Fun facts about goats! | BC SPCA
Search by
postal code:
Search our site:
Donate
BC SPCA Logo

Report Animal Cruelty:

1-855-622-7722

For all other calls and inquiries
see our contact details.

Find a BC SPCA location in your area:

Fun facts about goats!

March 30, 2020

Goats are very curious, playful and friendly animals, that are also a common animal found on farms. See what you know about these quirky animals and learn more!

Young goats running and playing in farm yard

There are over 200 different breeds of goats

With so many different breeds, sizes vary greatly. One of the smallest breeds of goat, the Nigerian dwarf goat, reaches weights of only up to 75 pounds, whereas the Nubian goat can reach weights up to 250 pounds.

Some goats are fluffy. A specific breed of goat, the Angora goat, is known for its soft, long curly hair, called mohair.

Ear size also varies between different goat breeds. Some goats have long floppy ears, like the Nubian or Boer goats, whereas Lamancha goats have very small ears.

Three goats: Angora goat, Nubian goat and Lamancha goat
From left to right: Angora goat, Nubian goat and a Lamancha goat

“Fainting” goats?

“Fainting” goats have become an internet phenomenon. However, this breed of goat (Myotonic), doesn’t actually faint. Due to a genetic mutation, when they are frightened, their muscles freeze up, causing them to fall over. While they remain totally conscious, and their muscles quickly return back to normal, people should avoid purposely frightening goats.

Did goats discover coffee?

Legend goes that coffee was discovered after a goat herder in Ethiopia noticed that his goats became energized and wouldn’t sleep at night after they were spotted eating berries from a particular tree. After sharing his discovery, drinks began to be made with these mysterious berries, and the knowledge of these energizing beans spread across the world.

Does, bucks, and kids

A female goat is called a doe or nanny, and a male goat is called a buck or billy. Baby goats are called kids and when a female goat gives birth it is called kidding. Within minutes of being born, kids are standing and taking their first steps.

baby-goats-cuddling

Goats are picky eaters

Unlike in fairy tails, real goats won’t eat just any old thing. Goats are not grazers; they are referred to as browsers or foragers. They have a very strong and sensitive upper lip that helps them sort through the vegetation and pick what they like.

Goats are social animals

Goats are very social animals and live in groups called herds. They are happiest when provided with social interactions with other goats, animals and humans. Goats can even tell a happy human from an unhappy human, and they prefer to spend time with happy people. They are even able to watch a person solve a problem and copy the person to access a food reward.

Goats have rectangular pupils

This shape allows them to have a wider field of vision than humans and other animals that have circular pupils. They can see 320-340 degrees around them, without having to move. The ability to see everything around them, except for what is directly behind them, is very useful in avoiding predators. However, goats have to move their head if they want to look up or down due to the rectangular pupil shape.

Closeup of a white goat

Goats bleat

Goats communicate with each other through vocalizations called bleating. The sound of these calls is what allows goats to identify individuals and recognize emotional states. Each baby goat (kid) has a distinct call, and that helps its mother recognize it.

Do only male goats have beards?

Despite popular belief, both male and female goats can have beards! Both male and female goats also sometimes have “wattles” – bits of skin that dangle from their head or neck. No one is sure why they have them, but one thing is for sure – “wattles” is fun to say!

Tan and white goat with wattles

Goats do not have front teeth in their upper jaw

Instead, they have a strong, hard dental pad that helps them breakdown the food.

Goats are extremely agile

As all domestic breeds of goats are descended from mountain goats, making them excellent climbers with great balance. Mountain goats can jump up to 12 feet or 3.5 meters in a single bound. Some goats have also been observed climbing trees.

Mountain goat jumping at top of mountain

The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Goats is being updated for the first time in 16 years. This code serves as law in some provinces, and sets the standard for minimum acceptable care of goats across Canada. Learn more about setting care standards for goats
 
We will need your help when the full update to the code is released for public comment. Sign up for action alerts so you are the first to hear about your next opportunity to improve the lives of goats on Canadian farms.

Want to stay up to date on all things farm related? Subscribe to FarmSense newsletter

FarmSense is delivered four times a year and includes news about farm animal welfare, research and updates on what the BC SPCA is doing to help further farm animal welfare in Canada.