Adopting & Rehoming Goats
So you want to adopt a goat…
Bringing a new goat into your family can be a wonderful experience if you are prepared! New Moon Farm is no longer adopting out goats, but we have recommendations that will help make it a fun and rewarding experience for you. If you are new to goats, we recommend reading about pet Goat Care Basics, or take one of our Goats 101 workshops BEFORE you bring new goats home. There might be more to caring for them than you expect.
First, look at rescues and sanctuaries near you. We recommend that you check Petfinder.com, and search “Barnyard Animals” to find goats at regional rescues. Many municipal shelters in rural areas also have small ruminants available for adoption. The advantage of adopting from a rescue or shelter is that you will know what you are getting. A reputable organization will have taken care of any illness or injury, castrated all bucks, performed regular, basic maintenance care, and will know of any special needs. They will also know the animals individually; know their personality and typical behavior, know which other goats they are bonded with, and other important background information. This means they can help you determine who is the best fit for your situation, and make sure it’s a good match for both you and for the goats. A rescue will also provide support, as you learn how to care for your new pets.
There are also animals available from breeders, and online sites such as Craigslist, Marketplace, and Next Door. The main difference we have found between adopting from a rescue and buying from an individual is the accuracy of the information you will receive. A rescue will be committed to making the best match for both the people and the animals. Private individuals often just want to sell their animals, and will not always be honest about behavior and medical issues. Also be aware that many of the goats listed in the classifieds are not typically current on vet care and maintenance, such as hoof trimming and deworming. Though there are certainly wonderful breeders who do care about where they place their animals, they are the minority. Over the years we have heard many sad stories about breeders selling goats that were diseased, crippled, older than the buyer was told, pregnant (without the buyer being informed), aggressive or otherwise difficult to handle. Many of these animals were brought to us because new owners simply couldn‘t handle what they got.
When purchasing a goat from a private individual, we recommend the following:
- Arrange to meet new goats before you commit to adopting them. Interact with them – pet them, try walking them on a leash, picking up their feet, etc. Though not all goats are good at these things, they can learn. Spend some time getting to know their personalities – be sure they are the right fit for you.
- Assess the goats’ overall condition – if they are very skinny or very fat, try to find out why. Are they limping? If you have any concerns, trust your instinct. Unless you are prepared to put in a lot of time, energy and money, you don’t want to bring home an unhealthy animal, or one that will require extra veterinary care.
- Don’t believe everything a seller tells you. We’ve had people lie about everything from age to breeding history. If you are new to goats, take an experienced friend with you to evaluate the animals.
- Don’t fall for the “herd liquidation” ads. Many dairy farms and breeders say that they are “downsizing” or “getting out of it”, when all they are doing is selling off older or excess goats. Not that these aren’t potentially great goats, just be aware you’ll likely see the same ad next year.
- If you are buying goats from a breeder, and you want them to have their horns, you can ask them to not dehorn yours. Also, you can request that baby boys are not banded until they are at least 4 months old (you’ll likely have them by then.) Banding at 3 weeks is very common, and can lead to often fatal urinary tract probelms. The longer you can wait, the better.
Common misconceptions about getting goats
“If you want your goat to bond with you, you have to get babies and bottle feed them.” That’s just silly. You do not have to raise bottle babies in order for a goat to bond with you – they are as intelligent as cats and dogs, who bond well with new families. Some of the strongest bonds we’ve formed have been with adult animals.
“Male goats are stinky, aggressive and/or destructive.” Nope. That’s intact male goats, or bucks. A castrated male, called a wether, can be just as sweet as any doe, and won’t stink. That said, goats castrated very young are at a higher risk of developing dangerous urinary calculi. We recommend waiting as long as possible before castrating – 12 weeks minimum, while most breeders band babies at just a few weeks.
“Females don’t make good pets, they aren’t affectionate.” Also wrong. Just like any other species, they are all individuals with different personalities. Does can be just as sweet as wethers.
“Horns are dangerous.” Horns are more dangerous than a horse’s hooves, or a dog’s teeth. It’s all about being aware of what you are doing around them, not bending over their heads, etc. In 20+ years, we have never had a goat seriously injure any other animal or person with their horns. As for getting stuck in fences – that just means it’s not the right fence for goats!
We wish you the best in your search for new caprine companions!
Re-homing your goats
New Moon Farm is no longer taking in goats from private individuals. If you need to find a new home for your goat(s), please be careful. A bit of time and energy can insure that your goats will be loved and taken care of in their new home. We know that many people want goats for meat, or for land clearing (and then will pass them on), but will not be honest with you about their intentions. It’s happened here, and we’ve heard lots of sad stories.
As you look for new homes for your goats, we recommend the following steps:
- Don’t give them away for free. People who want goats for meat will not always be honest with you about it. Anything less than $75 makes them cheaper than buying at auction – charge enough to protect them. If someone can’t afford to pay for the goats, they likely can’t afford to take care of them.
- Talk to the prospective owners – ask what their plans are, how many other animals they have, etc. Ask about how much space is fenced, and what kind of shelter there is. Trust your instinct – if it sounds fishy, it probably is.
- Insist on doing a home visit before committing. If someone won’t let you see their place, you don’t want to send your animals there anyway. At the farm, look at fencing – check for breaks, escape routes, places for dogs to get in, gate latches. Look at the shelter – 3 sides and a roof are the minimum, with a raised or dry floor, and at least 8 sqare feet per goat. Look for potentially toxic plants. Look at the other animals at the home – are they happy? In good weight? Pick up a hoof – have they been trimmed recently?If there are dogs, be sure that they will not be left in the same enclosure with the goats.
- Make sure your goat won’t be alone. Though goats can bond with horses or sheep, another goat is ideal. Goats are herd animals and are healthiest and happiest when with other goats. If you are finding a new home for a single goat, make sure the new family has a goat already.
- Ask for vet and/or farrier references (even if people are new to goats, their cat & dog vets still know them as a client).
These are the basic steps we have taken in placing our rescued animals. We hope this helps your to place your goats into a safe and loving new home.