The importance of social behaviour for goat welfare in livestock farming

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The domestic goat is a sociable, inquisitive, and intelligent species, which has been used for its meat, milk, skin, and fur since it was first domesticated ca. 10,000 years ago. Although it exhibits a wide range of behaviours, the domesticated goat has been the subject of relatively few behavioural studies. In domestic goats, the opportunity to express certain social behaviours can be limited by captivity and management systems, especially in modern production systems, where goats are reared intensively under high stocking densities, sexual segregation, early separation of kids from their mothers, frequent regrouping, and manipulation during critical periods, including gestation and weaning. To better understand the requirements of this species and to identify possible tools for the detection of early modifications in natural behaviours that might indicate poor welfare and the establishment of positive human–animal interactions, this review provides a detailed description of goat social behaviour. Practical recommendations arising from observations of goat social behaviour are provided in the conclusions.