Goats have some unsavory personal habits, at least by human standards. For example, they pee on themselves, and in many cases, even drink their urine, which may seem gross o us, but can be essential to the goats.
They certainly get more out of it than a bad taste in their mouths. Why do goats drink their own urine?
Goats drink their own urine for the salt and minerals inside the liquid. When a goat’s diet is extremely limited in rocky areas near cliffs or during the winter when food is scarce, goats have an insatiable thirst for urine. Since they still need salts and minerals to survive, they re-absorb the ones their bodies are ready to waste.
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Why Do Goats Drink Urine
Goats drink urine for a handful of reasons. For one thing, it’s a good source of salt, which can be hard to come by in nature if you don’t live near a salt lick.
However, the body collects, concentrates, and disposes of salts naturally when you urinate.
Re-using those salts is a strange and somewhat gross form of recycling, but it’s better than letting your brain stop working.
As Drink LMNT explains, “Electrolytes conduct nerve signals and regulate fluid balance in the brain. Sodium is critical for brain health. Hyponatremia (low serum sodium) symptoms include headaches, fatigue, lethargy, and seizures. When sodium is rapidly depleted from overwatering, it can cause brain swelling.”
Sodium isn’t the only thing that gets collected and concentrated in pee. Other nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium, are also available in urine.
Each of these is essential to life differently, and they aren’t always found in large quantities in foods like grass and hay.
Why Do Billy Goats Drink Their Own Urine
Billy goats are often mistaken for a breed name by people who don’t raise goats.
However, a ‘billy’ is just another name for a male goat, like a gander is a name for a male goose, a bull is the name of a male cow, and a rooster is a name for a male chicken.
So, billy goats drink their own urine for the same reason male goats do. I’ll explain below.
Why Do Male Goats Drink Their Own Urine
Goats, especially males, are odiferous, and they can be challenging and full of attitude, especially during mating season.
It’s during this time when you are most likely to see a goat drink his own pee. Sadly and disturbingly, their natural musk isn’t always enough to impress the girly goats.
A more pungent smell is more likely to attract a mate, and pee is a powerful smell. To smell more like themselves, male or billy goats pee on the insides of their legs, and they will tilt their heads down to pee on their own faces and chests.
Pee drinking can be an accidental side effect.
Do Female Goats Drink Their Own Urine
Female goats do not drink their own urine. However, female-presenting goats will sometimes engage in this unusual behavior, and the reason is more unique than you might expect. Like all animals, goats can be born hermaphrodites or intersex.
A goat with characteristics of both genders may also possess instincts belonging to both genders as well.
Hence, you can get a ‘girl’ goat that drinks its own pee and pees on its face because it’s not entirely female. Intriguingly, hermaphrodite goats aren’t as rare as you might expect.
According to NPR, “In fact, hermaphroditic goats aren’t all that rare. When two naturally hornless goats breed, around 1 in 5 offspring is a hermaphrodite.” So, if your ‘female’ goat is peeing in ‘her’ own face and sometimes drinking it, you probably don’t have a female goat at all.
Should I Be Worried About Goats Drinking Their Own Urine
In general, there is no reason to be concerned about your goats drinking their own urine. If it seems like they are doing this excessively, especially when it’s not breeding season, then supplement their food with minerals.
It’s also a good idea to ensure they have access to lots of fresh, clean water, but you should do that anyway.
I recommend getting a bag of Purina Goat Mineral from Amazon. Adding this blend to their feed regularly can help your goats maintain a healthy balance of necessary nutrients.
Purina has everything your goat need for healthy skin, eyes, and reproductive systems.
- Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D - Supports proper development of bones and optimal milk production
- Coarse particle - Minimal waste and dust
- Copper and zinc - Vibrant skin
- Potassium, sodium, sulfur, Iron, cobalt, iodine and manganese - For overall good health
- Vitamin A, Vitamin E and selenium- Antioxidants that help muscle development, support reproduction and vibrant eyes
Can My Goat Get Sick From Drinking Their Own Urine
Your goat is unlikely to get sick from drinking its urine. This is a standard practice among male and hermaphroditic goats and should not harm them.
However, if a goat were to drink nothing but urine, it would quickly sicken and die from dehydration.
Is Goat Urine Sterile
Urine is not sterile. You may have heard that your urine is sterile when it comes out, but it’s not. There are bacteria present inside human urine. The same is true for goats and other creatures.
The myth of sterile urine is precisely that, a myth. You can sterilize urine through boiling, but obviously, no one is boiling goat urine so that they can drink it.
Helpful Tips To Know About Why Goats Drink Their Own Urine
Goats drink their own urine by accident when they are trying to impress the females or when they need the salt and minerals concentrated inside it. Either way, this is natural, normal goat behavior, and you should not interfere. The goats are fine.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about why goats drink their own urine.
- I hate to be the bearer of alarming news, but goats drink more than just their own pee. According to Insider, “Mountain goats at Olympic National Park in Washington state have developed such a taste for human urine and sweat that they had to be blindfolded and airlifted to a new home.”
- Just like humans, goats can get urinary stones. Unfortunately for the males, they have smaller diameter urethras, so they are more likely to have trouble passing them.
- The ‘goaty smell’ isn’t all from urine. According to Science Shot, “…bucks emit a pheromone to turn on does’ reproductive systems, and they’ve finally found the active ingredient… The compound 4-ethyloctanal starts a hormonal chain reaction in the female’s brain, which triggers ovulation… When exposed to air, 4-ethyloctanal converts to 4-ethyloctanoic acid, making the “goaty odor.” So males can attract females and turn them on using the same compound.”
It may seem gross, and it definitely smells that way, but goats drinking urine is natural. Just because humans disapprove of this savvy scent collection and unusual upcycling of nutrients doesn’t mean the goats should stop doing it.
Urine drinking is part of a goat’s nature. If you are new to raising goats, rest assured, this is something goats should do.
Try not to overthink it and get them a good mineral supplement to help minimize the non-mating-related pee drinking.