Can a Goat Kill You? The Truth About Goats and Aggression

Have you ever wondered, can a goat kill you if it really wanted to? When it comes to keeping goats or visiting regions populated by feral goat herds, it’s important to be aware of some key traits of goat temperament.

Of course, goats are highly personable creatures, and as many goat keepers will tell you – myself included – they can all be very different. As such, just because one goat acts a certain way doesn’t mean another will be the same.

With this thought in mind, it’s crucial to consider the danger that goats can pose to us – because while most goats won’t be likely to attack or attempt to harm you, it’s not impossible. Remember, stay safe out there – any animal has the potential to be dangerous, no matter how big or small it might be!

In general, the bigger danger of death will come from wild goats; mountain goats, in particular, can be confrontational when stumbled upon, especially when protecting young. So technically a goat can kill a human, usually by a fatal goring; instances are very rare but not entirely unheard of.

What is the Truth About Goats and Aggression?

As a breeder myself, one of the most vital traits I look for when breeding goats is a placid temperament – because the truth about goats and aggression isn’t quite as rosy as we might hope it to be.

In fact, while it’s not necessarily a defining trait of all domesticated goats, goats can be dangerous animals in some cases. And while most goats are unlikely to kill you, an aggressive goat can do major damage – sometimes fatally.

This is something we experienced firsthand with a buck we bought in. He was an adult when we purchased him, and he was a truly magnificent animal – but he was downright vicious and only got continually worse with time.

We had far too many close calls to count with him, and for our safety and that of his pen mates, we had to make the call to have him put down. And while we were never seriously harmed, it seems likely that we could have been hurt if he had hung around for longer.

Can Domestic Goats Kill?

Can domestic goats kill? Unfortunately, yes. As I mentioned earlier, as a breeder, I actively try to select gentle temperaments. This is something that many breeders share as a common goal – the reason behind this is that domestic goats can be incredibly dangerous if not gentle and respectful of people. 

After all, they’re potentially hefty animals! However, even a goat with a good temperament normally can be more dangerous in unforeseen circumstances, sometimes not even through malice but simply by accident, so it’s always vital to be careful when handling goats.

How Can A Goat Kill You? 

There are several potential ways that a goat could kill you, and this will invariably depend on factors such as the breed of goat, their features, your handling facilities, and simply a case of luck.

For example, a horned goat could do significant damage if the horn should be sharp enough to break an artery. Alternatively, even a non-horned goat could crush or side-swipe you – accidentally or maliciously – when you’re at their height.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself From an Attack? 

Perhaps you’re just passing through a wild goat herd’s territory, or maybe you’re a goat keeper looking to make sure you don’t suffer any adverse complications.

Whatever the case might be, there are several ways you can protect yourself from a goat attack or getting injured. Some of these include the following tips:

  • Watch for signs of aggression in the goats. Irritability, pawing at the ground, rearing up from a distance, shaking the head, and the like could all potentially be signs that a goat is about to attack. Playful goat behavior also increases the chances of getting injured accidentally.
  • Check for any young kids nearby. Many goats can be fiercely protective mothers, especially for newborn kids, and may attack if they feel you pose a threat to their offspring. If you notice kids, try to keep a wide berth.
  • When handling any goats, wear clothes that cover you up so that any stray horn swipes are less likely to damage.
  • Never bend down to the goat’s head height. This is a common mistake many people make; however, bending down to head height could leave you at greater risk of getting significantly injured. To put it in perspective, if you came across a dangerous goat, being at head height with them could leave you in severe danger. Goat heads are designed for heavy impacts during fights, after all – yours isn’t. 
  • Learn the temperament of your goats. Some goats will be more prone to attack, and you will need to keep a closer eye on these. Personally, any goat that even showed signs of attacking would be culled from our herd – it’s just too dangerous!

Invariably, these are only a few suggestions for how to protect yourself from a goat attack, and sometimes you might not see it coming. So, always ensure you have an escape plan in place, just in case you need to make a quick exit.

Final Thoughts

Goats are iconic family pets in many cases. However, in a small number of cases, goats can pose a risk to us as keepers or visitors – even if not intentionally.

With this in mind, when handling or near goats, it’s imperative to consider some of the key traits and behaviors that might indicate that your goat is likely to attack or put you at risk. Fortunately, we’ve answered the key questions today: “can a goat kill you” and “how to protect yourself from a goat attack” to hopefully help.

Charlotte Riggs

A passionate owner and breeder of Boer Goats, Charlotte is ensconced in daily goat farm life at Himmon Boer Goats in the UK. A member of the British Boer Goat Society, she spends her spare time also involved with goats. You could say, and she would admit, she is somewhat obsessed!

Himmon Boer Goats – Dorset

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