The Goat Spot Forum banner

Barnyard behavior

3884 Views 17 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Bob Jones
We have 2 major barnyard problems with our 3 goats (2-yearling alpines and 1-6 month old alpine X).
The first is trying to get the food into the feeders without being in a mob scene--you know, heads in the food containers and lots of butting. We have tried squirt bottles, yelling and pushing, but they just keep on coming! The breeder's thoughts were--that's a normal goat behavior and we should devise a system not to enter their pen to get the food in (but that can't work for us).
The second problem is vocalization when ever they see or hear us in the house or yard. We occasionally give them snacks from the garden, but not all the time and we do visit them often when not being fed. It is starting to get on our nerves and we hope it isn't getting on the neighbor's nerves. We recently had to give away the lead (2 yr. old goat) for bad feet and this problem has gotten worse.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
About the feeding: try tying them up first; or try adding lemon juice or vinegar to the squirt bottle to make it more effective. Sometimes a slap on the nose is an effective way of saying ‘no’. How well do they respect you in other situations?

In my experience vocalizations get less as the goats get older. However, if you respond to the vocalizations in anyway, even a look, you may be inadvertently reinforcing the vocalizations.

Hope this helps,

Hi Rift, welcome to the forum. Your breeder is 100% wrong in the fact that you just have to deal with it. Goats are very intelligent and easily trained to stand back and give you room, even when feeding them. Here is a link to another post with photo's showing our goats waiting patiently while I feed them. viewtopic.php?f=32&t=110

You need to start with some basics. Don't let them stand on the fence when you walk up to them. Tell them to get "DOWN" and squirt them in the nose and eyes with the squirt bottle until they get down. Stand there for 30 minutes if you have to until they are standing with all four feet on the ground. Walk away and then back to the fence and repeat as often as necessary until they quit standing on the fence. If the squirt bottle isn't enough get out the water hose. I guarantee they won't stand there while a full blast of water from the hose is shooting up their nose.

Use the same method to teach them to back away from the gates when you enter and the feeders when you feed. Any goats that charge in need to be sprayed clear out of the Barn and held out until you are completely done feeding and tell them "OK". It'll take a few weeks but if you are consistent they will stay "down" and move "back" when you tell them. These two commands alone are ones you'll use for the rest of their lives.

As far as the noise..... thats mostly a Nubian trait. Many Nubians are noisy and thats just the way they are. If your goats are not Nubian then its probably because they are still young. Perry gave some good advice on how to deal with it. If they are bawling they may actually be hungry. If they are getting plenty to eat then its probably just them wanting your attention and hoping for a treat. Feeding them after they bawl will only teach them it worked to get your attention. If I have a youngster who is noisy I never feed it after it bawls. I'll stand around the barn for 15 or 20 minutes after it quites and then feed it. I have used the water hose on noisy goats as well as dogs in the kennel. They quickly learn that "quiet" means to zip it or get blasted with the hose. Once they get it, things will settle down quickly.
See less See more
I am having similar problems with the vocaliztion of my 4 week old baby alpines. One is noiser than the other and it actually screams after I leave the barn. They get let out everyday to run around than get put back in their pens. So I'm thinking theyre expecting me to let them out. They also go crazy and jump on the fences and doors after I leave causing a big commotion. I just leave and ignore them. But today I actually smacked one on the nose pretty hard and firmly because he was literally screaming! I bet the neighbors two house down could hear him. He's the dominant one and the hyper one, so he does not understand when I leave to go back in. I saw you tell people to squirt them, but doesn't that leave the goat afraid of you and not listen later on? I have heard that too much discipine can actually make a goat hate you and be abussive to it. I'm not sure how much discipline you would have to do or in what matter you do them though. Have you heard of this? I really hope me smacking my goat won't make him really mad at me. He did shut up after that though! So apparently it works!
See less See more
There is a difference between a correction and abuse. Squirting them with water doesn't hurt them so they aren't afraid of you. I don't recommend smacking them because they WILL become afraid of you. I'd suggest sticking with the squirt of water for now.
Re: Barnyard behavior (jumping fences)

They also are getting on my nerves with jumping the fences. The same loud mouth goat also jumps the fences and we are trying to fix this problem with boards but for now he continues to jump and i am constantly putting him back in the pen. If he continues to learn to jump fences he will be a problem at the fair this august. The pens there are not very high. So is there a way to teach not to jump over fences? Or is just telling them no feet on the fence good enough to stop this?
Re: Barnyard behavior (jumping fences)

Start with no feet on the fences. That will mostly eliminate the problem. I have found that people with low saggy fences have trouble keeping goats in no matter how well they build the fences later. Once the goat learns it can jump out, you are going to have problems. Put up some cattle panels or something similar that they can not get over when they are young and you'll be half way there to teaching them to stay in the pen later.

I only have 4ft woven wire around our goat pasture and have never had one of our goats jump out. They have all been raised inside a cattle panel enclosure till they are two and taught not to stand on the fence.

Compare that to some goats belonging to our friend, who we watch when they are gone for extended trips. Their goats were raised in a saggy fence enclosure and jump out all the time. When we bring them to our place they jump our 4ft fence before we get the gate closed. When they are here I have to string an electric wire on the top of the posts and use the water hose on them to make then stay off the fence. After a couple of weeks they are getting in the grove of things and the problem starts to go away.
See less See more
Adding a couple of strands (or 3 strands) of electric fence wire, one top, one middle with a good charger and ground can keep goats off the fence. And if the top wire is about 5’ up, it will likely stop the jumping (I’ve never had one jump my fences, so I don’t have experience with correcting the problem once it starts.)
Right. Right now they are in hog panels and a horse stall that is all enclosed with boards. The hog panel is only like 3 ft tall and there is a freezer we use for food storage right next to it. So they use the freezer to get out. But we put boards up so there should be no escape. Pretty soon they will be in the horse stall permanately with the horse that is coming next fall. The hog panel pen is just something extra so they have more room. When we get out piglet they won't be in it anymore so they won't even see the freezer! ya! But then we are builiding a pasture this summer which is the 4ft field fence like Rex has. Hopefully they will learn to not smash it. thanks for the responses!
4-Hgoats said:
Pretty soon they will be in the horse stall permanately with the horse that is coming next fall.
Hopefully you aren't penning the goats in an enclosed area with a horse. Our horses chase the goats on occasion and one time we had to intervene to prevent the horse from causing serious injury to a goat. We now keep them penned separately. I know there are people who have successfully kept horses and goats together but I think it really depends on the individual horse and how much area they have to avoid each other if necessary.
Ditto what Rex said about penning the goats with a horse. I once saw a horse stomp a newborn calf to death while it's mother stood helplessly nearby. Horses are big, strong, dangerous, and scared of everything. It may work out fine, but be very careful at first.

Also, I would replace that 3' hog panel with something much higher right away, or set up the electric wires like Perry said. Once they learn they can jump a fence it will be very hard to break them of it later.
I had a 5' fence in the back and one in the front. They kept going over the one in the back so it is now 9'.

The only time they go over the front one is if I split them up wrong.
Rex said:
Hopefully you aren't penning the goats in an enclosed area with a horse. Our horses chase the goats on occasion and one time we had to intervene to prevent the horse from causing serious injury to a goat. We now keep them penned separately. I know there are people who have successfully kept horses and goats together but I think it really depends on the individual horse and how much area they have to avoid each other if necessary.
I have a goat that was the other way around! We got our goat, Obie (Creative name right? Yup, he's an Oberhaslie), from a lady who had a few horses. He was dominant over the horses so he stole their food. The lady' solution was to feed him enough so that he would be too full to eat the horses food. This resulted in him being about 230lbs. Now he's around 175. I just think the lady couldn't handle a fair-sized goat, and at least she DID love him. He also had never set eyes on another goat before, so he might think he's a horse. He's adjusted well though.
I know this is an old post I am replying to but I think it is important...I also would not suggest putting most goats and most horses together for the safety of both species. I would not even keep them in the same enclosure. Of course, I know of exceptions where horses and goats are best of friends, but I learned the hard way it's a bad plan in general. We were working on our horse paddock with a tractor and needed to put the horses somewhere safe for a couple of hours. Instead of family members holding the leads in the yard for so long, my husband thought he had a great idea and put the horses in the goat paddock with our two does. Our gelding kept our very dominant goat away just by looking at her sideways, but our elderly mare is very mild mannered and submissive. Unfortunately, our dominant goat decided to boss her around with her horns. We didn't realize any problems until I put the horses back. The mare had both nostrils PIERCED, with blood dripping all over the place. Then, a few days later a huge lump appeared on her side. Vet said hematoma (bruise). The hematoma eventually absessed and that was a lovely, ***** mess! So, save yourself some grief and vet bills for both the goats and the horses.
See less See more
It never hurts to try putting these animals together, but you must always supervise the first encounter and be ready to intervene. It's also important put them in a large area where animals can avoid or escape from each other more easily. It's generally a bad idea to enclose unfamiliar animals in small spaces, even if they are the same size and species. For example I never turn horses out for the first time together in a round pen where they can't get away from each other. Forcing them to share a small space is asking for trouble, and it can turn ugly real fast as you discovered. Had they been allowed to go into a larger pasture, your mare would probably have never come close enough to your dominant goat to get whacked after the first blow. And your goat would not have been in good enough shape to pursue her all over the field. They'd have found their own spaces and probably worked it out.

We had a rough time getting my two-year-old colt to accept my goat as one of his "herd." He's one of those horses that will chase any non-human that moves through his pasture, including unfamiliar horses. And he will often try to stomp dogs and goats. But I added electric cross-fencing to give Cuzco a way to slip under and escape, and our property has a lot of scrub oak scattered conveniently about, so Cuzco was always able to go someplace where Skokie couldn't reach him. In the long run it's worked out well and was worth making sure they got used to each other because now Cuzco has buddies to hang out with (he loves horses but is highly suspicious of other goats), and he also has excellent body guards. I was very worried about bears when we moved out to this farm, but I've discovered that my horses think bears make excellent sport, and I even watched one night while they drove away a mother and cub who were eyeing our goat hungrily until the horses caught sight of them. The horses were still actively patrolling the fence line half an hour after they'd driven the bears away! So there can definitely be benefits to letting your horses and goats live together if you can make it work. But you're quite right that a dominant goat with a docile horse in a small paddock is a very bad combination.
See less See more
It was a bad mistake, although they have known each other for a few years without incident. And to think my husband keeps bringing it up as a permanent option! Not with our set-up or our particular critters! Something interesting happened today--my daughter's 7 month old wether decided today to "defend" me from my dog! Maybe he was being possessive, not really sure, but he wouldn't let my dog anywhere near me. My dog just sat down and looked very confused! Don't know if I should correct such behavior as I'm not sure of his intent. It was only bravado at this point, but should I be conerned?
Hi again Patti Marar,
In most cases, unless it is a doe who has kidded, (not necessarily recently - just once so she thinks you are her kid) a goat bossing the dog is dominant behaviour to the dog, not defence of you. If your goat is just threatening the dog, keeping an eye on them is all that is really called for, but actively butting/horning the dog shouldn't be allowed. A smack or squirt and firm 'no' will teach him not to bash the dog, although it depends on the goat as to how long that will take. We have a lot of goats who are terrified of my dog (a big, strong, part Staffordshire and Boxer girl who is very dominant) but one fat little doe who thinks the dog is her toy to bash, but seeing as we took her horns off and my dog just ignores her, she can't actually hurt the dog at all. She loves challenging and harassing the dog, but since she is not doing any harm and is not in a position to, it is a joke. However with our goats and toy/miniature poodles, the goats often need a smack if they poodles break in with them as the adult does who weren't raised here try to stomp on them. If your dog isn't standing up for itself, you will need to make sure that your goat doesn't hurt it or the goat will later cause some damage. It is fine for the goat to be boss if he is not actively being aggressive, but if so you will need to intervene.
See less See more
I allow my goats to be aggressive to dogs as part of their self defense. We hike on trails where there are lots of dogs, and I don't want to have to chase animals all over the mountains because a dog spooks them.

Larry will rear up and cock his head at them. He's the one who practices for hours with a truck tire swing. Mikey does a hop toward them and taps them with his horns. Diego will actually charge a dog.

When we hike with friends who have a dog, we start out in the trail with the dogs in the lead. Before too long the goats just ignore them and the dogs are turned loose.

We don't have a dog of our own.
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.