I have just got back from sorting someone’s pet goat that was very close to visiting the meat man.  His owner pointed out how difficult it had been to find someone who understood keeping pet livestock and actually knew how to sort him out.  So at her request, I am writing about this aspect of my work in a week I am bottle feeding a lamb and teaching 4 sows and two piglets to stop and not charge into me!

I’m vegetarian, so I respect animals that are kept purely as pets and not eaten.  Having said that, I have helped a few people with smallholdings whose “pet” pigs and sheep will eventually be eaten by them but who do keep them, whilst alive as pets.

People often get a lamb or goat to “keep the grass down” and quickly have a problem.  Firstly, as herd animals, they shouldn’t be kept alone.  Secondly whilst goats will eat every bush, flower and tree they can get to and climb like monkeys they eat little grass. In adolescence, like most animals they can be physically challenging and some of my customers have had some serious injuries caused by striking or charging goats and sheep.  People often don’t realise they can be trained and simply kill them or sell them on, repeating the problem with another animal.

Problems with pet livestock tend to be the same issues, boredom and aggression.  In cases of single animals they do struggle with how to entertain themselves because they have never seen one of their own having fun, rooting for insects, mock fighting etc.  Trying to do human versions just isn’t the same.

Whilst training aggressive geese looks a bit like Rod Hull and Emu, most of the work is about gestures and body language.  In the background, enriching lifestyle and environment is important and general boundaries to relationships.

So don’t give up so soon, don’t fire up the BBQ just yet, think about behaviour help even for your pet lamb, goat, chicken or goose!

Pictures here are Nym the naughty goat and his harem and Trudy pig at the bottom.  Both their stories can be read HERE.

Me with the lamb was at someone’s smallholding where this little boy was terrorising everyone!

About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

2 responses »

  1. Elise Gwyther says:

    I need some advise. I have had 2 female goats for just over 12 months now and unfortunately a few weeks ago one of them died. Last week I brought 2 10 week old kids. They are great however my original goat isn’t being very friendly. She keeps head butting them and is being very naughty towards me too. What should I do?

    • safepets uk says:

      Hello, goats can be quite afraid of new ones and young kids are quite naughty. Ideally pen them next to each other but so the youngsters can’t get to her so they both have time to posture and read body language. Her behaviour with you is likely trying t tell you she is stressed and unhappy. Try plenty for the kids to do as well, a football, even a cardboard box can be entertainment. The more other things they have to occupy them, the less energy for annoying the older girl.

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