Goat Farming in the City: Urban Agriculture and the Rise of the Urban Goat

In the past decade, there has been a growing trend of urban agriculture worldwide. Traditionally, farming was often associated with the countryside, but this has dramatically changed. Among the many urban farming practices that are gaining popularity, one of the most fascinating developments is the rise of urban goat farming. This new agricultural practice signifies an effort to re-integrate agriculture into urban life, promote sustainability, and forge a connection between city dwellers and food production.

Understanding Urban Agriculture and Goat Farming

Urban agriculture involves growing plants and raising animals within and around cities. Goat farming, in this context, means raising goats as a part of this urban agricultural initiative. Goats are an excellent choice for several reasons: they are relatively small, hardy, and adaptable, which makes them suitable for urban environments. They can produce milk, meat, fiber, and manure, providing multiple benefits to urban farmers.

History and the Rise of the Urban Goat

The idea of urban goat farming isn’t entirely new. During both World Wars, when food supplies were scarce, urban and suburban citizens were encouraged to keep livestock, including goats, as a part of ‘Victory Gardens.’ The trend diminished after the wars, but in recent years, it’s seen a revival.

The push for locally sourced, sustainable, and organic foods, coupled with an interest in reducing food miles and improving urban biodiversity, has fueled this resurgence. With the increasing pressures of climate change and global food security, urban agriculture and livestock farming are being revisited as viable options to address these challenges.

The Benefits of Urban Goat Farming

Urban goat farming offers numerous benefits. Goats can convert plant materials that humans can’t eat into nutritious milk, meat, and fiber. They can graze on small plots of land and eat food scraps, making them an excellent choice for waste management and circular economy models.

Goats produce fresh, locally-sourced dairy and meat products, reducing reliance on transportation, and lowering carbon footprints. Furthermore, goat manure is an excellent fertilizer, improving soil health and helping urban gardens flourish.

In addition to these environmental benefits, urban goat farming contributes to social wellbeing. It offers educational opportunities, enabling urban dwellers to understand the source of their food and learn about animal husbandry. It can provide therapeutic and emotional benefits, as interacting with animals has been shown to reduce stress and improve mental health.

Challenges of Urban Goat Farming

Despite the numerous benefits, urban goat farming also comes with challenges. Zoning laws and city ordinances often restrict or prohibit keeping livestock within city limits. Public health concerns, such as the potential for disease transmission and concerns about noise and odor, can also pose problems.

The logistical issues of urban goat farming are also significant. Urban farmers need to ensure they have adequate space, resources, and time to care for the animals properly. The cost of feed, veterinary care, and initial investment in housing and fencing can be high. Additionally, dealing with goats’ natural behaviors, such as their propensity to climb, escape, and browse on a wide variety of plants (including potentially harmful ones), requires knowledge and vigilance.

Mitigation Strategies and Best Practices

Overcoming these challenges requires careful planning, community engagement, and regulatory reform. Prospective urban goat farmers should thoroughly research local laws and regulations, communicate with neighbors, and involve community members in the process.

Adopting best practices for urban goat farming is essential for success. This includes selecting the appropriate goat breed, providing suitable and secure housing, feeding a balanced diet, maintaining hygiene, and ensuring regular veterinary care.

Additionally, forming cooperatives or networks with other urban goat farmers can share resources, knowledge, and support. Education and awareness campaigns can also help address public health concerns and misconceptions about urban goat farming.

Case Studies in Urban Goat Farming

Belmont Goats in Portland, Oregon, is one of the most famous examples of urban goat farming. The resident herd, started as a lot-cleaning project in 2012, has since become a popular local attraction and a symbol of the community. The herd serves as an educational resource for city residents and schools, helping to increase awareness and knowledge about urban farming and sustainability.

In Seattle, the Goat Justice League successfully campaigned for a change in city ordinances to allow residents to keep miniature goats as pets. These small goats are manageable even in smaller urban spaces and produce enough milk for an average family.

The Future of Urban Goat Farming

The future of urban goat farming looks promising, particularly as cities continue to grapple with the challenges of climate change, food security, and the desire for increased sustainability. Incorporating goats into urban farming systems offers a multifaceted approach to address these issues, providing local food sources, improving waste management, and enhancing biodiversity.

Urban goat farming can also contribute to urban resilience. As we’ve seen during recent disruptions in food supply chains due to events like the COVID-19 pandemic, having localized food sources can provide a critical buffer.

However, to realize this potential, there needs to be a supportive regulatory environment. Changes in zoning laws and city ordinances to allow and regulate urban goat farming are necessary. Public education to address health concerns and misconceptions is also crucial.


Goat farming in the city, an integral part of the broader urban agriculture movement, offers an innovative and multifaceted solution to some of the most pressing challenges we face in the 21st century. From providing locally sourced food to promoting sustainable waste management, enhancing biodiversity, and improving mental health, the benefits of urban goat farming are significant.

However, for the practice to become more widespread, concerted efforts are needed from prospective farmers, communities, and regulatory bodies. By adopting best practices, engaging in community outreach and education, and advocating for supportive policies, we can cultivate an urban landscape where goats are not just a common sight but a valued part of our urban ecosystem.

1 thought on “Goat Farming in the City: Urban Agriculture and the Rise of the Urban Goat”

  1. Pingback: Goats for Landscaping: An Eco-Friendly Solution for Invasive Plants | VillageofGoats

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *