to be confused with a metal drum) is better than no shelter.

It is quite easy to pull the box on the skids, or to tip it up and over to new pasture, or roll the barrel to the next site chosen for feeding. A goat will often become very attached to its mobile home, as something of its very own, and will either rest on top of it in sunny weather or rush for the comfort of its shelter when it rains. Ensure that the shelter faces away from the prevailing wind.

If you do decide to tether your goat a wire stretched between two pegs with a ring sliding upon it to which the goats chain can be fastened is a better form of tether than a single peg around which their chains can get knotted. The wire gives them more liberty of movement and a greater range to feed upon.

Food: Ruminants require bulky feed to enable them to digest properly, and if your tethered goat is eating only grass, give it a daily treat of branches of trees or vegetable scraps from the kitchen, including crusts of bread, but only in small quantities as too much bread, biscuits or meal can make the goat quite sick. Ideally, all goats should have a little hay every day all the year round, but cut up carrots, their tops, cabbage leaves, ivy, dry fallen leaves, hedge prunings, vines and fruit bushes, dock leaves, thistles, and roadside gatherings of bracken and ferns, will give joy to the lonely creature. The importance of variety in the diet cannot be over-stressed.

If your heart is big enough to stretch to your pocket, a little dairy ration will help keep your pet in good condition.

Water: The fallacy that goats do not drink water is something which should be well forgotten. Every animal needs water and goats need a generous quantity. It should be changed frequently as the goat is fussy about the cleanliness of its water. You may think your goat does not drink, but water must be available at all times for when it is needed. A spoonful of molasses in warm water is a delicious treat to the goat.

Salt: This is another essential commodity to health, and a lump of rock salt in a small box or a daily ration of iodised salt from your hand does wonders for the goat.

Worms: Worms are often a problem in tethered goats, or those confined to a small area. When you acquire your pet, ask a veterinary surgeon for worm treatment and for advice as to how often it should be given. Another parasite of the goat is lice. These can be easily eliminated, but you will need to ask a veterinary surgeon for the most effective remedy.

Hoofs: Through insufficient exercise and the absence of natural wear and tear the hoofs often grow out of shape and become deformed and frequently infected with foot-rot. They should be examined often and kept in trim by paring away the over-growth of horn with a pair of sharp garden secateurs.

Companionship and Care: As the tethered goat relies solely on its owner for every comfort, a little more is expected of one. Patience and gentleness with frequent visits to prevent utter boredom, will keep up the spirits of a tethered animal, and give it something to live for.

If you cannot be bothered to give a little attention to your pet, then perhaps it is not the best idea to have one – please think this through carefully before taking on a pet of any kind. If you already have a goat which is tethered and you do not have the time to give the attention, the best thing you could do for your goat is to find a new home for your goat preferably one where the goat can live free-roaming but one where the goat will receive the required attention. This is the kindest move, as goats love company and are miserable living a life of loneliness along the roadside.

The Kid as a Pet

Kids have bright amber eyes topped by alert silken ears, and their soft tiny bodies simply beg to be hugged, especially by adoring children. BUT, do remember before you keep a baby kid, the cute stage does fade and frequently “Nanny” or “Billy” becomes a bore, and is tied to the roadside and forgotten.

However, if you DO earnestly want to keep a goat for a pet, and intend rearing it from birth, there are many essentials that must not be forgotten.

If it is a male, or billy, it is important to have it neutered by a Veterinary Surgeon at about 12 weeks of age. Males which are not neutered can be very aggressive, and are always extremely bad-smelling.

With a tethered goat there is a tendency, particularly with children, to tease the animal. This MUST NOT be allowed or it will make the animal unhappy and it will become very aggressive.

If the kid has been taken from its mother in the bush, it may still need colostrum, which is the milk the newborn must have in their first few days in order to survive. Artificial colostrum has been used very successfully on many farms resulting in the survival of many lambs and kids that would otherwise have died.

Cow colostrum is of some benefit to young orphaned kids in the first day of life to provide some of the antibodies.

This is the recipe:
1 dessertspoon (10 mls) of sugar or glucose
1 teaspoon (5 mls) of cod liver oil
1 beaten egg
1 pint bottle (600 mls) of cows milk (goat milk preferably if obtainable).

Give six ounces (175g) of this mixture four times daily for the first 48 hours, after that period the kid may be fed on cows milk, giving two-thirds milk and one-third warm water. For the first week maintain a four-hourly feed programme of 6 to 8 ounces (175 – 225 g). In the second week the kid could be given three feeds with an increase in fluid.

It will not be long before the kid will determine how much milk it needs, but don’t give more than a pint (600 ml) at a time. At the end of six weeks it could go on to two feeds a day. The time limit for milk feeding is up to the owner, but for the kids sake a period of at least two months is desirable.

In pedigree herds kids are sometimes kept on milk feeds for six to eight months to promote growth and strength. They also receive a daily ration of dairy meal to build stronger animals. The pet owner can substitute this with left-overs from the kitchen – crusts of bread, vegetable scraps and stale biscuits are all treats to the goat, but remember not to overdo those foods rich in carbohydrates.

Remember also the most cherished foods – branches from trees and shrubs, but take note that the following common plants and shrubs are poisonous to goats: Rhododendron, Oleander, Geraniums, Daphne, Caster Oil plant and Privet.

Goats can make wonderful pets – but ONLY if you are sure you want them, and will care for them as a member of the family.


Whilst the well-cared for tethered goat can enjoy a good life, it is only fair to say that goats which are able to free-range, preferably in the company of other goats, are happier animals. It is, of course, still necessary to provide suitable shelter and food as outlined.