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A Dog's Life For The Sociable Goat


21 June 2004


"Goats deserve a better deal", according to the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

"All over New Zealand, you can see single goats tethered by the roadside to keep the grass verge tidy. They often look quite picturesque but that doesn't mean they're happy or well cared-for. In fact, all too often, they're thin, lonely and miserable," says the SPCA's Acting Chief Executive, Jenny Prattley.

"It really does get my goat to see how some of these intelligent creatures are treated. Goats are very sociable animals and most of them would far rather be grazing freely in a paddock with other goats than tethered on their own all day and often all night as well.

"It's a myth that goats will eat just about anything. They're actually very fussy eaters and a small area of dusty, oily grass by the roadside just won't suit their fastidious palate for very long. In addition, a tethered goat is highly vulnerable to attacks by dogs or to being hit by vehicles. And there are also cases of deliberate cruelty to goats by passing humans, including children," she says.

Jenny Prattley adds that people who truly want the best for their goats should un-tether them and set them free to graze in paddocks, preferably alongside others of their own kind. But, she says, if goats have to be tethered, there are ways of making their lives safer and happier.

"Firstly, the collar should not be too tight and the goat should not be tethered so that it can wander onto the road where it might get hit by a vehicle, or over a bank where it could be hanged.

"Secondly, the goat should be kept close to home particularly at night, to protect it from roadside hazards of one sort or another.

"Thirdly, goats hate getting cold and wet because, unlike sheep, they don't have the good insulation and waterproofing provided by wool. So the least you can do for your lonely, restricted goat is to provide him or her with a robust, weather-proof hut.

"And, fourthly, if your sociable goat has to be tethered, it's going to be less lonely if it's tame, hand-reared and given lots of attention," she says.

Additional steps recommended by the SPCA include frequent moving of the goat to fresh grass and making sure there is an available water container which can't be easily overturned.

And, tethered or not, the Society says that all goats need regular anthelmintic drenches to get rid of their internal worms as well as regular hoof trims. Angora-type goats, moreover, need shearing every springtime.


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