Goat Safety Lesson

Meat Goat Safety

4-H Lifeskills: Managing self, solving problems, making decisions

Meat goat project members will:

  • Describe how you can be hurt while working with meat goats.
  • Recognize how work habits affect personal safety and the animals you work with.
  • Demonstrate use of appropriate personal protection equipment and clothing choices for working with meat goats at home and at shows.
  • Understand how to keep yourself and others safe at public shows.
  • Be familiar with how to include members with disabilities in goat project activities.


Meat Goat Safety

Lesson 1:  Take Good Care of Yourself

Livestock are involved in many youth injuries every year. Because goats are small animals and tend to tame down easily their potential to cause injury may be deceptive. Young people who raise or purchase goats to show must keep in mind that regardless of size all livestock are capable of causing injury. This lesson is designed to teach best practices for personal safety when working with meat goats raised or purchased for the purpose of showing at livestock exhibitions. It should be used with other meat goat project materials.

Safe working habits include protecting yourself, your animals, and others. The most common injuries from working with and showing meat goats are:

  • Slips / Falls
  • Bruises, cuts, and scrapes from being hit by a jumping goat, kicked, or stepped on
  • Muscle and/or back strain
  • Blisters and burns from lead ropes or chains and electrical appliances such as clippers
  • Rare injuries from working with and showing meat goats:
  • Breathing problems from inhaling dust, animal dander, or grooming products
  • Serious injury – such as broken bones or puncture wounds

Practice personal safety by using personal protection equipment and developing safe working habits when working with meat goats. Personal protection equipment includes:

  • Closed-toe shoes or boots – sturdy, preferably leather with non-slip soles
  • Gloves – Different jobs require different gloves
  • Leather gloves protect hands from rope burns or pinches from chains while leading your meat goat at home. They also protect your hands while clipping.
  • Latex or rubber gloves protect your hands and forearms while washing, grooming, or doctoring.
  • Long sleeves and long pants protect your skin from being exposed to too much sunlight and dirt and dander from your meat goat.
  • Safety glasses protect your eyes from hair clippings, dirt, and grooming products. When working in bright sunlight, try tinted safety glasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays.
  • Ear plugs protect your ears when using motorized equipment, such as the clippers or blower and when working in an enclosed area where noises are loud.
  • Sunscreen will protect exposed skin from sun damage.
  • Frequent hand washing with soap protects your skin whenever you work with livestock. Animals can easily spread disease to humans. Frequent contact with the animal’s hide, dander, and feces – especially from feeding, washing, and grooming tasks – creates an opportunity for disease to pass from your meat goat to you. An example is ring worm.
  • Learn first aid and keep a first aid kit in your show box and in the barn or building where you house your meat goats.


Do I Really Need Protection? – How You Can Be Hurt Working with Meat Goats

  • The goat can be frightened and run, jump, butt, or kick.
  • You can slip, trip, or fall over things left laying around, on a slick walkway, in a pen, or on an uneven surface (such as in sand in the show ring or uneven surfaces in the lot).
  • You can get kicked, stepped on, butted, or tripped while leading, moving, feeding, or grooming your goat.
  • You can get a burn from the lead rope or pinched in the links of a neck chain.
  • You can be burned by the hot motor of clippers or blowers.
  • Your fingers can get pinched in a gate latch; poked by a wire, the blades on the clippers, or the teeth on a scotch or curry comb.
  • You can strain muscles in your arms, legs, or back by carrying heavy show boxes or buckets of feed. Washing and grooming can cause muscle strains from frequently repeated movements, as in the up and down, back and forth of clipping and combing.


Try This!

Practice safe lifting and carrying to protect your back. Here’s how:

  • Stand close to object to be lifted;
  • Spread your feet wide enough to straddle the object;
  • Squat, bending your knees and hips;
  • Keep your head up and your back straight;
  • Hold in your stomach muscles;
  • Lift using your leg muscles;
  • Keep the load close to your body with a firm grip;
  • Turn your feet, not your back, in the direction you are going


Did You Know?

Ergonomists (scientists who study work and the human body) say the three worst problems for agriculture are: full body stoop (bending forward and down from the waist, as when picking up feed bags, buckets, or show boxes); lifting/moving heavy objects (greater than 15% of body weight, i.e. feed bags, show boxes, pulling on a show animal’s lead rope); and repetitive handwork (washing and grooming).

You are more likely to hurt your back when:

  • Lifting more than 15% of your body weight
  • Carrying a load more than 10-15 yards

Use wheels to help carry loads; such as a wheeled dolly, a feed cart, a wheel barrow, or a wheeled utility cart.

Discussion Questions
With your project group members, discuss how you stay safe working with your meat goat.


  • How did you feel the very first time you worked with your meat goat?
  • What do you wear when feeding your goat and why?
  • What do you wear when showing your goat and why?


  • How can you be injured when working with your meat goat?
  • How do you keep yourself and people helping you safe while working with your meat goat?
  • Determine how much you can safely carry without hurting your back. Hint: 15 % of your body weight is the most you should lift.
  • ________  X  0.15  =  ______________
  • Example: 100 lbs.  X  0.15  =  15 pounds


  • Why is protecting yourself important?
  • What other activities do you participate in that require you to protect yourself and how do you protect yourself?


  • How can you use what you’ve learned about personal protection to help you in other activities?





Meat Goat Safety

Lesson 2: Behavior Basics: Getting to Know Your Meat Goat

To work safely with your meat goat, you should have a basic understanding of animal behavior in general, and the behavior patterns of goats in particular. Goats tend to be gentle animals that tame down easily with regular human contact. Keep in mind that, as with all animals, some meat goats are naturally gentle while others may take more time to tame and train for show.

  • A meat goat’s behavior is determined by genetics and experience. Work with your goat regularly and you will experience positive results. Goats that are handled gently and quietly will have smaller flight zones and be easier to handle than goats that have been handled roughly or have little human contact.
  • Meat goats, like all ruminant animals, have a strong “herding instinct” and prefer to be with other goats. Many breeders will strongly suggest that you have more than one meat goat even if you only intend to show one.
  • When separated from their pen mates or their herd, a meat goat will become stressed and worked up. Minimize this stress by keeping goats together as much as possible.
  • Meat goats tend to organize into family-type groupings and, if present, an older doe will likely be the group leader.
  • Meat goats are naturally curious and like to explore using their senses of smell and taste. Their curiosity allows goats to readily find weak spots in fences and handling equipment. The goat will escape when it finds the weak spot.
  • Meat goats have a strong sense of hearing and may be distracted by loud noises or sudden movements. Keep this in mind when taking the goat to the fair.
  • Meat goats have a wide field of vision, which means they can see nearly everything around them without moving their head. A goat can also see well into the distance.
  • Halter or collar breaking is a good way to begin to tame your meat goat to get it ready for showing. Allow time for the goat to adjust to the feel of the halter or collar on its head or neck. Then work slowly and deliberately at teaching it to lead and most goats will respond positively.
  • Your meat goat may be gentle at home in familiar surroundings, but may become aggressive or stubborn when taken to a different location with new, strange sights, smells, and sounds, such as the county fairgrounds.
  • Do your best to make your goat’s first experience in a different location a positive one. For example, when moving it to a new pen have some feed in a pan waiting. You could also bring some water from home to help it adjust to the taste of new water at the show.
  • Fear typically causes an animal to run away from whatever scared it, but your meat goat may lie down and refuse to move when scared.
  • Many shows will require meat goats to be clipped. Allow time for your goat to calm down after you have caught it and before you begin to clip. Work slowly and carefully so the goat adjusts to the sound and feel of the clippers on its hide, which will help keep it calm, and avoid cuts to it or you.

When you understand how your meat goat might react in different situations you can use that understanding to help make livestock shows safer for everyone – exhibitors as well as people who are watching the show. Keeping your meat goat calm is a good start. Other strategies to keep in mind at the show include:

  • Be aware of where others are at the show – the general public (in the stands and walking around) and other exhibitors.
  • Move slowly to and from the show ring with your meat goat. When you get excited or in a hurry, your goat will sense the change in your behavior, which might scare it. Remember that fear may cause a goat to lay down and not want to move.
  • Get to know your meat goat’s behavior patterns and help it adjust to new surroundings.
  • Do the best you can to keep away from crowded areas while leading your meat goat to and from the ring. Because it is a relatively small animal, people do not understand how easy it is to scare a goat since it will look so calm when you are leading it.
  • Practice, practice, practice show day activities – at home and again when you get to the show. Whether you show with a halter or collar practice haltering/collaring; leading on halter/collar; jumping on and off the blocking stand; leading to the show ring; leading to and from the pen or stall; opening and closing gates; washing and grooming. Your meat goat will be much more comfortable doing activities it has practiced before and it will be less likely to be scared of the show ring if it’s been in there before the show.

Discussion Questions
With your project group members, discuss how you stay safe when working with your meat goat.


  • If you bought your meat goat, how did it act the day you bought it?
  • Whether purchased or raised, how did your meat goat act the first time you led it with a halter or collar?
  • How did you feel the first time you clipped a meat goat?


  • How does your behavior affect the way your meat goat behaves?
  • How do its surroundings affect the way your meat goat behaves?


  • Why is it important to practice showing your meat goat?
  • What can you do to make sure your meat goat is ready for the show ring?


  • List some ways you can you show others what you’ve learned about animal behavior?


Meat Goat Safety

Lesson 3: Facilities and Equipment

Keeping yourself and your meat goat safe includes making sure buildings, pens/lots, and equipment are well maintained and in proper working order. The facilities you use to house and work your goats should be designed for ease of entry and exit, well-ventilated, sturdy, and safe for you and your animals.

Keep buildings, alleys, and lots neat and tidy. Remember: Slips, trips, and falls cause many injuries when working with livestock. Make sure you have a place to put all your supplies, equipment, and feed and keep all of those items in their proper place. Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Don’t allow manure or feed to accumulate in alleyways or chutes.

Meat goats are often called “escape artists” They are excellent climbers and because of their natural curiosity can easily find weaknesses in fences and handling systems. To ensure they stay in their pen, fences and gates may need to be higher and stronger for goats than for sheep.

Keep mechanical equipment clean and well maintained. Clean and sanitize grooming tools regularly, not only to keep them operating properly, but also to remove any bacteria  that can spread disease or infection. Be extra careful cleaning clipper blades because they are sharp.

Inspect electrical cords on clippers and blowers often. Replace cords that have exposed wires.

Make sure the clipper blades are sharp. Clipping with dull blades presents a safety hazard to you and your meat goat.

Use only electrical outlets with three-pronged receptacles. If outlets are located outdoors, make sure they are waterproof and have ground fault circuit interrupters to keep you and your meat goat from getting an electric shock.

Maintain good lighting for indoor and outdoor areas where you will be working with your meat goat. Lighting should be bright and not create shadowy areas. Goats will be hesitant to go from a brightly lit area to a dark shadowy area.

Keep fences, gates, doors, etc. repaired. Replace or repair equipment that doesn’t work. Gates that are hard to open can cause muscle strains or can pinch you if you have to push hard and they open or close unexpectedly. Wire ties or nails poking out of fence boards can cause scrapes or puncture wounds – to you and your meat goat.

Choose equipment that will help make working with your meat goat easier. A blocking stand with head restraint helps hold your goat while you groom and allows you easy access by elevating the goat to a better working height. Some blocking stands allow for variable table heights making it even easier to groom the goat at a height that is optimum for the person grooming.

Discussion Questions


  • What do you do with your buildings and pens to help you stay safe when working with your meat goat?
  • How do you care for your equipment to help you stay safe when using it to work with your meat goat?


  • How can facilities contribute to a safer environment for you? For your meat goat?
  • How does proper maintenance of equipment contribute to keeping you safe?


  • Why are good housekeeping and proper maintenance necessary for personal safety?


  • List some of the safety practices you do each day – in your home, at work or school?

Suggested Activities:

  • Set up a practice show at a project meeting to practice show ring safety.
  • Take the Meat Goat Safety Assessment Quiz at www.ylsp.bae.ksu.edu
  • Evaluate the safety of your livestock facilities using the Safety Audit Checklist. Make note of potential dangers and work with your parents to correct the dangers.
  • Visit and evaluate project members’ facilities with an eye on safety preparedness.