What Does It Mean When a Goat Licks You? The Affectionate Sign of a Goat

Have you ever wondered what it means when a goat licks you? Could this be how your goats show affection, or could something else be happening here? It’s not always a simple question to answer, but today, we’re looking at what it means if your goats lick you – and whether or not this is a good thing to let your goats do.

What Does it Mean When A Goat Licks You?

What does it mean when a goat licks you? There are numerous potential reasons for a goat to lick you, and these are not always easy to work out. Indeed, in many cases, determining the cause of a goat licking you can be incredibly difficult, and so it is vitally important to consider the potential reasons behind this, to begin with.

Why do Goats Lick People?

There are numerous reasons why goats might lick people. Of these, there are perhaps four main reasons at play here.

1. Curiosity

Your goat might be licking you out of curiosity. If your goat isn’t usually friendly, but they begin licking you, this might be a sign that they are trying to work out who you are.

2. Affection and Grooming

If you are giving your goat a scratch, to begin with, they might be licking you in return as part of a grooming process.

As with other animals, it’s not unheard of for goats to groom one another, and if you are “grooming” the goat, they may try to return the favor! Plus, if your goat is licking you regularly without shying away or being nervous, this is a sure sign of trust. 

Many nervous goats will be hesitant to come near for fear of being handled or caught. So, the fact that your goat is happily licking you is a great sign that they’re comfortable around you.

3. Salty Skin

Did you know that your hands are actually quite salty? Many goats love the taste of salt, so if you find that they seem to be licking your hands (especially on a hot day), it may be for the taste of salt on your skin. In this case, you may want to consider investing in a salt lick for your goats (on a nutritionist’s advice, of course).

4. Mineral Deficiencies

In addition to being salty, your hands can also have many minerals and vitamins on them. This also includes dust from food as well as from your own skin. As such, if your goats are regularly licking your hands, and if this isn’t normal for them, it could indicate that they are mineral deficient. 

Mineral deficiencies can actually be surprisingly common in goats, so keeping this in mind is important. Luckily, your vet can run a blood test on your beloved goats to see if they’re lacking in any major vitamins and minerals. If they are, you could consider several different types of mineral supplements. These include mineral licks and blocks, mineral drenches, mineralized feeds, or even mineral boluses. We use the latter (boluses) in our herd to balance out any minerals lacking from our hay.

5. Breeding Behaviors

Of course, it’s also worth considering here that some goat actions can be mistaken as licking but might actually be a little less innocent. An entire male goat (a buck or billy) will often exhibit breeding behaviors around his owners if he is friendly. 

As such, he may begin sniffing and licking your skin and making small “chattering” or “blubbering” noises. In this case, while this does demonstrate that your goat isn’t wary of you, the actual intention is much less good – it may mean that your goat is trying to impress you!

Other Affectionate Behaviors in Goats

We’ve summarized some of the key reasons that your goat might be licking you thus far. However, if your goats are licking you for affectionate reasons, you may also see several other signs of affection.

The most obvious sign of affection that a goat will give is showing excitement when you arrive at the barn or their field. An affectionate goat will often run over quickly to say hello when they see you, and it may begin to nuzzle you or lick your fingers at this time. However, be careful not to let these behaviors progress to biting, as this is a common naughty trait of goats!

In addition to this, you may notice that your goat wags its tail when called or fussed over if it’s affectionate. Friendly goats often love a scratch and will usually rub up against you if you fail to provide them with cuddles! They can certainly be demanding! 

Final Thoughts

It’s not often clear to understand how goats show affection, but this is something that is highly important to understand if you want to look after your goats well and understand how they are feeling. Indeed, many people assume that a goat licking you is merely a way that it shows affection, but this is not the case. In fact, there are numerous potential reasons for a goat to lick you, and understanding these could actually help you take better care of your goats overall. 

What’s more, it’s well worth considering that a goat that licks regularly might seem sweet, but this can easily become a vice if they then start chewing or biting you. As such, while it might seem sweet for now, we strongly recommend you consider what it means when a goat licks you, and try to stay aware of what your goat is doing to ensure it doesn’t become naughty and start to bite. After all, a goat bite can do a lot of damage! 

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