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Goats are domesticated animals that have long provided us with meat, skin, dairy, and endless internet memes.
There are a lot of funny, and occasionally terrifying, traits that goats display. They’re very vocal, burp a lot, and love to climb on random objects for no reason.
If you hear a goat bleating for the first time, you’ll probably wonder, “Why do goats scream like that?” In this article, we’ll take a look at seven reasons why goats bleat, so stick around.
Why Do Goats Scream?
Goats are usually docile and incredibly easy to get along with. However, these gentle-looking animals can quickly become loud and mischievous if something doesn’t go their way.
Remember, goat bleating is usually not a sign of concern. As we said, goats are social animals that like to vocalize even if nothing is wrong with them. You can even witness goats murmuring in their sleep!
If you want to stop goats from bleating, you have to understand what they’re trying to express first. So, without further ado, here are seven reasons why goats scream.
The most obvious reason why goats get vocal is to communicate with other fellow goats. Goats live in groups, and they can become stressed if separated from their herd.
Likewise, kids will call for their mothers if they get separated from them and mothers will bleat black to catch their attention.
There are two types of screams that goats produce for communication: contact call and distress call.
Contact calls are used to keep the herd together. The louder and more frequent the contact calls are, the more stressed out the herd is.
Typically, herds use contact calls when they’re physically separated but can still hear each other. This type of bleat is usually short, low-pitched, and calm in its nature.
This is where things get frantic. If a goat completely separates from its herd, the low-pitched bleats will turn into high-pitched erratic screams.
A goat can become either partially separated or completely isolated. If it’s partially separated, the goat will scream to display to the other goats that it feels scared. The goat will also jump around and be extremely active while it tries to reconnect with its herd.
If the goat becomes completely isolated, you won’t find it active nor jumping anymore. Instead, it’ll become lazed and extremely stressed out.
It’s worth mentioning that goats don’t die from isolation. However, they get depressed and generally don’t last long on their own. This is why a lonely goat will usually bleat relentlessly until it reunites with its herd.
Goats bleat somewhat as we do. If I give my daughter a present, she might let out a scream because she’s happy. If I give her a treat, she might scream out of excitement. If she’s getting chased down by our neighbor’s puppy, she might scream because she’s scared.
Goats react very similarly to how a human child would. Goats often bleat when they’re startled or surprised. A goat getting attacked by a predator will let out a scream to express its distress.
Experts say goats don’t just bleat because they’re scared, but also to let the herd know there’s imminent danger ahead. This keeps the herd close together and on high alert.
Goats also scream when they’re happy or excited. A goat may start bleating when they see you because they’re trying to show affection. It may also bleat when it’s reunited with an isolated goat to express joy.
The same thing goes when offering your goat a treat. The goat will bleat to let you know its content and would like you to make a habit of giving it treats.
Impatience is one of the most common causes of relentless screams. Goats expect to be fed at the same time every day. Just like your dog whines when they’re hungry, goats scream when it’s past their dinner time.
Although they may not appear that way, goats are extremely intelligent. They’ll remember when you fed them yesterday and approach the fence in anticipation of their meal.
If you’re even one minute late, they’ll start bleating to catch your attention. The bleating will be polite and not very loud as if they’re saying “Hey. I’m just reminding you to feed me in case you forgot.”
The polite bleating will quickly turn into yelling if you’re late. The screams will intensify as the goat gets more and more frustrated.
Goats can also grow impatient if you make a habit of giving them treats. If you bring in treats every time you visit the herd, the goats will always anticipate getting treated when you show up.
The best way to avoid impatient goats is to set up a consistent feeding schedule. Avoid feeding them first thing in the morning. This will prevent you from sleeping in and being woken up (along with your neighbors) to the sound of frustrated bleats.
Feed them breakfast one hour after you’ve had yours. If you finish work at 6 pm, get them used to eating at 7 pm, and so on.
For treats, you should avoid them on a daily basis. Make sure you treat the goats once every three or four visits.
Impatient bleats can be detected from baby goats if their mothers aren’t nursing them. You should keep an eye on baby goats and make sure they’re being fed regularly.
Goats only thrive in herds. An isolated goat won’t die out of loneliness, but it’ll get depressed, stop eating, and gradually lose the will to live.
This doesn’t mean goats in herds aren’t susceptible to boredom. On the contrary, a small shelter or farm with nothing but grass and fences will leave the goats bored and craving stimulation.
The smaller the pen, the more probable the goats will feel bored and weary. In this case, goats will try to bleat loudly to alert the owner that they need more activities.
Goats love to climb. It’s an inherent trait that enables them to gain a higher vantage point and avoid being ambushed by predators.
If you feel the goats are feeling lonely, you can try to add some climbing structures for your goats. You’ll immediately notice the goats becoming more active and enjoying themselves.
Another thing you can add is a trampoline. It may seem like too much, but the goats will be forever grateful.
Goats love to hop onto trampolines. They can even go under it when they need shade or to feel more secure.
There are a variety of other play structures that you can add to your enclosure. Just make sure you don’t leave anything near the fences or the goats may start plotting for an escape.
Goats in pain usually have the most intense bleatings. Remember, goats are prey animals; they tend to hide their discomfort or pain so they don’t appear vulnerable to predators.
With that said, a goat bleating due to pain is a serious concern. Especially if it’s bleating in an unusual volume day and night.
If you suspect something is wrong with your goat, take it to the vet for a quick health inspection. Goats also bleat due to injury pains, so it’s a good idea to check your goat for any wounds, bruises, or broken bones.
Hormones play a major role in vocalization. When goats are in heat, the hormonal changes cause drastic mood swings.
For example, male goats scream during courtship while stomping their foreleg. This is known as “buck screams” and is usually related to how aroused (or frustrated) the male goat is.
Similarly, female goats scream a lot when in heat. The pitch and volume greatly differ from one breed to another. Some females bleat softly in a low pitch, whereas others scream loudly in a high pitch.
A female will tend to scream the loudest if she likes a male but is penned away from him. The male will also yell a lot if he feels he’s not getting enough attention. A sexually frustrated buck will usually bleat in a continuous “wup” sound.
Pregnant goats tend to bleat a lot and for several reasons. This is largely attributed to hormonal changes. However, females also bleat at their unborn babies in order to get them to recognize their voices.
After pregnancy, baby goats tend to bleat at their mothers for attention. Meanwhile, the mother familiarizes herself with the sound of her baby’s bleat. Mothers can actually remember their baby’s bleating sound for up to 13 months after separation. Fascinating!
Goats are affectionate and smart animals that can easily be ticked off. Since they’re extremely chatty creatures, they’ll usually use their distinctively loud bleats to express how they’re feeling.
A bleating goat isn’t necessarily asking for help. It’s either trying to keep its herd together, telling you it’s starving, or simply doing it out of boredom!
It’s easy to stop the excessive screaming once you understand what the goats want. Once you identify the problem and accommodate their needs, the loud bleats should return to passive murmurs.