If you have goats, you have probably observed they lick you from time to time.
Why do goats lick us? Is it for salt, or is it affection?
If your goat is licking you, it is likely because they are treating you as a fellow member of their flock by grooming you. Goats often groom each other by licking and nibbling each other’s skin, and if your goat is doing this to you, it is a sign they consider you part of their family.
There are many ways individual goats show affection and many interesting behaviors which goats exhibit.
If you’re curious about your goat’s various behaviors, keep reading to learn more about goats.
How Do Goats Show Affection?
In a 2016 study, researchers found affectionate goats are likely to make eye contact with humans when they need help, indicating they see us as companions they can rely on for assistance.
This is especially true if a person is watching them is also solving a problem, such as accessing food or getting out of something they are stuck inside.
Asking to be Pet
If your goat approaches you in the goat pen and nuzzles you or gently head butts you, they might be asking for pets.
This is a great sign of affection, as a goat herd is naturally afraid of humans and will not approach them for pets unless they trust them thoroughly.
Speaking of head butts, learn more about how long goat horns grow.
Goats communicate using bleats in their goat yard to let other goats know how they are feeling and if there are threats nearby.
Goats have been shown to respond positively to happy-sounding bleats, with their heart rate variability increasing when they heard happy bleats.
Heart rate variability in humans is an accurate predictor of mood, with low heart rate variability associated with depression and anxiety and higher heart rate variability associated with more positive moods.
If your goat is bleating at you, it is probably communicating affection to you.
However, there are many other reasons goats bleat, such as being hungry or thirsty, or afraid.
Therefore, it is important to pay attention to other indicators of your goat’s mood to determine what type of bleating you’re observing.
A relaxed goat will have a happy bleating sound humans can recognize.
Wanting to be Around You
Goats are naturally social animals, meaning they love being around other members of their herd in their goat yard.
If they readily approach you for pets, playing, or simply to be near you, it is a sign your goat likes and trusts you.
Goats are prey animals, meaning they do not easily trust predators such as humans.
While one might be surprised to find humans are predators, we are… in a goat’s mind, at least.
If a goat approaches you with confidence, it trusts you and is not afraid of you.
Your goat may even follow you while cleaning up its space or walking around its pasture.
This is another sign the goat loves you and wants to be around you.
Why Does My Goat Smack Its Lips?
Smacking lips in goats or excessive lip licking is sometimes a sign your goat is in heat.
While it is not well understood why goats do this, it is possible if your goat is smacking its lips often, she is in heat.
It is important to note that lip-smacking is also a sign of scrapie, a fatal degenerative disease that affects sheep and goats.
Suppose you notice lip-smacking and your goat is also scratching itself excessively and dragging its body against trees or your fence.
In this case, it is important to call the veterinarian and check your animal for scrapie.
Why Does My Goat Curl Its Upper Lip?
You may have observed your goat sometimes curls back its upper lip and inhales through its mouth.
This is called the flehmen response, and many animals perform this action to smell pheromones better.
When getting to know another animal or figuring out if a female is in heat, goats may lift their upper lip to smell the present pheromones more effectively.
When a goat lifts its lip like this, it exposes the vomeronasal organ above the roof of the mouth.
It acts as an auxiliary olfactory sense organ that helps an animal detect pheromones and other scents in the air.
How Do I Know If My Goat Is Being Dominant?
There are many stages of dominance in goats.
It is important to notice them early and do something about it so your goat will not start to think it can dominate you, as a dominant goat will not behave well and may even hurt humans with its headbutting and biting behaviors.
Related: Why goats headbutt and how to stop it
The first sign of dominance in goats is simply a lack of respect for their farmers.
The goat will begin to be difficult about foot trimming, taking medication, or being pushy about being fed.
The goat may demand food or escape from its pen when entering or exiting the pasture.
The goat will begin posturing with you, which is also a sign of dominance.
The goat holds its head up high and tips it towards you in an aggressive-looking stance.
You will probably notice if your goat is posturing at you, as it is a fairly distinct behavior.
Next, your goat will begin blocking your path when moving around the pen or pasture.
This is very rude behavior among goats, and it is a sign of disrespect when your goat does this to you.
Your goat will turn sideways and position its body, so it is difficult for you to walk where you intend to go.
Finally, the goat will begin rearing up on its hind legs and stomping down abruptly in your direction and will start to head butt you and bite you.
An alpha animal like this is dangerous to humans.
It is important to notice dominance behavior early on so you’re able to stop it before the goat gets out of hand and causes you harm.