Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, a tethered goat must be provided with adequate feed, water and shelter. A goat is not like a sheep and does not have a fat layer or wool to keep it warm.
Obtaining a goat
If your goat is a feral or previously-wild goat, then it may take some time to become quiet enough to be put on a tether. If the goat is a farmed goat, then there should be no problems. A young goat will become used to a tether with less stress than an old, former-wild goat.
- Make sure the goat becomes accustomed to being tethered, and used to traffic if grazing the roadside.
- Use a leather collar around the goat’s neck to which a light chain is attached.
- Make sure there is at least one swivel in the tether. It’s a good idea to have a swivel at both ends of the tether.
- Check that when the tether is fully extended the goat is not in danger of traffic or have access to poisonous scrubs.
- Clean fresh water is necessary, especially during hot weather. Make sure the goat cannot tip the container by attaching it to the fence or shelter.
- Shift the goat regularly so it has a regular supply of fresh clean feed.
A shelter for a goat must be big enough for the animal to stand up inside. It must also provide protection from both sun, rain and cold. It should be movable and stable. A simple A-frame structure is ideal, about 1200mm wide, 1800mm long and 1200mm from floor to ridge.
Worms: Goats grazing the same area of ground will become infected with internal parasites such as round worms. Scouring, ill thrift, anaemia and a harsh dry coat are signs that the animal will need treatment with an appropriate drench. Consult your veterinarian.
Lice: These can cause irritation and stress to the animal. Use an appropriate pour-on treatment for prevention.
Foot problems: Goats suffer from footrot and scald and their feet may need to be trimmed regularly. Avoiding mud and dirty wet ground will help prevent foot problems. Where foot infections occur, seek veterinary advice.
Goats are keen browsers and can reach up high into trees and above fences. Make sure they cannot get access to poisonous plants such as yew, rhododendron, oleander, laburnum, tutu and many more. They will find these plants more palatable when wilted so do not throw garden prunings into paddocks next to goats.
Watch for horns that can grow into the animal’s head. Dehorning goats needs great care as the skull can be damaged. Consult your veterinarian.
It is best to castrate a goat when the animal is under 4 weeks old using a rubber ring. If an older animal needs to be castrated, consult your veterinarian for advice.
A tethered goat should be kept in good physical condition. This is achieved by good feeding of a diet which provides all the nutrients needed, along with plenty of variety. For example, don’t expect a goat to thrive on a constant diet of gorse!