With his health now stabilized, Hans could start to make some friends! Goats are herd animals, which means they feel safest—and happiest—among others.
But it’s something they’re denied in animal agriculture. Goats are typically slaughtered for meat between three and five months of age. Those bred for dairy, including Toggenburg goats like Hans, don’t have much longer—especially boys. They’re taken from their mothers shortly after birth and either left to die or raised for meat since they can’t contribute to milk production.
Goats are empathetic and social beings, so these separations—especially from close family and friends—are traumatic. And Hans had lost everyone. We owed it to him to find a group where he could feel at home.
It would take some creative thinking, however, as these groups can be tricky to arrange. Some herds are mellow—others rowdy and rough. Not wanting little Hans to get hurt or feel unsafe, we thought carefully on which herd might suit him best.
We landed on a newer blend of goats from a few pre-established friend groups. Some of them are young like him, and we thought they would make fun playmates! Many share his love for people and attention. (We would not want to place him in a shyer group, where our visits to see him could be stressful for others.)
Still, goats can be territorial—even in more gentle groups. At first, some chased Hans out of the barn during mealtimes. We had to feed him in a separate space so his challengers could see that the new kid posed no threat.