While domestic goats are not native to Canada, they have proven to be extremely adaptable to our diverse resources, climate, and geography. In this relatively young and growing sector of agriculture, the central focus of the Canadian goat industry is production of milk, meat, and fibre managed under a variety of housing and grazing systems.
Ontario and Quebec are the main producers of goat products in Canada. Goat milk is mainly made into cheese with a lesser amount being processed into yogurt, ice cream, fluid milk, butterfat, and powdered milk. Goat milk production is a small proportion of total milk production in Canada; however, there has been substantial growth in the number of animals, farms, and total milk produced. In Canada, the number of meat and dairy goats has increased from 230,034 goats reported in the 2016 Census to 253,278 goats on 4,801 Canadian farms in 2021 (20, 21). New Canadians also continue to support their cultural traditions and food preferences which often include goat meat. To meet this demand, the availability of goat meat in larger cities is increasing.
Due to their naturally curious and interactive nature, goats are also commonly featured in agri-tourism and unique small businesses such as pack animals, targeted grazers, exercise companions, petting zoos, and entertainment. They are also commonly kept as companion animals, pets, or in small hobby herds. Regardless of their purpose, the same principles of responsible care and management must be practiced across the industry to safeguard the well-being of goats.
An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress (11).
Codes of Practice strive to promote standards of care that reflect achievable balances between animal welfare and producer capabilities. This Code updates the 2003 goat Code of Practice. It attempts to reflect both modern and traditional management practices while seeking to advance animal welfare as described by NFACC.
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.