Can Goats Sleep Standing Up?

Goats are interesting animals, and so are their sleeping habits. Do they sleep standing up? And why or why not?

Goats do not sleep standing up. They sleep lying down, legs curled or stretched out, with their body positioned upright. It is due to this unique position that they can still easily get to their feet in case of nearby predators.

We’ll go into more detail about the way goats sleep, why they sleep this way, and reasons that may explain why they try to sleep standing.

How Goats Sleep

If you spot your goats snoozing, then you’ll probably see them in one of the most common sleeping positions. While their legs may be curled and relaxed, they keep their body roughly in the same position as though they were standing.

Although they may curl up around themselves or with goat friends, you will rarely see a goat who lies on their side while they nap, let alone stand on all fours.

But when it comes to how goats position their heads as they sleep, you may think: doesn’t that hurt?

It’s true that goats get comfortable in many different ways, which means they stretch and bend their necks in odd positions. This is partially due to the fact that since they keep their bodies upright most of the time during sleep, they have to be creative with where they put their heads.

Goats that sleep in groups like to use each other as pillows, so you will find they rest their heads on another goat. Not only is it cute, but it emphasizes that goats are incredibly social animals.

Other goats can sleep with their necks stretched and heads lying flat on the ground if it suits them.

Some goats will tuck their heads against their chest, almost like a bird, or bring them around to their side in a curled-up position.

Goats can and will also sleep with their heads upright, much like the rest of their body. This allows them to have a better reaction when they awaken and stand up.

And in some instances, goats can toss their heads backward to rest against their spine and sleep that way, too.

No matter how odd they may look, goats almost always have their legs tucked underneath them, ready to spring up at a moment’s notice. Even if they have one or two legs stretched out, the rest maintain their instinctive curl that will pop them upright at the slightest noise.

Why Goats Sleep Lying Down

Like any other prey animal, goats have developed traits that kept them alive and out of a predator’s jaws for thousands of years. One of those traits is their sleeping habits.

It may make more sense that goats should be able to sleep upright, considering their status as prey animals. But they have mastered how to rest their bodies while being able to get up in an instant. Those little legs of theirs aren’t curled for no reason. At any sign or sound of danger, those legs can lift the rest of their bodies up quickly and effectively.

Like animals such as horses, goats do not need much sleep. They only need about five hours of sleep each night, and they will nap periodically during the day. This is another trait to help them avoid predators. When they don’t need to sleep all at once, they can be alert.

Goats, as you may have found, will awake from their sleep and shoot upright if you so much as step on a patch of hay. This is natural, so don’t feel too bad about waking them from their naps.

As prey animals, they have developed excellent senses that stay sharp even when they sleep. That way, no predator—or owner—can get the jump on them.

Why Your Goats May Sleep While Standing

If you have a goat that tries not to sleep lying down—or when they do, they don’t take up a normal position—consider a few of these reasons.


An indicator that your goat may be sick or injured is their reluctance to lie down.

Goats lie on their stomachs when they sleep, so abdominal discomfort can worsen if they attempt the position.

They may try to alleviate this by napping while they stand or lying flat on their side with their legs outstretched.

If your goat’s stomach is swollen and you are certain they’re not pregnant, then it is likely bloat, which a goat can die of within hours if left untreated.

Another sign that your goat may be ill is that when they stand, their backs are somewhat hunched. Sick goats also tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the herd.

Contact your veterinarian if your goat shows any of these signs, along with:

  • Pained sounds
  • Shivering
  • Pale gums


Pregnant goats are uncomfortable goats. As their bellies get bigger, they may find it difficult or impossible to sleep in their normal positions.

To try and remedy this, they may resign themselves to sleeping upright, although many goats simply topple over once they doze because their legs do not lock up like a horse to prevent them from falling.

Pregnant goats may also sleep on their sides to keep the pressure off their stomachs, even if it may take them longer to get up.

In either instance, don’t worry too much about how the expectant mothers try to get comfortable for naps—although you can sympathize with them.

Just An Odd Goat

Like any person or animal, goats have distinct personalities. Those personalities can sometimes develop weird habits, and unusual sleeping patterns and positions are one of them.

Your goat may have just found a way to sleep upright. They may also be comfortable, lazy, or old enough to not particularly care about how they sleep.

Baby goats also don’t have much thought about how they nap thanks to lack of experience and learning.

Whatever the reason may be, as long as you’re sure they are not sick, injured, or pregnant, you don’t have to put much worry into their strange sleeping habits.

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