Keeping goats as pets
As a farm animal, a pet goat is treated by the authorities the same as any other farm animal. If you are considering keeping a pet goat, there are a number of rules and regulations you must comply with, even if you only intend to keep one goat.
Identification of a goat
Each individual goat must be identified in accordance with The Sheep and Goats (Records, Identification and Movement) (England) Order 2009 (as amended). Compliance is generally achieved by ‘double tagging’ the goat. This involves fitting an ear tag (from a government approved supplier) to each of the goat’s ears with a unique 12-digit number for the goat. This number consists of a 6 digit ‘Herd Mark’ (see below) followed by a 6-digit number identifying the individual goat.
Alternatively, the goat can be identified in accordance with the Regulations with a single ear tag and a tattoo; a single ear tag and a pastern mark (a band which is placed around the lower leg of the goat); or by fitting a microchip.
Sometimes, it is necessary to replace ear tags, for example, when one has been lost. The Regulations require that a lost ear tag is replaced within 28 days from the date on which you realised the ear tag had been lost.
The land upon which you intend to keep the goat
If you intend to keep a pet goat on land you will need to obtain a ‘County Parish Holding (CPH) number’. This is a unique number identifying the land on which you intend to keep the goat. A Country Parish Holding number can be obtained from the Rural Payments Agency and must be obtained within 30 days of acquiring the goat.
A ‘Herd Mark’ is a unique number identifying a person’s herd of goats. You will need to obtain a herd mark even if you only have a single goat. A herd mark can be obtained from the Animal Health Office and is designed to identify any kids born on a farm. It is required even if you have no intention of breeding your goat.
If you have to buy replacement ear tags, you will first have to provide your herd mark.
The requirement to keep a ‘Holding Register’
A Holding Register is a document which all goat keepers are required to keep. It is necessary to keep the Holding Register for 3 years from the date upon which the last animal on the holding (ie. the land to which the County Parish Holding number relates) dies or leaves the holding. The Holding Register should record the following matters:
Movements: all movements to and from the land on which a goat is kept (ie. the land to which the County Parish Holding number relates) should be recorded in the Holding Register (in accordance with the general licence for the movement of goats). This includes trips to and from your vets, and to and from show grounds. Any movements must be recorded in the Holding Registry within 36 hours of the move.
An inventory of the number of animals kept: even if you only own one goat you are required to keep an inventory of the total number of goats kept on the holding on the 1st December each year.
Replacement tags: if you need to replace an ear tag, this should be recorded in the Holding Register within 36 hours.
Deaths: if your pet goat dies this must be recorded on the Holding Register within 36 hours of its death.
Informing your Local Authority of any movements
When you acquire a pet goat you are required to complete and send to your Local Authority a “Movement Record”. A Movement Record form can be obtained from your Local Authority. It is a standard form known as form AML1. You will need to send the Movement Record to your Local Authority within 3 days of the movement.
If the goat is subsequently moved to or from the land upon which it is kept (i.e. the land to which the County Parish Holding number relates) you will generally be required to report the movement to your Local Authority by completing an additional Movement Record each time the goat is moved.
A copy of any Movement Record must be kept for 3 years.
Do I have to inform the Local Authority if I take my pet goat to the vets?
You do not have to inform your Local Authority of any movements to and from a veterinary practice. However, you must record the movement in the Holding Register within 36 hours of the movement in accordance with the general licence for the movement of goats.
The requirement to send an Annual Inventory Form to DEFRA
Each year, you will be required to send an ‘Annual Inventory form’ to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) stating how many goats (and certain other animals) you have. The Annual Inventory form must be sent to DEFRA by 31st December.
Certain authorities, including the Rural Payments Agency and local authorities, have the right to inspect the above-mentioned documentation, as well as your pet goat. This may be required in order to check that the rules relating to the identification and movement of animals have been complied with, and to check your pet goat’s health and welfare.
Rules relating to the death of a pet goat
It is not permitted to bury or cremate your goat in the open. If a pet goat dies it must be taken to or collected by a person/business approved by DEFRA to handle its disposal.
Health, welfare, transportation and disease
Health and welfare
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 sets out various requirements under which farm animals, including a pet goat, must be kept. The regulations cover, amongst other things, the health and feeding of such animals.
In addition, under the Welfare of Animals Act 2006, you must meet the following basic needs of your goat:
- a proper diet;
- somewhere suitable to live;
- any need to be housed with or apart from other animals;
- being allowed to express normal behaviour;
- protection from and treatment of, illness and injury.
The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 sets out rules relating to the transportation of livestock. In addition, any transportation of your goat must be in accordance with the general licence for the movement of goats.
If you suspect that your pet goat is suffering from a Notifiable Disease, such as scrapie or foot and mouth disease, you are required to report your suspicions to the Divisional Veterinary Manager at your local Animal Health Office.