Goats are ideal pack animals for backpackers and day-hikers. Hand-raised goats are polite, inquisitive, sure-footed and willing companions, capable of carrying 25-30% of their body weight, approximately 30-65 pounds.
On the trail, they follow easily and can be handled by one person; in camp, they can be tied on a low line or be allowed to browse free-range. They can be transported to the trailhead in a pickup and need only a handful of grain in addition to 3 hours of browse daily.
Pack goats are easy on trails and campsites, allowing your party to tread lightly on the land. Where regulations permit, they provide an easy and efficient way to transport gear over varied terrain such as packed snow, fallen logs, or rock. Goats are favored by hunters because they tend not to frighten game in the wild. Pack goats and their gear also cost much less than the alternative pack stock: horses, mules or llamas. Currently, pack goats are permitted in the National Forests and BLM lands on pack-stock-designated trails and in designated remote backcountry. Pack goats are not allowed in National Parks, or where wild mountain goats or sheep are present.
Pack goats are outfitted with specially-made packs; resembling small mule packs, each has a wooden cross buck, pads, and a set of panniers. Willow-Witt Ranch pack goats are bred, raised, and trained for backpacking. We begin leash and water training at two months and work with each Alpine kid one-on-one to ensure calm, reliable goats.
To start your study and understanding of goat packing, order a copy of The Pack Goat by John Mionczynski. This is a great book, with extensive information about goat development and behavior, as well as packing.