If you’ve owned goats for any length of time, you already know how mischievous, and destructive, they can be if they aren’t kept engaged and entertained. I would go so far as to say that 90% of breakouts are due to boredom and boredom alone.
It might seem like an impossible task trying to keep them entertained, but that isn’t the case. You just need to think creatively! Goats need more than just room to run…
They need interesting things to climb on, things to play with, and problems to solve, even if the problem is just “get from here to there.” You’ll probably be surprised to learn just how much better your goats will be if you give them some toys.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a bundle on these toys as everything a goat needs for fun can be made by yourself cheaply or repurposed from common items. I’ll tell you about some really cool DIY goat toys below…
Goats love to climb. Everyone knows that.
And if you don’t give them something to climb on, they’re either going to climb out of their enclosure, or climb on something that you don’t want them to. Something like your car, or even trees if you happen to homestead in Morrocco…
Avoid this unhappy outcome by giving them a climbing tree stump. Either cut down an old and dead or dying tree inside the enclosure and leave the stump sticking up a little (with notches and branches in it), or transplant a section of the trunk for them to climb on.
There’s only one thing that goats might love nearly as much as climbing, and that is bashing stuff. I guess it comes with the territory.
Goats instinctively want to slam their head into things whether or not they have horns. Why not resuscitate a classic schoolyard game for them in the form of tetherball?
All you need is a post or some similar object, some rope and something that can serve as a ball. It can even be an old bucket or bottle if you want. Your goats will love it, but be prepared to untangle it from time to time.
One of my favorite toys for goats is a combination feeder which can hold hay and other foods, but with a flat roof on top that goats can leap or climb up to.
This serves two purposes: It gives goats something to climb on just for fun, and the roof also serves to keep sun and rain off of the food.
It’s a win-win, giving your goats enrichment and also helping them to stay a little bit healthier since their food won’t spoil or mold as quickly.
Giving your goats a pool to cool down and is a great idea, especially if you live in a place with brutal summer weather…
Most goats don’t do too good in extreme heat, and a simple kiddie pool is a safe way to let them splash around and chill out.
You can sink the pool into the ground or leave it sitting on the surface, but in the latter case, you must be prepared for goats to flip it whether or not it still has water in it.
These are very cheap to get from department stores and chances are one of your neighbors already has one that they are willing to give away.
Large Water Jug
This is probably the bar-none favorite toy of my goats. All you need is a large water jug, the kind that sits on top of a water dispenser for an office, and then you can fill it up with some smaller balls or even a little bit of playground sand before sealing the top.
Your goats will love to push and bash the thing around and chase it as it wobbles uncertainly to and fro. Again, this is a super-cheap and thrifty option that will provide tons of fun for your goats out of all proportion with its cost.
Back to climbing toys because your goats, like mine, love to climb, climb, climb. A climbing wall is a somewhat different approach from the typical terraced jungle gym-type climber that is usually installed for goats.
A climbing wall is steep, not quite vertical, but usually no more than 15° from vertical. It should be studded all along the surface with wide footholds that goats can precariously make their way up, just like they are climbing a rock face.
Your goats will appreciate the challenge, and this is a great option for incorporating into a more intricate setup or obstacle course for them.
Plastic Milk Crates
Another somewhat perplexing toy that goats seem to truly love for some reason! There is something about a plastic milk crate that just seems to attract the little critters.
These things are super durable and one of the few objects that can withstand constant attention from goats. They can knock them around or you can attach them together to make improvised surfaces for climbing.
One of the simplest toys for goats is just a cleated ramp that they can climb up to move to higher ground, whatever that might be. You can make it a little gentler in slope for older or less athletic goats, or something surprisingly steep for young and adventurous ones.
Adding cleats along its width means that goats will always be able to find their footing. This is a cinch to make using any sort of scrap wood or lumber that you might have lying around, so it’s basically free.
If you really want to splurge on your goats, you can build them a rope bridge. Made from wobbly wooden planks, it certainly adds a bit of whimsical charm to their enclosure or any other playground structures you have for them, and they will love scampering and chasing each other across.
It isn’t particularly expensive to make a rope bridge, but it can be challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing. Make sure you get a good plan, like the one below, and read over it several times before you commit to prevent frustration.
No, it isn’t an actual tree house way up in a tree like you’d make for your children, but the effect is the same.
If you have any convenient nearby trees in or adjacent to the enclosure where you keep your goats, you could use a cleated ramp, climbing wall or any other such installation on this list and connect it to a platform you build onto the trunk of the tree itself.
Goats love getting up high to survey the surrounding area, and so you shouldn’t be surprised to see them hanging out up here all day long after you’re finished.
Industrial Cable Spools
One of the oldest and best-known “upcycled” goat toys is the industrial cable spool. You know those giant wire spools you see on those rotating racks at the big box hardware and home improvement stores? That’s what we’re dealing with.
If you can lay hands on a few of these (ask the manager), especially ones of different sizes, you can set them around in different arrangements and let your goats jump on top of them and jump from one to the other. They’re also easy to move by rolling when you need to reposition them…
Sometimes it’s the little things. It might not seem like much, but your goats will always appreciate a raised deck to sun on.
Even if it’s just a foot tall or so, your goats will love to jump up on it and relax. This is a great way to maximize just a little bit of lumber for a significant improvement in your herd’s quality of life.
You might be surprised to find out how much your goats love to tug on things. This is part of what makes them such excellent escape artists. Once they get something pulled loose, they will pull and pull until they detach it completely.
You can use common metal tubing or piping and sturdy fence posts along with some of those heavy-duty, woven rope dog toys to make a toy that you’re more aggressive goats will love to work their frustrations out on.
Just like climbing, goats love jumping. Hopefully they aren’t jumping off of a place that is too high!
But even if they’re stuck on the ground, goats love to frolic about and jump for seemingly no reason at all. Why not give them a reason to jump with a trampoline?
You’ve got lots of options here, as you can use a small personal or “kiddie” trampoline to let them bounce off of, or even a larger one that the whole gang can get on at once. Just make sure it is low to the ground and watch for tears.
If you have plenty of surplus trees on your property, standing or not, you might consider cutting trunks up into sections and arranging those into a log run for your goats. This can be as simple or as intricate as you prefer…
You can lay the logs down and stack them, or bury them in the ground to make a series of platforms that goats can jump to one after the other. This is another great way of incorporating into an obstacle course.
Goats are hard on everything. They’re especially so on fences and gates because they lean on them all the time.
Some folks think this is just because goats are lazy or it is something of a physical tic, but that’s not quite the case. Likely goats are doing it because they have an itch they can’t reach any other way!
Save your fencing and give your goats a much better way to scratch that itch by building them a scratcher using scrap wood and a stiff, nylon-bristled floor brush or three.
Pretty much everyone knows by now that goats are extremely sure-footed animals. But even so, they like a challenge and you can put that balance to the test by building your goats a goat swing.
This is nothing more than a horizontal platform suspended by chains or ropes. When your goats jump up to it or step out on it the platform will shimmy and sway a little bit.
This is another tricky toy to set up for goats, but one that can be done very cheaply and provide hours of entertainment for them.
A classic pyramid structure, or at least a “2D” one consisting of a staircase going up on each side, can be easily made from old crates or pallets, assembled from tires or any other sort of material whether or not it is on this list.
I know it seems silly to us, but your animals will love to go up and then down a climbing pyramid all day, and sometimes play king of the hill. This is especially easy to set up quickly with a little bit of ingenuity meaning you won’t have to waste a lot of time…
One of the best ways to keep your goats engaged and behaving is to make them work for their food a little bit.
Treat dispensers can be made from something as simple as a plastic ball that you modify with a few holes in it, or made almost like the tetherball above using a 2 liter bottle or milk jug. Just place some tasty food inside and let the goats knock it around in order to get the food out.
Pallets have 101 uses when it comes to upcycling and DIY creations, and one of the very best is for fashioning a full-blown goat playground. A truckload of pallets can be easily turned into all sorts of platforms, structures, walls and even tunnels that goats will love to explore.
Just make sure you take the time to inspect them closely and remove any staples or nails that are sticking out that could hurt your goats.
This is it, the big one! You can give your goats a proper playset by building an obstacle course for them. Simply take two or more ideas off of this list and then string them together or arrange them in such a way that goats can move immediately from one to the other.
This is a great way to give your goats lots of exercise and engagement, especially if you make it so they have to move from one to the next or back again. If you’ve got plenty of room, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Another classic recycling method that all seasoned goat herders know about, old tires are the perfect toy for goats. Durable, weatherproof, and utterly indestructible, you can use anything from old car tires to extra large tractor or heavy equipment tires.
Bury them in the ground a little bit, stack them up, leave them on their sides or stand them upright- any which way you want to do it your goats will love climbing on tires.
Make sure you check automobile and farm equipment service stations to see if they have any to give away, or call your local recycling center and you can find these for pennies.
It’s about as simple as it gets. Find an old playground slide, either the backyard stuff for toddlers or something larger might have been put in an actual public park, and to set it up next to any of the raised surfaces you’ve prepared for your goats. They love whisking down a slide, believe me!
A goat windchime isn’t really a windchime when it comes to goat toys: It just refers to any series of hanging objects, goat-safe ones of course, that they can bash and knock together to their heart’s content. Some people even like to use livestock bells!
Depending on how much noise you can put up with, you could use those or just hang up old balls or anything else.
A classic playground toy for children is also one that goats will enjoy. A teeter-totter or seesaw is basically a ramp on one side, and goats can’t resist a good ramp.
They will climb up to the middle, wait for the teeter-totter to fall to the other side, and then go down again and do it over and over.
This is another great DIY goat toy that is super-simple to set up with minimal tools and hardware making it great if you’re on a budget.
Good, Old Fashioned Ball
Lastly, never underestimate the entertainment value of a ball. It’s pretty surprising how many animals love knocking a ball around and chasing it, and goats are no different!
But any ball that you give to your goats should be as durable as possible because these little critters are very hard on toys.
Cheap balls will be easily punctured by sharp little hooves or horns, so make sure it’s built to last. Or, if you get them cheaply enough, just throw the old one away and replace it.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.