Do Goats See Color?

Like most mammals, goat eyes can’t pick up every color. So, which ones can they see?

Goats can see colors ranging from violet to orange on the light spectrum. They can only see slight bits of red. This is because they only have two types of cones in their eyes whereas humans have three. In goat eyes, one cone picks up blue and the other picks up green.

We will further discuss color, how goats see them, and other important facts in the sections below.

What Is Color?

Color comes from light bouncing off of objects. The wavelengths of light that are absorbed by an object and the wavelengths that are not will determine what color the eyes see.

For example, when you see a perfectly black object, then the object is absorbing all the light wavelengths and nothing is bouncing back which causes you to see no light. When you are looking at a perfectly white object then no light is being absorbed and it is all being bounced back.

How Do Eyes See Color?

In the retina of the eye, there are photoreceptors called cones. Different cones will pick up different wavelengths. Most of us have 6 to 7 million cones, and almost all of them are concentrated on a 0.3-millimeter spot on the retina called the fovea centralis.

For example, the S-Cone, also known as the Short Wavelength Sensitive Cone, absorbs short light wavelengths, which are purples.

Of course, the brain plays a big part in seeing colors. The brain is what recognizes the reaction to our eyes and registers that we are seeing a color.

In case you’re still not sure how the eye sees color, below I’ve attached a video where Colm Kelleher very simply explains how the human eye perceives color with illustration to aid.

Anatomy Of A Goat Eye

If you’ve ever seen a goat’s eye up close you probably noticed that they’re pretty odd. The first thing you probably noticed is that their pupils are rectangles. Second, you may have noticed that they have three eyelids. You may have also noticed that they can swivel their eyes.

Though these features make it seem that goat eyes are very unique, actually they can see colors just the same as most mammals.

Goats are Dichromats, meaning they have two cones (humans have three cones). Cones are also called opsin proteins. The first opsin protein that goats have, a Short Wavelength Sensitive Cone (SWS or S-cone) has a maximum absorbance at 444-455 nm, which is bright purple. The second Opsin protein is Long Wavelength Sensitive Cones (LWS or L-cone) which has a maximum absorbance at 553nm, which is Yellowish-green.

The World To Goats

Goats see the world the same as how many mammals and colorblind-humans do. Though their retinas can pick up slight hints of red, however, they cannot see it in its full capacity. This means that anything red will come off as a warm yellow or orange. Anything that is slightly red will not appear colorful to them at all.

It may also be interesting to know that because of the shape of their pupils, goats can see in the dark.

Except for red and night vision, the way goats see the world is quite similar to how humans see the world and it is not too hard for us to imagine.

How Goat Eyes Help Them

How goats perceive the world is very much affected by the fact that they are prey animals. Every aspect of a goat’s eye has been designed by evolution to help them spot predators.

Goats have very flat and wide pupils, which gives them a wider view than an animal with round or slit pupils. Their flat pupils also allow their eyes to block out the shine from the sun. In addition to that, their eyes also swivel 50 degrees in each direction. This allows them to keep the same peripheral vision whether standing or grazing.

In comparison to predator’s

They usually have slit pupils, similar to a cat’s, which is thought to give them extraordinary depth perception, which helps them find prey that may be hiding.

Taking Care Of Your Goat’s Eyes

Taking care of your goat’s eye health is crucial to its survival and well-being. Below are some of the most common issues that goats can have with their eyes and how to treat them.


Pinkeye is created when irritants get into the eyes and cause inflammation. These irritants can be anything from sawdust to dirt, to bark, etc. Pinkeye is also extremely contagious as bacteria can get into hay and bedding and then spread to other livestock. It is important to take care of it as soon as possible.

To treat this condition, you’ll need to clean the eye with sterile saline and then put several drops of antibiotic ointment in the eyes several times a day until the pinkeye is gone.


This is an uncommon condition in which the eyelid, usually the lower, is flipped outward. This can create a pocket that collects bacteria and even debris and can lead to eye damage. A vet will be needed for treatment. The earlier that treatment is performed the better. In the most serious cases, a vet will need to perform surgery.


This condition is much more common than Ectropion, especially in young kids. With this condition, the eyelid, usually lower, is flipped inward. This causes the lashes to irritate the eye and can lead to eye damage including blindness. A vet will be needed for correction and in the most serious cases, they will need to staple the eyelid into the correct position.

Preventative Care

Blindness can be a common problem among goats when their owners don’t check up on their eye health. It’s important to check the health of your goats and do examinations consistently.

Blindness in goats can also come from internal issues, such as vitamin A deficiency in the goat’s diet, tapeworm, polioencephalomalacia (thiamine deficiency), optic nerve damage, the collapse of the eyeball, overheating of the brain from disbudding. It’s important to make sure that their internal health is being taken care of too.

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