6 Reasons for Goats Grinding Their Teeth inc Sign of Discomfort

Do you know why goats grind their teeth? It’s actually a common behavior among many different goat species. In this blog post, we’ll explore several reasons why goats grind their teeth, as well as what it means for their health. Plus, we have an expert who can provide more insight into the matter!

Why do Goats Grind Their Teeth? 

Goats are known to grind their teeth due to discomfort but it could also be due to boredom, hunger, or thirst, and grinding is a perfectly normal and healthy activity in most cases. Grinding teeth also helps keep mouths clean and healthy. In some cases, goats grind their teeth when they’re sick.

1. Discomfort

Generally speaking, goats usually grind their teeth due to discomfort. This could be due to fear – for example, if they are worried about being in goat herds and being bullied. Grinding could also be a sign of pain or sickness.

as a goat keeper myself, if I notice a goat grinding its teeth, this will be one of the first things I check for

Charlotte Riggs – Himmon Boer Goats – Dorset UK

2. Chewing the Cud

Often chewing the cud, [regurgitated food] can be mistaken for teeth grinding given that this is partaken sometime after feeding.

3. Boredom

Goats will often find themselves with little to do, and boredom will set in. They enjoy doing at least something all of the time, and to relive boredom and if they can find no other mischief to get up they will frequently grind their teeth as a starting point in considering the next move.

4. Hunger

The anticipation of feeding time can see goats grinding their teeth too. Goats love and benefit from routine so get used to feeding times and anticipate it. They will prepare by grinding as they look forward to the next feed.

5. Thirst

It is difficult to tell exactly what the grinding motion might be for, but as well as hunger and anticipation of feeding time, a goat may grind its teeth if feeling thirsty.

Of course in real terms, it is not great for any of your goats to be without water to leave them thirsty, so make sure they always have a plentiful supply of clean and fresh water available and this reason can be discounted each and every time.

6. Oral Hygiene

Goats will also clean their teeth and with the absence or ability to take a brush and some toothpaste, will grind their teeth and use their supple tongue to do the job for them, clearing debris from the previous meal or a cudding session.

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

What Does Teeth Grinding Mean for a Goat’s Health? 

A goat should not naturally be grinding its teeth as standard. As such, if you notice that your goat is grinding its teeth, this could absolutely indicate a potential issue with your goat’s health.

In much the same way as we might clench our teeth together when in pain, our goats can similarly grind their teeth when they feel worried or threatened. 

As such, it may be worthwhile to consider whether this could be indicative of a potential health problem for your goat. Some simple tips for checking your goat’s health include taking their rectal temperature and  

Which Goats are Most Likely to Grind their Teeth?

Generally, goats are most likely to grind their teeth when they are feeling unwell or distressed; as a result, goats who are lower down the pecking order may be more likely to grind their teeth out of fear or unease.

In addition, it is worth considering that many goats will grind their teeth when they are not well; as such, sick goats, old goats, or young goats may also be more prone to teeth grinding.

How to Tell if your Goat is Grinding its Teeth 

At this point, we should add an important note here. Indeed, in many cases, it can seem like your goat is grinding its teeth – but this is not wholly the case.

In fact, if you notice that your goat appears bright and well but is chewing, it’s probably not that they’re grinding their teeth. In fact, it is more likely that they are actually chewing the cud.

After goats have eaten, they regurgitate their chewed-up food from their reticulum. This allows them to chew their food again, breaking it down into smaller, more easily digestible particles. In doing so, the goat is able to much more easily digest its highly fibrous food – although it’s not a very nice thought!

Still, it’s worth keeping this in mind since this explains why goats can sometimes look as if they are constantly grinding their teeth.

In many cases, if your goat doesn’t seem unwell but is regularly chewing, it may be worth checking whether they are actually grinding their teeth or if they are cudding.

This is typically easy to identify since a goat that is grinding its teeth will likely make a squeaking noise while doing so.

In addition, look out for swallowing and regurgitation on the goat’s throat; if it does not do this, it’s likely that the jaw movements are teeth grinding rather than chewing the cud.

Preventing Goats from Grinding Their Teeth 

In order to prevent goats from grinding their teeth, there are several things you could consider. The most important thing is feeding them a suitable diet; a poor diet can kill a goat almost overnight. Then, ensuring that they are following a suitable health plan, as discussed with your vet, will prove essential in addition.

Finally, try to avoid goats from getting bullied; large pens and suitable feeder space can help with this.

An unfortunate but unavoidable fact is that often one goat, or more, in a herd may be picked on. As with the natural world, this will often be the weakest goat, or a goat suffering from sickness. To this end, you should always be aware and take action if you note bullying, especially if a sick goat is identified

Final Thoughts

If you have been wondering why goats grind their teeth, there are numerous potential causes you should be aware of. However, it is important to check whether your goat is actively grinding its teeth or if it is simply chewing its cud.

In fact, a goat should spend many hours chewing the cud daily, which is a sign of good health in most goats. However, if you think that your goat is actively grinding its teeth, it’s crucial to get professional veterinary advice to ensure they aren’t ill or injured.

After all, some of the most common reasons that goats grind their teeth are due to ill health, distress, or pain.

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