Partner preference: Assessing the role of the female goat

Mary E. Margiasso, Kristy M. Longpre, Larry S. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For domestic ruminants, the male is thought to have the control over mate choice. The aim of this study was to assess the potential role the female goat plays in choosing a sexual partner. Approach frequency and proximity time to various social or sexual stimuli in a Y-maze apparatus were used as partner preference assessment parameters. Ovariectomized females were either induced into estrus (n=8) or induced into anestrus (n=8) and exposed to various goal stimuli - intact unfamiliar females (estrous and diestrous), intact males, and neutral (empty) in six separate trials. Total arm entries and time spent within one body length of the goal (proximity time - used to calculate preference scores) were recorded for subjects. With a male present, anestrous subjects had significantly more total arm entries than estrous subjects. Estrous subjects showed a significant preference for the male goal (M) versus the estrous female (ES), diestrous female (DS), and empty goals, respectively. Estrous subjects also showed a preference for the ES and DS goals when one goal was left empty. Anestrous subjects showed a preference for the goal containing ES, DS, and M compared to empty goals. They also showed a preference for ES vs. DS. The Y-maze is a tool that can be used to assess sexual and social partner preferences in female goats. The role the female plays in choosing a partner may be much greater than previously considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-591
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Goats
  • Partner preference
  • Preference score
  • Sexual behavior
  • Y-maze


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