What Sound Does a Goat Make, and Why?

Written by Brandi Allred
Published: October 27, 2022
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Bucks, billies, nannies, kids, does — all of these names refer to the same thing: the goat.

Goats come in many sizes and colors, ranging from the tiny pygmy goat, all the way to the giant Boer goat. Goats are known for their ability to eat just about anything, and for their sometimes very loud vocalizations. But, just what sound does a goat make? 

Here, we’ll discover just what a goat is, then take a look at their unique sounds. We’ll explore why some goats scream, and whether or not goats and sheep make the same sounds. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the answer to the question: what sound does a goat make?

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Goat: Species Profile

Goats were first domesticated around 10,000 years ago somewhere in Central Asia. Their wild forebear, the gasang, is closely related to the ibex of today. Goats are raised around the world for their meat, milk, leather, and even fur (in the case of Angora goats). There are over 300 breeds of goat, with each breed serving a unique purpose.

Size and Appearance

Goats range in size from under 70 pounds, in the case of the pygmy goat, to over 300 pounds, in the case of the Boer goat. All goats share a few key characteristics.

First, they have lean, compact bodies that are lighter than those of sheep. They also have hollow, backward-facing horns that can be used as wicked self-defense weapons. Further, goats usually have short, straight hair.

Because of selective breeding, each variety of goats has its own unique appearance and purpose. They range in color from all white to all black and may be any shade of brown or tan. Some species even show multiple colors. Male goats come with “beards,” while females have udders, similar to those of the cow.

Diet and Behavior

If you’re wondering what sound a goat makes, then you’re probably also wondering what goats eat, and how they spend their days.

Well, since goats are browsing herbivores, they actually spend most of their time nibbling on various plants to see if they’re good to eat. However, contrary to popular thought, goats don’t eat just anything, but they will sample just about anything.

Goats eat mostly hay, with some supplemental fruits, vegetables, and grains thrown in. Domestic goats also need salt licks for proper nutrition. When they’re not eating, goats like to socialize with one another. They’re herd animals, and do best when they’re around at least one other goat. 

goat horns
Goats bleat, and their sound sounds somewhat similar to a sheep’s “baa” noise.

©Anna-Artmade/Shutterstock.com

Reproduction

Goat reproduction is simple; females ovulate approximately once a month. Gestation lasts 150 days on average, and twins are fairly common. Female goats with kids are known as nannies.

Interestingly, between birth and four days of age, nannies can’t differentiate between the cries of their own kid and any other newborn kid. Scientists believe that this is because all newborn goat kids are nearly identical to one another — at least as far as nanny goats are concerned.

What Sounds Do Goats Make?

So, what sound does a goat make? Well, goats make a “baa” sound similar to the sound a sheep makes. However, goat vocalizations are closer to what’s called a “bleat,” which is a sound also sometimes made by cows and deer. Goat sounds may all sound the same to the untrained ear, but they actually differ based on what the goat is trying to communicate.

For example, goats make a snort-bleat sound to warn others of potential danger. They also make specific sounds when they’re happy and when they’re excited. Further, kids make unique sounds when they cry for their mothers. Vice versa, nanny goats communicate with their kids with unique bleating sounds. And, of course, there’s the grumble bleat of a male that found a receptive female to mate with.

Why Do Some Goats Scream?

You’ve probably heard of fainting goats, but what about screaming goats? Why do some goats scream?

The answer usually has to do with something we can all sympathize with — loneliness. Generally, goats scream to signal that they’re unhappy. This unhappiness is almost always the result of one thing: not enough goats. If you hear a goat screaming, chances are good it’s in desperate need of some goat friends.

Do Goats and Sheep Make the Same Noises?

While sheep very typically “baa,” goats make more of a bleating sound. Like mules and donkeys, they can be very loud and may bleat aggressively in protest, or to signal their displeasure.

While sheep also use vocalizations to communicate a wide variety of emotions, goat sounds are unique. If you’ve ever wondered: what sound does a goat make? Then the best thing to do might just be to head out to a petting zoo, or a farm, and find out.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/alisa24


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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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Sources
  1. Science Direct, Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0304376277900025
  2. NPGA Pygmy, Available here: https://www.npga-pygmy.com/
  3. Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/goat
  4. National Zoo, Available here: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/goat