If you have spent time on a farm with goats, you may wonder whether these animals ever sleep. Goats seem to remain awake all day and night.
As with all animals, goats need sleep. So, how do goats sleep?
Goats mostly sleep on their stomachs in an upright position. They cannot sleep standing up but also tend to avoid sleeping on their sides. Sleeping upright allows them to bolt quickly if a predator approaches.
Keep in mind that a variety of factors can influence how a goat sleeps, including its habitat and subspecies. There are two types of goats, domestic goats and mountain goats. Each type has unique sleeping habits.
Goats Sleep On Their Bellies
Goats tend to sleep lying down but in an upright position. They rest on their stomachs with their front legs stretched in front of them and their back legs tucked in. This allows them to quickly spring to action if a threat awakens them.
Unlike horses, goats do not have legs that lock in place when they rest, which means that they cannot sleep standing up. Goats also sleep with both eyes shut, keeping them from staying alert as they sleep.
Goats are prey animals. They need to be prepared to run if a predator approaches. Luckily, goats are light sleepers. They can wake up to the slightest sound.
Domestic goats sleep an average of five hours per night and take several short naps during the day. They tend to prefer to sleep in enclosed structures, such as barns or fenced-in pastures with shelters.
Goats may sleep on prepared bedding, such as pine shavings or straw. Goats sleep and nap outdoors on the grass or dirt. Whether they sleep indoors or outdoors, domestic goats may make a sort of nest out of the bedding or vegetation. They may move the bedding or vegetation around with their hooves to create a slight depression.
Mountain Goats Create Sleeping Spots In The Ground
Mountain goats prepare sleeping spots. Instead of sleeping in the grass or prepared bedding, mountain goats dig half-inch to one-inch depressions in the ground for sleeping, resting, and bathing.
The location of the depression depends on the rank of the goat within its herd. Male mountain goats are typically solitary animals but may occasionally live with one or two other males. Female goats spend most of the year in a herd with other female goats, baby goats, and adolescent goats. The herd may include up to 20 animals.
Each mountain goat in the herd has its own rank. The ranking order determines who gets the best spots for sleeping and feeding. The larger female goats typically have their choice of sleeping spots.
Goats Sleep On Their Sides When Comfortable
Goats may sleep on their sides instead of their stomachs when they feel safe. It is more common to see goats sleeping on their sides in captivity and when in a large herd.
Goats feel more protected in enclosed areas and large herds. Baby goats are also often found lying on their sides when adult goats remain nearby.
Goats Sleep in Groups to Protect Against Predators
Goats are herd animals and tend to sleep in groups. Sleeping in a group makes it easier to guard against predators. Common goat predators include:
- Mountain lions
Goats also take turns sleeping. Half of the herd may take a nap while the other half stays awake to stay on the lookout for threats.
Goats Sleep In Areas That Protect Against Weather
Along with protecting against predators, goats need to protect against weather. Goats often sleep under the shade of trees and other farm buildings on hot, sunny days.
On cool days, goats may huddle together to keep warm. It is not uncommon to see two or more goats sleeping side by side to share their warmth.
Domestic goats also typically have a dedicated shelter to shield them from the weather and predators. Goats often need an enclosure or barn stall where owners can lock them up at night.
Shelters often include bedding to create a more comfortable environment for the goats. Common bedding options for goats include straw, hay, and pine shavings. Along with keeping goats warm, bedding helps protect their udders from chafing.
Pine shavings are the most used form of goat bedding material. Compared to other materials, pine shavings are easier to clean and more absorbent, which helps keep the bedding area dry.
Goats also grow furry coats for the winter. As with birds, goats have two layers of covering. They have long hairs on the outside to protect against water and dirt. The undercoat is fluffy cashmere. The fluffy undercoat provides extra insulation during colder weather.
Goats Struggle To Sleep Without Companionship
Most goats are social animals and do not enjoy being alone. They struggle to sleep when no other goats or animals are nearby.
Domestic goats also form strong bonds with their owners. Some goats may experience anxiety when the owner is not around, which can impact the amount of sleep that they receive.
Domestic goats and mountain goats may also form strong bonds with other goats. Goats prefer to sleep with the companion that they have formed the strongest bond with.
Baby Goats Sleep With Their Mothers To Stay Warm
Newborn and young goats sleep snuggled up with their mothers to stay dry and warm during the night.
Young goats lack the thick coat and body fat needed to maintain a comfortable temperature in cold weather. After the mother goat lays down on its stomach, the young goats gather around and snuggle up to her body for heat.
Domestic goats and mountain goats mostly sleep on their stomachs in an upright position. They lay on their stomachs with their hind legs tucked in and their front legs outstretched.
Sleeping on their stomachs allows goats to get up and quickly run away from threats, such as predators or a natural disaster. Goats may sleep on their sides when they feel safe and secure.
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