Goats (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock (PB9733 & PB0081)


For the purposes of this Code the word 'goat' refers to all caprine stock, and an animal under which six months is considered to be a kid.

1. Goats in Great Britain cover a variety of breed types each with its own unique characteristics. The recommendations in this Code are appropriate to goats under various husbandry systems, and their application will help to ensure that the welfare of the stock is safeguarded.

2. The goat has a natural tendency to browse and range for its food and these factors should be taken into account in deciding on a suitable environment. Many breeds of goat require more protection from inclement weather than cattle or sheep and, whatever husbandry system is adopted, some form of shelter should be provided.

3. Goats, being gregarious animals, prefer to live in social groups and appear to enjoy human contact. If kept singly, they require more frequent contact with, and supervision by, the stockman. They should always be treated as individuals, even when kept in large herds. When forming new groups, care should be taken to avoid fighting and stress if adult animals are mixed (see paragraph 30). Goats prefer to be led but can be driven if care is taken.

4. The number and type of goats kept and the stocking rate should depend on the suitability of the environment and the skills of the stockman.

5. Although very large herds can be managed successfully, in general the larger the size of the unit the greater the degree of skill and conscientiousness needed to safeguard welfare. The size of a unit should not be increased nor should a large unit be set up unless it is reasonably certain that the stockman in charge will be able to safeguard the welfare of the individual animal.

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