VET’S VIEW: Goats can be delightful animals to keep

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WE were just tidying up in our makeshift clinic on Kastellorizo, when we had a surprise visitor.

Papa Georgios, the village priest, had eyed us curiously when the island saint’s day parade had passed our door a couple of days earlier, but now he skidded up in his battered Fiat looking agitated: his goat was having trouble kidding.

He took us to his house and we followed him up the hillside to a rough shelter where a small nanny bleated pitifully,

watched anxiously by the priest’s family.

The kid was stuck in the birth canal which had become dried out, but with the

judicious application of some lubricant we were able to

free her, earning a cheer

from the onlookers and a promise of a drink from the grateful priest.

Goats can be delightful animals to keep if you have the space for them, but they do require a different level of care and attention from your

average pet, not least because they are classified as livestock and subject to laws which require you to register your flock with DEFRA, keep proper records and notify the authorities before moving or disposing of any animals.

Goats are naturally inquisitive creatures and originate in mountain habitats, which means they are great climbers and escapers. They can learn to unlock gates, open food bins and even unzip a pocket if they sense a treat is concealed within, so proper housing is important, and being sociable creatures, they should not be kept alone and never left tethered.

If you are interested in keeping goats, it is a good idea to join the British Goat Society first to find out more. The RSCPA has a comprehensive guide on the subject and DEFRA’s Welfare Code is essential reading.

And, of course, you should make sure that your vet is prepared to offer treatment when required, which reminds me, I never did get that drink from Papa Georgios!