Goats are quirky animals and physically active and limber.
They might just be stretching their necks and rolling their heads because it feels good, just like humans.
Recognizing normal behavior is an essential part of goat keeping.
If the behavior is abnormal or severe for your goat and accompanied by certain other symptoms, it could mean your goat is sick.
Stretching their neck and rolling their head is normal for most goats. Whether it is to stretch, scratch an itch, or look around for predators, this behavior is not a cause for worry unless accompanied by other symptoms. With other symptoms, this behavior could mean illness or injury and needs medical attention.
Observing your goat’s normal behaviors when they stretch their neck and roll their head will let you know if something is wrong or not.
Some severe diseases and vitamin deficiencies cause your goat to behave similarly to this.
Keep reading to learn more about why goats stretch their necks and roll their heads, including a list of illnesses.
Goats Stretch To Help Their Muscles Feel Better
Goats are amazingly limber animals, and stretching their neck and rolling their head is easy for them and probably enjoyable to do.
Like all animals, goats get stiff with lack of movement and feel the need to stretch.
Some owners have reported their goats to enjoy stretching their necks out and up after eating.
If a goat has an injury, they may roll their heads and stretch their necks to make their tight muscles feel better.
A physical therapist for goats may help, and a vet can look at their bone structure to see if something else is going on.
Sometimes, they may also have temporary torticollis.
This is a condition where lymph nodes in the neck are swollen from an infection, and it may cause spasmodic torticollis, swollen neck muscles, and chronic neck muscle spasms.
It’ll even affect the neck bones.
A vet is always a safe bet if you’re worried about your goat.
They’ll be able to help you figure out if the excessive rolling is neck cramps, neck injury, or something worse.
In many cases, the goats will get simple muscle relaxants until their muscles heal.
Goats Rolling Their Head May Mean Looking For Predators
Another explanation of why goats roll their heads is that they want to view their entire surroundings as prey animals.
As prey animals, goats are constantly on the lookout for predators.
Stretching their neck over backward enables them to see behind them.
Even though we are “their” humans, we are still predators to their sensibilities.
Although they may be safe in their enclosure, goats are always on the lookout as prey animals.
Goats Get Bored Too
Goats are intelligent animals and get bored, just like humans do.
Providing a stimulating and changeable play area with plenty of climbing materials is healthy for your goat.
Suitable places to scratch themselves can improve your goat’s environment.
Goats enjoy food enrichment toys just like dogs do, and it keeps them entertained.
A kiddie pool is also an excellent addition to a goat’s enclosure.
Goats are social creatures, and having a companion animal is a great idea to help alleviate boredom.
Sometimes they stretch their neck and roll their head because they scratch an itch.
If the goat has horns, it can nicely scratch its own back by stretching its neck backward.
If your goat seems to scratch too much, check their coat for lice and their ears for mites.
Infestations of mites or diseases can cause a goat’s head to tilt or its neck to crane to one side.
This is not the same as regular stretching and rolling their heads.
Other skin irritants are dry air, skin pathogens, and nutritional deficiencies, which need to be treated accordingly.
Listeriosis, a brainstem disease, is caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.
Listeria is found in the goat’s environment, so keeping everything clean and sanitary is essential.
Wet, moldy hay and grain can make your goat very ill.
Clean feed containers and water troughs often to reduce the danger of mold and contamination.
Clean up all spilled feed, so it does not become contaminated by their feces or urine.
One symptom of Listeriosis is that the goat’s head pulls to its flank with a rigid neck, which is similar to a symptom of tetanus.
Listeriosis may also be mistaken for rabies.
Goat Polio has no relation to the polio virus humans get.
Goat Polio has similar symptoms to Listeriosis but is caused by a thiamine (vitamin B 1) deficiency brought on by a disruption in the rumen, such as from eating poor food.
Symptoms of Goat Polio are:
- Staggering steps
- Walking in a circle
- Muscle spasms
- Head arched back onto the back
Goat Polio is more common in young animals transitioning from their mother’s milk or formula to solid food.
Related: How long do goats nurse on their mothers?
For example, a high grain diet, or too much molasses in the feed, can increase your goat’s risk of Goat Polio.
Goats are ruminants, meaning they re-chew their food after it ferments in the forepart of their digestive system.
Anything disturbing the bacteria in the rumen disrupts synthesizing the B vitamins the goat needs.
This causes a vitamin deficiency which can lead to Goat Polio.
Dosing with certain medications, such as Corid and some dewormers, can cause thiamine deficiency.
Immediate dosing with thiamine is indicated, and most cases respond well.
How To Feed Your Goat
Your goat needs a lot of fiber to keep its rumen healthy.
A goat needs 3-4% of its body weight (in pounds) of clean hay per day, divided into two feedings.
Be careful not to feed your goat too much food treated with molasses, as it’s bad for their digestive system.
Contrary to popular misconception, goats can’t eat everything.
They are susceptible to illness from incorrect feeding or poor quality feed.
Speaking of food, check out our article on if corn husks are safe for goats.
Commonly Asked Questions
How Do Goats Show Affection To Humans?
Goats will rub themselves on you, stand in front of you for your attention, and follow along with your hands so you will pet them.
How Do You Tell If A Goat Likes You?
You’re able to tell your goat likes you if he lets you handle him, feed him, and pet him without getting upset.
A friendly goat will come up to you of its own accord.
Some goats will even lick you!
Learn more in our article on why goats lick you.
Why Do Goats Roll On The Ground?
Normally, a goat will roll and stretch on the ground to scratch themselves, particularly if the weather is fine.
Sometimes extra itchiness can mean lice.