If you are considering keeping goats, you might be wondering ‘How Long Do Goats Live’? It’s a valid question, especially if you love goats and are thinking of starting and or raising your own herd. And secondly, if you hope to ensure the longevity and well-being of your ‘kids’, we’ll give you some pointers.
The question about goat lifespan is actually a complicated one, as not all goat breeds live the same length of time. Before you get started on raising a goat herd, you should know the tendencies and characteristics of the different breeds of goats. Regardless of which breed you are considering, there are two critical factors:
2. PROPER CARE
The Never Easy to Answer but Always Asked Question of Goat Longevity
When asking or researching “how long do goats live?”, you will find some very common answers. In general, a goat might live anywhere from eight to eighteen years, although proper care will go a long way to increase lifespan. We’ll elaborate more on exactly what proper care entails.
Depending on the breed you choose to raise, giving your goats the premium care they deserve, your own human children may still be raising goats you purchased when they were born.
Breeds of Goats
While breeds of goats aren’t as varied as say cat or dog breeds, there are still enough goat breeds to choose from. These goat breeds are some of the most commonly raised goats in the United States, although they can be raised anywhere in the world.
- Nubian goats
- Anglo-Nubian goats
- Alpine goats
- Oberhasli goats
- American Lamancha goats
- Nigerian Dwarf goats
- Pygmy goats
- Saanen goats
The health of your goats and the climate in which they best thrive are key to the goat lifespan.
How Long Do Pygmy Goats Live?
Pygmy goats are the smallest goats of all goat breeds. Despite their tiny size, they live a very long life for a goat. If they are properly penned and cared for, they may even outlive their expected ten to fifteen years. That is the short answer to “How long do pygmy goats live?”.
It is important to provide your pygmies with plenty of good, clean water and lots of all-natural, chemical-free goat feed.
They will nibble on just about anything, so keep their pens free of wood, toxic weeds, and rocks. All of these things (and more) can cause problems and health issues in your pygmy goat. Practice prevention from the beginning!
Tips On Feeding By Weight
Feed by weight. It’s easy to feed by the instructions on a bag of feed. However, it takes a bit more observation on your part to feed by observation. Is your kid or goat a little slim? Feed extra. Looking a little pudgy around the middle. Cut the feed by just a bit and then observe over the next few weeks. Adjust as per necessary.
You definitely don’t want to overfeed as that causes its own problems. The best way to feed is to go by your goat ~ don’t make your goat go by the bag! Your powers of observation are the best guide to go by. Just as humans, goats’ needs and physiology change, and what was the perfect amount to feed in the summer isn’t quite enough in the winter. Don’t be afraid to divert from the standard size serving. Every goat is unique in its own way.
Goats get more nutrition from grazing during warmer months and from hay in the colder months. Grazing is a priority for the health of a goat. In comparison, it would be the difference between eating a freshly prepared homemade meal to consuming a meal from the frozen dinner section of your supermarket.
Which would you prefer?
How Long Do Nigerian Dwarf Goats Live?
Nigerian Dwarf goats are small goats too, except that they are larger than their pygmy goat cousins. They tend to have broader faces and are slightly more rotund through the belly. Nigerian dwarf goats also live longer than pygmies, averaging about fifteen years of goat lifespan to the pygmy goat lifespan of twelve years.
If you like little goats and you love the idea of spending many happy and fun years raising your goats as pets, then the Nigerian Dwarf is probably the right option for you.
How Long Do Boer Goats Live?
If you want to know how long Boer goats live, the answer is a mixed bag. The bucks, or male goats, tend to live almost a decade shorter than the female goats (or does). Bucks live between eight to twelve years, while does live between twelve to twenty years.
That is good news if you want to raise goats for wool, meat, milk, and cheese. The females will provide you with years of goat-related products.
Boer goats are a favorite of goat farmers here in the U.S. because Boer goats love to chomp down on weeds. They will clear your pastures of noxious plants lickety-split, a major plus to owning goats of this type.
Boer Goats Are Easy Feeders
It also means that in warmer months you never have to worry about what to feed them or how much to feed them. They have iron-clad stomachs built for weed destruction.
Probably your biggest issue with Boer goats is that the does will be very difficult to round up to milk. They are quick, spritely, and able to get away from you in an open pasture.
If you have a few does that you want specifically for goat milk and cheese, rather than keep them in a smaller paddock and/or on a tethered line, make friends with them and develop a long-term forever relationship. Help them to see you as a welcome companion as opposed to always chasing them down.
If you want to use them for weeding, put your milking goats on walking lines and walk them around patches of weeds, hang out, spend some time together.
Keeping Nearly Wild Goats
Domestic goats are of course the result of rounding up wild goats centuries ago and domesticating them. Could you do the same if you have wild goats living near you? Sure, you could, but wild goats cannot be fully tamed. If they escape your barnyard, you will be hard-pressed to get them back.
Then there’s the question of how long do goats live in captivity. If you’re talking about real goats taken from the wild in an attempt to domesticate them, probably not very long. Most wild goats have much shorter lifespans than their domesticated cousins. Part of that has to do with predators in the wild, and part of it has to do with the rough and tumble lives wild goats live.
Wild goats that are born wild usually live about ten years or less. Many do not live more than six years because of parasites, predators, and harsh living conditions.
On the flip side, if you are talking about domesticated goats that you have not tended often enough to keep them from going feral, that’s a different story. These domestic-turned-feral-turned-domestic-again goats can still lead very long lives if they are fed healthy feed, preferably organic, have access to non-chemical water, and generally have a quality pasture environment.
As a responsible goat owner, you should never let your goats roam due to the reality of predators usually living on the periphery.
How Long Do Goats Live IF You Care for Them Well?
Most goats will meet or exceed their life expectancy for their breed if they are cared for well. This includes good management practices, proper feeding, responsible breeding, providing mineral supplements, preventing diseases like goat polio, and keeping a clean pen or paddock.
What Is Goat Polio?
Unlike human polio, goat polio is not a viral infection. Instead, it’s a lack of selenium or nutrients the goat needs to maintain its gut health. It will move in circles, fall over, bleat, not eat much or not eat anything at all, and if left untreated it will die. It’s a pretty serious condition, but it’s not entirely irreversible.
If caught early, there is a good chance of survival. Here again, keeping your goat’s immune system strong with bioavailable minerals and vitamins is what you want to do from the start. Prevention, prevention, prevention!!!
Keeping A Clean Paddock And Pastures
Whether your goat’s house is a paddock, pasture, or a barn and really all 3 are ideal, keeping the structures clean and maintained is just as important an aspect as any other good management practice.
Keeping a goat’s pen clean is an essential task on the homestead since goats can quickly develop worms or parasites, especially during warm or wet weather. At the same time, goats are pretty messy livestock, so keeping their pen clean will be challenging. However, there are some easy ways to keep the pen sanitary and the goats healthy. Here’s are some methods I found that work.
One of the several important ways to keep your goat’s immune system strong and avoid worms and parasites is to keep CLEAN living quarters. This can’t be stressed enough and is on top of the essential task list. Worms and parasites are especially prolific in the spring and summer, the warmer weather.
Most importantly, it is imperative to keep their area tidy on a very consistent basis. Goats and for that matter all livestock can be a bit messy but there are fairly easy-to-do-routines that will provide for sanitary living quarters and healthy goats.
- #1 Change bedding regularly and as needed
- #2 Keep the area dry – this prevents bacteria, mold, and mildew
- #3 Use Lime Powder to disinfect the floor
- #4 Deep Litter Method
Other Factors That Affect Goat Longevity
When asking “How long do goats live?”, the different factors at play can push the life cycle of goats behind or into the future. If you have more than one male, they will fight for dominance and headbutt to the death if you let them. If you allow the goats to keep their horns, the bucks will use them to wound and kill. Does will sometimes injure other animals in the herd too.
Your best bet then is to have only one adult male goat for breeding purposes. Unless it’s breeding season, keep him out of the same pen or paddock as the does. Shear horns off right at the head so none of the herd can be injured by another member.
Does can and often do give birth to twins, triplets, and even quadruplets. The more kids they carry, the greater the risk for their health. They should remain under a watchful eye. If it looks like they are trying to give birth, put them in the barn and stay with them, be prepared to help if your help is needed.
If you don’t mind doing so, reach inside the doe and help her deliver the kids to ease her pain from pushing. Be careful not to tear the vagina or uterus if you want the doe to live a long life.
Kids are more likely to die from accidentally being stepped on by a larger animal. Keep the mom and her kids in a barn stall until they are bigger and can run and romp as kids do. It will help prevent injuries from adult goats or bigger farm animals sharing the paddock or pen.
Goats can be fun to raise. They provide you with a lot of goat products too. However, they are at least an eight-year commitment. If you don’t think you can spend the next eight-plus years raising goats, you might want to consider another sort of animal or pet to raise.
Different breeds of goats have different lifespans and can be affected by innumerable factors. Taking excellent care of these animals can prolong their lives and even increase life expectancy. Here is a list to summarize the most important factors:
- Climate ~ Breed Specific
- Non-Chemical, Organic, Soy-Free Feed
- Clean Drinking Water Source (not tap)
- Support A Strong Immune System: Minerals, Vitamins, Colostrum
- Prevent Worms and Diseases By Implementing All The Above
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