How long do goats live: lifespan of a goat and what it depends on
How long do goats live: lifespan of a goat
Buying a goat is always an investment – both financial and emotional. Of course, you are planning to get some sort of reward after putting time, money and effort into building your herd – and usually all the work is worth it. But of course it all depends on many factors, such as your goat’s fertility, the length of their lactation cycle, their milk productivity, the quality of their milk and meat and so on. Another important factor is lifespan of a goat. How long do goats live? How long will you be able to receive milk from your goat? And what factors does it depend on? Let’s find out.
Short answer: an average goat can live anywhere from 8 to 15 years, but some goats’ lifespan is as long as 20 years! A lot of factors come into play here, and you can generally do quite a lot to make sure your goat lives a very long, healthy life.
How long do goats live: lifespan of a goat depending on the breed
How long do goats live? Comparative table of lifespan of a goat depending on the breed
|Goat Breed||Alpine Goat||Oberhasli Goat||LaMancha Goat||Toggenburg Goat||Kiko Goat||Boer Goat||Pygmy Goat||Saanen Goat||Nubian Goat||Pygora Goat|
|Average goat lifespan||7-13 years||7-13 years||7-13 years||7-13 years||7-13 years||7-13 years||7-13 years||15-20||7-13 years||7-13 years|
Certain breeds of goats tend to live longer than others. Such breeds as Alpine goats, Boers, Kiko goats, LaMancha goats, Oberhasli, Pygmy and Toggenburg goats live around 7-13 years or so. Some breeds live a little longer. Saanen goats tend to live up to 15 years old if they are taken care of properly. Same can be said about Nubian goats and Pygora goats.
In general, meat goats tend to live around 8-12 years. Of course, if you are raising your goats for meat, you will normally want to take them to the butcher before they age too much. Usually meat goats are raised till they are 1.5-2 years old before they are butchered. Meat from a young goat of 6-8 months is considered to be delicacy.
Dairy goats can live 15 years on average, with some goats reaching up to 18 – 20 years if they are well taken care of.
When it comes to the breed, it also depends on how well adapted that breed is to the climactic and geographic area where you are located. Some breeds inherently do better in dry and hot climates and don’t thrive in wet and cold climates. Some are hardy goats and love cooler temperatures. It all just really depends on the particular breed and how well they can do in your country/area. Almost all goats do much better in dryer climates and do not do well in moist climates, because goats inherently do not like wet climates.
How long do goats live: quality of care matters
When it comes to lifespan of a goat, a lot depends on the goat breed, and we will certainly look at that further in this article. However, regardless of the breed, the quality of care you provide to your goat can really define your goat lifespan. Most goat breeds aren’t particularly demanding in terms of specific requirements (although each breed does have their own little quirks which you as an owner should be aware of). Normally you shouldn’t encounter too many difficulties providing your goats with what they need to strive. Here is a basis of what they need to stay at a good level of health and productivity.
Living space matters!
To keep them happy and healthy, your goats will need enough barn space to be comfortable. This is why you need to decide early on how many goats you are going to be getting, and whether you have the right amount of space for them. One thing can be said for certain: you absolutely cannot get just one goat. Goats are herd animals and need other goats to feel safe and secure. They simply don’t thrive if they are lonely: moreover, they are very likely to get sick physically and emotionally if they don’t have any buddies to keep them company.
On the other hand, living in overly crowded environments isn’t very good for your goats either. You will need about 20 sq feet per goat of resting and sleeping area, and another25-30 sq feet for them to roam on. (This is unless you have a giant pasture for them to free range during the day, which, if you do – good for you! If you do live in the countryside and happen to be the lucky owner of a large pasture, your goats will spend most of the time free-ranging, and they will only need about 15 sq feet per goat of sleeping area for their night rest.
If some of your does are going to have kids, you need around 5 sq ft kidding area per doe.
If you make sure your goats have about this much space for their daily goings-on, they will be happy and content goats and that will definitely contribute to their long and healthy life.
Another important factor in your goat lifespan is to make sure their living areas are well taken care of. In the summer your goats can spend all day on pasture – this is perfect if you have a large pasture. But they still do need a barn or some sort of a shelter to spend their nights in. Also, goats spend a lot of the time in their barn during winter when the cold or snow doesn’t allow them to spend much time outside. A shelter has to be warm enough – especially in northern climates. The walls of the barn should always be insulated against the outside cold. (It would also help keep it cool during the summer heat).
The flooring should be gravel or dirt, both of which are warm when covered with straw and tend to absorb liquids very well. You also need proper bedding which is soft and warm enough for your goats to be comfortable (and always dry!). This should be an area that is easy for you to keep dry and clean out regularly.
Your goats shelter can be open-style if you live in a warm climate. But if you are building a barn in the Northern climate, it has to be closed type.
Apart from your goats living, feeding, sleeping and kidding area, keep in mind you also need a section of the barm to perform regular upkeep tasks such as trimming hooves and milking if you have dairy goats.
You can read more on creating a perfect goat barn here.
Lifespan of a goat: food quality is critical
Feeding your goats correctly is absolutely critical to increase your goat’s lifespan and keep them healthy. It’s not enough to just feed them till they are full. It’s important to make sure you are offering your goat nutritious, balanced meal plan that covers all their needs in nutrients and vitamins, as well as protein and amino acids. Young kids are usually fed milk until they are around 4 months old. If you are lucky, the doe will do this job on her own and you won’t need to do a thing. If a doe has trouble breast feeding, or refuses to take care of her kids, you will have to step in and hand feed your little goats.
Adult goats also have demands when it comes to feeding. Unlike cows or even sheep, goats are not grazers, but browsers. This means they prefer brush, bushes, tree branches, weeds to just eating grass down to th root, like sheep and cows do. This is also why you shouldn’t rely on your goat to mow your grass. That’s not how goats eat. They will be much happier with eating up your bushes and lower branches of your fruit trees. Another thing is goats like traveling a lot when they eat, so they can munch a little bit here, then a little bit more there etc. They don’t like staying at the same spot all the time.
If you have a large pasture with lots of brush and woody weeds and trees, your goats may be very happy. Not all of us do. In fact, most people have to provide feed for their goats to satisfy all their needs. (And even if you do have a pasture, you will need to feed your goats in winter anyway). You need to make sure your goats are getting enough roughage and concentrates to get both fiber and bulk as well as packed energy in their diet. Hay (especially alfalfa and other legume-based hay) is an excellent choice. You can also add chaffhaye.
As a concentrate, various grains are used, such as rye, corn, oats and others, will also be a part of your goat’s diet. Most goat owners also add apples, cabbage, carrots and other raw vegetables to their goats’ diet on a regular basis. Read more about feeding your goats correctly here.
Water is also important. Staying well-hydrated is absolutely necessary for your herd health. Make sure your goats always have access to clean water. A goat will not drink water that has any dirt/mess/other particles in it, so normally the water has to be changed at least once a day, preferably more. A highly productive dairy goat can drink as much as 8-15 L of water per day.
How you can help make lifespan of a goat longer
One of the things that can definitely affect a female goat lifespan is pregnancy. High fertility is a wonderful gift for us as goat owners, but it does take a toll on the goat’s body, so pregnancies need to be approached thoughtfully. Early pregnancies are not very healthy for the does. A doe is considered fully mature at around 1 year of age, some breeds – at about 14 months. It is not recommended to have a doe get pregnant before she is at least 14 – 18 months old. If you breed a younger doe, you may end up seeing complications such as mastitis, birth issues and trauma. The does lose a lot of their health when they are bred too early, which can shorten their lifespan.
Another thing to keep in mind with goats getting pregnant too early or too often is that sometimes they will start eating more than they should to replenish their energy and nutrients, which can cause digestive issues and early death.
Irregular, excessive breeding is also bad for the bucks lifespan! If they are bred too often or if they live together with does and cover them without you “regulating” the frequency of breeding, the goat can become unhealthy too due to stress and constant “overworking”. (Which they will, provided there are does in heat around them.) Always separate bucks from does.
Did you know that trimming your goat’s hooves can make them live longer and be more productive? Untrimmed hooves can cause lowered appetite, malnutrition and unsuccessful breeding due to the goat’s issues with their feet.
Inbreeding goats leads to the new generations living shorter lives! If you want animals with long, healthy life span, try to not inbreed your goats and always use new animals to create a new generation.
Worms and other parasites can be very detrimental to a goat’s lifespan and their health and well-being. Make sure to watch you goats for the signs of worm infestation and use proper medications to help them get rid of unwanted guests.
Lifespan of a goat: what changes can you expect as your goat ages?
No matter how long your goat lives, a lot of things change as your goats age. For you as a goat owner, it will be especially clear that your goat’s fertility and productivity tends to go down with age. With dairy goats, milk productivity normally goes up steadily with every freshening, until about the age of 5-6 years old. Then the productivity tends to level off and stay at the same level for a while, before it inadvertently goes down.
This is because the goat’s physical state, unfortunately, begins to slowly deteriorate as they become older. The goat’s teeth will become less sharp and strong, which will affect their eating and the amount of nutrients they are getting. This, however, can be somewhat mitigated if you minimize time on pasture in favor of feeding your goat more hay, cabbage leaves, potatoes and beets. This will allow your goat to get more vitamins and minerals while using their teeth less/in a more delicate manner than if they had to eat on pasture.
Wool goats productivity also goes down as the goat ages. Production of wool stays at about the same level till around 7 or 8 years old, after which it starts to slowly reduce. This is also due to the goat’s teeth becoming less optimal, which lowers their nutrient intake and is reflected in the quantity and quality of their coat. This can also be mitigated by specially tailored high nutrient density diet that’s easy for the goat to consume.
How long do goats live? When is it time to sell your goat?
Aging of your herd is inadvertent, no matter how well you care for your goats. Many people prefer not to wait till their goat goes into “retirement”, but try to sell them when they are still at the top of their strength. This is a good strategy if you don’t want to house and care for an aging animal and if you prefer to get some extra benefit after you have already gotten plenty of milk/wool from your goat. Another way to “retire” your older goat is to use them for meat, as many goat owners out there do.