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Goats/aggressive new goat


Hello, about a month ago we were given a female oberhasli goat (9 years old). She is the only goat we have right now but we have 2 baby Nigerian dwarfs (8 weeks old) coming in two weeks. I don't know a lot about her past. When asked, the previous owner told us she was used to walking on a leash and being shown. When on a leash she constantly chokes herself and tries to run or get free. Unfortunately, she has been rearing up on us constantly as well. Sometimes she will even run towards you and rear up. She has been very aggressive about getting her head scratched and will buck at your hand if you try to pet her anywhere else. We screwed a bristle brush to the wall for her to scratch on and she seems to use that a lot and like it. She will also back up a few feet and ram the brush and also rear up and hit it with her head. Sometimes she will purposely step on our feet and try to keep her hoof on top of our shoe? My husband "tipped" her once when she was rearing up at him. She continues to rear up at him though. She is also very easily excited and agitated, and escalates very quickly. What can I do with her? I know we will want to cuddle with the babies when they come. I don't think it is safe for my kids or I to be in there with her. I have tried to slap her cheek when she rears up at me, which was a suggestion from another goat owner. That made her really come at me then! She seemed to go insane at that point. Please help!

HI Diane:
First of all SHAME ON THAT OWNER for selling/giving you one goat! ANY respectable and responsible goat owner knows that one goat alone is a no no and that sending a single goat from a farm leaving behind, it's family or friends is a potential situation just as you describe. I'm SO Sorry  to you and her.

Secondly  I highly doubt  the previous owner was telling the truth about her being  "Used" to being on a leash -
What reason did this person give you for wanting to "get rid of" this goat in the first place?
People do not  give away  their best  goats  something to always remember and  secondly - keep in mind,  MOST (Not all but most) goats sold at auction are unwanted for either  bad breeding, illness or other reasons esp if they are adults - just something to keep in mind.

She is showing  typical signs of  a goat who is very sad about being away from home and possibly being mistreated or handled roughly in the past -

ALL of this being said..  being that you are [apparently] new goat owners - some of what 'I think'you are describing is normal behavior.  

Coming from a seasoned goat owner vs a newbie  this same description can be taken  more or less serious.

From your description this goat has either NOT Been shown or has been mistreated when she acted up   as she was being taught to be shown -

ALL of this being said -  petting the head and having the goat react is normal for most goats.. even the  sweetest goats- they all act different.  Some love to have behind the horns scratched  and  move right into it  and beg for more when stopped..  others  do not like being touched on the head and will move their head around to  bonk you  - keep in mind..  without humans around the head/horns area  (with or without actual horns)  is the goat's area of aggressiveness - they have no other way to fight off a predator other than butting them with their head. EVEN the sweetest baby  goats who have been bottle fed  will start to use their horns in play at a young age - it's bred into them.  Goats with no horns will do the same thing..
Stepping on your foot purposely and walking in a zigzag pattern in front of you seemingly to trip you up is also normal, you see this with baby goats and their moms,  when they want to stop mama to nurse.. they zigzag  in front of mom to get them to stop and finally allow them to nurse - standing on your foot is a variation of this..  to make you stop and give attention.

As for the rearing up.. running toward you and rearing up sorta sideways and acting like they will  lower onto you and butt you or like they are sparring with you.. these are ways of play..  they do it with each other and with owners at times when they feel frisky - Doing this all the time and also with the  brush..  is pitiful actually - this is a lonely goat with no one to play with :(  very sad..

Slapping or hitting a goat (with your hand or anything else) is never ever a good idea..  this is the best way to make a mean goat and  from what you say  - you have already seen this play out.. She needs another adult goat who she can be friends with..  preferably  a goat from where she came from..  (BUT I expect these people who pawned her off on you will not be responsible enough to  give you a  goat  she knows to make her more comfortable but you can try asking) - Goats are very sensitive to move and change - which is why you never buy or sell a goat alone..  when they get to the new place at least they have someone they know and it  helps a little with the stress  (WHICH BTW  stress from a move can actually  cause death ) - called shipping stress - it can manifest in a few ways -  heavy parasite load,  pneumonia,  pinkeye  or a combination of all 3 - always keep an eye out for these things in the first 60 days after  getting a new goat -  even if just from across the road - the change in feed, water,living space, being away from  the herd, creates stress..

ALSO  keep in mind  you always quarantine new goats even from the best farms-  for a minimum of 30 days away from existing goats on the farm - just in case they bring something to the farm that others could get - this is standard procedure.

As far as the new babies..coming - you will have to be very careful - she could either be a great surrogate mom loving the new babies - (some moms are moms to all the babies) OR she could be  mean to them and possibly really hurt them - no way to tell until you see them together -  also you will be giving them ore attention because they are babies like you said and goats DO get jealous  and they will retaliate  to the "chosen ones"  be it babies or other special adults - they see the extra attention   and do  react - sometime s behind you back.. (GOATS Are NOT Stupid)

Oberhaslies are known for their sweet personalities - and I am so sorry you are going through this..  and that she is - she is a middle aged goat (most of my goats live to 14-17 yrs old barring any accident of  severe illness) So she still has years in front of her..  would be nice if they are happy years for her  (and you)  with someone to play with  (maybe you can find a wether  someone  needs to find a home for) - dairy wethers are usually  inexpensive or free because they produce nothing  and in the right  farms are typically very sweet - any goat from the wrong farms are  treated  miserably and will never make good pets - ALWAYS watch goats and how they react to the owners of the farms if they shy away or run from them you can bet they will not be friendly - not to say they cannot be taught to be friendly  with a loving hand - but it's a lot of work  and patience.

How old are your kids?  Any child should always be watched around any animals - accidents can happen  but   remember just because they are farm animals  kids  (And adults) should always respect and treat  gently -

Biggest mistakes folks with kids make with goats is to allow them to try to chase or ride the goats like a small horse, this can easily break the spine. Children should never hit, yell at, pull on, chase or otherwise  treat goats  aggressively. Small children should never lay on the ground  in a pen with a  grown goat  - they are heavy and if they step on a small child could easily and accidentally hurt them.

Let me  add a few links to article s for further reading

bottle feeding baby goats-
There is a section of baby goat articles  for you  to use for research

aggressive  goats- This may or may not help with this girl - right now being alone is her worst nightmare - she misses her farm - her barn,  her friends and  has no one to play with :(

checklist of when things go wrong with your goat-

I hope this helps  


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Specializing in New Goat Owner understanding of goat physiology, goat anatomy, goat care and herd management. *I am not a veterinarian, any advice and information should be verified by your veterinarian before administering to your goats. (! During times of severe weather in the Midwest, I may experience a delay in internet service due to the interference of the satellite reception - but will answer your questions as soon as service is restored. !) Note: Keep in mind, the goat expert is volunteering her time to help other goat owners, she also runs her farm with her own herd of 100 goats and may not be at her computer at all hours. Questions are answered as soon as she can possibly read and answer them, usually within 24 hours.


23 years experience of raising goats and herd management. Active hands on experience with goat herd and research with various Caprine University Research and Extension Centers nationwide. 15 years dedicated to helping other goat breeders/owners with goat anatomy, goat disease and goat health care issues via phone, published goat care articles and internet interaction. The information I have to offer is not only from personal experience and years of research updated often as new information is made available to me, but supported by many Veterinary Research colleges and all medications and information I have to offer on how the medications work and what dosages "I" use, is information I have acquired by discussing directly with the company's veterinarians and staff research experts.

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Graduate Programs in Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University

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