Goats are curious, intelligent and more than a little mischievous, qualities that can quickly get them into trouble if they feel bored. Fortunately, there are many creative and easy ways of entertaining goats to help them exercise their natural inventiveness and ingenuity without pesky problems.
Why Entertainment Is Essential
A bored goat without any means of entertainment will seek to entertain itself, possibly in damaging or dangerous ways. Because these animals are agile climbers, have powerful muscles and a propensity to chew on just about anything, they could…
- Butt or push on fences, knocking them down and leading to escapes
- Chew on posts, debris or other items and cause damage or suffer mouth injuries
- Climb onto unsafe surfaces that may lead to slips and falls
- Resort to bullying or aggressive, territorial behavior that impacts other animals
Furthermore, a bored goat will have increased levels of stress and anxiety, which can lead to health problems as well as lowered productivity with less milk production or poor nursing care. When goats are entertained, however, they are happier and more engaged, get better exercise and live more fulfilling lives.
Fun Ways to Entertain Goats
There are many different ways to keep goats occupied and entertained. Just like any entertainment, however, not all goats will enjoy the same activities, and it is best to offer several options to give each animal something fun to explore.
- Change of Scenery
Entertaining goats can be as simple as letting them explore someplace new. If you have different corrals or pastures the goats can use, move them between locations periodically so they don't get bored always staying in the same place.
- Scratching Station
Goats love to scratch, and a scratching station can help them sooth any itches with ease. A column of rough-edged bricks or cinderblocks is an easy option, or cover a post with rough material or bristle brushes so the goats can rub their itches away.
- Climbing Mountain
These sure-footed animals love to climb and explore. A climbing structure could be a wooden jungle gym with steps, ramps and bridges, or might be as simple as a tumbled pile of stovewood. Hay bales, old tires and other materials can also create great climbing arenas for goats.
- Ball Games
Different sizes and colors of balls make great toys for goats, and they will kick, butt and push them around. Choose balls with different levels of firmness as well, and goats may even try to climb or balance on larger balls.
Tunnels, nooks and hideaways are fun for goats to explore. A simple tunnel of half-buried tires can provide hours of entertainment, or a large section of pipe, a series of A-frames or trellises, an open tent or hay bales stacked with secret spaces will keep goats happily occupied.
- Recycled Toys
Toys your human kids have outgrown can be perfect for your four-legged kids. Plastic slides or playhouses, kiddie pools or see-saws are great options, and goats will also love "big kid" toys as well such as a camper shell or small boat that has seen better days.
- Roof Access
Because goats love to climb, allowing them on to the roof of a shed, garage or barn is a great way to give them more space. Stacked hay bales, bricks, rocks or wood can give them access to the roof, or you can build a ramp. Just be sure the roof's pitch is safe for them to explore.
- Treat Balls
Give goats an extra special treat with a snack-filled toy they can kick and butt. A plastic container such as an old jug is ideal, and you can poke a few holes in the sides. Add a handful of pelleted feed or grain to the jug and toss the toy into the goats' pen for hours of fun.
Goats will nibble and taste just about anything, and offering them occasional branches or brush to sample will keep them entertained and supplement their feed. Be sure to avoid any potentially toxic plants or prunings when you add them to the goat pen.
These are social creatures that crave companionship, and a herd of goats can be even more fun than just one. But if you can't have multiple goats, they also get along well with sheep, cows, donkeys, cats and dogs, so let other animals visit for a play date to keep your goat entertained.
Change the activities you offer your goat often to keep them enjoying new and different things, and you'll never have to worry about the trouble a bored goat may get into.