Goats in sweaters. You see them everywhere you look these days. Images of baby goats in adorable sweaters really tug at the heart strings. It’s great material for calendars and viral videos, but do goats really need sweaters?
Goats in Sweaters – Yeah
So why would a goat need a sweater? Mostly, it’s just a super cute photo op. So go ahead, dress up your goats in coats, or sweater, or top hats, or whatever tickles your fancy. They’re your goats right? Have fun! Just make sure you don’t leave goats unattended in costumes or clothing that they may get caught on fencing or other farm equipment.
Aside from a cute photo op, there are a few times when your goat may need a bit of additional warmth. When we’re kidding in the cold, sometimes we run into babies that have trouble regulating their body temperature while they build up their body fat. When we have a kid that’s struggling, we’ll put a sweater on it until it’s stable. I make my own goat sweaters using natural fiber yarns so they breath well. But, you can easily find small dog sweaters that will work well for baby goats. Just make sure mam goat doesn’t get upset about the sweaters interfering with their care of their babies.
Adult goats do well in the cold as long as they’re well fed, healthy and have good shelter. However, there may come a time when you have a goat that’s not holding good weight due to age, or who gets sick and can’t withstand the cold. These goats may need some sort of sweater or coat to help manage the cold
When you put a a sweater or coat on an adult goat, they should be quarantined, as other goats can get really aggressive with a single goat in the herd wearing clothing. They can also get hung up on things in the barn .
Goats in Sweaters – Nay
Goats are very good at keeping themselves warm. One of their best, natural ways to keep warm is by puffing out their hair coat and keeping their body heat trapped. When a goat is wearing clothing of any kind, it mats down the hair and keeps them from using one of their best natural heaters. It can also prevent them from developing their winter coats properly.
Whenever a goat is wearing something extra, you need to be very careful about their environment. Sweaters can get hooked on things very easily, and may leave a goat without access to food or water if they get stuck. We’ve also seen adult herd mates attack an adult goat goat wearing a coat because they looked and smelled different. It was ugly.
No goat – baby or adult – should be left unattended while wearing a sweater or coat. Too much can happen, and it can happen quickly.
Stay Cute…… But Cautious
So dress up those baby goat. Take your photos. Enjoy some sweater-ed frolicking. But take the sweaters off when their done. Give that sick goat or struggling baby a boost with some extra warmth – just make sure it’s not doing more harm than good. Always sweater your goats responsibly.