Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link
Professional Version

Social Behavior of Goats


Gary M. Landsberg

, BSc, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB, DECAWBM, North Toronto Veterinary Behaviour Specialty Clinic;

Sagi Denenberg

, DVM, DACVB, Dip. ECAWBM (Behaviour), MACVSc (Behaviour), North Toronto Veterinary Behaviour Specialty Clinic

Reviewed/Revised May 2014 | Modified Oct 2022

Social behavior in goats is similar to that in sheep, and horns also play a major factor in caprine social rankings. Goats also hide early in life but, unlike cows, spend more time away from the nannies for the first 6 wk than for the next 6 wk. The nanny initiates early approaches, and the kid initiates the later ones. Sexual behavior of goats differs slightly from that of sheep. Billy goats throw their head up in the air and ventroflex their neck when they ejaculate. They also frequently urinate on their front legs, which they then rub on the doe as part of the courtship ritual. The scent of female urine is important and is transported into the vomeronasal organ during flehmen.

quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!