Tamsin Cooper writes about the nature and care of goats and mentors on online animal welfare courses. Having fallen for our caprine friends while volunteering at Buttercups Goat Sanctuary in Kent, England, she now runs her own small herd in north-west France.
After learning about animal behaviour with Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, she stays up to date with the latest scientific findings and incorporates them into management advice.
The advice in these pages is not always traditional farming practice. It comes from combining personal experience, that of other smallholders and recent literature in applied ethology and animal welfare science. Research into goat behaviour and cognition is relatively new and the literature is expanding all the time. Here is a non-exhaustive list of published articles by researchers (you can find most of these online by searching Google Scholar):
Abdel-Hamid, S.E. Impact of Dominance on Behaviour of Goat reared under Different Housing Systems. EBSCOhost 125124109.
Aevarsdóttir, H., Thórhallsdóttir, A.G., Sigurjónsdóttir, H. and Agricultural University of Iceland, Hvanneyri, IS-311, Borgarnes, Iceland 2016. Foraging behaviour and plant selection in a herd of Icelandic goats. Icelandic Agricultural Sciences, 29, pp.3–6.
Aevarsdóttir, H. 2014. The Secret Life of Icelandic Goats: Activity, group structure and plant selection of the Icelandic goat. Thesis. Iceland.
Alvarez, L., Martin, G.., Galindo, F. and Zarco, L.. 2003. Social dominance of female goats affects their response to the male effect. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 84(2), pp.119–126.
Alvarez, L., Zarco, L., Galindo, F., Blache, D. and Martin, G.B. 2007. Social rank and response to the “male effect” in the Australian Cashmere goat. Animal Reproduction Science, 102(3–4), pp.258–266.
Andersen, I.L. and Bøe, K.E. 2007. Resting pattern and social interactions in goats—The impact of size and organisation of lying space. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 108(1–2), pp.89–103.
Andersen, I.L., Roussel, S., Ropstad, E., Braastad, B.O., Steinheim, G., Janczak, A.M., Jørgensen, G. meisfjord and Bøe, K.E. 2008. Social instability increases aggression in groups of dairy goats, but with minor consequences for the goats’ growth, kid production and development. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 114(1–2), pp.132–148.
Andersen, I.L., Tønnesen, H., Estevez, I., Cronin, G.M. and Bøe, K.E. 2011. The relevance of group size on goats’ social dynamics in a production environment. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 134(3–4), pp.136–143.
Aschwanden, J., Gygax, L., Wechsler, B. and Keil, N.M. 2008a. Cardiac activity in dairy goats whilst feeding side-by-side at two different distances and during social separation. Physiology & Behavior, 95(5), pp.641–648.
Aschwanden, J., Gygax, L., Wechsler, B. and Keil, Nina Maria 2009. Loose housing of small goat groups: Influence of visual cover and elevated levels on feeding, resting and agonistic behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 119(3–4), pp.171–179.
Aschwanden, J., Gygax, L., Wechsler, B. and Keil, N.M. 2008b. Social distances of goats at the feeding rack: Influence of the quality of social bonds, rank differences, grouping age and presence of horns. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 114(1–2), pp.116–131.
Aschwanden, J., Gygax, L., Wechsler, B. and Keil, Nina M. 2009. Structural modifications at the feeding place: Effects of partitions and platforms on feeding and social behaviour of goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 119(3–4), pp.180–192.
Awotwi, E.K., Oppong-Anane, K., Addae, P.C. and Oddoye, E.O.K. 2000. Behavioural interactions between West African dwarf nanny goats and their twin-born kids during the first 48 h post-partum. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 68(4), pp.281–291.
Baciadonna, L., McElligott, A.G. and Briefer, E.F. 2013. Goats favour personal over social information in an experimental foraging task. PeerJ, 1, p.e172.
Baciadonna, L., Nawroth, C., Briefer, E.F. and McElligott, A.G. 2018. Perceptual lateralisation of vocal stimuli in goats. Current Zoology.
Baciadonna, L., Nawroth, C. and McElligott, A.G. 2016. Judgement bias in goats (Capra hircus): investigating the effects of human grooming. PeerJ, 4, p.e2485.
Barroso, F.G., Alados, C.L. and Boza, J. 2000. Social hierarchy in the domestic goat: effect on food habits and production. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 69(1), pp.35–53.
Baruzzi, C., Nawroth, C., McElligott, A. and Baciadonna, L. 2017. Motor asymmetry in goats during a stepping task. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 0(0), pp.1–11.
Battini, M., Barbieri, S., Fioni, L. and Mattiello, S. 2016. Feasibility and validity of animal-based indicators for on-farm welfare assessment of thermal stress in dairy goats. International Journal of Biometeorology, 60(2), pp.289–296.
Battini, M., Barbieri, S., Vieira, A., Stilwell, G. and Mattiello, S. 2016. Results of testing the prototype of the AWIN welfare assessment protocol for dairy goats in 30 intensive farms in Northern Italy. Italian Journal of Animal Science, 15(2), pp.283–293.
Battini, M., Barbieri, S., Waiblinger, S. and Mattiello, S. 2016. Validity and feasibility of Human-Animal Relationship tests for on-farm welfare assessment in dairy goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 178, pp.32–39.
Battini, M., Peric, T., Ajuda, I., Vieira, A., Grosso, L., Barbieri, S., Stilwell, G., Prandi, A., Comin, A., Tubaro, F. and Mattiello, S. 2015. Hair coat condition: A valid and reliable indicator for on-farm welfare assessment in adult dairy goats. Small Ruminant Research, 123(2), pp.197–203.
Battini, M., Stilwell, G., Vieira, A., Barbieri, S., Canali, E. and Mattiello, S. 2015. On-FarmWelfare Assessment Protocol for Adult Dairy Goats in Intensive Production Systems. Animals, 5(4), pp.934–950.
Battini, M., Vieira, A., Barbieri, S., Ajuda, I., Stilwell, G. and Mattiello, S. 2014. Invited review: Animal-based indicators for on-farm welfare assessment for dairy goats. Journal of Dairy Science, 97(11), pp.6625–6648.
Baumont, R., Prache, S., Meuret, M. and Morand-Fehr, P. 2000. How forage characteristics influence behaviour and intake in small ruminants: a review. Livestock Production Science, 64(1), pp.15–28.
Baymann, U., Langbein, J., Siebert, K., Nürnberg, G., Manteuffel, G. and Mohr, E. 2007. Cognitive enrichment in farm animals – the impact of social rank and social environment on learning behaviour of dwarf goats. Berliner und Munchener tierarztliche Wochenschrift, 120(3–4), pp.89–97.
Bellegarde, L.G.A., Haskell, M.J., Duvaux-Ponter, C., Weiss, A., Boissy, A. and Erhard, H.W. 2017. Face-based perception of emotions in dairy goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 193, pp.51–59.
Bøe, K.E., Andersen, I.L., Buisson, L., Simensen, E. and Jeksrud, W.K. 2007. Flooring preferences in dairy goats at moderate and low ambient temperature. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 108(1–2), pp.45–57.
Briefer, E. and McElligott, A.G. 2011a. Indicators of age, body size and sex in goat kid calls revealed using the source–filter theory. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 133(3–4), pp.175–185.
Briefer, E. and McElligott, A.G. 2011b. Mutual mother–offspring vocal recognition in an ungulate hider species (Capra hircus). Animal Cognition, 14(4), pp.585–598.
Briefer, E.F. 2018. Vocal contagion of emotions in non-human animals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(1873), p.20172783.
Briefer, E.F. 2012. Vocal expression of emotions in mammals: mechanisms of production and evidence: Vocal communication of emotions S. Le Comber (ed.). Journal of Zoology, 288(1), pp.1–20.
Briefer, E.F., Haque, S., Baciadonna, L. and McElligott, A.G. 2014. Goats excel at learning and remembering a highly novel cognitive task. Frontiers in Zoology, 11, p.20.
Briefer, E.F. and McElligott, A.G. 2013. Rescued goats at a sanctuary display positive mood after former neglect. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 146(1–4), pp.45–55.
Briefer, E.F. and McElligott, A.G. 2012. Social effects on vocal ontogeny in an ungulate, the goat, Capra hircus. Animal Behaviour, 83(4), pp.991–1000.
Briefer, E.F., Oxley, J.A. and McElligott, A.G. 2015. Autonomic nervous system reactivity in a free-ranging mammal: effects of dominance rank and personality. Animal Behaviour, 110, pp.121–132.
Briefer, E.F., Tettamanti, F. and McElligott, A.G. 2015. Emotions in goats: mapping physiological, behavioural and vocal profiles. Animal Behaviour, 99, pp.131–143.
Briefer, E.F., Torre, M.P. de la and McElligott, A.G. 2012. Mother goats do not forget their kids’ calls. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 279(1743), pp.3749–3755.
Bruun, K. 2015. Social interactions, time activity budgets and movement patterns in dairy goats (Capra circus) housed in two different group sizes. 65.
Bungo, T., Shimojo, M., Nakano, Y., Okano, K., Masuda, Y. and Goto, I. 1998. Relationship between nursing and suckling behaviour in Tokara native goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 59(4), pp.357–362.
Can, E.M. de A.V. 2015. Welfare assessment in Portuguese dairy goat farms : on-farm overall feasibility of an international prototype. Thesis. Universidade de Lisboa. Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária.
Caroprese, M., Napolitano, F., Mattiello, S., Fthenakis, G.C., Ribó, O. and Sevi, A. 2015. On-farm welfare monitoring of small ruminants. Small Ruminant Research, 0(0).
Chojnacki, R.M., Vas, J. and Andersen, I.L. 2014. The Effects of Prenatal Stocking Densities on the Fear Responses and Sociality of Goat (Capra hircus) Kids A. McElligott (ed.). PLoS ONE, 9(4), p.e94253.
Costa, Weliton Menário, de Fátima Madella-Oliveira, A., Oliveira, A.P.G., de Almeida, R.N., da Costa, William Moreira and da Silva Dias, N.C. A ORGANIZAÇÃO SOCIAL DE CABRAS SAANEN CONFINADAS NO ACESSO AOS LOCAIS DE DESCANSO.
Delaney, C. 2017. Thinking outside the box: Innovative solutions for dairy goat management. Small Ruminant Research.
Duvaux-Ponter, C., Roussel, S., Tessier, J., Sauvant, D., Ficheux, C. and Boissy, A. 2003. Physiological effects of repeated transport in pregnant goats and their offspring. Animal Research, 52(6), pp.553–566.
Fritz, W.F., Becker, S.E. and Katz, L.S. 2017. 008 Effects of simulated self-enurination on reproductive behavior and endocrinology during the transition into the breeding season in male goats ( ). Journal of Animal Science, 95(supplement4), p.4.
García y González, E., Flores, J.A., Delgadillo, J.A., González-Quirino, T., Fernández, I.G., Terrazas, A., Vielma, J., Nandayapa, E., Mendieta, E.S., Loya-Carrera, J., Flores, M.J. and Hernández, H. 2017. Early nursing behaviour in ungulate mothers with hider offspring ( Capra hircus ): Correlations between milk yield and kid weight. Small Ruminant Research, 151, pp.59–65.
Glasser, T.A., Ungar, E.D., Landau, S.Y., Perevolotsky, A., Muklada, H. and Walker, J.W. 2009. Breed and maternal effects on the intake of tannin-rich browse by juvenile domestic goats (Capra hircus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 119(1–2), pp.71–77.
Goddard, P.J. 2013. Small ruminant welfare: Levelling the playing field or raising the bar—A European perspective. Small Ruminant Research, 110(2), pp.108–111.
Graunke, K.L., Nürnberg, G., Repsilber, D., Puppe, B. and Langbein, J. 2013. Describing Temperament in an Ungulate: A Multidimensional Approach C. Sueur (ed.). PLoS ONE, 8(9), p.e74579.
Grosso, L., Battini, M., Wemelsfelder, F., Barbieri, S., Minero, M., Dalla Costa, E. and Mattiello, S. 2016. On-farm Qualitative Behaviour Assessment of dairy goats in different housing conditions. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 180, pp.51–57.
Gygax, L., Reefmann, N., Wolf, M. and Langbein, J. 2013. Prefrontal cortex activity, sympatho-vagal reaction and behaviour distinguish between situations of feed reward and frustration in dwarf goats. Behavioural Brain Research, 239, pp.104–114.
Hatziminaoglou, Y. and Boyazoglu, J. 2004. The goat in ancient civilisations: from the Fertile Crescent to the Aegean Sea. Small Ruminant Research, 51(2), pp.123–129.
Hempstead, M.N., Waas, J.R., Stewart, M., Cave, V.M. and Sutherland, M.A. 2017. Behavioural response of dairy goat kids to cautery disbudding. Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
Hillmann, E., Hilfiker, S. and Keil, N.M. 2014. Effects of restraint with or without blinds at the feed barrier on feeding and agonistic behaviour in horned and hornless goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 157, pp.72–80.
Johns, J., Patt, A. and Hillmann, E. 2015. Effects of sounds of different quality on the behaviour and heart beat parameters of goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 165, pp.72–80.
Johnsen, J.F., Zipp, K.A., Kälber, T., Passillé, A.M. de, Knierim, U., Barth, K. and Mejdell, C.M. 2016. Is rearing calves with the dam a feasible option for dairy farms?—Current and future research. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 181, pp.1–11.
Kaminski, J., Call, J. and Tomasello, M. 2006. Goats’ behaviour in a competitive food paradigm: Evidence for perspective taking? Behaviour, 143(11), pp.1341–1356.
Kaminski, J., Riedel, J., Call, J. and Tomasello, M. 2005. Domestic goats, Capra hircus, follow gaze direction and use social cues in an object choice task. Animal Behaviour, 69(1), pp.11–18.
Kannan, G., Terrill, T., Kouakou, B., Gazal, O., Amoah, E. and Samaké, S. Transportation of goats: effects on physiological stress responses and live weight loss. PubMed – NCBI.
Keil, N.M., Imfeld-Mueller, S., Aschwanden, J. and Wechsler, B. 2012. Are head cues necessary for goats (Capra hircus) in recognising group members? Animal Cognition, 15(5), pp.913–921.
Keil, N.M., Pommereau, M., Patt, A., Wechsler, B. and Gygax, L. 2017. Determining suitable dimensions for dairy goat feeding places by evaluating body posture and feeding reach. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(2), pp.1353–1362.
Kraai, M. and Shrader, A.M. 2018. How do free-ranging domestic herbivores reduce competition within owner-determined herds? Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
Langbein, J. 2012. Investigations on training, recall and reversal learning of a Y-maze by dwarf goats (Capra hircus): The impact of lateralisation. Behavioural Processes, 89(3), pp.304–310.
Langbein, J., Nürnberg, G. and Manteuffel, G. 2004. Visual discrimination learning in dwarf goats and associated changes in heart rate and heart rate variability. Physiology & Behavior, 82(4), pp.601–609.
Langbein, J., Nürnberg, G., Puppe, B. and Manteuffel, G. 2006. Self-controlled visual discrimination learning of group-housed dwarf goats (Capra hircus): Behavioral strategies and effects of relocation on learning and memory. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 120(1), pp.58–66.
Langbein, J., Siebert, K. and Nuernberg, G. 2008. Concurrent recall of serially learned visual discrimination problems in dwarf goats (Capra hircus). Behavioural Processes, 79(3), pp.156–164.
Langbein, J., Siebert, K., Nuernberg, G. and Manteuffel, G. 2007. The impact of acoustical secondary reinforcement during shape discrimination learning of dwarf goats (Capra hircus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 103(1–2), pp.35–44.
Langbein, J., Siebert, K. and Nürnberg, G. 2009. On the use of an automated learning device by group-housed dwarf goats: Do goats seek cognitive challenges? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 120(3–4), pp.150–158.
Langbein, J., Siebert, K., Nürnberg, G. and Manteuffel, G. 2007. Learning to learn during visual discrimination in group housed dwarf goats (Capra hircus). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 121(4), pp.447–456.
Lickliter, R.E. 1987. Activity patterns and companion preferences of domestic goat kids. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 19(1–2), pp.137–145.
Lickliter, R.E. 1984a. Hiding behavior in domestic goat kids. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 12(3), pp.245–251.
Lickliter, R.E. 1984b. Mother-infant spatial relationships in domestic goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 13(1–2), pp.93–100.
Loretz, C., Wechsler, B., Hauser, R. and Rüsch, P. 2004. A comparison of space requirements of horned and hornless goats at the feed barrier and in the lying area. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 87(3–4), pp.275–283.
Lyngwa, C. 2012. Fear response and social interactions in dairy goat housed in three different densities during pregnancy. 48.
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Manousidis, T., Kyriazopoulos, A.P., Parissi, Z.M., Abraham, E.M., Korakis, G. and Abas, Z. 2016. Grazing behavior, forage selection and diet composition of goats in a Mediterranean woody rangeland. Small Ruminant Research, 145, pp.142–153.
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MATTIELLO, S. and BATTINI, M. 2015. AWIN Welfare assessment protocol for goats.
Mersmann, D., Schmied-Wagner, C., Nordmann, E., Graml, C. and Waiblinger, S. 2016. Influences on the avoidance and approach behaviour of dairy goats towards an unfamiliar human—An on-farm study. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 179, pp.60–73.
Meyer, S., Nürnberg, G., Puppe, B. and Langbein, J. 2012. The cognitive capabilities of farm animals: categorisation learning in dwarf goats (Capra hircus). Animal Cognition, 15(4), pp.567–576.
Miller, D.W., Fleming, P.A., Barnes, A.L., Wickham, S.L., Collins, T. and Stockman, C.A. 2018. Behavioural assessment of the habituation of feral rangeland goats to an intensive farming system. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 199, pp.1–8.
Miranda-de la Lama, G.C. and Mattiello, S. 2010. The importance of social behaviour for goat welfare in livestock farming. Small Ruminant Research, 90(1), pp.1–10.
Miranda-de la Lama, G.C., Pinal, R., Fuchs, K., Montaldo, H.H., Ducoing, A. and Galindo, F. 2013. Environmental enrichment and social rank affects the fear and stress response to regular handling of dairy goats. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8(5), pp.342–348.
Miranda-de la Lama, G.C., Sepúlveda, W.S., Montaldo, H.H., María, G.A. and Galindo, F. 2011. Social strategies associated with identity profiles in dairy goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 134(1–2), pp.48–55.
Murata, K., Tamogami, S., Itou, M., Ohkubo, Y., Wakabayashi, Y., Watanabe, H., Okamura, H., Takeuchi, Y. and Mori, Y. 2014. Identification of an Olfactory Signal Molecule that Activates the Central Regulator of Reproduction in Goats. Current Biology, 24(6), pp.681–686.
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Naderi, S., Rezaei, H.-R., Pompanon, F., Blum, M.G.B., Negrini, R., Naghash, H.-R., Balkiz, O., Mashkour, M., Gaggiotti, O.E., Ajmone-Marsan, P., Kence, A., Vigne, J.-D. and Taberlet, P. 2008. The goat domestication process inferred from large-scale mitochondrial DNA analysis of wild and domestic individuals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(46), pp.17659–17664.
Nawroth, C. 2017. Invited review: Socio-cognitive capacities of goats and their impact on human–animal interactions. Small Ruminant Research, 150, pp.70–75.
Nawroth, C., Baciadonna, L. and McElligott, A.G. 2016. Goats learn socially from humans in a spatial problem-solving task. Animal Behaviour, 121, pp.123–129.
Nawroth, C., von Borell, E. and Langbein, J. 2015a. ‘Goats that stare at men’: dwarf goats alter their behaviour in response to human head orientation, but do not spontaneously use head direction as a cue in a food-related context. Animal Cognition, 18(1), pp.65–73.
Nawroth, C., von Borell, E. and Langbein, J. 2016. ‘Goats that stare at men’—revisited: do dwarf goats alter their behaviour in response to eye visibility and head direction of a human? Animal Cognition, 19(3), pp.667–672.
Nawroth, C., von Borell, E. and Langbein, J. 2015b. Object permanence in the dwarf goat (Capra aegagrus hircus): Perseveration errors and the tracking of complex movements of hidden objects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 167, pp.20–26.
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Roussel, S., Boissy, A., Tessier, J., Hamilton, 3Paul, Christine, H. and Duvaux-Ponter 2005. Does Stress Imposed on Pregnant Goats Affect the Stress Physiology and Behaviour of Their Kids? Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances.
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