Do Goats Float In The Water

Even domestic goats are hardy outdoor animals. They’re not afraid of running, climbing, and jumping and it’s easy to think that they’re fearless. However, when they’re faced with a pond or lake, will your goat be able to swim across or even float?

Goats can indeed float in water. Their ancestors were able to swim across large bodies of water, and goats have retained this ability. However, many domesticated goats don’t like water, even if they can swim in it. Some of them can overcome this fear, but many goats will avoid swimming altogether.

If you’re designing a grazing area for your goat and have a pond somewhere on the premises, you might wonder how your goats will react to it. Luckily, most goats won’t try to swim, so you don’t need to worry about them striking off on their own. For more information on goats and water, potential health hazards, and how they can learn to swim, read below.

Goats And Water

Historically, wild goats have been able to swim when they needed to. This skill allowed them to escape from some predators, access new feeding grounds, and find safe islands where they could give birth. Modern mountain goats are still capable of swimming, and they have the muscle mass and determination to do so. It may not be fast or elegant, but they can doggy paddle where they need to go!

Domestic goats are a different story. Many of these animals have never lived in a wild environment and they’ve never had a need to develop strong swimming skills. They will be able to keep their heads above water if they need to, but swimming can be physically and emotionally exhausting for goats.

On top of that, most domestic goats just don’t like water! They’re almost like cats in their distaste for it. It’s not immediately dangerous to them, but most goats just don’t like to get wet. This might stem from an instinctual fear of rain, and the way it can make their footing unstable and slippery.

Overall, most goats don’t like water and that’s okay! Domestic goats don’t need to escape from predators or seek out new feeding grounds. But if they do happen to wander into a pond or get stuck in a pool of water, they’ll be able to float and doggy paddle for a while. Drowning is not a major concern as long as they’re not in deep water for too long. However, there are other risks associated with water.

Health Problems Caused By Water

The water itself isn’t dangerous, but goats can develop several different health problems if they get soaked or lived in a damp environment. We’ll explore some of the most common health hazards below, as well as a few ways to prevent them.


One of the biggest risks that goats face when they get wet is hypothermia. They’re strong enough to swim away from immediate danger, so drowning isn’t usually an issue. However, a goat’s fur is not insulated against cold, wet conditions, so they can quickly lose their body heat.

Goat kids are particularly vulnerable to this, and they can become weak and sick if their body temperature drops too much. Hypothermia can also be a risk when your goats take baths. To prevent health problems, make sure the temperature is at least 70 degrees when they bathe and you’ll need to dry them off as much as possible afterward. Try not to bathe goats during the evening or night either, since the sunlight helps them warm up quickly.

Increased Risk Of Disease

Wet goats are more vulnerable to a variety of infections and diseases. They might be able to swim during an emergency, but they weren’t built for aquatic life. If they inhale water or live in a particularly damp environment, they’re at risk for a lot of health problems.

Pneumonia is a major health problem that goats face. Living in cold and damp conditions puts strain on their lungs and makes it easier for respiratory issues to develop. These lung conditions could weaken them for a long period of time, and might not ever fully go away.

Just like humans, goats who are cold, wet, and weak are more likely to get sick. Keep their barn as clean and dry as possible, and make sure they’re eating a well-balanced diet.

Muddy Living Space

Rain and nearby bodies of water can create muddy ground conditions. Goats prefer the comfort of solid ground and may get antsy if their footing is slippery. Mud is also a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, diseases, and parasites. If it’s mixed with goat pellets and urine, this can quickly become a health hazard.

Muddy ground can create the right conditions for foot rot, rain rot, and a variety of fungal infections. To prevent these issues, you may want to drain any nearby ponds or surround them with absorbent materials. You should also clean the goat’s living space regularly and make sure that there is no standing water, muddy areas, or buildups of fecal matter.

Parasite Outbreaks

Finally, a wet goat is a perfect mark for a parasite. Parasites thrive in warm, humid conditions and can easily multiply when there is a nearby source of water. Some parasites, like leeches, even live in water and attach to animals that swim into their reach. If it gets cold at night, this could also make parasites seek out hosts for warmth, shelter, and food.

Wet, weak goats who are living in damp conditions are the perfect target for a variety of external parasites. The goats’ skin may be softer as well, which makes it easier for parasites to bite and burrow. If the area is muddy, like we mentioned above, it will also be easier for internal parasites to take hold. They can thrive in mud and spread throughout the herd.

Parasites weaken a goat’s immune system even further and they can be hard to get rid of once they take root in the herd. The best thing to do is thoroughly clean the living space, separate the goats into smaller groups, and use veterinarian-approved methods to kill the parasites. These treatments might include topical medications, manual extraction, and grooming, or a change in diet.

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