Beginners’ Guide to Raising Goats as Pets or Producers

Welcome to this guide to starting up with goats as a smallholder or pet owner. This work will be continually revised, so please add comments and suggestions!

Here is advice I have learned from owning goats and studying their needs and behaviour as a smallholder in north-west France, plus tips I learned from volunteering at Buttercups Goat Sanctuary in Maidstone, UK, and evidence from scientific studies.

This is what I believe every new owner should start out knowing, carefully thinking about or looking into.

Firstly, remember that every goat is

… an individual


… just like Georgette here …

and one may behave differently or have different needs from others. They have strong and distinct personalities, just like us, and their physical and mental needs are very particular to their species.

I would like to guide you through the following topics:

Finding the right goats

Choosing the right breed, number, sex and age.

Preparing goat accommodation

Fencing, housing, food racks, first aid cupboard, vet details and registration.


Hay, pasture, poisonous plants, vegetables, hard feed, minerals, water, seasonal changes.

Health care basics

Rumen and its potential problems including bloat and diarrhea, parasites, hoof care, vaccinations, signs of disease.

Goat behaviour

Making sure goats are the right animals for you and you understand their needs.

Later, I’ll have things to say about breeding and kid care, but it’s important to know goats – and to know your goats as individuals – first. Can’t wait? Adobe_PDF_file_icon_24x24Download article

Contact me with any questions if you need to know something sooner.

2 thoughts on “Beginners’ Guide to Raising Goats as Pets or Producers

  1. Hi, Have you written anything about keeping goats in France please – fencing regs, vaccination regs etc. We are just about to get our first pygmy goats and we live in Department 16 (Charente). Looking for something in English that I can refer to and make sure I’m doing everything right.

    Best wishes

    Jackie Cox


    1. Hi Jackie. Thank you for asking. I have not written about this yet, but it’s a great idea for a new post. For now I will say you need to contact your Chambre d’Agriculture in Charentes (by e-mail will do), and they will send you a form to register your smallholding as a “cheptel” (holding registered for keeping goats). Every year you fill in a census of how many goats you own and pay about 20 euros to stay registered. The goats need to be tagged in both ears or in one ear and with one leg band by six months of age. Any goats you sell or give away must be tagged and a form filled in and sent to the Chambre d’Agriculture Charentes for each journey. You may get an inspection. The inspector just checks your log of your goats, your tags and your transport forms. You register with your vet and send a form signed by them to the Cd’A. It’s good to get a relationship going with your vet anyway in case they need to come for treatment. They may ask you to book a “prophylaxie”, a test for brucellosis, every two years, but in some departments you are exempt if you do not buy or sell and have less than 4 goats.

      That’s the legal stuff. Now fencing, you need to make sure your goats don’t get out onto your neighbours’ land or into plants you are growing. So strong chestnut posts and stock fencing (grillage mouton) at least 1 m high.

      Vaccination: not imposed by law but I advise Miloxan, a vaccine against costridial bacteria native in the soil, including tetanus (humans should get a tetanus boost too). You can buy Miloxan from the vet and inject it yourself subcutaneously. You give two vaccines one month a part, then a booster every year.

      I’m happy to answer any other questions about goatkeeping in France. You could also join our local group on Facebook called Bocage Smallholders for further local advice.

      Happy goatkeeping! 🙂


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