The baby goat is a curious, playful animal that can’t seem to get enough of anything in its environment.
Baby goats are typically friendly and inquisitive creatures, often giving you the chance for up-close interactions. But occasionally they might not feel well or be fighting with another goat, so it’s important to know when this behavior is normal and when it’s time to take them in for a check-up.
So if you own a baby goat, it is important to ask yourself these questions: How do I take care of them? What can I expect from them? These are valid questions and the fact that you’re asking them is a good sign, as you’ll be successful rearing goats.
Many people believe that rearing goats is easy and all they do is eat grass. This is not the case as goats require lots of care and attention especially when they are growing up.
In addition to feeding them, you will need to worry about vaccinations and other treatments to ensure a good survival rate in your herd.
You will also need to know about the behavior of goats as it can help you achieve a success rate. The behavior of a goat can tell you when it is hungry, sick, or dying.
So, understanding what to expect from a goat will help you know when something is off.
What to Expect from Baby Goats
Goat behavior is similar in infancy and adulthood, but there are a few minor differences. So, if you’re already conversant with adult goat behavior, it isn’t always applicable to baby goats.
As they grow older though, some of these behaviors will start to disappear and be replaced by adult behavior. So, you shouldn’t be alarmed if you don’t see some behaviors that you expect to see in a goat amongst baby goats.
Baby goats are not able to see or hear for about one week after birth, which is why it is important that they can get used to your smells and noises.
Some common behaviors you can expect to see in a baby goat includes:
Dependency is common amongst infants of most species, especially in the first few weeks after birth.
Goats cannot digest anything other than milk in the first few weeks after birth, meaning that suckling their mother is the only source of nourishment. During this period, it is not uncommon to see some infants that don’t have the strength to stand up and suckle.
If you observe such behavior from any of the baby goats, then you should offer them support. After about 2 weeks and up till the 5th wee, the mother will probably become less willing for the baby goats to suckle her. If you are bottle-feeding the baby goats, then this won’t be much of an issue.
Developing the stomach to digest other foods will have occurred fully by the 9th week after birth. Once this happens, then all dependency will be over as the goats can now eat other things like grass.
If you own a young goat, then it is common to see them kicking out playfully
Young goats have energy that can be seen as they try to charge at an obstacle or kick their back legs several times without going anywhere
You might also observe a goat galloping a few steps and then coming to a halt to kick out
You might also see the goat walk slowly and then get up on his back legs to kick
This is common behavior in baby goats, especially when they are young. They will do this till they are 8-9 months of age after which you won’t see this behavior anymore.
In their infancy, goats are sensitive to temperature, favoring warm climates as opposed to cold temperatures. You will find them shivering easily and seeking warmth while any adults in the vicinity will probably be relaxed.
If you live in colder regions, you will have to artificially insulate the area where you store the baby goats. Don’t worry about affecting the adults in the vicinity if there are any as they are more tolerant to temperatures.
In extreme cold, not only will your goat shiver, but they can get sick and die. So, it is important to take care of the baby goats to avoid such a situation.
Thankfully, technology has provided several ways to avoid this and ensure your baby goats can grow under ideal conditions even in the winter.
This is another interesting behavior that you will see in your baby goat. They will start by making a short yelping sound and then a burst of a series of quick yelps from time to time as they try to suckle or walk around.
This is usually done when they are on their own instead of with the group, but it can also happen while feeding alongside other goats.
This outburst is not prompted for any reason and it is just a normal behavior that you will notice in baby goats.
Normally, goats are herd animals that move together and generally do things together. This is also the case with baby goats, with one key difference, baby goats tend to only interact with their peers.
While they are dependent on their mothers for milk, they limit the interaction with the mother to suckling. This behavior will start sometime around the 2nd week after birth and can last as long as 15 weeks after birth.
Their interaction isn’t always with only goats of about the same age, but it will always be with other baby goats.
By the end of this phase, the baby goats will slowly begin to interact with their mother, and then over time, other adults.
By the time they reach 8 weeks, baby goats can start eating non-milk food. At this point, a huge part of their dependency on their mothers is over.
You may even be feeding some goat kids while you are bottle-feeding other young ones. This isn’t something that should last for long as most baby goats can eat independently by the time they are 12 weeks old.
You will want to ensure they have access to food that is safe for them even though you may not be giving it to them personally. This will help reduce stress on the mother, who might feel obligated to stay close to protect her kids.
Biting isn’t something that is usually associated with goats as they normally prefer to use their horns to defend themselves and attack others. However, biting occurs especially when the goats are seemingly weak in the herd.
The biting isn’t a form of aggression but is a form of communication in most cases. This is the reason why it is mostly noticed in baby goats as they aren’t well versed in normal communication so they will use biting.
Thankfully, the bites may not hurt much and will not elicit an aggressive response from the receiving party. In most cases, it is a sign of friendliness and the kids will eventually grow out of this behavior especially when they become adults.
Mounting is common amongst goats but in adults, it is entirely different from that in infants.
In infants, mounting is usually just to establish dominance which will play a role in adulthood. Here, roles like the herd queen and herd buck are established and others simply fall in line.
This behavior can start very early, from the first week in many cases.
The older the goats get, mounting doesn’t stop, but instead, becomes more sexual. Instead of goats mounting other goats of the same sex, it will become male goats mounting female goats especially when they are in heat.
Mounting does not mean the female in heat is ready to be bred, so it is important to always observe them and ensure that they are safe from males that might jump them without notice.
The younger goats may continue with mounting behavior even when the older ones start breeding, but this will eventually stop when they reach adulthood.
Reaction to danger
Unlike most other livestock that runs from danger when they spot a predator or attacker, goats tend to respond aggressively. They return such aggression by attempting to fight off the attack by using their horns.
In baby goats, however, there is a flight reaction in the face of danger especially when they are very young. The only scenario where they may return aggression is when they are facing off with other goats in their peer group.
As they grow older and horns begin to mature, their level of aggression also increases. There seems to be a correlation between horn size and aggression in goats.
This means that goats with longer and bigger horns will tend to be more aggressive than others with smaller horns. It is interesting how the behavior of goats is influenced by both nature and nurture.
Most new goat owners expect some level of bleating from their animals, especially when they are calling out to their mothers
However, baby goats may continue bleating beyond a certain point which can be frustrating for most people who cannot get any rest at night.
It is important to remember that goats bleat for different reasons, not all of which are because they are in distress or calling out to their mothers.
Some baby goats may continue bleating simply because this is a reaction when they feel threatened by something or someone around them. In most cases though, when you have two or more goats, the only time you will get excessive bleating is when they are calling to one another
There are specific calls goats make depending on the situation and once you familiarize yourself with these, it will be easy to tell what is causing them distress.
How to tell if goats are fighting or playing
It can be difficult to tell if goats are fighting or playing. It’s important to know the difference because fighting will sometimes lead to injuries and death.
Fighting is usually more aggressive, with one goat chasing another and nipping at its neck or ears, while play consists of two goats running side by side as they butt heads together.
Some signs that may indicate a fight such as locked horns with head-butting, kicking up dust from the ground so it resembles a dust storm. You might also see the goats circling each other in an attempt to dominate their opponent by turning them around.
Goats will also stand on their hind legs and butt heads with one another, kicking at each other with back feet. They will also vocalize loudly during this process.
Other signs include being pinned down on their back legs unable to get up due to weight on their chest or stomach area with the attacking goat standing over them.
The goat that is attacking may be in a position of dominance and will have ears held upright or slightly back with its head forward. The attacked goat will have the opposite reaction-ears down flat against its neck, and its head will lay on the ground so it can’t attack.
When goats are playing, on the other hand, they will run side by side pushing each other with their heads and butting heads.
They will also continuously play fight and may “wrestle” one another for a long period of time. During the process, they might break out into sudden sprints and jumps.
During play, goats tend to vocalize loudly while during the fighting; only warning calls are made.
How to get a goat off of another goat that is being attacked
One effective way would be to walk up to the goat that is being attacked and try to scare it away by making loud noises such as shouting or clapping your hands together.
If you can get close enough, you may also try putting yourself between the attacking goat and the one that is being attacked.
Another method would be to grab both goats by their horns and pull them apart or push them away from each other. You may even need to put a goat in a headlock to get it away from its victim.
You can also tie the goat that is being attacked up away from the attacking goat first.
However, it’s very important not to get hurt yourself in this process so you may need assistance to get the aggressive goat away from another one.
Fighting can also indicate that you have too many goats in your herd if they fight often. It is recommended to keep no more than one billy (a male goat) for every 8-10 nannies (female goats).
Also, fighting could signify a medical problem. If you do encounter a goat fight going on, then you will need to check both goats for signs of injury or illness.
Communicating with a veterinarian regarding baby goats is very important. Until goats are fully matured, they may still be fragile so care doesn’t have to cease until they are fully mature. To ensure they grow properly, they must be in good health.
Maintaining a clean sanitary environment is essential until your baby goats have reached adulthood.
As goats tend to pee and defecate where they sleep, you will need to clean the baby goat’s habitat and bathe them regularly. This will ensure that any infections in the vicinity are eliminated before the goats contact it.
You must also give your goats ample space to roam and explore. While they love to play, it’s important that their space is safe (such as where there are no areas with electric fences or any other dangers).
Goat proofing is important because if you don’t then your goats will end up getting hurt by chewing on inappropriate items such as electrical cords.
Lastly, you need to be aware of how your goats vocalize and the circumstances that lead to such behavior so you will know if it’s normal or not. If there is a change in their behavior, then it could signify an illness or injury which should be treated by a veterinarian immediately.