Meet your new neighbours

Residence Life - 01 April 2021

September 2021 will be bringing some excitement to U of A residences! The newly renovated Mackenzie and Henday Halls will be opening in Lister Residence, 8-month leases will be continuing in upper year residences and we’re looking forward to inviting some new fuzzy residents in a new pilot program.

Welcoming goats into residence

This project has been over a year in the making and we’re excited to announce it’s finally set to roll out in Fall 2021. A four-bedroom unit will be set aside in Nîpisîy House, one of our newest residences, and converted into a goat habitat. Although the goats will have free range of Nîpisîy House during the day, they will be herded into their unit on the second floor in the evenings where they will remain during the night.

The presence of goats in the residence hall is projected to improve student wellness and academic success. “Goats are proven to help improve memory and reduce stress levels,” Residence Services said in their proposal for the project. “Providing students with casual and continued access to the goats is intended to more fully integrate a practice of self-care in an academic setting where students are often stressed and overwhelmed with their studies and workload.”

dakota murphy goatsMeet Dakota and Murphy

Your new resident goats, Dakota and Murphy, are originally from Santa Cruz, California. Residence will send a team of three professional goat herders to the sunny state in late July to fly with the goats on their journey to Edmonton. Dakota and Murphy are both 3 year old goats and have been raised on a farm in California since their birth. With goats being highly social herd animals, Residence Services said it was important to the Santa Cruz goat keepers that the goats stayed together.

Upon arrival in Edmonton, Dakota and Murphy along with the goat herding team will isolate for the required two week period.

Cassie Robertson, the Residence Coordinator for Nîpisîy House, talked about how the new goat program will impact next year’s programming and outlined her plans for integrating the goats into the residence community.

“We are excited for all of the opportunities that introducing the goats into our community next year will bring," she says. “Any yoga held in Nîpisîy House will officially be goat yoga next year! Goats will also help advance the university’s sustainability initiatives. We anticipate a lower carbon footprint during the summer months when the goats can be taken on supervised visits to graze on the greenspaces, reducing the need for lawn mowers.”

But why goats?

Residence is keeping up with current trends domestically as well as internationally, Cassie says. “There are residences popping up all over North America that now promote pet-friendly buildings—and not just dogs and cats but other animals, too. The Lincoln Institute for Laser Technology in California allows students to bring any animal smaller than 225 lbs. into residence.”

goatsResidence says the decision to pilot the goat project was influenced by university financials as well as student consultation. “Students love goats,” Residence Services wrote in its official announcement. “Goat food yields significantly lower costs than dog food and goats only eat an average of four times a week.”

Residence Services stated it is not concerned with any cleanliness issues caused by the goats, and that goats are historically very “neat” animals. Goats were actually one of the first animals to be domesticated!

“Dakota and Murphy are also trained to use cat-litter boxes to eliminate any waste,” the proposal continues. “Further, there are no concerns that the goats will cause damage to the residence property or furniture. Goats that are kept well fed and exercised often refrain from consuming inappropriate materials out of boredom or hunger.”

Looking ahead

The long term potential of the goat program is that all residence buildings, and perhaps the rest of campus, could eventually see some new friends. Residence will be evaluating this program closely over the 2021/22 academic year and is set to release a report on its impact on student experience April 1, 2022 on April Fool's Day.

We hope this story made you pause and smile after a challenging year for everyone.
Best of luck with your exams and take care!