When we talk about animals that can carry pack supplies, we usually think of horses and mules. They are beyond useful animals for carrying heavy equipment. But have you ever thought of goats? Not only can they be used for dairy or meat, they are also good, if not better, packers, according to Shari Miller, owner of Escape Goats Guide Service.
Miller explains that goats are much easier for packs, because they are smaller, and “can easily be transported by truck, a van or a car”. They are also lighter and don’t leave big traces and erode the trails. If you need to go to the terrains that are not accessible, pack goats are the animals to use. They can go over, under and through areas where other animals cannot.
When a tourist visits Utah’s Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument, Shari uses five pack goats that can carry around 50 pounds. These goats are strong and dependable. According to Jan Huffaker, president of the North American Packgoat Association, goats that are used for packing are not only one-breed goats. They have to have the large and strong body type, longer legs and should be willing to work. There are many types of goats, but, in his opinion, dairy goats are usually the best for packing. People usually mix dairy and meat goats to make them stronger and bigger. Huffaker explains that some goats like the Boer “tend to be short-legged, which makes them slow walkers”, and they are also lazy so they are not very good, yet there are some that can be used. He also adds that Nubians and Pygmies can be used for packing, but only for some short destinations.
To train goats for packing is not a difficult job. As Huffaker explains, goats just need to be “tame and friendly”, and all you need to do after is just a little lead training, take them for walks, and learn how to behave while packing and camping.
If you are wondering which goats are the best for packing, you won’t be mistaken whichever you chose. In fact, Miller thinks that almost any goat can learn to pack, they just need to be healthy and it will become a pack goat.