What miniature goats can teach us about being a responsible animal caretaker

Posted May 13, 2022 at 2:46 pm by

Contributed photo

Fri­day Har­bor High School junior Audrey Allen shares insights about the com­mu­ni­ty project at Island Haven Ani­mal Sanc­tu­ary that she recent­ly com­plet­ed with fel­low junior Eleanor Rollins.

I start­ed my research on farm ani­mals when my com­mu­ni­ty project at Fri­day Har­bor High School start­ed. My col­league Eleanor and I want­ed to work with Island Haven Ani­mal Sanc­tu­ary here on the island.

Island Haven takes in farm ani­mals who need homes. This most often hap­pens when the peo­ple who had the ani­mal pre­vi­ous­ly could no longer take care of it, when the ani­mal is no longer want­ed due to ill­ness or age, or when the ani­mal’s envi­ron­ment is no longer safe. Island Haven takes in these ani­mals and takes care of them to fit their indi­vid­ual needs.

Like most ani­mals, goats need to be able to play and run around. For young minia­ture goats, it is espe­cial­ly impor­tant for them to have dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties. To help sat­is­fy this need, Eleanor and I decid­ed to build Island Haven’s minia­ture goats a minia­ture play­ground in order to give them a fun toy and new stim­uli. We end­ed up mak­ing a teeter-tot­ter, a bal­ance beam, and added some wood rounds for the goats to jump around on as part of our play­ground. We researched what types of non-harm­ful woods we should use and fig­ured out what goats most like to play with. We were for­tu­nate to find a few gen­er­ous peo­ple who donat­ed wood and sup­plies to us and helped us reach our goals.

But it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er the rea­sons why the goats end­ed up at Island Haven at all.

Hav­ing farm ani­mals can be real­ly excit­ing and enrich­ing for both adults and chil­dren. You learn many good skills and there is such a big reward. Many ani­mals can make great pets. But one key fac­tor when decid­ing whether or not to own an ani­mal is under­stand­ing what that pet needs. Own­ing a cat is much dif­fer­ent than own­ing a horse, for exam­ple. That is why it is so impor­tant to know what you are get­ting into, make sure you have the space, and be cer­tain you have the bud­get to take on the respon­si­bil­i­ties of own­ing farm animals.

Not under­stand­ing an ani­mal’s needs is one of the main rea­sons why own­ing farm ani­mals doesn’t always work out. The cost of own­ing a farm ani­mal can be a lot more than you would expect. For exam­ple, a cow just eats grass, and one might expect to not need to feed a cow because of this. But the annu­al cost of own­ing a cow is approx­i­mate­ly $850 dol­lars per year when con­sid­er­ing expens­es like addi­tion­al feed, med­ica­tions, and vet­eri­nary care. Cows typ­i­cal­ly live between 15 and 20 years old, which means the total cost of own­ing a cow for its full life span can cost as much as $17,000.

Before bring­ing home a farm ani­mal, con­sid­er ask­ing for a test tri­al from the com­pa­ny you are buy­ing the ani­mal from. Ask to have the ani­mal on your prop­er­ty for two to four weeks so that you can see what it is like to take care of the ani­mal and adjust your sched­ule to their needs. Tak­ing this test peri­od can also help with iden­ti­fy­ing any dis­eases the ani­mal may have and fig­ur­ing out if those dis­eases can be addressed or not before pur­chas­ing the animal.

It’s also rec­om­mend­ed to do your own research. Go onto the inter­net, or talk to oth­er farm­ers who own sim­i­lar ani­mals and find out about their expe­ri­ences. You should also learn details about the ani­mal’s basic needs and try to get an idea of both the annu­al and full-life costs of tak­ing care of the animal.

If you decide a farm ani­mal is right for you, make sure to main­tain their enclo­sures — check fences week­ly, make sure the enclo­sures are safe, and check for bro­ken gates or struc­tures. If you do rota­tion­al feed­ing, you also need to make sure you are fol­low­ing your sched­ule for 180 days, and no ear­li­er, oth­er­wise the manure does not have time to decom­pose the dis­eases inside.

If you have oth­er ques­tions about ani­mal care, please reach out to Island Haven Ani­mal Sanc­tu­ary.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

One comment...

  1. Very inter­est­ing! Thanks!

    Comment by Margaret Bell on May 14, 2022 at 7:07 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0