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Goats the new chickens

goatJennie Grant gets a kiss from her goat Snowflake after milking time at her home in Seattle on Tuesday. Snowflake produces about a half-gallon of milk a day, Grant says. (Mike Urban/P-I)

Pet Parade: Goats the new chickens

Jan. 29, 2010
United International Press

MADISON, Wis., Jan. 29 (UPI) — As urban farming gains strength, small goats are proving popular as entertaining and intelligent pets in backyards throughout the United States.

While many communities still ban goats, other cities such as Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Oakland, Calif., are changing zoning laws to accommodate small goats.

In Portland, the newspaper Willamette Week predicted goats will replace chickens as must-have backyard companions this year.

Goats have become so “omnipresent” that “it’s time to recognize them as the pet poised to break out as most likely to show up in your neighbor’s yard,” Willamette Week wrote in its 2010 predictions story.

For some, owning a Pygmy goat or a Nigerian dwarf goat is purely about the companionship of an intelligent, affectionate animal that grows no bigger than a Labrador retriever and is funny, full of antics and keeps the landscape tidy.

Nikki Willis of West Palm Beach, Fla., got her two Nigerian dwarf goats — Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes — as Christmas presents for her husband, Brian. It’s been so cold in Florida this year Willis made little coats for Jerry and Elaine and then posted a video of the two goats wrestling on YouTube.

“They follow me everywhere and call out to me,” Willis said. “They are adorable and so much fun.

For the record, goats don’t eat tin cans. They are browsers, meaning they prefer more than grass and enjoy hay, leaves, scrub brush, most weeds and the inadvertent piece of human clothing, leather purse, book or piece of house siding within reach. Goats mouth nearly anything, even if they don’t swallow it.

In 2007, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to allow each home three goats under 100 pounds each. The council’s action resulted from a spirited campaign by the city’s Goat Justice League with the motto: “I’m pro goat and I vote.” League founder Jennie Grant keeps two miniature goats for their fresh milk and twice a year teaches an “urban goat” class that draws 20 to 30 students at a time.

Any of the more than 210 breeds of goats worldwide can be crossbred to a dwarf breed to produce a miniature goat while Pygmy goats are a true breed unto themselves.

Grant says many people are drawn to goat-owning by the back-to-the-land food movement that disdains milk and meat from large factory farms.
“In our society, we have pets we love and we have factory farm animals that we treat dismally,” Grant said. “I want to return to a world where animals are both, like in Africa and Greece where they treat animals very well and then eat them. I think that is a much better model.”

While the growth in goat numbers nationwide is elusive, goat enthusiast Lela Perez, 16, of Killeen, Texas, has seen goat projects in her Future Farmers of America chapter rise from five projects in 2008 to nearly 20 this year.

See the rest of the article here.

To learn more about goats, visit

Also see: Let’s Goat Crazy!
Pygmy goats are awfully cute, but is the City Council’s bid to equate them with cats and dogs such a good idea in a modern metropolis?


1 LongBeachGrows { 04.01.10 at 8:12 pm }

I am petitioning the city of Long Beach, California to relax the city’s chicken laws and goat laws to make it easier for people to raise city chickens and city goats in Long Beach, with fewer restrictions than are currently imposed. If a neighbor can have one or more large dogs in their back yard, without a setback restriction from the fence [note that some dogs are enormous (like Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, Great Danes) and others can be mean (Pitbulls)], then why can’t I have the same number of goats as dog owners can have dogs (goats are friendly, quiet, clean, and harbor fewer pathogens of concern to people than do dogs and cats) and why must my goats be 100 feet from the neighbors if their dogs can be right up against the fence and their cats can visit my yard whenever they like? Plus goats are useful animals, providing milk, fertilizer, and more! Please visit the LONG BEACH GROWS website ( , and also the Goat Justice League (founded by Jennie Grant in the above article), to learn more about the benefits of raising goats in the city, as part of a healthy, sustainable, animal-friendly and eco-friendly lifestyle.

2 Joanne Hedge { 01.18.12 at 6:52 pm }

Please provide info re passage by City of Glendale CA in Nov. 2002 of an ordinance amendment that allows keeping miniature goats in the city’s equestrian district. ASAP, thanks!