Wattles and Goat Genetics

When I brought home my first five nannies, three of them were plain Janes, but two had decorations:  those cute fuzzy dangling flaps of skin called wattles.

I admit, I didn’t like the wattles on goats.  I thought it just looked weird.  Over time, however, I’ve learned to appreciate their goatie jewelry.

Minnie Pearl has long even wattles.  Yes, those little tags hanging down helped earn her name.

Meg has unevenly placed wattles, just a bit lopsided.

I noticed over time that the only goats with kids who had wattles were Minnie and Meg.  About half of Minnie’s babies have had wattles, but none of her daughters ever did.  Meg has had way more kids with wattles than without.  Below is her oldest daughter, Muffin, Meg in the middle, and Fancy, her youngest daughter, all showing off their wattles.

Muffin had wattles, but her twin sister didn’t.

Meg’s middle daughter, Jilly, has the cutest little fuzzy wattles.

Fancy is the only one we’ve had with these cute little ear wattles!

We are now getting into Meg’s grandkids, who are also showing that dominant trait.  It’s hard to see the wattles on Muffin’s daughter, Jetty, but she has them.

Because some people don’t like wattles, they remove them at birth.  This gives the inaccurate impression that goats randomly have wattles.  That really is not the case at all.

This year my science students were studying genetics–a simple Punnett square can explain the genetics of wattles.  Even though most goats don’t have wattles, they are the dominant trait.  It only requires one parent to donate the gene for having wattles for them to show up.  Not having wattles is recessive, and requires both genes from the parents to be that recessive gene.

W-dominant trait having wattles  (My girls are on the side)

w-recessive trait absence of wattles (Buck without wattles on top)






w ww



As you can see, statistically, about half of their babies should have wattles.  Although Meg really has had more like ninety percent of her babies with wattles.


Source of Information:  HERE

Minnie is retired from having babies, and we are waiting on Meg to have her final babies.  Soon we’ll know how many more little wattled kids we’ll have running around.  She’s in labor as I post this.  I was hoping to show you her adorable kids, but I guess I’ll have to name one Xena and introduce you next week.

If you haven’t commented to enter my giveaway for homemade bath salts and goat milk soap, there’s still time.  Just click on the picture in my sidebar.

Be sure to visit Jenny Matlock for more posts on the letter W.

69 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Wife of a Dairyman
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 15:43:56

    I had no idea what wattles even were until now! Very interesting and informative!


  2. Lola
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 15:48:14

    Hi again!

    Great ‘W’ post -as always. So interesting and informative!

    Looking forward to *seeing* you again next time,


    Btw Alphabe-Thursday


  3. Rocky Mountain Woman
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 15:49:25

    Darling as usual! Can’t wait to see “x”!




  4. Sharon
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:08:25

    Honestly, I never knew about wattles until you started talking about them, I never noticed them either. I’m looking at goats in a whole new way.

    Interesting post.

    Oh, DH says we don’t have enough land here for more than 3 goats, (like he knows) it’s not quite 1/2 acre that we could fence in and he says it would cost too much to make it worth while. :(


  5. Mary
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:08:52

    Ear wattles! How great~ Love all your nannies’ names…Muffin, Jetty, Jilly :)


  6. Janis
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:09:27

    I learned about wattles last year when my youngest daughter bought two pygmy goats. They are just the cutest little things. I love how you name all of your kids…so cute.


  7. texwisgirl
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:23:51

    I’ve seen them on some pigs too. I think they’re so odd… :)


  8. Judie
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:34:34

    Wattles!! I love that word! Thanks for all the interesting info!


  9. Honey
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 17:09:05

    Well I certainly learned something today about wattles and goat geneology! Fun!


    • Teresa
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 17:40:05

      You’d be amazed at all the science lessons I can incorporate goats into!


      • Margaret Sonnenfeld
        Aug 31, 2015 @ 23:56:26

        Hi Teresa, thanks for the informative lesson on the Mendelian inheritance of goat wattles. I was looking at two little babies today and we were noticing the wattles. I now am going to incorporate it into my lecture in Dec. I am a genetics lecturer. This will be fun! I also think there must’ve been a use for them once upon a time. Do you know what their function could’ve been? Thanks so much.

      • Teresa
        Sep 01, 2015 @ 07:55:24

        To the best of my knowledge, they have no purpose other than decoration.

  10. JDaniel4's Mom
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 17:42:11

    I love getting to see your goats and their wattles.


  11. EG Wow, Canada
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 18:01:55

    How interesting about the wattles. I had no idea that some goats have them.


  12. Angela
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 18:27:14

    Hi there,

    I’m passing the Versatile Blogger award to you


  13. Chai Chai
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 18:41:24

    Not to get off topic but is that a water hand pump I see? If it is is it from a well or a tank? I would love to get a hand pump here but it is hard to find any information on how well they work in the Winter or cost.


    • Teresa
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 18:48:32

      The hydrant is hooked to a well that is run by an electric pump. You could run it off of rural water too. I have had no problems with it freezing–I did buy the more expensive frost free hydrant. You could get it at most farm supply stores.


  14. Polly (5th Sister)
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 18:54:36

    I adore genetics! Thank you for the wonderful lesson and the awesome photos.


  15. Darrell
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 19:34:37

    First of all I wanted to say that I love goats. I think that wattles on a goat are really cute, but I’ve had some get them caught on briers and other things and I was just wondering how much feeling they have in them. My goats were bleeding and needed some treatment but they didn’t seem like it affected them.


    • Teresa
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 19:56:05

      I don’t know about that. I’ve never had anyone ever have a problem with their wattles. I’ve had more problems with them getting rose thorns stuck in their ears.


  16. Jackie
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 20:35:06

    Wow this is fascinating. I learnt a new word today : wattles. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your goats firsthand like that . I wonder if Xena will have wattles . …


  17. Jingle
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 20:48:53

    very entertaining ..

    cute family there, thanks for sharing..


  18. Cindy Adkins
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 00:17:18

    Oh my gosh, Teresa, this is an amazing blog and I love all your pictures…I just looked at the pics of when they were even younger–how adorable!!!


  19. Pondside
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 06:46:39

    My girls have always had wattles, so I just assumed they all did. Thanks for the lesson!


  20. Theresa
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 07:04:22

    I’d never heard of wattles either! Thanks for sharing your goat family. Neat names and endearing photos!


  21. Tracy
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 07:30:46

    This is a great blog! Our one goat has wattles and that was the reason I got him. They’re so soft and they sure do make a great conversation piece. After reading your blog, I can explain them a little better now.


  22. crystalrainbow
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 08:03:47

    beautiful pics :) beautiful goats wattles and all x x x x


  23. Mimi Foxmorton
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 10:13:07

    Wattles make me nervous.
    Kind of like dangly earrings.


  24. Wanda Metcalf
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 10:37:44

    I had fun learning all about Wattles. Apparently it is a gene someone in my family has because it was passed on to me! Sad to say it’s not as cute as it is on the the goats. They are so sweet I love the banner at the top of the page too.

    Looking forward to meeting the new kids on the block!

    Happy St. Pat’s Day


  25. Gattina
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 11:59:46

    A goat looks cute with a wattle, men not ! Looks awful !


  26. Sue Anderson
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 14:12:02

    Interesting genetic lesson on wattles. I never even knew what they were called, but they remind me of “the three billy goats gruff” pictures in story books.



  27. Elaine
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 20:59:59

    ….i have to admit that i didn’t know what a wattle was before today! Lovely pics of all the nannies, too!


  28. taylorsoutback
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 09:24:43

    Another informative posting – and a perfect W word! Enjoyed your photos – the nannies look like they are soaking up warm sunshine…hope we can soon.


  29. Alison
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 12:17:10

    Three cheers for Punnett squares! Love the Wattle post – perfect for ‘W’ – and a fun word to say over and over. Thanks for sharing such fun pictures –


  30. Cheryl D.
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 00:27:45

    Wow, you already have you X post taken care of! I like wattles. I’m very proud of mine!


  31. Jenny Matlock
    Mar 20, 2011 @ 08:50:50

    You are a genius. I love the way you describe things so that people like me can actually understand them. Please send this to Hobby Farm are one of those publications…Your writing style and simple explanations seem like they would make you a very popular writer.

    I really enjoyed this little wander through wattles with you for the letter ‘W” this week.

    I think I would leave the wattles…it feels odd that people would remove them!

    Thanks for linking!



    • Teresa
      Mar 20, 2011 @ 10:31:16

      I get a lot of practice explaining things in as simple a manner as possible since I’m a special education teacher! True scientists make things way more complicated than they need to. Thanks so much for visiting.


  32. Trackback: Xander and Xavier « Eden Hills's Blog
  33. Christina
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 21:03:41

    As a “true scientist” I have spent over 30 years explaining concepts using a hands-on approach. So all true scientists do not make things way more complicated than they need to be. Some think outside the box and let the student explore and experience science.


    • Teresa
      Sep 30, 2012 @ 21:32:38

      Sorry you seem to be offended by my comment. I was referring more to scientific writing that is very difficult to comprehend. I’m sure as a teacher you do a wonderful job of helping your students understand those difficult concepts.


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The information on this web site is supplied for general reference and educational purposes only. This information does not represent the management practices or thinking of other goat breeders or the veterinary community. I am not a veterinarian, and the information on this site is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your veterinarian. I disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this information.
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