If you’re a homesteader, there’s nothing quite like seeing a floppy-eared goat out on the pasture to fill your heart with joy!
The sweet personalities and silly antics of these animals have made them popular among many different types of farmers. But did you know that there are actually quite a few distinct breeds of this particular ear type?
Today we’re going to explore some unique floppy-eared goat breeds and find one that fits perfectly within your homesteading operation. Let’s get into it!
The Different Types of Goat Ears
Floppy ears aren’t the only style of ears that goats can have! Here are some common styles that you’ll see, plus the pros and cons of each one.
Pendulous Ears (Lop Ears, Floppy Ears)
Floppy ears are common in meat and dairy goats alike. They are bell shaped, and usually with a small curve near the bottom of the ear. Flop ears are almost always the longest ear type for goats.
You usually cannot see inside the ears without picking them up and looking inside. This style of ear does a great job of protecting the goat’s ear canal, so infections and injury to the ear are far less common.
Erect ears are usually shorter; they come to a point on the end, and stand up on the goat. These ears do not offer the goat nearly as much protection from the elements as a pendulous ear but still offer the goat considerable protection.
Erect ears can occur in meat goats but are most prevalent in dairy breeds. Alpines, Oberhasli, Saanens, Nigerian Dwarfs, and pygmy goats typically have erect ears.
Airplane ears are the “in-between” of floppy and erect ears. These ears get their name because the goat’s ears somewhat resemble the wings of a plane– they go straight outward, usually hanging horizontally instead of vertically.
Sometimes airplane ears occur because erect ears are too long and heavy to stand upright.
Sometimes they happen because a goat is a cross between a vertical and pendulous-eared parent.
You can find airplane ears in any of the erect ear breeds, especially if the ears are “too big” plus there are several breeds that are distinctly airplane eared.
If you cross a floppy ear and an erect ear goat, you could get offspring with kinked ears.
The ears go straight outward, and then in the middle of the ear, they fall inwards and down to the ground.
This style of ear offers the goat’s ear canal considerable protection from the elements and potentially damaging foreign objects (like hay and straw that could pierce the ear drum or cause an ear infection).
Elf Ears are somewhere between one and two inches long.
They are hardly visible, and the flap of ear skin will bend up or down. Since the skin is usually pointy, you can imagine how this pointing upwards strongly resembles an elf’s ear.
If you want your LaMancha goat to be registered with the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA), their ears must be no longer than two inches to qualify.
Gopher ears are just elf ears under one inch in length.
Gopher ears are considered more desirable for the LaMancha goat breed.
LaManchas commonly battle ear infections because they have almost no protection from fluctuating temperatures, harsh winds, and foreign objects that can puncture, scrape, or damage their inner ears. If you keep LaManchas, you’ll need to pay special attention to their ears and overall health.
Goat Breeds with Floppy Ears
The Nubian goat is one of the most popular dairy goats in the United States due to its ability to produce high-quality milk with a high butterfat content.
They also have distinctive floppy ears that give them an endearingly adorable look. Their large size and thick coat also make them well-suited for milk production in colder climates.
The Boer goat is an evolution of the ancient Namaqua-Uber descendants.
Originally from South Africa, the breed is known for its fast growth and superior meat quality.
These are the largest domestic goats in the world, with the heaviest of them maturing at over three hundred pounds. They have a distinctively large body size and white-colored bodies with red heads.
Like the other breeds on this list, they have long floppy ears that add to their character and charm!
Boer goats have a typical lifespan of 12-14 years, although it isn’t unheard of for them to live up to 17 or 18. Boer goats are primarily farmed for their meat, where they are sold in auction markets or directly to consumers.
Their well-defined muscles can be seen through their short coats, making them distinct in appearance compared to most breeds of domestic goats.
Not only are they prized for their nutritional value and hardiness, but also due to their easy temperament – they make wonderful companions on rural farms as they are both gentle and inquisitive with humans.
The Anglo-Nubian goat is a popular breed originally developed in England by crossing native British goats with Indian and African breeds.
It is characterized by its long, pendulous ears, broad muzzle, and convex nose line. Their large size and milk production capabilities make them the most sought-after dairy goats across the world. The milk from this breed is high in butterfat content which makes it especially suitable for use in cheese-making and other dairy products.
With their adaptability to various climates and resistance to heat, they have become popular all over the world, particularly in America, where hot climates have made them well-suited for many properties.
In addition to being good milk producers, they are also known for their gentle personalities and docile natures, characteristics that make them great companions for beginner goat keepers and young families.
The Angora goat is an old breed of livestock renowned for their beautiful, lustrous wool. Originating from Turkey, the goats are bred for their mohair, a type of long and silky fiber which has been highly prized since ancient times. They have distinctive long furry coats and equally distinctive floppy ears, which make them proudly stand out from other breeds.
They’re also one of the oldest domesticated livestock animals around, having been bred since ancient times.
Currently, Angora goats can be found in many countries, such as Australia, the USA, and Iran. The breed is especially noted for its gentleness and willing nature when handled.
In addition to being sought after by high-end designers for their luxurious wool, Angora goats are also common on small-scale farms due to their hardy nature. The fact that they produce around four pounds of mohair a year is a metaphorical cherry on top. As such, the Angora goat has become a staple homestead fiber animal that is well worth raising.
Kamori goats are native to Pakistan and India, where they’ve been bred for centuries for both meat and milk production.
They’re relatively small compared to other breeds but still have those trademark long ears that set them apart from other goats!
This increasingly popular breed has developed a good resistance to common livestock diseases and parasites while maintaining fantastic fertility.
These goats have survived harsh climates and conditions while still producing large amounts of milk.
Not only that, but they also produce some of the finest fleeces in the industry. Shearing them twice a year can generate up to eleven pounds of wool for every adult goat.
In addition to that, the willingness of these animals to work with a relatively small area makes them great for grazing otherwise unusable farmland.
The Nigora goat is a fairly new breed developed by crossing Nigerian Dwarf Goats with Angoras.
This gives them an interesting combination of characteristics from both parents– including their fluffy coats and unique floppy ears!
It is a multi-purpose animal, meaning it can be used for dairy and meat production, as well as wool/mohair textiles.
Its unique white wool makes it an attractive option for those in the fiber industry.
Thanks to its adaptability and willingness to learn, the Nigora goat also makes an excellent pet; they are known to be friendly and often enjoy living in close quarters with humans.
Although normally not show animals due to their small size and oddly colored coats, they do indeed make lovely backyard companions.
The Hejazi goat is an extraordinary goat breed found primarily in Saudi Arabia.
Bred for milk production, the Hejazi has a short coat that ranges from white to gray to black.
This breed is friendly, active, and sturdy, able to tolerate the heat of their desert homeland with ease.
They are also highly adaptable animals, able to survive in harsh temperatures and adverse conditions.
Because of their hardiness and milk-production capabilities, they make good candidates for cross-breeding with other goats, leading to an even more diverse gene pool among goat herds.
This means farmers can maximize their production abilities by creating stronger livestock with disease resistance.
All in all, the Hejazi is an amazing breed of goat suited perfectly for its hot climate.
The Beetal Goat is a breed of small-sized goats with floppy ears originating from the Indian subcontinent.
Thanks to their excellent milk production and hardiness, these goats have been popular in commercial farming operations and as part of rural households around the world.
Not only can Beetal Goats provide up to 1.3 gallons of milk each day on average, but they adapt well to local climates and require very little in terms of care.
As a result, this breed has enjoyed considerable success across India, Pakistan, Nepal, and other parts of Southeast Asia.
The Kiko is a unique and hardy breed of goat that originated in New Zealand. The name “Kiko” actually means “meat” or “flesh” in the Maori language, and it’s easy to see why. This breed is massive, only second to the giant Boer goat breed.
Kikos are known for their size and a substantial amount of muscle mass.
In addition to having higher levels of meat production than other breeds, they are also capable of living in harsher climates.
They can traverse difficult terrain with ease and as a result, are often used by ranchers all over the world for weed control purposes.
Moreover, the Kiko is highly resistant to parasites and is commonly crossbred with other breeds to make hybrid vigor-benefitting offspring.
Truly an all-purpose animal, the Kiko goat is sure to bring delight to any farm or ranch, regardless of size or scale.
Kalahari Red Goat
The Kalahari Red Goat is a hardy breed native to South Africa with some origins traced back to North Africa.
This breed, which has been in existence for centuries, is exceptionally suited to harsh climates, and is tough and low maintenance in comparison to other goat breeds.
The meat of the Kalahari Red Goat, usually called Mouton, has a special flavor due to the goat’s diet of natural grazing.
The goats have remarkable resistance to diseases found commonly among other goat breeds.
Many farmers find the Kalahari Red Goats and their offspring offer higher returns than that of other indigenous goat breeds could yield when kept under strict farm management systems.
In other words, these goats can be “neglectfully” tossed into an unfavorable environment and still do better than goats raised in careful “hands on” farm operations. They’re just all-around tough, hard-to-beat goats that do phenomenally anywhere!
The Rove goat is a domestic goat breed found mainly in the Mediterranean region.
It is relatively small, with mostly white faces and bodies, having red to black foreheads and craniums encircled by a band of brown hair.
Of course, they have cute floppy ears too!
This breed is well-suited for life in rugged regions due to its small size, double coats that protect it from the elements, and its hardiness for foraging for sustenance. The Rove has two common uses: as a source of meat and wool production.
Rove goat meat has been described as tender and lean, while its wool is highly valued throughout the region and globally.
The Sirohi goat is one of the most popular breeds of goats in India.
Their coats are short and typically white with black, brown, or fawn spots. In addition to their attractive coats, Siroh are hardy animals that can survive on minimal food and water.
They do well in hot climates, thanks to their heat-thriving fur.
Furthermore, they have long floppy ears that help them detect far-away danger and quickly alert their herd to potential threats. As a result of these attributes, they are considered reliable protectors for other livestock.
Moreover, due to their generally docile demeanor, Sirohi goats can be quite easy to raise and handle. This combination of strengths makes them highly sought after for dairy production and use in religious rituals throughout India.
The Pygora goat is a hybrid of the Angora and Pygmy breeds that originated in Oregon, USA. Originating as an experimental breed in the 1980s, the Pygora has since become highly prized for its soft, lustrous wool as well as its pleasant demeanor.
This docile animal produces a range of different fibers from fine through to coarse, making it an excellent choice for hand spinners and knitters alike.
By selectively breeding for desirable traits such as brightness in coat color and small stature, breeders created the full-size, registered breed that exists today.
The Pygora is now considered a top competitor in shows, having won multiple awards across event classes.
An excellent all-around addition to any farm or homestead, this affectionate crossbreed could be just what you’re looking for.
Originating from West Africa and coming to the United States in the 1900s, Nachi goats are a unique breed of goat known for their hardiness and resilience.
They are popular with farmers and livestock owners as they do not require much space or food yet can produce high-quality milk, meat, and hides.
Their coat is usually a mix of white and dark colors that sways away from their long-statured body while giving the breed an attractive look.
As they are quite active animals, it’s important to keep them aware of their surroundings so that proper care can be given when needed.
The Payoya Goat is an animal native to Spain and the Balearic Islands. It is one of the oldest known breeds of domesticated goats in Europe, with origins dating back to the Bronze Age.
The breed is typically distinguished by its floppy pointed ears, semi-straight horns, and long coat consisting of dense types of wool and awn (longer) hairs.
They are also known for their independence and ability to withstand hot and dry climates due to their thick and insulating fur. In terms of their characteristics, Payoya Goats are docile animals widely kept for their milk, meat, woolen fleeces, and hides.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Goat Ears
Do All Goats Have Floppy Ears?
Not all goats have floppy ears. Some have erect ears, others have airplane ears, some have kinked ears, others have elf ears, and even some have gopher ears.
Which Goat Has Elf Ears?
Lamanchas are known for having elf ears and gopher ears. These medium-sized dairy goats have little to no visible outer ears.
While this characteristic is certainly distinguishable from other breeds and unique, it makes the goats more susceptible to common ear infections.
Should I Clean My Goat’s Ears?
Goats only need their ears cleaned if they show signs of discomfort (like ear mites or ear infections) or you plan to show them in the ring soon.
Why Do Goats Flap Their Ears?
If a goat flaps their ears around, it could just be a minor tickle, or it could be a sign of ear mites.
Beware, if one goat has ear mites, the odds are good that the entire herd (or at least 80% of it) is infested too, or will be soon.
Why Do Farmers Cut Off Goat Ears?
If you see an earless goat, it is likely due to its breeding and genetics. Goats with a pinna-reducing gene naturally have little to no visible ear.
The farmer did not cut off the ear, and this is called a “gopher ear”.
LaMancha goats are the most common “earless” goats that you’ll see, they are commonly found on dairy goat farms.
Which Goat Has the Longest Ears?
A goat living in Karachi, Pakistan, named Simba, has the longest-known goat ears in the world. Simba’s ears are 21 inches long, almost two feet, and he has been added to the Guinness World Record Book.
He was born with 19-inch long ears and they have continued to grow ever since then.
In case you were wondering, Simba is an Anglo-Nubian goat!
Why Do Some Goats Not Have Ears?
In goats where the pinna-reducing gene is dominant, the goats will have little to no visible ear.
This is called a gopher ear.
For goats with one of these genes, they will have a slightly longer ear, called a residual-pinnae, or elf-type ear.
This is hereditary, and most commonly seen in LaMancha goats.
Floppy Eared Goat Breeds: Final Thoughts
There you have it, you now have a solid understanding of the different goat ear types, goat ear care, and fifteen different goat breeds with cute floppy ears!
Whether you’re looking to buy a companion animal or a farm animal, knowing which breed has what type of ear will help you pick out the perfect pet or work animal for your needs, and know how to best care for your animal.
No matter what type of goat you choose, these charming creatures will definitely keep you entertained with their big personality – thanks in part to those adorable little floppy ears!
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