Interspecies Conflict/Ram vs goat


Hello BK,
if a male ram would fight a male goat, who would win?

Hello Emanuele.

Q: If a male ram would fight a male goat, who would win?
A: There are several types of sheep and several types of goats to choose from.  As a general rule, goats are bolder and typically more aggressive than sheep.  In one of the zoos I have visited (where feeding some of the animals is permissible), the sheep are wary and seldom come right up to the fence.  The goats, however, eagerly come to the fence and even jump against it with their front hooves to better reach the food offered to them.  The goats will actively push each other out of the way to be the next in line.  Both male sheep (rams) and male goats (bucks) have horns, and use these to establish dominance among their herds (usually by butting heads) or to defend themselves.  Some of the larger goat breeds of the genus Capra (Boer, Ibex, Markhor, etc.) will be similar in size to many of the larger sheep breeds of the genus Ovis (Argali, Bighorn, Dall), but sheep are generally a bit heavier across the board.  A male goat's greater aggression will give it the edge in most encounters with a similar-sized male sheep, and quite possibly against one somewhat heavier.  Mountain goats occasionally encounter bighorn sheep in their habitat, and their greater aggression enables them to dominate the similar-sized rams.  A mountain goat is not a true goat, but this illustrates (to some degree) how a more passive ram can sometimes back down from conflict even if he's equipped to participate.  Domestic goats are usually headstrong, stubborn, and can be difficult to manage (and will eat almost anything!).  They are usually sleeker in build than the more rotund sheep.  Domestic sheep are generally docile, and can be controlled quite easily on most occasions.  This contrast in demeanor is important to consider in a hypothetical battle between a male goat and a male sheep.  Some rams will stand their ground and fight, and a determined one will be a good match for a similar-sized goat.  Age can be a factor as well, as young sheep can dominate young goats from time-to-time.  Overall this depends on the type of goat used (various sizes and horn shapes) and the type of sheep used (various sizes and horn shapes).  An Alpine ibex and the bighorn sheep are famous for their respective head-butting contests, and these 2 are reasonably close in weight.  A hypothetical fight between these 2 will be reasonably close if each animal is willing to engage.  An Alpine ibex's curved horns can reach 1.4m in length, and the bighorn sheep's massive horns can weigh 13.5kg.  If the ibex brings more aggression to the fight, it will likely have the edge.  It won't be the same in every goat vs sheep matchup (even at parity), but size & temperament are key factors.  A larger species of ram can certainly get the better of a smaller species of goat, but with animals of similar size, the typically more aggressive goat will usually have the edge.

Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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