As I have mentioned before, one of the advantages of a WordPress Blog is the opportunity it gives you to see what phrases people have put into their search engine which have led them here. Today there was a new one :
“Docking Tails of Goats”
For whoever it was, and for anyone else who may not realise, GOATS ARE BORN WITH SHORT TAILS. They are not docked. It’s sheep which are docked. Their tails are long and wriggly. I tried leaving some of my lambs undocked by the way last year. I have not had any welfare problems as a consequence so intend doing the same this year. Poor Raymond had to spend time shearing tails but I don’t think he really minded!
Goat tails are naturally short stubby little things which are nonetheless full of potential for communicating. A happy, healthy, alert goat will carry it’s tail upright.At the very least, particularly when they are busy eating or half asleep, their tails will be horizontal. A goat with it’s tail firmly down will be telling the world that something is not right. Either it is feeling threatened by a more dominant goat in the group, or it’s worried/frightened or it is feeling unwell.
This grey headed male kid is keeping a wary eye on the more dominant and slightly bigger white one in the foreground. He’s not unwell – just signalling that he knows his place – at least on this occasion!
Tail wagging takes place when the females are in season but it’s also something that both sexes do when they are squaring up for a mock battle. Up go the tails of both parties and they wag furiously as they rear up and then clash heads. It looks fearsome but very rarely is serious. Haven’t yet managed to get a pic of this I’m afraid. I never have my camera when I need it!!
I hope this has given you all an insight into goat tails. Along with horns they are the two most important means of communication my goats have. Voices are used of course but my cashmeres and Angoras are very quiet animals and use subtle physical means to get their message home first before resorting to shouting at the neighbours!
On a totally different subject, there is an excellent one page update from the Sussex University Bee Lab on the latest research into the continuing decline of the honey bee world wide. It’s highly readable and comprehensive and very well balanced – something I applaud when scientists are attempting to communicate with a lay audience.