One of the hardest things for humans to understand is why goats are so mean to each other. And sometimes the goats that are the most outgoing towards humans are the roughest with other goats. They butt heads and slam their heads into other goats’ sides. It can be scary to those of us looking on and tends to be especially bad when a new goat is introduced to the herd.
For this reason, I try very hard never to add an individual goat to the herd. When goats have been separated for kidding, I put them into groups of three or four initially so the head butting gets spread around a little more than if only two goats were put together.
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It is also important to be sure that you have plenty of space for all the goats to fit in front of hay feeders and feed pans. If the goats are crowded, the more dominant goats will get most of the feed.
When feeding grain in a pan, it is best to use a fence-line feeder rather than a pan in the middle of the pasture because goats will butt heads over the pan and often wind up running through the pan, knocking it over, and spilling the feed. If you already have feed pans, placing them next to a wall or in a corner will reduce head butting compared with placing them in a space where the goats can circle around the pans.
Usually, in spite of the severity of the head banging, no one gets hurt. Every now and again, a goat might wind up with a little blood on the top of its head, especially if it has scurs, but long-term injury is extremely rare.
In most cases one of the goats will give up and refuse to continue fighting, but I did have a buck wind up with a concussion once. I had owned goats for eight years when one night I saw two bucks butting heads at sundown. I ignored it because no one had ever been hurt in the past.
The next morning, however, the smaller buck was staggering around and stumbling, and his eyes were operating independently of each other, moving in different directions. Luckily, he did recover, but I no longer ignore bucks fighting.
Even scarier than bucks butting heads, however, are pregnant does fighting. In most cases goats will butt heads for a few minutes when first introduced, and once in a while they’ll hit each other with their heads if they want hay or grain that the other one is eating. But every year or two, there seems to be a doe that simply no one likes. They won’t let her have her share of hay, and sometimes they’ll even try to keep her out of the shelter. It can get especially scary if the underdog is pregnant. In those cases it’s a good idea to put her in a different pen with a younger doe as a companion.
This is an excerpt from Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More by Deborah Niemann.
264 thoughts on “When goats attack…each other!”
I have three goats my newborn that was born yesterday and I witnessed the father goat headbutt the baby goat sending it flying a couple of feet through the air is this normal if not what can I do about it
Most people don’t keep a buck with their does because he could wind up getting them pregnant way too often. He could also get a doeling pregnant when she is way too small, and she would need a c-section. He needs to be separated. If you don’t have another buck to keep him company, you can try putting him in a neighboring pen so they share a fenceline, although he probably wont’ be happy about that initially. They really need a companion. This is why most people who want to breed will start with two does and two bucks or a buck and a wether.
At what age should you separate a young buckling from the rest of the herd?
Most people separate between two and three months of age. You don’t want to take them away from mom before they are two months if they are dam raised.
Thank you I’m to goats and this is really helpfull my doe is bleeding under the horns a little bit.
My weathered has been overly aggressive lately butting all my goats. It’s out of character for him. I have a couple does in heat. Any suggestions on how to calm him down
Sometimes that happens when does are in heat. Sometimes does get very aggressive when they’re in heat. Luckily it’s over when they are not in heat any longer, so it only lasts a day or two.
Responsibility to not keep bucks in the general herd population.. too many safety issues
Loved the article cuz I love my goats so much too. I don’t want my heard to get bigger cuz I don’t want to have to separate babies from their moms especially and I like keeping them asa family (I have 7 now)…I found Dr Orr (I believe that I’d the rbin Ut who came out for a farm call and did a vasectomy because I wanted this va castration now that I learned you don’t want to get rid of organs that are producing hormones important to mental health as well. Then you also don’t have to separate them to prevent pregnancies.
I don’t know why anyone would want a vasectomy on a buck. You really don’t want a buck that is peeing on his face and rubbing his stinky self on your other goats. I really feel sorry for bucks because they are so stinky and gross that no one wants to touch them because you wind up stinky and gross. If you are milking, they can wind up making your milk stinky and nasty too if they rub on a doe’s udder.
I would also argue with anyone who says that an intact buck is healthier than a wether. Because of buck’s hormones, they fight — a lot! And intact bucks usually die by the time they are about 9 years old at the latest. Castrated males usually live well into their teens, some even live into their upper teens. I searched online about this idea, and I could only find something written about dogs, so the idea that a male goat would be healthier with hormones intact is simply wrong. They are under a lot more stress than a castrated male goat. I have heard of intact sheep actually fighting to the death, and I’ve had two bucks get injured from fighting with each other.
I have a year old doe that gored another mommas 2 month old buckling and killed it while they were out in the pasture? Plenty of room plenty of feed? Any reason?
The kid may have tried to nurse on her, which is a completely normal behavior for a young kid that doesn’t know that he is only supposed to nurse from his own mama. This is one reason I don’t have goats with horns. You are not the first person who has had this experience.
I beg to differ. We have bucks together and they do not stink and our bucks don’t pee on fences. They aren’t dogs. They won’t lift a leg and pee on things. Our bucks also do not fight all the time. None of our bucks are castrated and our elder buck is also 16 years old.
So could you take your trolling and lack of knowledge elsewhere.
No, bucks don’t pee on fences or lift their legs. They pee on their FACES because they are quite flexible and have directional control and that’s quite alluring to the does when they do that. Bucks don’t fight all the time — only when there are does in heat nearby. If your bucks don’t do any of these things — and you have does around — then they are probably castrated. We have never had one live past the age of 10, but we had one go sterile at age 8 and his scrotum shrank, and he was no longer stinky, and he didn’t act like a buck either.
The other person said “pee on their faces”
I have buck and EVERY buck pees on their own face and they pee on anything within that urine stream. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been peed on by the over spray of a buck peeing on his own face.
I had two does. Mother and daughter. They both were pregnant and mother became aggressive to the daughter. It wasn’t too bad. They both gave birth a day apart from each other. Now the mother is hitting the daughters baby kid. She rams into her as soon as she sees the kid. What can I do? Is there anyway to stop it besides separating?
Unfortunately, no, there’s not much you can do. Make sure they have plenty of room so that the doe is less likely to be able to slam the kid against a wall or something like that. Kids bounce pretty well if they’re just hit in the middle of nowhere, especially after they’re a few days old. As the kid gets more experience around the doe, it will also learn to avoid her. It’s all about learning the herd dynamics.
We are having a very similar problem…two sisters gave birth within a day of each of other but in separate stalls as we didn’t know how they’d be. They are great to their own kids, but when we let them all outside to play (lots of room) the moms sometimes nudge other’s kids or even head butt them. The other mom sometimes intervenes but we’re keeping one of the kids along with both moms so we’re trying to figure out how to fix the issue.
You can’t fix it. They have to work it out for themselves. Every time you separate them, they just have to start all over again trying to figure out the pecking order when you put them together. You will never put them together with zero head butting. It’s just goat dynamics. When we showed our goats, they would have to go through the whole head butting thing whenever we’d clip a goat for show and put her back into the pen.
I have a male and female goat. My daughter got a 2 month old baby female. The female goat is very aggressive and butting the baby in the side. Will it get hurt and will this stop?
Unfortunately, that’s pretty common. Goats have a clearly defined pecking order. Usually when there is a big difference between two goats, the fighting doesn’t last very long because it’s obvious who the boss is. However, some goats are bullies. If it’s 2 months old, then it’ll probably be okay, assuming the older doe doesn’t have horns. If the older doe has horns, she could definitely hurt it.
How strong is the abdomen of a pregnant goat about a week or two away from delivering? I have a few goats and one of my females has become quite aggressive and really was slamming anotherpregnant goat in the abdomen and now I am worried. I separated them. Are their tummies stronger than I think?
Not necessarily. There’s no way to know if it’s going to be a problem or not. Trauma can cause goats to go into labor, and I know I had a doe go into labor at day 135 because she was being beaten up all the time. But I’ve also had a couple of goats that seemed to be getting beaten up pretty badly, and they were fine. I think it probably depends on how much is happening when you’re not around also. Maybe with my does that were fine, I just had good timing and saw the only aggression, whereas the one that went into pre-term labor was being beaten constantly when I wasn’t around?
I have 2 females, I bought them both at the same time from same breeder. I waited until they were
18 mos before I had them breed. They delivered 2 days apart. The first mom attacked the second moms kind only hours after ouht wad born. Both my goats have horns. So I moved the first mom and her twins into a much smaller and separate pen. Is this normal behavior?
It’s not unusual. That’s why I started using kidding pens. The kids don’t know that they are only supposed to nurse from their own mom, and if they try to nurse from another mom, she will butt them, bite them, etc. The moms are just protecting their milk for their own babies. I usually wait until the kids are at least a few days old before putting them with other moms and babies. They might still try to nurse off another doe, but they can handle a quick butt easier, and they learn quickly by then because they’ve already been nursing off their own mom for awhile.
Thank you for your quick response, I’m new at this, they are pets mostly. Actually got them to keep poison ivy down. They are socialized and let my grandchildren hold and pet the babies. The first mom charged (head down and used her horns) the second moms baby from across the pen from 20′ away. She flipped her up about 3′ The pen is 45’x60′ so it’s a large area.
I will keep them separate for a couple weeks at least. I understand pecking order I also raise chickens. Bug control and eggs (win win).
I have two does they are a year old, they came from a set of triplets. I just brought home a 8week old buck for them. They are very nasty to him. I understand it’s day one, it’s getting dark. Should I keep him separate from them? If so for how long? So I let them spend time together daily? Or just share a fence line… I want them to breed when he is big enough, I don’t want them to hurt him or hate him. I surly do t want him to get nasty as he gets older because they are meant to him now. Advice please.
This is totally normal behavior when you bring a new goat into a herd. When does are in heat, they will act completely different.
Ideally the buck will have his own male friend — either another buck or a wether (castrated male) — because bucks and does should not be kept together all the time. You don’t want your doe getting pregnant more than once per year, and you definitely don’t want young does getting bred before they are big enough to give birth safely.
If your does are at least 2/3 of their adult weight, they can be bred now, but do you want kids in 5 months? They may not come into heat this time of year so may not get pregnant until late summer, so then you have to ask yourself if you want kids in the middle of January. When the buck is kept separate, you can just put him with a doe whenever she is in heat so that you know when she is due. If you are new to goats, it’s better for you to have a 5-day window for a due date, rather than having no idea when to expect kids — especially if it’s in the middle of winter when kids could freeze to death if they’re born unattended.
I have a new mom that is aggressive to another pregnant goat. Prior to giving birth there wasn’t any aggression. She almost growls at the pregnant goat and won’t let her near the baby. Will this get better when the second gives birth? We have the mommy and baby separated and only allow them with the pregnant female and buck under a watchful eye for short peeiods. The baby is 5 days old.
It is normal for moms to be protective of their babies. They relax with time. It has nothing to do with whether or not the second one gives birth.
Also, you need to keep your buck separate so that he doesn’t impregnate the does again too soon — or heaven forbid, impregnate doe kids when they are still too small. Since goats should not be alone, you need to get another buck or a wether (castrated male) to be his companion.
Thank you. The buck is only there when we are with them and watching. I don’t want her to kid again until next summer.
It takes literally seconds for a buck to breed a doe. I have personally been in a position to try to stop it when a buck got into a doe pen, and it’s close to impossible. A doe only comes into heat about once every three weeks, but you may not realize it until he’s mounting her, and then it’s too late.
I have a 4 month old doe and buck. My buck appears to be very aggressive with the female. The breeder told me that it was ok to keep them in the same pen. Any advice?
I really hope you mean WETHER — a castrated male — and not an intact buck. A buck should NOT be with a four-month-old doe, or she could wind up pregnant, which could lead to a c-section or death. A reputable breeder would NOT have sold you an intact buck and a doe and told you to keep them together. If this is a buck, they need to be separated immediately. And since goats are herd animals, you need another doe and another buck or wether so they are not alone.
I bought three new bucks of almost same of age. I have all of them together. The problem is that one of them is dominent and won’t let the other bucks eat from the feeder. What should I do? Will they get along over the time?
You may need to provide a second feeder.
I have two Nigerian wethers – brothers who will be 2 in September. Three weeks ago, I added a 6 year old Nigerian/Pygmy cross doe. She was taking charge and chasing the boys around but she went into heat and one of the boys totally ignores her. The other one, however, is acting like a buck. He follows her around, bites at her ears and neck, butts her in the side, chases her, mounts her and is overall being a bully. I intervene so she can get a break when I’m in the pen with them. The behavior lasted about 3 – 4 days, things were normal for a couple days but now started over. I have two feeders, two water buckets, and multiple climbing areas so she can get away from him but I’m worried he’s going to hurt her. Suggestions? I talked to the rescue where I adopted all three and asked if there was a chance he had an undecended testicle. They said it was highly unlikely and even if he did, the sperm wouldn’t be viable due to body temp heat killing them off, but they did offer to pay for an ultrasound if the behavior gets worse.
This type of behavior in wethers is not that unusual, especially if he was castrated as an adult and was already sexually mature. He doesn’t know he is not a real buck anymore. Some people actually keep a wether with their does to let them know when the does are in heat. It’s highly unlikely that he will hurt her unless they have horns.
I just wanted to add that this owner should be careful of this in hot weather. We have an old doe that does not get pregnant (hormone issues) but does go into heat. The wethers that were castrated as adults will literally run her until she is panting and can’t run anymore. She’s smart enough to back into a corner and stand still, but the OP may need to watch for the possibility of heatstroke if the wether starts running the doe.
I have a wether and a doe, they came together as brother and sister. Recently my wether is being overly aggressive ramming in her side, and trying to “mate” for lack of a better term with her, he’s biting her fur too. He had a significant injury in December and lost his “rank” he’s healed 100% now so I don’t know if he is really trying to show who’s boss. I’ve also noticed where he was disbudded it’s growing back, just on the one side! What’s going on with him?? We are currently undergoing a renovation to our shelter with plans to get more goats. He is 2 years old this month, I’m worried about adding goats. He’s not aggressive to either myself or my daughter. Thank you!!!
Sounds like he is getting scurs, which is not uncommon for a goat that was disbudded, especially males. They won’t turn into full horns. If they are really thin, you can use hoof trimmers to round them off so that they aren’t pointy. They are usually loose and may even get knocked off during head butting. If that happens, they will bleed, but they’re usually fine.
Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about his behavior. If you get more goats, they will have to sort out their pecking order. He may be on top or near the bottom. It will depend on the personality of the new goats.
Thank you for your quick response ! Love your site , super informative
I have the exact same scenario and if I do get another goat would it be wise to get a female or castrated male?
The sex of the goat makes no difference at all. It is all about the individual goat’s personality. If you are not planning to breed, I recommend wethers as pets.
I have two 1 year old Pygmy wethers (brothers).This week the bigger one got very sick and I had to put him in a separate pen to recover. There was only a fence between so they could still see each other. I let him back in with his brother 2 days ago after he got better. Now the smaller brother has become incredibly aggressive towards him, he not only head butts but charges and rams him in his side. It seems to escalate with me in the pen. Before he got sick they would head butt and challenge each other but this is much worse. I think the bigger goat is still recovering so is not as strong as he used to be. The smaller goat has also started to challenge me a little..the vet told me to keep them separated for as little time as possible but I wonder if I put them together too soon while he was still weak. I hope there is something I can do to stop his very bad behaviour towards his brother. I should say that the smaller goat is also very friendly and will sit in my lap for cuddles so he is not all bad! Until his brother turns up..Thank you!
This is normal goat behavior, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Whenever goats are separated, they need to re-establish their pecking order, and that’s what they’re doing. Someone has to be in charge, and your healthy goat recognized weakness in the one that has been sick, which is why he has taken charge. If you think the one is still not healthy, you can separate them again for a few more days, but eventually you will have to put them back together, and they will go through this to establish who is in charge. As I mentioned in this article, sometimes those that are the sweetest with humans are often the roughest with other goats, so it has nothing to do with the goats being innately good or bad. It’s just the way their social hierarchy works.
Thank you for the advice.
I have two bucks that grew up together. An Apline and Saanen. Recently we put the two with doe’s to cover, but as I dont want the males always with the females i wanted to put the two bucks back together, but they butting heads badly. i am so worried they will gore each other or as your comment above. their shared camp is nice and big, but their heads start bleeding from all the head budding.
I have now separated them as i cant stand it…but dont have space to keep them apart as that camp is actually for my cow.
Would they stop fighting? or is there a chance they will injure each other badly?
should i pipe the horns for a while? what can i do to minimise head injuried?
It’s anyone’s guess about whether or not they will hurt each other. Having horns definitely makes them more dangerous. I have heard of horned rams fighting until one died, but not goats. But then I know almost no one with horned bucks. Usually they stop fighting when one figures out that he’s losing. But I did have a goat continue fighting one time unless he had a concussion and was staggering around with his eyes going in different directions.
Thank you, its the story you told above, will put them back and close my eyes for a while and hope for the best. Can Maybe update you for learning purposes.
I got 3 baby goats from the same breeder, two are pure bred nigerian dwarf goats and one is a crossbred. They are all from different mothers but the two pure breds bully the mix and headbutt her constantly. The mix is very sweet and never fights back. Recently one of the purebreds disbudded horn started to bleed but was still intact. After a few hours, one of the mix’s ‘caps’ got knocked off and it’s bleeding alot. Whats the problem?
This is not that unusual. That’s what this post is all about. Once their disbudding scabs are healed over, you shouldn’t see any more blood unless one of them starts to get scurs (small bits of horn growth), and then one might bleed if they knock off a scur. But if they’re all does, they don’t usually get scurs.
I think if you are making generalizations about fighting you need to distinguish goat types. Some breeds are more aggressive bottom line. Some also are seasonal breeders. So it is not at all unusual to run m/f together during the summer for pasture. One of the seasonal breeders is angora goats and they are also the most docile. THis does not mean they don’t head butt although there is usually a reason for it. The main reason they butt kids is about pecking order and hormones so if there has been any loss such as the matriarch there will be a lot of vying for it . So a good idea to keep these females penned until the hormones subside a bit. The rest of the butting of kids is about teaching behaviour . So when they go to pasture they need to be old enough to withstand the occassional butt. THe males can be made less pushy by putting vicks under their nose. This will keep them from getting too pushy when reintroducing the girls with their kids. But the girls need to be able to smell their kids so not for the girls. Each goat type will have different tendencies towards dominance and aggression. Sheep and goats are a better match than 2 breeds of goats especially if some are seasonal and others non seasonal breeders.
I have a 4 month old doe and I’ve had her since she was about 3 weeks old. I just got another doe who is around the same age and I have introduced them to each other. They seem to like one another and get along most of the time. My question is, when I am out with them my first doe does not like the new doe coming around me and she will head butt her so hard it knocks the new one over. Is my first doe being “protective” of me or is she just trying to show dominance?
She’s being dominant over the other doe and possessive of you. She wants all of your love and attention. She probably acts the same way around food.
Hi. I took in a 2 week old goat thats mother died. Is there any prevention that i can take for the goat to hit us with her head when she gets big. We previously had a sheep that we also gave bottle too and he became so aggresive when he got bog that we couldnt go near him. I dont want to go the same road with the goat.
Goats and sheep really should not be alone because they are herd animals. When raised alone, they think you are their herd, so they treat you like a goat or sheep. With the sheep, if he was not castrated, that would have also caused him to be more aggressive. Sounds like the goat is a female, so you won’t have to worry about her hormones making her aggressive. If you can get another goat friend for her, that would be ideal so that she will have someone who speaks her language. But it is also important that you NOT pet her on top of her head or push on top of her head or anything like that, which would encourage her to butt you. You can scratch her behind her ears or under her chin. Do not “play” butting heads with her when she is small because she will continue to do that as she grows up.
I am a new goat mom! I have two young wethers about 2months and four months old. They are Nigerians.Then we rescued a five yr large goat and her wether who is four months old. I kept them separated for the first month. Now they aretogether and the momma is so mean to the two Nigerians. Especially the baby. Should I resperare them or just let them work it out? I just caught her butting one of them! They have two pastures, two feeders , two grain feeders and two separate water buckets. She is very food aggressive as she was neglected before. Thank you!
Since she is a standard breed, there is a chance that she could hurt them. Usually they work things out within an hour or so, but some can be more bossy than others. If they are in the open, she probably won’t hurt one too much, but if there is a wall, and she slams one against the wall, she could do serious damage. If she has horns, then yes, they should absolutely be separated.
Hi, I have 4 goat kids about 4 weeks old. I now have another kid just under a week old tho she is quite big. The older kids are butting her around a bit. Will they hurt her or are they just establishing a pecking order?
Yes, they are establishing a pecking order. Kids that age probably won’t hurt her, but I wouldn’t guarantee it. It depends on the individuals.
Hi. I have just introduced a 4 mo th old Boer to a year and a half old Boer which ive had for 7 months. Bob lives with my horse. Should i leave the new one in the stable with them from day one? Plenty of space.
You didn’t mention how they responded when you introduced them. If they seemed to be okay with each other after a few minutes, then you can leave them together, but if not, then it might help to have them share a fenceline for a few days until they get used to each other.
I’m interested in your “placing Vick’s under the males nose” comment. How long do you do this for? How often should it be placed? Can you explain how/why this will make a difference?
I have never seen or heard of doing this before. I have one ND weather that has decided to start ramming into one of my smaller goats, and when we are harnessing the alpacas to take them out, he rams them in the legs also. No horns on the guy, thank goodness!! He’s just a bit “pushy”!!
Your question should have been posted directly under the comment where someone mentioned using Vicks, if you wanted them to respond. It is not something that I’ve used, but I know the theory behind it. Basically you are completely overwhelming the goat’s sense of smell so that they can’t smell anything else. It’s usually once done once. Usually you hear about this when a doe rejects kids after disbudding, but I really don’t think it helps. Most does will accept the kids again within a few hours after the smell of the disbudding has worn off and they can once again smell the kid as their kid. So it’s just a coincidence if the doe accepts the kid again as the Vicks AND the smell of disbudding wear off. It’s not the smell of disbudding that’s the problem. The problem is that kid doesn’t smell her kid — and Vicks does not make the kid smell like her kid either.
Hi, we have 2 male goats they are 4 months old. We got them when they were 2 months old. We just added two females that are 2 months old.
One of the males has been caught ramming into the side of the females.
Should we separate them and wait for the females to be bigger or leave them to figure it out on their own.
My concern is that the females are half the size of the males. They are all Nigerian dwarfs.
You didn’t specify whether the males are bucks or wethers (castrated). If they are intact bucks, they need to be separated so they don’t get the does pregnant. If they are wethers (no testicles), then they can be together. You might want to let them share a fenceline for a few days before you actually put them together. It won’t eliminate all of the head butting, but it will reduce it a bit.
I want to know why is it that billy goats headbutt people in the rear end the minute you bend over?
That is not normal behavior for a goat. Typically they do that because someone thought it was cute to “butt heads” with them when they were little, so they think it’s an acceptable way to communicate with people. If you do NOT push on their head or pat on their head when they are little, they don’t normally behave inappropriately with people when they are older. I wouldn’t say anything is impossible, but in every case when someone had a problem like this with an adult goat, they had been playing with the goat inappropriately as a kid because they thought it was cute.
Hello we recently bought a mom goat (Millie) & her 2 babies (boy & girl) in July. The owners had 2 sisters that were 2 years old. They each had 2 babies in the same area & lived like that until we took our 3. The owners ended up finding homes for the other babies but not the other mom, our goats sister. So we decided to take her. They were apart about 2 months. I figured they would be excited to be together, but our mama goat Millie keeps head butting her sister, the one we just took in. Is this normal? She seems to be head butting her very hard & none stop. Will they be able to live together again? Should I keep them apart for a little while or let them head butt it out? Thank you
This is totally normal. Someone has to be the top goat, and they are working that out. The funny thing is that if you take one goat and put her by herself, she will probably complain loudly about being alone. I never say anything is impossible, but I have never heard of two does hurting each other when head butting — unless one was pregnant. And even then, it’s very unusual for one to get hurt. Usually they don’t butt heads for more than half an hour, maybe an hour or two.
I have two female goats that are different breeds around the same age one is alot bigger than the other. The best of friends however the little goat was pregnant when i got her and has just given birth. Im worried will the bigger goat hurt the baby . I have temporarily separated them but they are fretting for each other when can they go back to being together.
They will definitely be happier together because goats are herd animals. It’s unlikely that the bigger goat will hurt the baby. We had all of our goats together for years before we built kidding pens, which were mostly for human convenience. If the two adults have been separated, however, they might butt heads a little when you put them back together. It’s just what they do, but that shouldn’t last for long. Does rarely hurt each other. (I never say never, because very little is impossible.)
I recently purchased 2 Kiko bucks about 8 months old. They grew up together at the farm we bought them from, but when they got to our place they seem to be playing, but the one who always starts it seems to get too rough to the point where he is bleeding around the bottom of his horns. I know it’s normal to butt heads to establish order and sometimes they will bleed, but should I try and keep them separated a little until it is fully healed? I just don’t want his horns to break off.
The horns won’t break off from head butting. There is a picture of a goat skull in my book, Raising Goats Naturally, which shows you that the horns are part of the skull. So, it would take as much force to break off a horn as it would to break off a leg. I did have a ram lamb once break off a horn, but he got it caught in a fence so he was pulling the horn away from the skull, and who knows how long he was doing it before it broke. I’ve heard of rams killing each other, but I’ve never heard of one breaking off a horn. Thankfully, goats are much smarter than sheep in this area, as I have not heard of goats killing each other. Intact bucks fight much worse because of their hormones, and they survive. Separating your boys will (1) make them very unhappy when they are apart because they are herd animals and need a friend, and (2) cause even worse head butting when you put them back together as they have to establish dominance all over again.
I have 2 weather goats. One with horns one without. One raised by my sister, the other raised in the barn . The barn raised goat is being mean to the nicer calmer sister raised goat. Won’t let him eat anything! They are both 6 months old. Any tips on getting the mean one to be nicer to the sweet horned goat? It makes me angry that he is being mean to him.
They just have to work it out on their own. The fact that one has horns creates an uneven playing field, so that usually makes it harder.
Can I leave a 3 month old buck with two wethered goats that are 10 months old? Because my black one chased him around. My black older one got aggressive and making noises.
That’s perfectly normal for goats. It has nothing to do with age, and there is no way to avoid it. If there is an enclosed pasture next to the current wether pen where the goats can share a fenceline for a day, that might reduce the head butting and chasing a little bit initially, but there is no way to avoid it completely. They have to establish their pecking order. Usually in a situation where one is so much smaller and younger, he will just run away rather than engaging in head butting, and eventually the other one gets tired of chasing him.
I have two Nigerian dwarf bucks (about 1 yr old) and recently added 2 Nigerian/Nubian does (also about 1 yr old). I kept them all together to breed until one of the bucks lost a foot in a fence accident. I kept him and his brother in a smaller pen while he recovered (about 6 weeks) then put them all together again. Since then, the two does pick on him a lot and there’s not much he can do about it with 3 legs. I know they’re working out their order but I watched them last night at dark and the does wouldn’t let him in the pen where they sleep. It’s starting to get cold so I took him in there myself and they still ran him out. Is there anything I can do to stop this or do I just need to give him another place to sleep? I understand if he’s at the bottom of the totem pole but it’s like he’s not even part of the herd.
P.s. They’ve all been back together for about a month now.
This type of thing can happen, although it’s pretty rare. Other than for breeding, males and females should be kept separate anyway, so hopefully when you remove the boys, they will get along fine together again. If you see one of the does in heat, you can just put her with one of the bucks for an hour or two for breeding, then separate them again. You don’t want to just separate the one buck because he would be lonely, and if it gets cold in winter where you are, he would also be cold.
Thanks for your response. I was planning on separating the bucks from the does once the babies are born. Are you saying they should be kept separate even when there aren’t any kids and when the does aren’t milking?
In this case, absolutely, because the one goat is being bullied so badly. Hopefully that will solve the problem. Normally you don’t want to keep bucks and doe together all of the time because the does could wind up getting pregnant more often than you want. Some bucks are less respectful than others and will drive does crazy constantly trying to mate them, even if they are pregnant already.
Help!, We just purchased 2 bucks (9wks old) and getting 2 doe’s (13 wks old) we are planning on breeding them. Can we house them together while they are small? Or should they be separated from the beginning? We are in a pinch as we are to pick up the females today but only have housing set up for them to be together.
They need to be kept separate from the beginning or the bucks will get the does pregnant MUCH earlier than they should be bred. Does should be 2/3 of their adult weight before being bred. For NDs that means they should be at least 40 pounds, or you could be looking at a c-section in five months. No one can predict when the does will come into heat, but since it’s fall, which is typically breeding season, they will probably come into heat sooner rather than later.
We had two weathers for a while now, about 1 year old. They were bottle fed by someone and we purchased them together around 8 months of age. We just added another weather of similar size , about 9 months old. The one used to be the dominant male is now an outcast, by the new male, and He will not let him inside the shed to sleep. I am concerned, as it is getting colder, and snow in the forecast. We live 5000 feet. It is late to build another shed, the one we have is large enough to fit in 10 goats… What can we/should we do?
If it’s only been a couple of days, they can still work things out. If the new wether has horns, and the others do not, then that’s a problem, and you may need to consider housing him separately along with a horned friend who would be on a more equal playing ground. Or rehome the horned one. Horned goats can be really mean to those without horns because they have an unfair advantage.
With goats, it really does take two to fight. Sometimes the underdog will realize that if they just lay down, the other goat can’t usually hurt them. However, the fact that the new underdog used to be the dominant one means he has a personality that might mean he doesn’t really want to do that. They only keep fighting as long as both are holding out hope that they can be the top goat.
Without knowing your set-up, it’s difficult to give specific suggestions. Putting a door on the shed and closing them up at night is one idea, but you don’t know how much they’ll fight once they’re stuck inside together. I’ve never heard of wethers actually hurting each other, but I never say anything is impossible.
they all have horns. The underdog is not looking to fight, but actually avoiding the new dominant male. Afraid of him. The pen is large, I see no conflict, except at the feeder, the new wether won’t let the the other one feed there when he is there, is all. No fights, but the new male simply picks on the one male. (not the other, from some reason) The only concern is that he won’t go in the shed, being afraid of the new dominant male. So if we lock them all in at night, the shed is 12 x 9 feet….is that large enough to share with this new aggressive male? – we need to put a door up, how high the door can be above the ground, so they don’t try to get under it and get hooked somehow. I was thinking in terms of able to open the door, swing it in perhaps above the hay……say when snow is blowing in…
The reason he only picks on the previously dominant one is because he has a dominant personality. The other one clearly knows his place at the bottom. Pay attention to the weight on the previously dominant one. Unless he is losing weight, he is still getting enough to eat, and that’s all that’s really important. If he starts to lose weight, you may have to figure out how to feed him separately.
Your shelter is big enough. The door needs to be within an inch or two of the ground so that they can’t stick their head under it. A goat could wind up with a broken neck if they stick their head under it and another one slams into their body.
ok, we built a door, locked the three in for the night. keeping our fingers crossed.
No one is hurt, all 3 survived the night locked in the shed , yaaay 🙂
Sorry if I am asking you the same question that you have answered. I have a female sheep, a male goat and a black bellied ram. The ram is aggressive and fighting the goat. The ram has also tried to ram me and my kids ( not as bad as the goat). I rescued him as a baby and never cut his horns. I am not sure what to do. Everyone is telling me to kill it for meat. They are all pets and it’s hard for me. Is that the reality of rams? Can they change?
Rams are much more aggressive than goats, and almost all of our have wound up as meat because they could not be trusted with humans in the pasture. I have never heard of an aggressive ram changing.
I just introduced a new goat to the herd and one goat(who is so gentle with humans and my young children) is bullying so much. Unfortunately the new goat was dehorned when I got her so the other female goat who is going after the new one has the advantage. I keep putting lots of hay all over but she keeps chasing the new goat and won’t leave her alone. The new goat is so timid. What can I do? Thanks
There is nothing you can do. It is not a good idea to put horned and not horned animals together for this reason. The horned one has the advantage and she knows it. It’s too bad the seller didn’t ask if you had any horned goats.
I am looking for information regarding does fighting. We have 4 does. They are all about 9 months old. There was a clear pecking order in our heard, but now the lowest one is really bullying the one that was the original leader. They all seem to be ganging up on her. She is eating and drinking fine, no stool/worm issues, and her Famancha score is great. Any ideas?
This is normal goat behavior.
Hello, I am new to having goats. We adopted 5 pygmy goats and one dwarf. Three of the goats were weather’s, one pygmy was the dominant one. He died last week from kidney stones. The younger wether is trying to establish himself by not letting the dwarf wether eat or come into their stall. Last night we kept him in barn, he would not go into the stall, he was charged every time he attempted to go in, it is a large stall plenty big for goats. The drarf seems to be the one picked on by the others. Should I just ignore it? Unfortunately they all have theirs horns and have been raised together as far as we know. They are our pets. Thank you.
Hopefully they will get things worked out. They usually do. If it’s cold and raining, and they won’t let him in, you might need to come up with a temporary alternative. However, the more you separate them, the longer it’s going to take for them to work things out.
Thank you! Looking forward to your newsletter. N
I am a new goat momma. We have 2 nigerian/toggenburgs that are 6 months old. We just brought home a 2 month old pygmy. One of the mixes keep ramming and headbutting the baby. What should we do? We have no way to separate them outside!
If you read the other comments, you’ll see that this is quite common. There is not much you can do. They usually get things worked out.
Do you have any experience with a doe acting bucky? She’s 10 years old, and has never been breed. She just within the last couple weeks has become very aggressive. She tongue flaps, blubbers, tries to mount our weather and is acting just like a male in rut. She has always been a very sweet, timid goat but now she attacks me every time i’m in the field and constantly tries to ram me and knock me over.
Sounds like her hormones are out of whack. The only “solution” I’ve ever heard of is a hysterectomy, which is difficult and expensive in goats, which is why you almost never heard of it.
I had 4 goats. One set of twin Nigerian wetness. One single Nigerian wether and an Olberhasi. They have been together since birth and they are 5 years old now. My Olberhasi died in November 2018 from urinary calculi. His buddy which was my single Nigerian is now being bullied constantly by the twins. They are all the same size. No horns on anyone. I am worried about his well being. They all got along great when there was 4 of them. Will he be ok. I really don’t want to get another goat at this point.
The Oberhasli was boss when he was alive because he was the biggest, which kept the other three in line. Now that he’s gone, the three Nigerians are constantly trying to figure out who’s boss. It’s probably not as bad as it looks, and if one is running away, that’s good. It’s when they stay and keep butting heads that someone can get hurt. Getting another goat won’t stop the head butting because then they will still have to figure out who’s boss with the new goat.
I have 2 goats – both female – they get along 90% of the time but every now and then the one picks on the other so bad she can’t lay down or eat – what should I do?
If you mean that the dominant doe won’t let the other one near the hay feeder, that makes total sense, but don’t worry about it because once the dominant one has her fill, she’ll go lay down to chew her cud, and then the other one can eat.
We have two does purchased and brought home at the same time with our dwarf donkey. They live in the same pen together. The does have been coming into heat. Now one of the females is being very agressive to the other. The aggressor has backed the other in to the shelter and makes her cry. Is this normal. Both are only 7 months old.
It’s typical goat behavior. There is not anything you can do about it. At least they only come into heat every 21 days. This is why I recommend wethers as pets. They are not hormonal because they’ve been castrated. Some does are more quiet and docile than others when in heat, but some months can be worse than others.
I have two 6 year old wethers who have always lived together. The more dominant one takes the other’s leg between his horns and lifts up, sometimes causing him to fall down. What can we do about this? We’re so afraid he is going to break his leg.
You can’t do anything about it. It’s one of the disadvantages of horns. This is normal goat behavior.
I am a new goat mom who purchased two Nigerian sisters who turns out were pregnant when I bought them. I had separated them close to kidding as they were doing a lot of head butting. Each doe had twins 4 days apart and I’m not sure when I should put everyone back together. At the moment if one of the kids sticks it’s nose into the other pen the doe will head butt the wall as if to scare it off. This is making me nervous about introducing everyone back into the larger pen. Any advice would be appreciated.
I generally put them together after about three or four days. By then the kids are really on their feet and can handle it if another doe butts them. Typically, however, the adults are so busy head butting they just ignore the kids. They will butt the other kids if one tries to nurse off the wrong doe. Assuming your does do not have horns, they don’t usually hurt kids, although it looks disturbing to us humans. I have heard some horror stories about does with horns, but those are pretty rare. As this article says, conflict is inevitable, so I just make sure the kids are sturdy enough to run away.
I have a bottle baby that I’m trying to let play with siblings. Momma goat truss to horn him under his chin. I’d this normal or is she being aggressive?
It is “normal” for goats to be aggressive towards kids other than their own. It’s just the way they are. This is one reason I am not a fan of horns.
I have a mother and daughter pair that are both pregnant and about 3 months apart. The mother is due in about a month. They have never shown aggression toward each other or even the other female we have. The other female, however, os much larger, has horns and is very aggressive. I plan to start locking the pregnant pair up together at night to hopefully prevent some of the abuse they have been suffering from the big female. And also incase the mother goes into labor. I’m worried that separating the pair will stress them out but once the babies are born I pretty much have to right?
It sounds like you have a standard sized goat with horns with a couple of smaller goats, such as Nigerian or pygmy, that do not have horns. If I am understanding correctly, that is a recipe for disaster. I would not want goats like this to be together. A big goat with horns can do a lot of damage to smaller goats. She has a major physical advantage and is using it to be the herd queen. If you separate them and put them back together daily, that’s just going to make things worse. Whenever goats have been apart and you put them back together, they have to butt heads a little to figure out who the boss is.
If you have other big goats, I would just separate the big ones into one pen and the little ones into another pen.
You don’t have to separate the two smaller goats when they kid unless you are worried about the safety of the kids. Most goats are fine with kids, although they may push away another doe’s kids that try to nurse off them.
If they kid within 24 hours of each other, they might let the other doe’s kids nurse. It could be confusing about whose kids are whose if they both kid overnight or when you’re not there. My sheep are always together in a herd for lambing and that happened once.
I have a general question. Can buck’s make wethers sick by constantly mounting them?
No, they can’t.
I have a nuclear goat family, a 2 year old Buck and Doe, she had 2 babies in January. Mom and kids ; a boy and girl have been in their own side of the pasture since they were born. They hang out every day side by side along a wire fence, with the dad goat who has been recently castrated. ( so was the baby boy) We want to put them all back together soon and would appreciate any advice. I’m concerned about the recently wethered dad head butting too roughly or trying to get up to his old horny tricks, even though he’s no longer viable. The babies have grown very well and have horns just like their mom and dad. Dad goat was bottle fed and is very sweet in temperament and I think a little lonely being on the other side of the fence. We’d like to bring their little family back together. As a first time goat owner, I’m hoping you can help me do this correctly. Thanks
We have had a bottle baby for a few months and just got another buckling. Our bottle baby is 10weeks old and polled and the other is 8weeks but with horns. We introduced them to each other yesterday and the 8week old is beating up the bottle baby. These are the only two we have, will they ever get along ?
The behavior is totally normal. However, it is a bad idea to have horned and not horned goats together. The horned ones will realize they have an advantage and tend to be bullies.
I have a doe that has a one year old castrated male. She just had another male. I put her in a kidding pen for a week. When I let her out for the day to mingle with the rest of the herd, she attacked her one year old relentlessly – ramming him in the side. Should I be worried? They are fainting goats – all with horns.
It is normal for a doe to do that to her older kids when she has new ones. They don’t all do it, but it happens. Either he has tried to nurse recently, or she “thinks” he may want to, so she’s just letting him know that he is no longer her baby. This doesn’t usually last more than a day or two — if you keep them together. If you keep taking them apart and reintroducing them, you will see the same thing play out every time you reintroduce them.
Hi, I have a boer doe that keeps head butting and pinning a 1 month old Nigerian Dwarf buck against the fence. I’m trying to get them used to each other and she didn’t treat my other Nigerian Dwarf like this. We are afraid she is going to hurt him, will she hurt him? What can I do to get her to stop and get her used to the kid?
I would not have a boer with a one-month-old Nigerian kid. The size difference could be a problem. And most boers have horns, which makes it even more dangerous. There is nothing you can do to make her stop acting like a goat. Hopefully you have other Nigerians that you can put the kid with.
I have two 4 month old weathered brothers, one polled and one with horns. I just recently (5 days ago) introduced another polled 4 month old buck and he doesn’t seem to fight back whatsoever. I try to feed them separately so the new buck can get plenty of feed, but I’m worried as to where he doesn’t fight back if he will be picked on forever.
Not fighting back is actually the best response. If they keep fighting, that’s when one really gets hurt. I’ve heard of rams (male sheep) fighting to the death because they don’t back down. Thankfully I have not heard of that happening with goats. Hopefully he’ll learn that if he just lays down, that makes it difficult for another goat to really hurt him. They can’t get up much momentum when trying to butt something below themselves.
How long do you think this will last? And what should I do to help with it?
It doesn’t usually last for even a day, but there’s nothing you can do change goat nature. If you separate them, they will just start over again when you put them back together, so that will just make for lots more head butting overall. If we just took a goat over a pen to bathe and clip her for a show, there would be 20 minutes of head butting when we put her back in — and she’d only been gone for a couple of hours.
Also, should I quarantine? And if so how do I set it up?
If you separate them, they will just start over again when you put them back together.
So two of my goats got into some rat poison, the kind that makes the blood thin. They didn’t eat much but I’m very scared and can’t seem to find much online. I have a veterinary mobile clinic coming in Wednesday but am wondering if there is anything you know about the subject. I’m am desperate to help them. TIA
I would ask the vet what you can do for them. That sounds very scary.
I have a 2 year old pygmy goat, I would like to get another one, how would I introduce another goat to him? He is my baby!! I didn’t know that I should have got two?? Now I want him to have a friend!
You would want to get one that was equally matched — same size, same horn status, and roughly same age. So, if your guy has horns, don’t get one without, or vice versa. Don’t get a kid. Don’t get a boer (a huge meat breed). You could let them share a fenceline for a couple of days, or you could just put them together and see how they do. Head butting for at least 15 minutes would be expected, and it’ll probably give you a headache just watching. Sometime if they share a fenceline initially they are more mellow when they are finally on the same side of the fence, but that depends on their individual personalities too. Having them outside where one can run away is also a good idea.
I need help I have a male and female but the male keeps on head butting the female how do I make him stop
You can’t make him stop. I do hope he is castrated (wethered) so that he doesn’t get her pregnant.
Had brother (a wether) and sister tollengburg living together in 1/3 acre field for 12 years. Doe dies. Take lonely brother to another farm with several goats to keep him company. He is still sad after 1 month there.
Just acquired 2 nubian wethers 10 weeks old.
Have had the nuby’s in the 1/3 acre field for 2 weeks.
Now I am planning to bring my old wether back home this week.
Any concerns opinions?
One of my concerns is that the two little ones wont end up as friendly; because usually whenever I go into the field the old wether always runs up to me. I think goats can be jealous animals and he wont let the little ones come to me freely.
I wouldn’t be concerned. Having a very friendly goat is actually one way to make other goats friendly. They see him getting your attention, and they usually warm up to you. If he does push them away, just remember that they will get bigger and pushier.
Thank you for your article! We had several 2 year old pygmy wethers and lost one recently. We picked up two 3 month old Nigerian wethers to keep him company. We picked the two babies up a week apart from one another but they were from the same farm originally. Our pygmy seems to focus on the smallest Nigerian and will slam him against the fence/wall when he gets the chance (he head buts the pther one too but that one stands up for himself more). It’s definitely worse when we are around vs them just hanging out. The smaller Nigerian actively tries to avoid the Pygmy and seems scared of him. Is there anything we should be doing to ease the transition? We go out and hang out with them quite a bit and always give the most attention to the Pygmy.
There really isn’t much you can do, especially since you’re not there all the time. They will do whatever they want when you’re not there. I wouldn’t be too worried about it unless the pygmy has horns. In that case he could do some real damage.
I have 2 kids about 4 months old, they were separated from my other 3 goats but the other 3 broke through the barrier between the 2 enclosures, which is ok, they all get a long except the babies are supposed to have access to grain (as much as they want) but I can’t keep it in there anymore because the other goats at it all and head butt the babies if they try to go near the feeding dish! What can I do? The 2 goats I’m most concerned about are males and shouldn’t even be eating grain, plus I feel like even if I got 2 feeders they would still eat all the babies grain. Any ideas of how or what I should do?
No goat should ever have unlimited grain. There are so many problems that could be caused by too much grain — enterotoxemia, goat polio, bloat, diarrhea, to name a few. Some people refer to grain as “goat crack” because they will literally eat themselves to death. If these males are bucks rather than wethers (castrated) and some of the other goats are does, that is a much bigger problem, and you need to figure out how to keep them separated. If a doe gets pregnant when she is too small, you could wind up with a c-section. Kids don’t need more than a handful of grain, which you can feed them personally.
I just love your blog!
I have two does that are new to me but came from the same herd when purchased. The older one is 5 and aggressive toward the younger 2 year old. The younger one needs to put weight on she’s skinny after having triplets. How long do I give them to adjust to a new home? I’m afraid the older doe will not let the younger one eat much. And I need her to put weight on not loose more.
I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog! If the does are on pasture, the younger one will get plenty to eat. If they are not, you may need to figure out a way to feed them separately … perhaps two separate hay feeders. You could also take the younger one aside or put her on a milk stand to give her a cup of grain per day until she regains body condition. I’m assuming you’re not milking because they normally get grain on the milk stand anyway.
I have a year old billy and 2 does ( Sannon ) , one had twins months ago but the other doe did not , I got her separated before she got bread . The billy now is chasing her relentlessly and she has a messy rear end . She runs from him but last night she had what looks like a think discharge or membrane coming from her . The billy is going crazy to get back in the pen with her but I don’t know if she is kidding or is it normal to have such a thick drainage while in heat or what I thought was a baby sac ? I have separated them because he is relentless and I have not seen this type of discharge before
When a doe is in heat, she can have a discharge that is clear or white. It’s not usually much — less than a tablespoon. But if she was in heat, she would not be running from him. She would be standing for him to mount her. It’s possible she was in heat yesterday, and he just hasn’t gotten the message yet that he needs to leave her alone now.
If the buck has been with the does for months, then the doe is probably pregnant. But you wouldn’t know when she is due. Mucus before kidding can be anywhere between zero and a foot-long, thick string. If she was due to kid now, she would have a large udder so that she could feed her kids when they’re born.
You should not keep a buck with your does because of this type of situation. Plus if there are kids in the pen, he could get a doeling pregnant when she is still too small to give birth safely.
Thank you for your comments I have now separated the Buck from the Does . He did get out and into the Does pen for just one night and the same happened again . She was bloody in the rear again , for some reason it’s just the same Doe and she is frantic to get away from him . He makes all the breeding actions and then maybe beats her up ? Anyways I don’t need kids that bad to have this happen , maybe because he has horns ? Could he be stabbing her ? I am new to goats so this is turning me off owning then if this is the norm . I loved milking the one Doe that had kids but if breeding season is like this then I will be done having goats . Hope I am having the exception . When I got the 3 kids they all had pretty big horns so I had to leave them on , is this what happens when they have horns maybe ?
The blood is way more then a table spoon , it leaks out to a small puddle every time she naps or lays to chew her cud . When she had something hanging it was lighter coloured then blood , it looked like a soft pink colour and was about 10 inches long , I thought it was a water bag but she wasn’t big at all and it just dropped off . I penned her with the other Doe so she could give birth but nothing . She is still the same size today so I don’t think she was birthing and since I took him away she stopped bleeding after about 2 or 3 days . It all started again the night he broke into the Does pen. Now she is fine and still the same size .
This is not at all normal breeding behavior, and you should see ZERO blood during breeding. If you doe had tissue hanging out, it sounds the buck tore something with his horns. Your buck sounds like he should be in the freezer. Unfortunately some goats with horns become big jerks and can kill other goats with their horns. You should never have horned goats with goats that do not have horns as the horned goats know they have the advantage and can get really mean. Since goats are herd animals, they want to be with other goats, so if you don’t have another buck or a wether to be with your buck, he will be trying to get back in with your does constantly.
I think he said that all three of his goats were horned, not just the buck. Idk what the blood might have been about, but I don’t really think it’s fair to assume the buck’s horns were the cause, or that he should go to the freezer. Lots of people keep horned goats without problems, and dehorning or disbudding has its cons too, after all.
About the chasing, my first doe I ever got always ran away from my buck when she was in heat. The rest of the time they got on great together. Since they were my only two goats they lived together 24/7.
Just wanted to add my two cents. I’ve been enjoying the article and the comments but I’m not really a fan of all this apparent hate on horns, as I have a mostly horned herd and personally love the horns.
I hope the commenter consulted a vet or other experienced person about his bleeding doe and figured out what was going on.
We have two adult females. We recently acquired a buck. He’s been in the pen for about a week, and has started to butt the does in the sides. We have two feeding areas. Is this normal? Will it subside?
It could be that the does are in heat or were in heat but are not any longer, so he’s frustrated. It’s really not a good idea to keep a buck with does 365 days a year. Some are gentlemen, but some will run does ragged trying to mate them all the time, even if they are not in heat. If you don’t want to have two bucks, you could get a wether to keep him company, although I will warn you that he may not be nice to the wether. If you ever want to keep any doelings, it’s a good idea to just buy a second buck to keep this guy company. If the girls are out of sight, they shouldn’t butt heads too much beyond the first day or two.
Hi! I have 2 does that are the same age. One had 2 twin kids. Two days later the other doe had a premature birth and the baby died. Now the 2 does will not stop fighting when we put them together. Any suggestions? The kids are about 2 weeks old now.
This is totally normal, and every time you separate them, they have to re-establish who’s the boss. If you have other goats, it would help a little to put them with the rest of the goats because the head butting would get spread around a little rather than it just being these two butting heads. Plus, if you were planning to add them back to the full herd later, they will just have to go through all of this again. But if these are the only two you have, you’ll just have to wait it out for a little while. It doesn’t usually last for more than 15 to 30 minutes at most. I’ve never heard of does hurting each other with head butting. If they start going after the other doe’s kids, I’d stay and watch until they get a little more relaxed. You might want to put them outside so that they can’t slam a kid against the wall. But the kids will also have to learn that they can only nurse off their own mom, so they will get butted away a few times. This is one reason I do not recommend having horned goats.
i have 2 nigerian goats that are 3 and 4 months old. one boy and one girl. he is weathered and she is not fixed. we have a shelter that can be closed up at night time to be away from predators and the elements of the cold but do i let the goats out throughout the days as it gets ariny ,snowy and windy here in canada where i am at. temperatures drop to anywhere from +5 to -30 celcius with rain and lots of snow. How do i go about making sure they are warm enough and also when they should be out. thanks!
also do the nigerian goats know when to go inside their house when they are cold from the wind? or should i be shutting the door so they can go out at certain times? thanks
also will the goats know when to go inside their home when it is too cold or is there certain times i should be keeping the door shut in their home so they can’t go in and out all the time?
Goats think they’re going to melt when it’s raining, so they will run into a shelter if it’s available. They usually stay quite warm in winter because they grow a thick undercoat of cashmere. If the door is open, I wouldn’t worry about them going inside. You might find they are spending too much time inside. We close the door to keep them outside in winter as long as it’s not too cold. I wouldn’t worry about anything down to at least 10 below Celsius as long as they have a place to get out of the wind — and it ‘s not snowing. Our goats have 3-sided shelters where they can always get out of the wind, rain, and snow. the opening should be on the side of the shelter away from the prevailing winds so that wind is not blowing into the shelter. You don’t want them locked up in a barn all day long, every day because they need fresh air. Here is more on goats in winter —
I have a 5 month old baby doe STILL living in the house & I plan to put her in our barn next week.
I have two full-grown goats and they are all very familiar with each other because we take walks in the evenings. The occasionally had but my baby but after a couple head when she stands up for herself & they back off.
I’m very nervous about moving her from the house to the barn. Any tips? Will my older does hurt her once contained in the barn?
Sorry I forgot to proof read that message. In the second paragraph I meant to say my bigger goats will head but my baby goat (all female) but after they’ve had wanted her a few times she stands up for herself and headbutts back.
If they are familiar with each other, you might see a little head butting in the beginning, but they should settle down fairly quickly. I’d put her outside first thing in the morning so that they have all day to get things worked out in the pasture. By the time they go inside, they should be mellowed out. The only thing about being in the barn is that they *might* be able to pin her against the wall, but at 5 months, she’s probably big enough that they can’t do that.
I have 3 pygmy goats. 2 Nigerian pygmy. No bucks. They have been together for several years. The 2 Nigerian are mother/daughter (both adult). Recently the mother has been picking at all the other critters on the farm including the other goats. She picks at the mini-pony, and even my 2 huge dogs. It is almost like she is stalking them. I can’t figure out why she has started doing this and I don’t know what to do about it. She is in a huge pen with the other 2 goats and the mini-pony and I allow them out and about on our farmstead for the day. Any suggestions?
If that just happens for a couple of days every three weeks, it could just be that she is in heat. There is nothing you can do about it, but it is temporary.
I have a two day old kid, and I think another doe in the herd is shoving her out of the shelter. Tonight she wouldn’t go in even though it started raining (she’s inside with me now). Is this normal and will it stop?
You didn’t say whether this kid was being dam raised, but it would very weird if another doe was keeping her away from her mother. If the kid a bottle baby that you brought in from elsewhere, then yes, this is “normal,” and it’s not a good idea to have her with a herd of adults at this age. She should be with other kids her age.
I have Nigerian Dwarfs. 5 Does and a wither. They have all been together for almost two years and two of them were born over 18 months ago. My herd has suddenly singled out one doe and they won’t allow her to take shelter inside the building. There is snow on the ground. I’ve been checking on her and she seems to be ok. She has a very heavy coat and takes shelter under one of their stands.
It really depends on how cold it gets in your area and if she can get out of the wind. I’d start to worry about her being outside when temps get into single digits. If it’s windy, it can be worse even before it gets that cold.
I have a three day old kid that was rejected by its mama and I am now bottle-feeding. What is the best way and best time to try to reintroduce it to the herd?
This can be tough, depending on the situation on your farm. One time I had a very mellow doe with triplets the same age, so I put a set of orphaned triplets in a stall with her and her kids. She was totally fine with them, and her kids taught them to be goats. They learned to eat and drink water by watching the other triplet’s mama. If this kid’s mom will tolerate its presence, I’d put them together in a stall for a few days, then put them with the herd, ideally when you have another doe to reunite with everyone. I don’t like to put a single doe (with kids) back with everyone else because she usually gets the snot beat out of her. If you put two or three does back with the herd, then the head butting gets spread around. And everyone ignores the kids … usually … unless one tries to nurse on a doe that is not its mama! Ultimately you have to play it by ear because every goat’s personality is different. Some are far more dominant than others. But you need to get the kid out there sooner rather than later. If you try to put it back in there after a couple of weeks, it’s going to cry a lot because by then it doesn’t know that it’s a goat.
Thanks so much for the response. I was also wondering about how much food I can give it. I’m feeding it 15-20% if it’s body weight over 5 feedings a day and it’s almost always crying for more food an hour after I fed it. Is that normal or should I be feeding it more often but less at each feeding?
We have three weathered males and one doe. The doe and one of the weathered have been together for years. We recently got two bucks that have been together since birth. The two new goats are okay with the doe and will let her in the coop but if our other male comes near it they head butt him away. They will not allow him in the coop if they are in there. Any reason why? And any advice on how to fix this so they all share a home?
It’s a dominance thing. It’s weird that the new boys and the ones being bossy — unless they have some sort of advantage, such as being bigger or having horns. In that case, they may act like this forever. If they are equally matched, they should work it out.
They are not equally matched. They are all dwarfs but the dominant one is definitely bigger than our other male. Should we have another coop so the other goats have a place over cover? I was told we shouldn’t separate them because then the head butting will start all over again. We leave in the north east so it’s winter obviously and I don’t want to keep our other goats outside because these two new one’s won’t let them in.
It’s true that if you separate them, the head butting will just start all over again when you put them back together. If you can provide a secondary shelter, that’s a good idea. There is no guarantee that the underdog will use it, but maybe he will, and it may help you feel slightly better because you’ve given him the option.
We acquired 4 pregnant Boer does the end of December. One is being an extreme bully. I think one of the does lost her baby from being butted in the sides so much. The bully kidded January 8 and the smallest doe kidded January 22. So we still have one to go sometime in March. We have started stalling the bully and her kid in a stall at night by themselves but all of them are in the pasture together during the day. We are debating whether we should cull the bully when her kid is weaned. She also still looks pregnant because she eats constantly and chases the others away from food even though we have multiple hay sources and pans for the grain feed. She is so adorable to the smaller doe and her kid. Butts him clear across the stall when she sees him. She even tries to butt them through the panels separating the stalls. I just don’t know what to do.
Other than providing multiple feeding areas, there is not much more you can do. She is definitely the herd queen. It’s unlikely that the dynamics will change with her there.
She is not adorable to them. Typo. I meant abominable.
So my family and I just let mothers and babies out into the pasture after 3 months being in stalls. One doe in particular likes to be dominate. and a she was butting heads with another doe that had no horns and the next day the no horned goat is stumbling around and can’t see. We checked her eyes because she couldn’t see. Her eyes were not visibly injured. She just couldn’t see. Are goats able to get concussions? If so can it cause blindness? Can it be permanent?
Yes, goats can get concussions. I’ve only had this happen once, and the goat was fine within a day or so, but he wasn’t blind. His eyes were operating independently of each other — one going one way, and the other one going a different way, and he was stumbling around. However, neither of those goats had horns. It’s a not a good idea to have horned goats with goats that have no horns because the horned ones have an unfair advantage. I wouldn’t try to guess whether the blindness is permanent. If optic nerves were damaged, they may or may not repair themselves. I have heard of rams fighting until one died, but I have not heard of goats doing that. Still, they can obviously do a lot of damage. Usually one of the goats gives up before they are badly injured.
Thank you. We are hoping that pinning her up and letting her rest a few days will help the situation. We are keeping a check on her daily.
We had 3 goats, a lamancha, Nubian, and a Nigerian mini. The Lamancha was a young buck that got our Nigerian pregnant, but didn’t seem tall enough to get the Nubian pregnant. Now, we are not sure if the Nubian is pregnant, but Pepper the Nigerian definitely is. I am concerned about the baby being too big for Pepper to have. We have since gotten the Lamacha male a new home and are waiting anxiously for Pepper to give birth. Should we be concerned? And also, could he have gotten Ginger pregnant also even though he couldn’t reach her?
When you breed a large buck to a small doe, there is a very high risk of the kid being too large for the doe to successfully give birth. You need to call around and find a vet that can do a c-section, if needed, and ask ahead of time what the cost will be. It could be anywhere from $250 to $1000 and that is NOT a decision you want to have to make with a doe screaming in labor. Even if she gives birth vaginally, she could wind up with internal tearing that could create scar tissue and make future kiddings dangerous. Nigerian kids are usually about 3 pounds. Crosses between NDs and LMs are usually about 7 pounds. Out of 650 kids here, we’ve had four does that were carrying kids that were just over 5#. One had a c-section, one had an internal tear that meant she should never be bred again, and two gave birth successfully but with great difficulty. I never say never, but I really would be surprised if a ND could give birth to a 7 pound kid or even a 6 pound kid, especially a doe that is a first freshener.
Just because you didn’t see the buck successfully mate the other goat does NOT mean he didn’t do it. When I pen breed, I only see about one out of three does get bred. If he was in there for more than three weeks, that was enough time for her to come into heat and get bred. There is no reason a LM cannot breed a Nubian. That’s actually a very popular cross for diaries.
Here is more information about goat birthing:
Hi, I have 2 2 year old wethered males, 1 was disbudded and the other still has horns. The one with horns controls everything the other male does. He always rams him when he tries to eat anything or if he is getting attention he gets rammed. But the male with horns also shows aggression towards us, my girls who are 6 and 3 are terrified of him because he head butts them all the time. So we are thinking of getting rid of him and getting another goat with no horns to see if that helps the other goat we own that’s being bullied. But I am not sure if I should get a doe this time or if I should just stick with another wethered male. Are there any pros and cons to them? I don’t know if it will always be the same with one controlling the other as the dominant male or if they could just get along. We only have two goats and don’t plan on expanding our “herd” lol. We just keep them for family pets, but right now we can’t enjoy them because of the goat with horns. Any advice would be great!!! Thank you.
The problem is the horns, not the gender. When one goat has horns, he knows he has more power, and he is taking advantage of that. If you just want pets, wethers are best. A doe would be coming into heat every 3 weeks, and some can actually get violent with other goats during heat, or they may scream their head off for hours.
I have 3 goats I just got them I’ve got a 1 year old wether a two year old wether and a 2 month old buck. They all have plenty of room but the 1 year old keeps ramming the little buck, he will trap him in the fence and repeatedly ram him, is he going to be okay? What can I do for him?
If he is pushing him against a fence like woven wire or welded wire, he should be fine because the fence is flexible, so he won’t get squashed. If he is being rammed against something solid like a building, then it could be a problem. It’s best to keep them outside so the kid can run away.
We have a wether Pygmy age 5 with horns. He lost his companion 4 months ago so yesterday we introduced a 11 week old buck pygmy with horns.
They are getting on well & having lots of fun. Crying for each other when we separated them etc.
There’s a fair bit of head butting going on and I’m worried the little kid will get hurt. Do you think we should introduce a 3rd goat or just keep these 2 separated for a few more months. The kids horns looked chipped/cracked. Is this normal? Do they grow stronger as they get older or repair themselves?
Thanks in advance.
This is totally normal behavior. Usually when there is such a big size difference, the smaller one will quickly learn that he can’t win, so he stops trying. If you bring in another goat, this is exactly what will happen with the new goat. You could put them in two pens that are side by side so that they have time to get used to each other and can make faces at each other through the fence. There is usually less head butting when you do that for a few days, but it doesn’t eliminate it entirely.
Hi. We got 2 does at 8 months old back in March. Unbeknownst to us, one of them was pregnant. She has delivered a healthy baby boy about 8 hours ago. The mum is the dominant one of the two, but the other doe is butting the baby. Should we separate them? They are apart at the moment. The other doe is not pregnant.
It’s usually a good idea to keep them separate for a few days until the kid is steady on his feet. However since you only have two does, you can expect some head butting between them when you put them back together. You don’t want the other doe to meet the kid inside where she could slam him against a wall. If she just butts him, she may knock him down outside, but that’s not a big deal. He will learn to stay away from her, if she’s going to be grumpy.
Thanks very much for that. We have been giving the other doe limited time with mum and kid outside and she is still butting at this stage. We will see how they go in a week or so.
I got 3 Boer goats that were born late December 2019. One male (which has been castrated, and 2 females) They all get along pretty well. There is a pecking order with them but they get along. I just brought home a 3month old Mini fainting goat 2 days ago. My male and one of my females take turns head butting it. At night I have them seperated so they don’t hurt the mini. But during the day the bully it. Ive been out there watching and making sure they don’t kill it. I have also put it in with my dogs, and they seems to get along. My question is, how long does the bullying last, and could they kill this mini goat if I’m not watching?
If they are outside and the little one can run away, it is less likely to get seriously injured. If it’s inside and they could slam it against a wall, that could be bad while it is still so small.
Hopefully they all either have horns — or not. If only the big ones are horned, that could be really dangerous as goats can kill each other with their horns — usually if one of the goats is much smaller, as in this scenario.
They all have horns. And the set up in half inside a barn and half outside. They have the voice of going in and out if they want.
I have 4 month old male and female Lemancha/Nigerian dwarf mix goats. They came to me when they were 2 months old. Their behavior is becoming more aggressive which I assume means more mature. Will they mate only once the female goes into heat or can it somehow happen sooner?
We are feeding them well and want them to naturally mate. I just want to know what to expect.
(I read so many different opinions that I’m confused….)
I am very sad to hear that someone sold you a buck and a doe. They can mate before she is big enough to be able to give birth safely. When starting a herd, you need to start with two does in one pen and then two males in another pen — either two bucks or a buck and a wether (castrated male). If the doe gets pregnant when she is too small, you will either wind up with a c-section or a dead goat. A doe should NOT be bred until she is about 2/3 of her adult weight. If she is a 50/50 LM-ND cross, then she should be at least 65 pounds before being bred.
Here’s my free course on breeding goats:
Is is okay to have a wether around a pregnant doe? She’s about to have her baby and I don’t want him hurting the baby when she has it but they are brother and sister and have never been separated before so I know it will stress both of them out.
If they normally get along fine, it should be okay for him to be with her.
We got two goats 3 years ago and one of them came pregnant. We didn’t have any issues until the baby goat reached a year or so. Now the mama and 2 year old goat ram and go after the other goat. The 2 year old also will ram my husband
They chase the other goat away from food treats weeds grass etc.
I have 2 does that will be turning 2 this October. They were raised together and never apart. Last January I was asked to take 2 bottle bucklings that we raised and wethered, not wanting to have any breedings once they were put with the girls. They have all been together now for about 4 months and the girls, moreso 1 than the other, have singled out one of the boys and seem to always push him away from the herd. It is very discouraging to see as most of the time poor Frank is off to the side alone. They have plenty of room so that is not the issue. I was wondering if this will ever pass or should he be given a friend to allow him his own herd? He is such a sweet boy and I do not want that ruined. Thank you in advance for any advice.
It sounds like you’re concerned that the goat will not be as friendly with humans if the doe continues to be mean to him. If that’s your concern, then you can stop worrying. Most goats have a different relationship with humans than they do with the other goats in the herd. Every goat has to have a place in the pecking order, which does not necessarily translate to their relationships with people. I’ve had the most shy goat in the herd be my best buddy, as well as the herd queen being the most people friendly at different times.
I just added a 5 year old pregnant doe to my herd of a Nursing doe, buck and 2 2.5 month old babies (buckling and doeling). Today I came out and the female doeling was severely hurt. She is almost acting like she is concussed or has brain damage. She is not bleeding, but I’m afraid she may internal damage. It’s pretty clear to me the 5 year old must have rammed her. I want to help her but I found her twice this evening laying in tall grass , unresponsive. I would wake her up and she’s very disoriented. Is there anything I can do to help her? I obviously removed the 5 year old and put her in another pen.
Other than taking her to the vet for an official diagnosis, the main thing you need to do is keep her somewhere that she feels safe and doesn’t have much space to run around. Sounds like she is trying to hide, which is typical for prey animals when they are injured. Be sure she has easy access to food and water. A lot of goats wind up getting dehydrated if they are too weak to walk to the water bucket. In fact, you might try using a drench syringe to see if she needs water now. Be careful with it so it doesn’t go down the wrong way.
It seemed like she was trying to nurse but couldn’t get on the same page with the mother. Thank you for the tip.
At her age, they don’t nurse for more than a few seconds at a time and the mothers don’t feel like they need to “baby” them like they do when they’re newborns. If she is disoriented, it could be challenging for her to get milk right now. Also, if it’s extremely hot where you are, you might bring her into the house, if that’s possible, so she isn’t also dealing with the heat.
On the bright side we thought we were going to lose a baby goat to some internal injuries when a dog was playing too rough. She was very lethargic but pulled through.
How do I keep my wether from head butting my doe? He only doesn’t when it comes to food
You really can’t stop him from doing that. It’s how goats communicate. You can try feeding them in separate stalls in the barn or placing their hay feeders far apart. Hopefully you are only giving your wether grass hay because grain can cause urinary stones in wether, and alfalfa has too much calcium for wethers.
My husband and I are staying at a ranch with a very large goat pen outside our back patio. This morning we watched a male goat kill an elderly goat by budding her knocking her down breaking her legs and continuing to ram her over and over and over again is this normal go behavior?
No that is not normal — especially to keep butting her after she was down. I coudln’t begin to guess why he was acting like that. I’m sorry you had to see it. That sounds horrible.
I have a rescue doe that came to me pregnant, I had her with a wether we got at the same time but it’s just them two and my mini horse here. I separated her when she kidded and for a while after. When I tried to bring my wether back in with her, mom wants nothing to do with him. She beats the crap out of him, her back legs trembling and everything. Even if they share a fence line she will stand there and head butt the fence! The wether and the baby are great together but I don’t want to leave mom completely alone. The wether is with my mini horse. Is there a way to get them used to each other again??
You can start by having them share a fence line for a few days, then put them together. There WILL be head butting, but assuming they are equally matched (similar size and horn status), it is highly unlikely that she will actually hurt him. Remember he is capable of running away.
Our newly adopted pygmy wether was butting with one of our 2 Nigerian wethers yesterday when we brought him home . It wasn’t aggressive but because the Nigerian has horns and the pygmy doesn’t he broke off his scur and there was a bit of blood. Can two goats butt heads playfully when one has horns and the other does not???
Scurs can get broken off when butting heads with any goat, but it is not a good idea to mix horned goats with goats that don’t have horns because the ones with horns have an unfair advantage, and it can end badly.
So my question is I have a male fixed miniature pigmy fainting goat and I got a pregnant female. My female beats up my male Then hits him a second time when he faints. Is she only doing this because she’s pregnant and will she stop once she has the babies or is my only solution to put a pool noodle on her horns so she doesn’t kill my male
Usually goats butt heads a lot when they are new to each other, then it calms down as the pecking order has been established. However, some goats can just be jerks to each other. There is no way of knowing how they’ll interact in the future. If the wether doesn’t have horns, the odds are not good that the horned goat will stop. Horned goats should not be mixed with goats that don’t have horns because the horned goats realize they have a big advantage.
I have only two goats. The older one is always headbutting her companion!!! I just bred them, so they should both be pregnant, so I am even more concerned, especially since the older one like to ram herself into the smaller one’s stomach.
What do I do?? I’m really scared that all this headbutting will affect the smaller goat’s pregnancy, and I can’t separate them unless I buy some more cause they are the only ones I have.
The most you can do is try to eliminate the cause of the butting. You may need to get a second hay feeder, if they are fighting over food, or something like that. Early in pregnancy, head butting won’t be a problem for the pregnancy. Trauma can cause a miscarriage in the last month, but the only time I’ve had that happen was when I had one poor goat that was at the very bottom of the pecking order and multiple goats were butting her constantly. But I also had a goat that was being butted so much that I was worried she’d lose her pregnancy, and she carried both kids to full term.
I got a goat 3 days ago and he is jumping the fence . He keeps looking for a place to jump over fence .it is 5 ft he will not stop.I have added more fence making it taller . is helping. Help.
If he is the only goat, that’s why he is trying to jump the fence. Goats are herd animals and need a friend. I refuse to sell a single goat to anyone for this reason. You need to get him a buddy FAST before he learns bad habits that he will teach to his new friend.
I got two male goats in April and we got them fixed! We just got two 1 month old baby females, one of my males is not letting the females around him! How long should I keep them separate? They all will have horns. One of my new females is about 3 weeks old. HELP.
Since they have horns, I would keep the new ones separate from the males until they are at least a few months old and closer in size. The males could do serious damage and even kill a young kid with their horns because they are so much bigger right now.
I have 4 ND wethers that are 6 months old, all brothers, as well as 2 doeling bottle babies that are 5 weeks old. They have remained separated from the males but I am trying to slowly introduce them during the daytime. They seem to enjoy each other and have been playing a lot. One of my males however won’t leave one of my females alone. stomping at her and making weird noises. Also trying to mount. I am afraid she is going to get hurt. Can I continue to leave them together or wait longer? They are all disbudded. Also the males have great shelter but no heat source. At what age can I put my doelings out with them given winter is coming soon? Thanks for any advice.
If they are all disbudded, the chances of the hurting each other are pretty slim. It’s not a big deal if a wether is mounting other goats. Keep in mind that it’s normal for them to butt heads a little when they are first put together.
Goats do not need heat during the winter as long as they are dry. Here is more info about goats in winter:
I had one Pygmy goat and when he was about 3 months old I got a new one she is 2 weeks old but their not getting along well. The new one is trying to play with him but he get I don’t know scared I guess, and he runs away or hits her with his horns sometimes bites her. He sometimes hits me too. What should I do?
Does the new one have horns? If not, this could be a problem as the goats are not equally matched. Also, if he is not castrated, they should NOT be together. The doe will be fertile before she will be big enough to give birth safely.
He should NOT be hitting you with his horns or his head. They usually do this because someone has been play-butting heads with them when they were small. This also makes me worry that he has not been castrated.
Started with a 6 week old pygmy doeling, then bought a Nigerian buckling just a few weeks older. Kept them together for a small bit while we made separate arrangements. No problems there. Then I bought a 1.5 yo doe with a 5 week old doeling at side. I introduced them to the original doeling, plenty of space ….but the older mama doe doesn’t like the original doeling. She’s not super mean with her, but will butt her or butt at her when she comes too close. I assume she’s just being protective over her own baby, but now it’s after dark and my original doeling can’t even go into the shelter without the nanny running her off. Should I just let them be goats and sort it out? Or build yet another separate space for mama and baby…I don’t want to have to leave the original doeling alone though.
If the mama goat has horns, I would be more concerned about her hurting the doeling. If she does not have horns, then you only have to worry about her slamming against a wall, so it’s actually good that the doeling can run away. As long as it’s not raining or snowing, I wouldn’t worry too much. If it is raining, you could put the doeling in a dog crate until it ends. Goats can’t handle being wet and cold. A second shelter in the same area would be a good idea, but don’t separate the goats. Mama and her baby can go into one, and the doeling can go into the other, if the mama is being mean to her.
I have 3 goats and one of them was a mother 1 month ago. Since then she doesn’t stop screaming. It is not loud but won’t stop and I don’t know what it is. Sometimes she also has a crying eye. She eats very well and run normally. What can be? And also in the past weeks she begins to not feed the baby as much as she did before.
Can you help me?
Thanks a lot,
As long as she is eating, drinking, and walking around, she is probably fine. Some goats are just more talkative than others, especially after having a baby. If one eye is watery, it’s probably just dust or something. If it were infected, the eyeball would turn blue.
It’s totally normal for kids to nurse in little short burst, but they nurse really often. It does not mean the doe is weaning the kid or anything like that. I always recommend that you keep track of kid’s weight from the time they are born so that you know if they are getting enough. If she only has one kid, it’s probably getting plenty of milk unless the doe has a serious problem, which is pretty rare.
We just had incident this morning, we put 3 pregnant does in with a Doe with 2 week old twins. They had been all together for almost 2 days.
1 doe aborted then we are assuming killed the other 2 babies. It wasn’t pretty, so she will go down the road and we are assuming this is not common?
No, I have never heard of anything that tragic ever happening. I’m so sorry! I would not assume any of this happened due to fighting. Abortions are often due to mineral deficiencies. And the kids could have died from a long list of possible illnesses. Without having a necropsy done, you will never know.
I purchased 3 Nigerian dwarfs, one 15 week buck (recently wethered) and 6 week old brother and sister (brother wethered) from the same breeder. The older wether is bullying the babies. He has now fired both babies in the side. Non of them have been disbudded. They have a huge lot, lots of playground toys, etc. what should I do?
I don’t understand what mean when you say, “He has now fired both babies in the side.” Do you mean head butted them?
I have a pregnant doe and 2 babies (not hers) one is 12 weeks and the other is 9 weeks. They all share a female pen and bucks have the boy pen. The pregnant doe is really aggressive towards the littles. They all came from the same herd and the previous owner had them in a separate pen within the larger pen that held the pregnant doe so they could all get used to each other (about 5 weeks). The pregnant doe constantly is head butting them, ramming them into the walls etc. I’m very nervous they are going to get hurt, can I correct this behavior?
There is nothing you can do about this. It’s simply goat hierarchy. Someone has to be the boss. If they are outside, they should be able to run away so they don’t get slammed into walls. When they are inside, I’d suggest feeding the pregnant doe separately. Put two hay feeders so far apart that she can’t push the kids away. Basically do what you can to make the environment safer for the kids.
Thank you! They seem to have their positions figured out now. However, we now have 2 sheep as well. We kept pregnant doe separate towards the end of pregnancy but she shared a fence line with the 2 sheep and 2 smaller goats. Now that she is done kidding and babies are in separate pen, she is aggressively going after the sheep. The sheep are not instigating anything, everyone has their own place for eating, but she chases them non stop, even when they are nowhere around, she seeks them out and instigates. Anything I can do here besides separating them again? Due to our winters, unfortunately we don’t have a ton of space for winter pens, so I want them to share a pen so they can all have more space, but not if this is going to continue.
She sees the sheep as a threat, and there’s not much you can do to convince her otherwise. It’s really not a great idea to have sheep and goats together anyway because their mineral needs are different. I hope you did NOT buy “sheep and goat” minerals because they have no copper or so little copper that your goats will wind up copper deficient. If you did buy “sheep and goat” minerals, you can just give them to the sheep after you separate them. And then buy a real goat mineral that has at least 1700 ppm copper. Here is more on goat minerals: https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goat-minerals/
Hi I have 2 Nigerian Dwarf wethers who are 1 years old. One is pulled (with giraffe bumps) and the other was disbudded. Lately they have been head butting until bloody. They get very upset puffing, nostrils flaring, making a strange sound and tougne sticks out strange with one. Seems to be more one goat starting it more “aggressively” then the other. Yesterday both areas where giraffe bumps are, split open. They have plenty of space and it isnt happening during eating. Any idea on what i can do? They have been together since two weeks old.
That sounds like a buck in rut. Do either of them pee on their faces or on the back of their front legs? That’s about the only bucky behavior you didn’t mention. If one is peeing on himself, then I’d say he is still a buck. Maybe he had an undescended testicle and the breeder was inexperienced and didn’t realize he would still be a buck if they removed the one testicle that had descended?
No they don’t pee like that, ive watched for it. It’s horrible because they have been together for so long and we have tried to do everything possible for this not to happen. Would a vet be able to tell me more? What do you recommend if what you are saying is true?
You could talk to his breeder and tell them about the behavior and ask if each goat had two testicles — and they were both removed? I have also heard of someone trying to band a goat and one testicle slipped up and into the pelvic cavity, so only one testicle was banded. In that case, or in the case of a cryptorchid, a vet would have to do a surgical castration, which would be more complicated than normal because they would be looking for a testicle in the abdominal cavity or in the body. You’d probably have to have an ultrasound to find an undescended testicle.
I have eight wethers who have been together a few years. Out of nowhere (that I can tell) the three Nigerian brothers are beating up on a boer. This goes on for hours, even during feeding. We have separated out the boar, but I just don’t understand why the nigies are doing this. Any insights?
Feeding is actually the most common time for things like this to happen, especially when there is nothing left in the pasture. If they are suddenly faced with only hay in a hay feeder, then that definitely opens up the possibility of them fighting over food. If you can add a second (and maybe third) hay feeder as far away as possible from the existing hay feeder, that might cut down on a little of the head butting.
Hi im from South Africa
Have 2 bucks they head butt for more then 3 hours, I had to removed one. One is a new one I got 2 weeks ago he is older ext. But my 2 year old is a never ending bully. I separated them with a fence but they continue through it bumping heads and brake the fence .
I really do not want to sell any one of them . I have doe’s but my 2 year old bully got in their pen and ja, I busy preparing for all the babies 5 months from now.
My problem is the 2 bucks do I have te make their pen’s far from other. I try to gave each a doe to keep them calm , but no way. (They are pigmy goats)
Yes, you will need to put them in pens far away from each other.
I am a new goat owner. I took my brothers herd for him almost a year ago. We have 3 males and one female , I know for sure I have Nigerian Dwarf, a Saanen and a Lamancha, but I’m not sure about the breed of the female. I think my brother told me the female (she and the ND were a rescue) is fixed but the males are not. I’m not sure when my brother introduced the two resuces to the herd, but I know it was about 3 years ago.
My question is:
Why are the males keeping her from lying under the shelter? She just stands outside in the rain instead of going under the shelter. Also what can I do to prevent it?
Thank you very much!
Female does are not spayed like dogs. A hysterectomy on a goat is actually quite expensive and dangerous so only done to save a goat’s life if there is no other option. Males, on the other hand, are quite easy to castrate and can be done by a breeder. In fact, responsible breeds castrate all males that are not sold as intact bucks. No one should be selling bucks as pets. If the doe has never gotten pregnant, then the boys are castrated. If they are not castrated, they’d have huge testicles swinging between their hind legs.
Unfortunately there is nothing you can do with the pecking order of the goat herd. I used to lose a lot of sleep every time it rained at night because I’d be worried about a goat being left out in the rain. Luckily that almost never happened, and after 10 or 15 years, I stopped worrying about it. I have only ever seen a soaked goat once or twice in 20 years. Usually they finally just go inside, and the others ignore them. If that’s not happening, it could be that the shelter is too small. So the only answer might be to build a second shelter.
I started with 2 goats this last year, bought them together from the same farm. One male and one female. They said the female may be pregnant and the boy is fixed. We were told the boy is just over 1 years old and the girl just over 2 this would be her second time having kids. The goats got along great till she had her kids just over 3 months ago. The kids get along great with the male when the mom is not around. The mom now will head buck the male and wont let him into the shelter when it rains, we do have a large dog house as a second shelter so he does have some were to go. But my question is as the kids get older will she calm down some and stop head butting him as much. Or is this something that will just last. She had 2 kids both girls not sure if this matters either.
Since she had the kids three months ago, her hormones have calmed down, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up about her changing at this point, although it’s always possible. Sounds like she’s the herd queen and the wether is okay with that.
I have five goats. Three of them were transferred into the new pasture and pen before the mom and baby were able to be left out. Generally they get along until food and the pen gets involved. I have figured out the feeding part but two of them won’t let the mom and her kid into the enclosure when it rains. I have literally gone out when it is thundering and lightning to try to get her to go in bit as soon as I leave she goes back outside in the rain. Makes me mad because we took in those two because they were kind of rescued by us. This enclosure is plenty big for all of them but it is like they were there first and they are jealous of mom and baby. Any suggestions would be great. It is very hard not to get mad at those two because they are messing with my girls!
I lost so much sleep in the early years because of this issue. It’s incredibly frustrating for us humans, but it’s part of their hierarchy. There is not much you can do because you can’t live with them 24/7. This is one reason all of our moms and babies are locked in the barn at night. I know they’re safe in case it’s raining. Having a second shelter might help but no guarantees that another goat won’t decide they’re the boss in that one.
I have a pregnant doe I’d like a friend for as we’ve had to separate her from our 2 bucks. Is a doeling safe with her?
It depends. If she has horns, I’d be more worried than if she didn’t have horns. It also depends on how old and how big the doeling is. The bigger the size difference, the more I’d be concerned. If they are on pasture, the doeling can run away, so that’s better than if they are locked up inside together where the doe could smash the kid against the wall. There are no guarantees, and there will be some head butting initially, but if the doe has no horns and they are the same breeds, odd are good that the kid will be safe.
Thank you for your highly informational articles like this one (and others I’ve read). You are a wonderful resource, especially for a new goat owner.
I bought 3 nubian females (no horns) a few months ago: 3 years, 18months, and 4 months. They all came from the same, bigger herd. The baby belongs to the 3 year old (her first time of mothering).
The momma is BIG. 135 pounds. And she is the queen. The 18 month old is 80 pounds. She accepts the queen as queen, however the queen does not always accept her as worthy of food and often butts or pushes her out of the hay. I do keep 2 feeders but the queen will switch feeders just to butt the middle girl. The baby gets along well with both, getting pushed only rarely by the queen.
My worry is that I want to breed both older girls this fall, for milk. The momma is so big and quickly turns on the middle girl; I’m worried she’ll hurt the middle girl’s babies, or even the middle girl during pregnancy. Your article confirmed my fears.
Separating them seems inevitable? If I have to do it during pregnancy someone’s going to be alone. I’m already preparing to separate them when the kids arrive, but then there will be more than 3 goats and no one will be alone.
When the new kids are gone (selling them is the plan!) is it likely they can live together again? Or am I destined for 2 herds?
Thank you so much for your help, and your attention to all our questions!
I’m sorry the article made you feel hopeless. The whole point is that it’s normal for goats to butt heads and push each other around, and it doesn’t look as bad as we think it does. In 20 years with 15-20 does most of the time and 700 kids born here, we have only had ONE instance where a doe gave birth prematurely because of being beaten up constantly. I don’t know why everyone hated her so much. She was born here, but after she kidded two weeks early, I decided to sell her to a home that had no other goats, and sold her with two kids so that she would be the queen. I kept in touch with the buyer, and it worked out wonderfully. What you are describing is completely normal. I’d suggest separating the feeders even more to make it harder on the doe to run between them. Just remember that as she is running between them, she is not really getting any more to eat than the other one, so at some point, she will calm down and just eat. Babies are in amniotic fluid, which cushions and protects them during pregnancy. The two kids that were born two weeks premature were completely fine — other than being so tiny that they couldn’t stand for a day or two after birth. So it’s not impossible to have a problem, but it is highly unlikely. Good luck!
thank you! the article was very helpful, and your reply gave me confidence to keep on the path we’re on. I just needed some confidence from someone who knows! Onward and upward, then! Thanks again.
You’re welcome! We’re glad you found it helpful.
I have five goats (one being the mama goat) with two sheep in our pasture. The other day a stork landed in our pasture and the goats charged it and killed it. Yesterday, one of our chickens got into the pasture and mama goat killed it. Why would the goats kill the birds? Should I be concerned ? We have had these goats many years now and haven’t seen this type of behavior before. We also have a donkey that roams the pasture as well as 2 German shepherds.
That is incredibly odd. Our poultry have been wandering around our goats for years, and the goats totally ignore them. Are you absolutely sure one of the dogs didn’t kill them? Is the goat otherwise acting totally normal with no symptoms of illness? Is it more talkative than usual? Drooling? Aggression is a symptom of rabies, which would be fairly easy for a goat to get from a rabid bat.
We have had goats kill other goats. This may be a shock to others but seeing two female goats acting another female goat it was clear they meant business and it was at this point l realised that two goats that been found dead for no obvious reason as food was in good supply the housing was specious as we put them away in the evening. As a retired social worker and dog behaviourist this was my first experience with goats having inherited them from a friend l insured all my baby goats who we separated later where dehorned as the experience of seeing aggression of the older goats at that moment put us right off though we could not dehorn the older ones we
dispatch the over aggressive females
Thank you for sharing your experience!