Why Do Goats Have Beards?

Many goat owners (and others!) wonder why goats have beards. Sure, a beard is a handy way to a lead a goat around without a halter, but it is highly doubtful that the goat’s beard was created merely as a handle for humans.

While some have speculated that the beard helps keep the goat’s face warm in the winter, an important fact about goat beards provides a clue to the true explanation. Wethers (castrated males) have relatively thin, sparse beards. The biggest beards are seen on the bucks. Based on this information, it appears that big beards signal a very masculine animal, perhaps attracting does.

Furthermore, does can have small beards, depending on their genetics and whether or not they have been shaved for the show ring. Some goat owners have reported pecking order disruption among their does after shaving beards, which suggests that the beard may also play a role in recognition of fellow goats and perhaps in signalling dominance.

For these reasons, it appears that the benefit of the goat’s beard is not so much seen in cold weather as it is in social situations. In this way, a beard on a goat appears to serve a very similar role as the comb on a chicken.