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  • Diana Reed

Goats are Skilled Climbers and Love Heights

Not only are goats exceptional climbers, but they are also impressive jumpers. Combining the skill of jumping with the ability to climb, goats can reach almost anything their hearts desire. Goats can climb an endless number of structures – including mountains, fences, ladders, or even brick walls.

You may find a goat halfway up an old oak tree, or on top of a barn roof.

As well as climbing, goats are also skilled at jumping. Babies will often play by jumping around and off each other, using each other as springboards. Yep, they’re in training from birth.


What Is It That Makes Goats So Good At Climbing?

Goats are able to climb structures that humans couldn’t dream of climbing, and it all comes down to Physiology. Goats have muscular shoulders and necks to help them maintain balance in precarious situations, and they also have lean bodies that allow them the grace to get themselves into those situations. But the real magic is in the hooves.


Goats Are Designed To Climb

As long as a goat can find a ledge of at least a 2-inch protrusion, he can climb. Goats have two large Toes on each Foot that they can spread out to find footing -and- uniquely shaped Ankle Bones, which give the foot greater flexibility and make climbing easier.


Think about our own feet – if we are trying to maintain our balance, we will spread our toes out as much as possible. This not only allows us to maintain more contact with the ground, but it also allows our weight to be evenly balanced. The goat’s two large toes work in the same way – by spreading them out, they can maintain contact with a larger area of ground (or rock), and distribute their weight more efficiently.


Goat Hoof Anatomy

In addition to these two large toes, goats also have two vestigial toes on each foot – these are two smaller Toes higher up on the leg, and are often called “Dewclaws”.

Goats can make use of these Vestigial Toes to balance and grip as well, allowing them even greater control and security when climbing.


These "Toes" are not the only advantage that goat hooves have when it comes to climbing. Goats hooves have a hard outer shell with a pointed tip – allowing them to find even the smallest niches to grab on to and grip while climbing.


Moving beyond the hard outer shell, the pads of a goat’s hooves are soft and padded. This allows the goat’s foot pad to shape itself around a ledge or foothold – providing excellent grip and traction. Between this hard outer shell and the soft, contoured pad, it is easy to see how goats are able to climb almost anything. Their climbing abilities are based on their agile feet — they have modified toenails that allow flexible gripping, and soft inner pads similar to climbing shoes for humans.



Goats: The Original Mountain Climbers

Goats are prey animals, and have few natural defenses at their disposal. Yes, they can run and they can kick, but when faced with a mountain lion or a pack of wolves, goats are quite vulnerable. To give them an edge against predators, mountain goats have evolved into jumping, climbing machines. These abilities allow them to escape predators by climbing cliff faces and ravines that few other animals can reach. It is not uncommon to see a mountain goat climbing at an elevation of up to 13,000 feet.


Do Goats Fall Much?

Goats are extremely agile and graceful. But this does not make them immune to stumbles – especially for the very young goats and elderly goats. A stumble for most of us is rarely cause for alarm – but a stumble from a cliff face hundreds of feet above the ground is.

Some researchers estimate that more goat deaths are caused by falls than by predators. So while a mountain goat is able to successfully evade predators by climbing, this does not always put them out of harm’s way. Goats may lose their balance and fall to their deaths, occasionally taking others with them on their way down.

Goats have remarkable balance: their hooves are split, which allows gripping and spreading into even the smallest of spaces. You rarely find goats toppling over…unless they’re fainting goats. (Myotonics)


Still, climbing treacherous terrain has saved many more goat lives than it has taken, which is why a goat will always prefer to stay above its natural predators then at eye level.


Did You Know That Goats Can Climb Trees?

Mountain goats are not the only wild goats that use climbing as a way to survive. Goats in all regions use climbing as a way of finding food, particularly in areas with sparse vegetation. In fact, if you visit Morocco you are bound to find herds of goats climbing the Argan trees – munching on leaves and sitting in slim branches up to 30 feet tall.



Goats Not Only Excel At Climbing, But Also At Jumping

Not only are goats exceptional climbers, but they are also impressive jumpers. Combining the skill of jumping with the ability to climb, goats can reach almost anything their hearts desire. It is no wonder that goats are notorious for escaping enclosures. Goats can climb an endless number of structures – including mountains, fences, ladders, or even brick walls. You may find a goat halfway up an old oak tree, or on top of a barn roof.


Keep Your Goats Entertained

Goats are curious creatures, and one reason they may try to escape is because they are bored in their pen. By providing them with plenty of sustenance and entertainment in their enclosure, goats will be less likely to try and escape. Make sure they have fixtures to climb on and jump off of. I’ve seen people put full-size playground sets in their goat pen for the goats to enjoy!



Another thing you’ll want to do is make sure your goat has access to adequate forage, whether you’re feeding hay or they have a grazing/browsing area. Goats are designed to be eating for the majority of the day, so if there is no food to munch on, it can leave them with nothing to do.



Which Breeds Of Goats Climb Most?

All goats have climbing and jumping in their genetics, and for the most part, the breed will not make much of a difference. Whether or not your goat will be a climbing machine will come down to your goat’s individual personality.


It has been noted that one breed that does not seem as interested in escaping enclosures is the Myotonic Goat breed. These are the goats made famous for their “fainting” spells when frightened. Myotonic goats are known to be easy keepers and are not (usually) as prone to climbing and jumping.

While not always the case, many believe that the larger goat breeds tend to stay more “grounded” than the smaller goat breeds. Smaller breeds may find it easier to jump and climb than their larger-framed cousins.


Why Domestic Goats Love Climbing

It is easy to understand why wild goats are such proficient climbers – it is a survival tactic. But why do our domestic goats love climbing as much as they do? Climbing is in the goat’s genetics, and with their athletic, muscular bodies, it is something they enjoy doing. Combine their physical prowess with their curious, gregarious personalities, and you have a recipe for a climbing, jumping, fun-loving goat!


One of My Favorite stories from my childhood:


The story of “Three Billy Goats Gruff” is a Norwegian folk tale that shows goats’ keen intelligence when they trick a Troll into letting them pass over a bridge without eating them. Goats are smart and resourceful. Enough said.

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