Kids are playful, curious, and extremely outgoing. The description applies equally to human children and young goats, and fittingly, children and kids get along wonderfully together. Children will be entranced by the goats' cute faces and playful behavior. Young goats will delight in having new people to frolic with. The rewards for both types of kids are great, but as with any new adventure, there will be a learning curve.
Teaching Kids to Work With Kids
Before being introduced to goats, children need to be instructed in how to treat them. Goats are social and sweet, but if a young child starts hitting them with a stick, the goat will take it upon itself to correct the behavior in a possibly painful way. Explain to a child that goats need to be treated gently and respectfully. If a child is too young to understand, adult supervision will be required until they’re old enough to act accordingly. Since goats have different personalities, pick one that will be gentle and receptive to a child. Supervise the first meeting to see how they interact.
Once introduced, children need to be taught how to take care of the goat. Feeding baby goats can be a fun activity, but just as much importance should be placed on keeping the pen clean. Children will also need to be told how to train the baby goat. Goats like to head-butt during play, and while this can be extremely cute when they’re babies, it can be very dangerous as adults, especially if they have horns. Teach children to gently push the goat’s head aside when they lower it for butting, and explain that the children shouldn’t encourage butting behavior.
Isn't it Dangerous?
As with any pet, there are risks, but these are easily avoided or managed with a little preventative care. There are diseases, called zoonotic diseases, that can pass from livestock to humans. Children should be taught to wash their hands before and after interacting with their goat friends and should be instructed to cover any scratches or cuts to prevent infection. It’s also important to teach children the correct way to approach a goat: always from the front, never from behind, and speaking softly to let the animal know you’re there.
There will be accidents when a child approaches too quickly or a goat gets startled, and bites or scratches are bound to happen. When this happens, wash the wound with warm water and soap. Seek medical attention if the wound worsens or the animal acts oddly. Regardless of injury, both the child and goat should go for regular medical checkups to make sure they’re healthy.
Benefits for Everyone
Introducing children to goats at a young age helps instill an appreciation for livestock and an interest in agriculture. Caring for a goat will also teach children about responsibility, animal welfare, and husbandry. Be advised that if a child is dedicated to raising and looking after a goat for the duration of its life, there will be some stressful and possibly sad lessons about birth and death. However, the time that the child and goat spend together will be a happy one, built on mutual trust and affection. The goat can happily look forward to the next time its human friend comes to give food and play, and the child will get to witness the uniquely special process of an animal growing and flourishing under their care.