Are You The Alpha In The Herd?

Before you get grandiose visions of man and goat happily wandering around the pasture or leisurely hiking down the trail in peaceful harmony, it’s important to understand that goats are competitive and ambitious. I know, when you drive by and see them lazily chewing their cud, goats seem docile and complacent, but like all herd animals, goats have a pecking order. And the pecking order doesn’t just include other goats. As far as goats are concerned, any creature that isn’t a threat is part of the herd, including dogs, horses, and the guy who fills up the hay feeder. The goat at the top of the heap wants to stay at the top and all the others want his job.

When you walk into a goat pasture and the goats are standing there looking at you, they aren’t wondering what you had for breakfast or admiring your new camo rubber boots. They’re sizing you up and they quickly come to one of two conclusions: 1) He’s the boss; or 2) “I can take him.” Not unlike humans, it’s the adolescent “teenage” goats that have more attitude than brains and cause the most problems. The solution is good old fashioned discipline. A twenty pound goat kid jumping on you is cute, but let it go unchecked and it’s not so funny when that same goat is 200+ pounds. My smallest goat is 200 pounds and I weigh 145, so this is serious business.

There is a remedy for an unruly goat. You’re going to think I’m full of b.s., but I can tell you from first-hand experience, this is God’s honest truth and it works. If you get challenged by a goat and you want to earn his respect, you have to tackle the goat, sit on him, and hold him down until he gives up. (I couldn’t make up something that weird.) That’s right: that double-leg takedown you learned on the wrestling team works just fine on goats too. You’ve probably heard of “cow tipping,” well this is “goat tipping.”

Goats establish their pecking order by standing up on their hind legs and bashing their skulls together, like bighorn sheep. Over and over, they butt heads and push each other around until one goat becomes the undisputed alpha. In your herd, that alpha has to be you, else you’re going to have problems. Problems like the goat rearing up and wanting to bash you in the head. Or the goat charging you when you’re not looking. Or running at you full speed, leaping in circles while throwing his head in your direction and threatening to run over you like a fur-covered train. Goats beat the tar out of each other for fun and that’s not the kind of fun you want any part of.

I will say that goat wrestling is not part of my normal daily routine. But there for a while when my alpha goat, Chewy, was a teenager, me and the Chewman went rounds on multiple occasions. He’d rear up and challenge me, so I’d tackle him, chest to shoulder, lock on to his two front legs, and knock him over with a solid “WHUMP.” Then I’d sit on him until he quit fussing (sometimes ten minutes). The next day, we were back at it again. WHUMP! The day after, WHUMP! I’d end up with grass stains and he’d get his goat pride knocked back a notch or two. Me and Chew-man-fu finally got things sorted out. I’m a foot shorter and fifty pounds lighter, but I’m the boss goat in my herd.

The not-so-great part: my wife was none-too-keen on going WWF-off-the-top-turnbuckle with the Chewmeister, so he still gives her crap. I earned the alpha spot in the herd and despite the fact that she’s the boss in the house, the goats don’t see her as the boss in the barn. So the goat wrangling is mostly left up to me. They’ve never seriously challenged her, and I hope for their sake, they never do. Trust me, she can throw down a good old fashioned country ass whupping when she’s in the mood. Chewy, if you’re reading this, you’ve been warned.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any video of my goat takedown technique, but I am getting two new goat kids in June. Along about August, I figure they’ll be just about big and dumb enough to decide they’re going to run the herd. Stay tuned for America’s Weirdest Country Home Goat Video…

2 thoughts

  1. Aren’t you and the wife getting a new puppy this Summer?
    And where does your dog fit into the pecking order?
    Great photos, but I think Chewy needs a Kifaru pack.

  2. 7 years later and still great advice. I just got my first two goats, both 6 year old rams about 9 months ago & I, being a 135# 38 yr old female, didn’t have an option but goat wrestle my way to the top of them both. I had to protect all my other animals from the goats way of setting up a pecking order. Still working it all out but their figuring out that I don’t approve of their way to set the order here.

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