Sheep and goats

Colin L. Gilbert, Cathy M. Dwyer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sheep and goats, often referred to as small ruminants, are highly adaptable and social ungulate species which originally evolved to occupy upland and mountain areas. The social group is an important part of anti-predator behaviour in both species. Sheep and goats show a pronounced diurnal rhythm in their feeding behaviour in an unconstrained setting. Behavioural and neurobiological studies of the perceptual and cognitive abilities of sheep and goats have revealed that they make sophisticated use of both visual and olfactory cues from their environment to enable them to rapidly learn to recognise individual offspring, flock members. Goats have a tendency to eat their shade, which may constitute an enrichment in the short term but can then contribute to both overheating and poisoning, so should be monitored carefully. The key to catching and handling sheep and goats in a confined space is to move calmly and confidently.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe UFAW Handbook On The Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals, Ninth Edition
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781119555278
ISBN (Print)9781119555247
Publication statusPrint publication - 14 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • cognitive ability
  • environmental enrichment
  • feeding behaviour
  • goats
  • reproductive behaviour
  • sheep
  • social organisation


Dive into the research topics of 'Sheep and goats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this