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What Does It Mean When a Goat Paws the Ground?

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Goats have a way of entertaining you with their behavior as they butt you gently with their heads and try to eat your shirttails. But when your goat is pawing the ground, there's likely more than play going on. It can be a sign your goat isn't feeling good or that mating season has arrived.

Hoof Injury

When his hoof hurts, the goat doesn't have many ways to alleviate the pain. He might have a sharp object stuck in his hoof or have broken off a large piece. As he gets annoyed with the discomfort, he might begin to paw at the ground with the wounded hoof. Watch him for signs of limping or walking with his hoof at an odd angle combined with pawing while he's standing still. If you see these signs, inspect his hoof or call a vet to take a look.

Mating Season

If you have female goats that are ready to be bred, the male goats might try anything they can to get to the females. When they see the females through the fence, they are likely to paw at the ground near the fence or butt their heads against it, expressing frustration at the barrier between them and the female.


Male goats tend to show their anger outwardly. If a male doesn't like how you're inspecting the teeth of his mate, for example, he's likely to paw at the ground and huff a bit. Watch him closely because this behavior is often a precursor to him charging you and butting you with his horns. He can exhibit this same behavior toward other males, especially when there's a female nearby or when the other male gets in the way of the first one's food.


When a pregnant doe, or female goat, is ready to give birth, she's likely to express her labor discomfort by pawing at the ground. She can be in labor for several hours before the kidding begins, and most does tend to pace and paw during the first stages of labor. She might also lie down for a moment then get back up -- all signs that she's uncomfortable and can't make the pain go away. Keep a close eye on her because she will probably walk away from the rest of the herd when it's time for her to deliver.