Tethered goats suffer from winter neglect

legalThe tethered goat causes more welfare complaints to MAF and SPCA inspectors than any other animal, and winter is the worst time for this neglect.  People should remember that a goat is not a sheep! 

Goats as a species do not have a layer of fat under their skin to act as insulation against cold like sheep do.  Goats really feel the cold so they need good shelter from wind and rain. 

Goat shelters are easily made, but because bossy individuals often guard them jealously from others, there should be enough shelters for all the animals in the paddock.  Unless they have grating floors, shelters should be moved regularly. 

The fact that so many goats used as mowing machines at gateways and in gullies are tethered causes greater stress, as they are not always free to seek shelter.  Often when tethered in scrub, they get entangled and cannot reach their shelter.  In far too many cases seen by animal welfare inspectors, the shelters are too small for the animal to stand up inside.  You often see a poor goat with its head inside the shelter because its body will not fit! 

Feed supply is often not adequate for goats in winter.  There is very little nutritional value in gorse, fern and scrub!  A supplement of good hay and some meal should be given to provide the essential nutrients to help the animal meet the chills of winter.  At the same time, the digestion of good quality roughage generates heat within ruminants like the goat. 

It's also important to remember that goats in winter still need a supply of fresh water in a container that cannot be tipped over.   In the dark nights of winter it's also essential to make sure that the goat cannot reach the tar seal in an attempt to find a drier place to rest.  Goat owners could be liable for any accidents caused by their animals.

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