Reasons Goats Wag Their Tails by Our Goat Farming Expert

When we think of animals wagging their tails, our mind immediately jumps to dogs – but did you know that many other animals also wag their tails (although not necessarily for the reasons you might imagine)? With this thought in mind, we’re taking a look at the key question: why do goats wag their tails? Hopefully, this will help you find out a little more about goat behaviors, overall; in turn, this may help you find out a little more about keeping your goat healthy and well overall.

Why do Goats Wag Their Tails?

Goats wag their tails for a myriad of different reasons, and the exact cause of this will often depend on the environmental conditions and what the goat is up to at the time.

In my personal experience, there are usually two main reasons for goats to wag their tails. These include the following:


Much like dogs, some goats – especially kids that are eager to see you – may wag their tails enthusiastically. This could be a display of happiness or could otherwise be a sign that they are excited about attention or a bottle of milk! Whatever the case might be, a rapidly-wagging tail can often indicate that a goat is happy. 


No one likes having an itch, and this is just as true for goats. With this in mind, if you notice your goat wagging its tail and fidgeting, the issue may actually be that it has an itch. The cause of this could be something simple, such as a bit of caught straw causing them to feel a bit itchy. In other cases, it might be a sign of parasites; watching out for common signs of mites and lice on your goats is vital. Or, in some cases, it may even potentially be psychological; I’ve seen on several occasions goats acting like they are itchy when a bee starts buzzing around them!

These are just two reasons why goats wag their tails. However, tail wagging can also be useful for keeping flies away from the goat’s rear end and for communication between goats. For example, if you notice that a goat is standing with its tail clamped down, this can potentially indicate that the goat isn’t feeling quite right. Sometimes, this may be one of the earliest signs of a goat being unwell, or could otherwise indicate that they are unhappy or uncomfortable.

Do All Goats Wag Their Tails?

From time to time, all goats should wag their tails to a degree – most notably for keeping flies off and if they get itchy. Meanwhile, it’s very rare to see a happily-drinking newborn not wagging its tail while drinking. If a kid isn’t wagging its tail while drinking, my first concern personally would be that the mum didn’t have enough milk.

By contrast, not all goats will necessarily wag their tails when they see you, as this may vary from animal to animal and depend on how friendly they are. As such, when meeting new goats, don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately rush over to greet you with tails wagging.

Why Do Goats Have Short Tails Compared to Other Livestock Animals?

One point you may have noticed that ties in surprisingly well with why goats wag their tails is the length of the tail. Many other livestock animals, such as cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep, have much longer tails than goats. In pigs and sheep, the tails are routinely docked to reduce behaviors such as tail biting or muck building up in the wool; however, goats don’t need their tails docked.

So, what makes goat tails so much shorter? Well, one of the main reasons for this could simply be that goats don’t use their tails as much for fly control as other animals (such as horses and cattle, in particular).

As such, the need for a long tail is unnecessary, which may explain why goats have shorter tails that are just long enough to protect their more sensitive regions during adverse conditions. Goats still wag their tails if they have flies, of course, but their tails aren’t designed to keep flies off the rest of the body. Of course, it’s also worth noting that a long tail may have off-balanced wild goats in their natural, mountainous habitats.

Final Thoughts

Goats can often be troublemakers, and this can make interpreting their behaviors somewhat tricky at times. However, the most common reason goats sometimes wag their tails is because they either have an itch or are happy – indeed, it’s common to see young kids drinking wagging their tails quickly. In fact, this can sometimes be a good sign that a nanny or a doe has plenty of milk for her kids, as it can indicate that the kid is happy and drinking well. By contrast, a goat that doesn’t wag its tail while drinking or otherwise keeps its tail clamped down could indicate an animal that’s not quite happy.

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