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Urban Goat Farmers Get Trained This Week in Spokane

A goat eats about a ton of hay a year. That helpful little fact is part of curriculum for Spokane’s first ever urban goat-keeping class this Thursday. The new city ordinance that allows people to raise backyard livestock goes into effect on May 9th.

It’s just another day at Heron Pond Farms in south Spokane.
 
Arnold: “They experience the world through their mouth. They’ve got a hard pallet on top, and then… Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can say hello but no jumping. Anyway, hard pallet on top…”
 
Lorie Arnold has about 35 nubien goats on the farm, raised for cheese. By this weekend, people in Spokane will be able to raise goats and other livestock in their own backyard, thanks to an ordinance from the city council.

Those eager to have goats, sheep, or pigs need to get certified, through a one time class at Spokane’s WSU Extension. Pat Muntz at the extension office says one thing they’ll address is the city’s regulations, including an animal size limit of three feet tall and 130 pounds. Then there’s amount.
 
Muntz: “For every 1,000 square foot of lot size you can have one chicken… now for larger livestock like goats, and pigs, and sheep, its 2,500 square feet of lot size per animal.”

Arnold: “This is not what your typical backyard farm is going to sound like.”
 
The first two classes cover goats. Arnold says they’re pretty easy, but it can be a challenge to find the right feed and afford it. She also says a bored goat, is a bad goat.
 
Arnold: “But they do need a companion, preferably of their own species, but they do well with a dog, or they actually provide companionship to some horses, which are not going to be in the city.”

Pat Muntz says the teacher will go over housing, veterinary issues, feed, and how to select a breed. Muntz picked a teacher who grew up with goats, and says she’s looking for an expert to teach a pig course. After goats, pigs, and rabbits this summer, classes will be offered based on interest.
 
Muntz: “We have to get people educated with the basics so these animals are properly taken care of. After that I would love to see an urban goat club start, a 4-H club maybe start with urban goats, and after that we can offer advanced education.”
 
For people chomping at the bit to get started, the first goat classes are this Thursday night, and Thursday May 22nd. Registration and payment are required in advance.
 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio