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Department of Animal Science

Working Goats

Goats can contribute to your family in other ways besides providing milk, meat and/or fiber.  If you enjoy outdoor activities and building a close bond with animals then a Working Goat Project may be perfect for you! You can teach your goat to carry a pack and traverse difficult terrain as your hiking companion. You can train your goat to pull a cart or other implements to help with chores or provide recreation. You can even train miniature breed goats as therapy animals to provide comfort and entertainment to people confined to care facilities. Working Goat projects let you build a special bond with a goat while learning to care for and train livestock. You can participate in public events such as parades, learn organizational skills when planning hikes, learn to teach others and teach yourself skills such as carpentry and sewing if making your own equipment.
AUDIENCE: Youth 5 to 19 years of age.

Pack Goat Projects

  • By 1 year of age, a goat can carry 2-3 pounds in a soft pack.
  • At maturity, a large wether will be able to carry up to 50 lbs. of gear in a rigid pack.
  • Plans are available for making your own soft packs..
  • Large packs for serious packing are fairly expensive, so plan ahead. You can borrow equipment for up to 3 months through the NYS 4-H Working Goat Committee’s lending program to see if packing is right for you!
  • NYS Pack Goat Record Book is available for your project.
  • Some basic information on raising and training pack goats is available at Pack Goat Essentials and  4-H Pack Goat Project.

Driving or Harness Goat Project

  • Standard sized breeds are best for pulling people in carts. However even miniature breed goats can help haul light loads in sleds or small wagons. By 2 years of age, a standard breed goat should be strong enough to pull you in a cart.
  • Training a driving goat is easiest with an assistant, especially when training your first goat. See Teaching Your Goat To Drive.
  • Driving equipment can be expensive, so research the costs before making the decision. You can borrow training equipment and full harnesses for up to 3 months from the NYS 4-H Working Goat Committee’s lending program.
  • A 4-H Harness Goat Project Manual is available for your project and even includes plans for making goat carts. 

Primary Resources for NYS Working Goat Projects:

Project Record Books:

NY State 4-H Working Goat Fact Sheets

NY State 4-H Working Goat Instructional Sheets, Fliers and Activity Guides

Slide sets:

Supplementary Resources

  • Practical Goatpacking – Carolyn Eddy, 1999, 142 pages
  • The Pack Goat – John Mionczynski, 1992 and 2004 editions
  • Goat Field First Aid Book – Alice Berberness and Carolyn Eddy, 240 pages
  • Goat First Aid- The Trail Guide – Alice Berberness and Carolyn Eddy, 30 pages, waterproof edition to take on packing trips.
  • workingoats.com: Harness Goats
  • Goat Tracks Magazine:The Journal of the Working Goat, includes a bookstore with information on where several of the above resources can be purchased
  • Website of the Harness Goat Society – United Kingdom, produces quarterly magazine and instructional leaflets.
  • North American Packgoat Association (NAPgA) includes a list of equipment suppliers. Several of these suppliers also provide free instructional videos and resources on their own websites.

 

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