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If the herd lead goat, a troublesome bully, is removed from a herd or otherwise mild wethers, all the same age of 5 yrs, will one of the remaining wethers rise to the same bully behavior? Is the bullying likely due more to individual personality, or is it wired in to goat dna that the lead goat must constantly be agressive and rough with the others. When I isolate our current lead goat to an adjacent pen, the other three wethers same age seem to congenial.
Thanks.
-Lee
Black Hills
 

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I'd chalk it up to personality. I only recently acquired a second goat, so I don't have much personal experience with this particular species, but I know that some horses are miserably bossy. When the bossy horse leaves the herd another horse will rise to top position, but they don't all rule the same way. Some are just naturally "gentle" leaders and some are a lot more brutal.

I imagine it's the same way with goats. If every herd boss were mean, I'd think that my goat, Cuzco, would be a lot rougher with my new goat, Nibbles. He bosses her around a little bit and he often blocks her out of the shed, but he's not mean. He almost never hits her, and when he does it's not terribly hard. He just likes to get the point across, not terrorize her.
 

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You might try becoming a stronger leader yourself and see if the lead goat backs off a bit. Make him feel like #2. They will always have a hierarchy, just try to stay at the top.

We haven't talked about tipping goats for a while. I lay mine down to trim their feet. This gets their feet trimmed and establishes dominance.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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As Bob said, there will always be a boss. That is the core structure of a goat herd. But if there are only a few goats and they have all been relaxed with each other, other then the old bully, I dont see much of an issue. Even though you might not see it, they are all in their set rank. There is a number 2 that will become number 1. Things like personality, breed, space, boredom and available feed are all major factors to consider. Here, where we run a minimum of 50 goats on 5 acres with no toys (yet), no pasture (no water) and mostly Alpines, we have daily battles as ranks are won and lost. But I would say that yours have long ago worked out who is next in line and if they ere no issues with them now, Id guess you will be already. At least for starters. Goat personalities are like they management. It differs from one goat to the next.
 

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There will always be a boss goat. Remove the problem and the number 2 goat will take over. When you have 2 goats they buddy up and you won't notice much bullying. When you start adding goats, the leadership role becomes much more noticable as the number 1 goat has to actively defend his space at the feeder, in the barn, around the toys etc.

Lets get into their mind a little... the younger up and commers are always challenging the boundaries (much like a teenage child) and if the higher ranking goats do nothing it is seen as a sign of submission by the younger goat who will exploit it to try and move up a notch in the pecking order. The amount and degree of bullying can change with each goats personality but even the most docile leader can be cruel to his fellow herd mates when judged by human standards. If the goat is not a bullying leader and lets others push him around he will not keep his place at the head of the line for very long. Seen as a whole, the bullying is often instigated by a lower ranking goat testing the boundaries and the required reaction by the dominate goat is seen by us as bullying when in reality it is simply normal herd dynamics. You can prevent this behavior when you are there and we do not allow any aggressive displays when we are working on the goats. But, once you are gone, it will be goat business as usual.
 

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It can also be just a mean leader - if you watch closely, you can see the difference between quashing 'arrogant upstart' goats, and bashing 'submissive but accidentally in the way' goats. It almost totally depends on the individual goats' personality, as if the younger ones are not content to stay low, plus the top one is naturally a meanie, it can result in a combination of needed and needless violence. However, if the others are happy together, there is no reason why one of them should become a bully because they are boss - we actually have no leader, as we have such a huge variety in ages, breeds, sizes, horned and hornless goats, you could pick out ten goats who are boss of lots of goats, but no single goat is the boss - we haven't had a 'boss' goat for several years now, because of all the different fighting methods and their reactions.
Cheers,
Cazz
 
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