No, goats don’t climb trees. Well, not in the traditional sense, when we think of climbing. They don’t have hands like humans or paws like those of the ape kingdom, so they can’t climb in this manner. Goats walk up trees.
Take a closer look at some of the pictures you see containing goats in trees. You’ll notice that there are limbs or branches growing more horizontally than vertically. Some branches are nearly parallel to the ground and form ramps that easy to walk up. Where there are no ramps goats will make their own. Goats always like to reach for food at head level or above if possible, so that puts trees right in their sights.
First, a goat reaches for the desired branch with their mouth, and if the branch is too high they lift up onto their hindlegs or even jump to reach it. As they eat, they continue to walk their way to the thicker parts of the branch up and higher towards the base of the branch. They keep stepping on the limb as they move to ensure it stays down. As long as the branch continues to support their weight they will move up higher off the ground the further they walk. Depending on the strength and age of the tree this can place them quite some distance off the ground.
What does that mean for the common goatherd or goat owner? Well, if there are any trees that are considered valuable then access needs to be cut off to those trees. This includes hedges and brushes. Of the two most popular bushes used in our area, Japanese Holly and English Dwarf Boxwood, goats are a fan of the Holly so choose accordingly. The same is true for poisonous trees. There is a list of poisonous plants at fiascofarms.com.