Camping with Goats!
Taking your goats camping is a fun way to bond with your furry friends!
Dispersed Camping in the La Sal Mountains with Goats
When we go on overnight, wilderness pack trips with our goats, of course we all camp together. But sometimes an old fashioned RV camping trip is just what the doctor ordered, and of course the goats like to come along too!
When camping with goats, there are a few extra things that we need to take into consideration that you don't have to think about when camping with dogs and other pets. The most important one of these is site selection.
If you like to camp in campgrounds, you will need to check first and see if the camp ground is goat friendly. Some campgrounds will allow them, others won't. Some campgrounds even have separate stock/ equestrian camping areas where you can stay with your goats. Perfect!!! The only time we have ever stayed in a designated campground with goats was at Colorado State Parks. We called the park in advance to inquire about whether or not goats were allowed. We were transferred to Law Enforcement, who told us the goats would be allowed on leash. We had a pleasant stay. A Park Ranger checked in on us and was excited to meet the goaties!
The Goats visit Warner Lake Campground
Generally though, we do not stay in designated campgrounds. The drawbacks of campgrounds sometimes include crowds of people and dogs to contend with. Often, there is not a good place for the goats to graze in designated campgrounds. For us, it is far easier to stay at dispersed campsites. Dispersed Campsites are common in the American West, but much less so out east, in other countries, or in heavily populated areas. Basically a dispersed campsite is a place on public land (Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, or State Trust) where you can camp for free. Often, these sites are just pull offs along dirt or gravel roads. They lack amenities like toilets, picnic tables, and water, but make up for that in solitude. These sites are usually spaced far apart, and have to be 'discovered', meaning there will be no road signs or advertising to show you the way.
Dispersed Campsites have several advantages when it comes to camping with goats. First, they are not crowded. (It is important to note here that it is bad etiquette to camp too close to other dispersed campers.) This means you won't be bothered as often by people asking to see/ photograph the goats, and you don't have to worry as much about off leash dogs. Because these sites are often in a very natural setting, there is also better graze for the goats. Without having close neighbors, you can let your goats off their leash to graze. When you're camping, goats can get most of the food they need through grazing as long as you are able to give them three to four hours off lead (supervised) to forage. We sometimes bring hay or hay pellets along to supplement the goats foraged diet. If you do this, be sure it is certified weed free, which is often required by law on public lands.
Foraging is fun with a friend!
There are several hazards to be aware of when camping with goats. One of the big ones is trash. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't pack out their trash when they go camping. This can create a hazard for goats that may accidently eat the trash left behind. The first thing we do when we get to a campsite is pick up trash, even before we let the goats out of the truck. Another hazard is poisonous plants. If you own goats, it is important to memorize any poisonous plants that may be in the area where you take the goats. At the least, bring a plant identification book with you. In advance, go through your identification book and mark any plants that may pose a hazard to your goats. While you're picking up trash, thoroughly inspect your campsite for any of these plants.
The final hazard is predators. Attacks on goats in camp is very rare, but it is something to be aware of and take precautions against. We always carry bear spray to help defend against predators. A far bigger worry than wild animals is domestic dogs, so be aware of your surroundings and any other campers that may have their dogs off leash. At night, always keep your goats tethered using either a low line (what we prefer) or a high line. Tether them near your tent or camper so that you will be able to hear if anything disturbs your goats at night. We keep little bells on our goats collars so that the jingling noise will wake us up if anything were to come into camp. Keep your chosen weapon handy incase it needs to be used in the night. Never leave your goats unattended, day or night. The goats rely on us to protect them. If you go camping with your goats, plan on always having them by your side.
Although it requires extra effort and planning, camping with goats is a fun and rewarding activity that helps strengthen the bond between you and your caprine companions. The rewards far out way the hassle. Days spent wandering the mountains with your goats and nights beside the campfire as they lay next to you chewing cud makes it all worth while. We like to camp in places with lots of hiking trails or off trail exploring near by. The best camp sites are those with old roads or trails within walking distance. Wherever you go, your goats will be happy for the time spent with you, in nature. So get out there this weekend and goat on a camping trip!