The last decade has seen an increase in goat ownership, with people on larger properties, other than farmers, keeping them. One goat is easy enough to manage, but once you get a herd, things get harder.
All of which begs the question of whether goats can be herded? Well, if you want to know, here’s the low-down…
Can goats be herded? Goats can be herded, but it’s not the same as herding sheep. Goats aren’t as compliant as sheep, making them harder to control as a group. Goats can meander off in all directions, making it trickier to herd them compared to sheep.
However, an experienced goat herder or dog can herd goats when they firmly take the role as leader.
Be aware though, goats are known to show their more independent nature when being placed under pressure during a herding attempt. Sheep on the other hand, will be more co-dependent on others in the flock when being herded.
What follows is an analysis of herding goats vs sheep, the key differences, how easy you might find it, why you’d even want to herd goats, and some information about goat herders.
Herding goats vs sheep
Images of sheep flocking together and being herded into a pen by eager sheepdogs and their shepherd are not unusual. But how many times can you claim to have seen goats being herded in a similar or otherwise fashion?
The shepherd herding sheep always goes in with the attitude that he’s the flock leader. By understanding a sheep’s instinct to gather and follow, the herder’s job is relatively easy. Sheep respond to his presence as followers and mostly obey his commands.
Goats are also herd animals. This means they don’t like to be alone. Even when they’re wandering around searching for tasty grass, they’re constantly aware of another goat’s presence in the vicinity. If a goat herder understands this goat behavior, they can find ways to herd this animal and keep them under control.
Another goat behavior worth noting when herding them is that they easily panic. Goats can get quite skittish if they think there’s danger nearby and if not managed wisely by the goatherd, will scatter in all directions!
An experienced goat herder will be aware of this trait whenever herding this wily animal.
Can dogs herd goats?
Goats can be stubborn and will even take on another animal if they feel they’re being forced to do something they don’t want to do. This makes herding them with a dog challenging if the goat doesn’t accept the canine’s role as leader of the tribe.
It takes an experienced dog to herd goats successfully, but it can be done.
Dogs that can herd goats will need strong herding abilities such as the Border Collie or Australian Sheepdog. The dog needs to be able to work closely with a goatherd, taking instructions while also being mindful of the goats’ unpredictable behavior.
What makes a good dog goat herder?
Aside from possessing a natural instinct to herd, or even being born knowing how to work stock, there are some characteristics that can make a dog better at goat herding than others including:
- Determined confidence
- Eager to please
- Quick learner
The dog needs to know when to stay out of the way of bucking goats. They also need to know when to bring in goats that are sprinting off in all directions!
How easy is it to herd goats?
Once you have a full understanding of the goat’s behavior, it becomes easier to herd them like sheep. But don’t think it’s going to be easy.
There’s this great video on YouTube of a guy in Thailand who keeps goats, and shares his tips on how to herd them properly.
It’s hard work.
Goat herding tips
It’s essential they recognize you as the leader of the trip if you want to get their attention whenever you’re herding them. You can do this by making your presence known to the goats daily until they accept your role as their leader.
Experienced goat herders use some of the following approaches when herding goats:
- Carry a large stick: By walking with a large stick, you’re sending out signals to your goats that you’re in charge. A stick can also be used to direct the goats in one direction or other.
- Be purposeful: Your stance should be purposeful, sending a strong message to your tribe of goats that you’re the leader. Goats respond well to someone who is firm, giving them a sense of certainty at all times.
- Avoid shouting: Remember, goats panic easily so avoid shouting when getting their attention. Instead, call them in with a strong, calm, and purposeful voice while gesturing firmly with your hands.
- Get to know the leader of the trip: There’s always one goat who has hierarchy over the trip. Get to know which one it is so you can keep your focus on him at all times and control him should it look like he’s about to cause chaos in the group.
- Hone your observation skills: You need to constantly be on alert for anything that may send your neat group into a panic. This could be sudden sounds or appearances of other animals or people that distracts your goats.
It’s easier to be a herd goats like sheep as long as you’re confident in your role as their leader.
It’s also essential that your goats recognize you as their guide and not as someone who’s trying to dominate their every move. This will only make them resort to some cunning behavior that’ll frustrate your every effort to herd them!
What’s the difference in herding goats vs sheep?
A striking difference between herding goats vs sheep lies in their personalities. The goat is a stubborn, wily, and inquisitive creature while the sheep is more docile and obedient. This makes herding sheep simple once you get the knack of being a shepherd.
When herding goats, you need to be a lot more vigilant and assertive at all times when attempting to herd them.
Goats are also different from sheep in that they’ll do what they want when they want to even when you’re coaxing them into a herd. Goats will suddenly surprise you as they decide to jump over a fence, bolt up a difficult rocky pass, or veer off with much agility as they spot some green shoots.
It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to keep a trip of goats in one place when herding them.
I would say that it’s far easier to herd sheep than goats with dogs. Herding dogs make your job as a shepherd or goatherd simpler. However, making goats herd requires a far more experienced and astute herding dog who can take orders from his handler.
Goats are more aggressive than sheep. This means they’ll buck the system when they don’t feel like being herded. A goat will use their sharp hooves and horns to push you or your herding dog out of the way if they want to resist being grouped.
Sheep, on the other hand, will mildly flock and follow the leader with minimal resistance.
Both sheep and goats are followers once they recognize you as the leader. This means you should never try to drive these animals when herding them.
However, while sheep are predicable creatures, goats are completely unpredictable. Bear this in mind when herding them!
Both sheep and goats are sociable creatures who like to be in each other’s company. They don’t like to be isolated from each other or kept in seclusion.
But goats don’t stay in flocks like their counterpart, the sheep. They’ll wander off from each other while foraging for food. This makes herding them into a tribe more challenging as it goes against their need for independence!
And finally, a few fun facts about herding goats…
What do you call a person who herds goats?
A person who herds goats is either called a goatherd or a goat herder. Both names are used interchangeably, as I’ve demonstrated in this article today.
The average goat herder salary
The average salary of a goat herder in the UK is said to be £21,103 a year. In the United States, a goat herder’s salary has been calculated by Glassdoor as being $52,522 annually.
Why do you herd goats?
This one is best left to National Geographic, who offer this definition.
Herding is the practice of caring for roaming groups of livestock over a large area. Herding developed about 10,000 years ago, as prehistoric hunters domesticated wild animals such as sheep and goats.
Unless you’re a farmer with goats, sheep, and even possibly some cows, it’s not common to be asked if goats can be herded! But, have you ever wondered, whenever you see goats seemingly minding their own business, whether these animals can be herded like sheep?
I hope I’ve gone some way to answering that for you, including how herding goats vs sheep is in reality… there are a few differences as you can see.
You might also like…
- The truth about how many stomachs goats have
- If a sheep and goat breed you get geep
- How goats and cats could get along in the right environment
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/goats-animals-livestock-cute-trio-1946015/