Are you a newbie homesteader interested in keeping goats in your suburban home? We don’t want to break the bubble for you.
But before you should do that, you need to face the reality that there will be challenges in raising goats and your local laws.
But do not fret! We’ll help you navigate the goat keeping world and discuss:
- 3 things you need to consider when raising goats
- 6 helpful tips when raising goats
- and the answer to some of the most frequently asked questions about goats and livestock laws
So, before you take a plunge into having adorable goats and kids, let’s look into the legal aspect of having goats.
Raising Goats and Your Local Laws
With a lifespan of 8 to 12 years, raising goats can be fulfilling but challenging for a newbie farmer or homesteader.
One of the most crucial things you need to consider is the legality of keeping and raising this kind of livestock in your area.
Are you living in a city or a suburban area? No matter where you are, don’t forget to check these 3 legal aspects before purchasing a goat.
1. Check the livestock zoning laws and ordinances
It can indeed be exciting to raise goats, but check the legality of raising goats in your zoning district before purchasing one.
There’s no answer to raising goats because each state and locality regulates livestock and farming in different ways.
Some areas allow goats while others do not prohibit them but have some conditions.
Even credible lawyer sites are not 100% reliable because they may not be specific to your state or zone.
It will depend on whether your property is in a residential or agricultural zone.
So, you must reach out to your local zoning board office or building inspector if it’s allowed to keep goats and other livestock in your area.
Animals are usually regulated in various ways, so you need to check the general city/town ordinances or bylaws related to nuisance and control.
Many communities deem goats as a “nuisance animal,” so that’s worth considering too.
It’s best to get a copy of the rules and setbacks in goat keeping. You may also ask the following questions to the authorities to avoid confusion.
Questions you may ask:
1. Is there any rule in the book that states whether goats are allowed or not?
2. Is there any rule that regulates the keeping of farm animals or livestock?
3. Do the rules define what livestock or farm animal is?
4. Do the rules specify the size of an animal that you can keep?
5. Some cities allow raising goats, but they should be kept at a certain distance from property lines or buildings. So, is there any setback?
6. Do the rules specify the minimum lot size for goats or farm animals?
7. If goats are prohibited, is there any way to obtain a formal exemption? If so, what is the process, and how much would it cost to get it?
2. Consider the homeowner’s association or condominium rules
If you belong to a specific association or live in a condominium, you must abide by its rules and regulations.
So, even if keeping and raising goats is not prohibited in your zone, you may be subject to stricter regulations.
3. Follow the local laws
Even if your community allows raising goats and the zoning provisions does not prohibit it, you still need to check and follow the regulations.
Some cities specify the types of goats allowed and have other rules that you need to adhere to. For example, San Diego’s municipal code specifies that:
- only miniature goats are allowed
- all goats must be dehorned or disbudded
- all male goats must be neutered
- you must have two goats on your property except when they produce offspring. you can keep the baby goat
- onsite up to 12 weeks from birth (It’s unlikely to happen, though when the males are neutered)
- the goat’s shed must meet the specified design, size, and setback requirements
- droppings should be cleaned and disposed of properly to prevent health issues, pests, and water contamination
- the goats must have direct access from the shed to an outdoor enclosure like a yard measuring at least 400 square feet.
- The enclosure must also meet the specified height, size, and design requirements.
Goat-derived products are only for personal consumption. Therefore, you cannot sell it to anyone.
Cities that Allow Keeping Livestocks Like Goats
As we said earlier, going to local authorities to check the rules and regulations is the safest route.
But if you want to look at the cities that allow goat keeping, like Los Angeles, this section can help you.
Los Angeles County
In 2013, there were 29 agricultural zones out of 88 cities in Los Angeles. Goats are permitted in 53 cities and prohibited in 11.
Furthermore, goats are regulated within 42 zoning codes and 35 municipal codes in LA.
The cities that allow raising goats are the following:
- Agoura Hills
- Baldwin Park
- Bell Gardens
- Beverly Hills
- Culver City
- Diamond Bar
- El Monte
- La Cañada Flintridge
- Long Beach
- La Habra Heights
- La Mirada
- La Puente
- Los Angeles
- Pico Rivera
- Rancho Palos Verdes
- Rolling Hills Estates
- San Dimas
- Santa Clarita
- San Marino
- Santa Fe Springs
- San Fernando
- Santa Monica
- Sierra Madre
- Signal Hill
- South Gate
- South Pasadena
- Temple City
- West Covina
- LA County, including unincorporated areas
On the other hand, the cities that prohibit goats are:
- Monterey Park
- Palos Verdes Estates
- San Gabriel
- Westlake Village
Things indeed have changed and the rules and regulations too in these cities. So, be sure to check it out.
Dealing with Neighbors When Raising Goats and Your Local Laws
It would help if you also took the neighbors before purchasing and keeping goats because these animals produce noise and smell.
It’s one of the less legal aspects of having goats, but if the smell and noise bother them, they can still have a legitimate cause of action for trespassing or private nuisance.
And if that happens, a judge may award nominal damages and order you to remove the animals.
Your goat may also escape your fence and destroy your neighbor’s garden or other property, resulting in some liabilities.
So, it’s best to speak with your neighbors and notify them about your plans.
It’s worth noting that some goat breeds are louder than others.
On top of that, if goat manure and untidy enclosures are left unchecked and uncleaned, it can lead to flies and smells.
That can put you in hot water with local authorities and a judge.
Tips for Raising Goats in The City
If those legal aspects do not disappoint you and you still want to pursue keeping a goat, we have some tips to make sure you make the right choice.
1. Choose the breed that suits your needs
Before purchasing a goat, ask yourself first why you want to keep and raise one.
Is it to get a fresh and steady supply of dairy products like milk or cheese, butter, and yogurt?
Do you want a pet goat, or do you wish to raise a goat for meat production?
Asking these questions will help you determine your goal and find the right goat breed for your needs.
If you want a goat that produces lots of milk, the best options are Alpines, Nigerian Dwarf and La Mancha.
But if you want a breed that will provide more meat, Boer, Spanish and Tennessee will suffice your needs.
If you want a goat that offers the best of both worlds, Nubians, Kinder and Pygmy may be the ones you’re looking for.
2. Make sure you have enough space
If you live in a city or urban area, you have to know that two goats need at least 400 square feet of space to live comfortably.
Additionally, they need boredom busters to keep them entertained, like a climbing station where they can climb, a seesaw, tunnels, a scratching station, mineral blocks, and ramps.
These boredom busters can provide fun and mental stimulation for the goats and prevent them from:
- pushing fences and knocking them down to escape
- chewing posts, debris, and other hazardous items
- anxiety and stress that causes aggressive or territorial behavior
- becoming bullies and aggressive animals.
3. Prepare your goat’s needs
Your goat’s basic requirements include the following:
You’ll need a covered house for your goats because they don’t like getting drenched in the rain or being exposed to snow and wind.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, as long as it has a protected floor that stays dry and walls that covers at least half the shed’s side.
Don’t forget to ensure proper ventilation too to avoid respiratory problems.
Food and water
Even if you have a wide pasture or land, your goats can’t get enough nutrients and calories from vegetation alone. You still need to provide hay and minerals for them.
These livestock animals also need constant access to freshwater.
It would help if you also got rid of poisonous plants, including the following, for their safety:
- common milkweed
- lantana, oak/plum/cherry trees
- poison ivy
4. Build a sturdy fence
Goats are famous escape artists. Whether you’re raising goats in city limits or suburban areas, you need to build a high and sturdy fence to keep these animals inside your property.
The recommended height for a goat fence is 48 inches or 4 feet, but it’s best to make it 52 inches high to ensure they can’t jump out of it.
You can use panels, chain links, and woven wire, but others prefer square wire because it’s strong and durable.
5. Buy a pair of goat
Goats are social herd animals. They’d be unhappy if they were alone.
Your goat may act weirdly and not feel safe and secure if he has no companion.
And that’s one of the reasons why he may cry and bleat frequently and loudly.
6. Get a buddy
Raising goats can be time-consuming. So if you’re living alone, getting someone who will help you milk the goats and tend to your animal’s needs is worth considering.
You’ll also need someone to assist you in your goat-keeping project if you’re working or away.
You may not have to worry about if you’re living with your family and you can share this responsibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
We know you got more questions in your mind, so we compiled some of the common questions about raising goats and your local laws.
Can I keep goats in my backyard?
Yes, keeping a goat in your backyard is possible. Goats are one of the best choices as livestock in any backyard size, as long as you can sustain their needs.
Aside from earning money from goat’s meat and milk, you can personally benefit from them as being a brush growth in your land.
How many goats can you have in your backyard?
You can choose how many goats you want as long as your backyard’s size is enough for them to stay and have food.
So, if you’re planning to have some, always remember that it’s best to have at least two or more goats to have a companion.
Can you keep goats without a fence?
Having a goat is crucial to confine your goats in one place and protect them from predators in most areas.
Whether you’re keeping pygmy goats in the city or other areas of the state, having a fence can save you from trouble.
Can I let my goats roam free?
Goats are like people who are wanderers and also want to socialize. Their inquisitive nature might urge them to explore even outside your property.
However, you may need to confine them to a place where they can roam free.
Can you own a goat in Texas?
You can have live stocks on your own in Texas. However, if you’re living in the city, the decision is based on the city’s ordinance.
They will decide if you can be able to raise goats. They might require a fence for your goats if you live in a “closed range.”
Can you own a goat in California?
Before raising goats in California, you need to get an Interstate Livestock Entry Permit in the Animal Health Branch (AHB).
However, not all cities permitted it.
For example, in Los Angeles County, only 53 cities permitted raising goats, while the other 11 towns prohibited it.
Can you have goats in the city of Chicago?
Due to the animal abuse allegations after a horse died, Chicago requires registration and tighter restrictions for animals.
But for the goats and other livestock animals, no regulations and restrictions are presented. So, people can legally raise them even in their backyard.
Can you own a goat in Fort Worth city limits?
In Fort Worth, Texas, for raising livestock like goats, miniature horses, or sheep, the owner should have 5,000 square feet of every animal.
So, before planning to raise, make sure to follow the requirements to avoid any circumstances.
How many goats can you have per acre in Texas?
Only six to eight goats can live and support on one-acre land in Texas. Why? Because they are browsers, who need a lot of plants to sustain their needs.
So, if you have limited space, it would be best to start with a few animals.
Are goats allowed within city limits?
Goats can be kept and maintained in some cities if they’re inside an enclosure, but holding a goat as a pet is prohibited in cities like New York.
Raising Goats and Your Local Laws Final Thoughts
As you see, dealing with the challenges of raising goats and your local laws is not easy.
Goats and laws may be a strange combination. But if you’d check the zoning rules and local laws, your condominium or house association rules, and follow the regulations, you’ll save yourself from stress and problems.
But know that raising goats can also help you enjoy many benefits that outweigh the cons of this legal aspect. Do you want to know more about that? Check this next article out.