Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary - Mendon MASS
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3 Common Goat Behaviors Explained

3 Common Goat Behaviors Explained

At Maple Farm Sanctuary, we’ve got quite the herd! Since over a dozen goats both young and old call our 120-acre farm home, we witness our fair share of goat behaviors. In fact, some of our most commonly asked questions during our weekend tours are inspired by our goats, so we’re offering some insight into why goats do what they do. Read on to learn why goats headbutt, nibble, and smile.


1. Headbutting serves quite a few purposes.

Goats of all ages head butt. The reason why depends on the goat’s age and on their personality, too — most goats are social, inquisitive creatures and some even more so!

Younger goats butt heads in play. Older goats participate in this activity to establish dominance and determine their position in the herd. Putt Putt and Chivo demonstrate this common behavior in the above video.


2. Nibbling ensures all meals are the tastiest.

Goats are browsing animals. Rather than grazing — or eating everything in one spot before moving on to the next green pasture — they explore what’s available to find the food that has the highest nutritional value. In the video above, baby Putt Putt, who came to Maple Farm Sanctuary when he was just 10 days old, nibbles on some greenery.


3. The jury’s out on smiling.

Many animal behaviorists believe that animals’ “smiles” are just involuntary muscle movements rather than physical indications of happiness.

Recent research into the emotional lives of goats, pigs, and dogs has some changing their tunes, though, as they learn more about just how emotionally complex non-human animals are.

Whatever the reason, we’re always amused by our herd’s smiles. When they flash their pearly whites, something else interesting and unique to goats becomes clear: they don’t have front teeth on their upper jaw, just a very flexible lip that can help them find the most digestible part of plants. All the better for nibbling!


Witness Goat-Like Behavior Firsthand During a Tour

Want to see Chivo, Putt Putt, Pumpkin and the rest of the herd for yourself? Visit Maple Farm Sanctuary! We run public tours on most weekends throughout our May to October tour season. For just $12 (or $8 for children), you can interact with many of the Sanctuary’s animal residents while learning about our history and mission. Grab your space today — there are limited spots and tickets often sell out. We can’t wait to see you at the Sanctuary!

Sources: Wide Open Pets, Mental Floss, Ecology

—written by MFS volunteer Laura Nicole Miller