Even if you never spent time in the company of goats, even if you know nothing about them, you would find it effortless to recognize when a goat is feeling well and happy. Here are a few examples of things you might witness a happy goat doing.
Goats are ruminant animals. Instead of having one section to their stomach like humans do, their stomach is divided into 4 chambers. Goats can eat stemmed, twiggy grasses and plants that humans could never digest. All of this goes into the largest stomach compartment, the rumen. Once the rumen is full, a goat will retire somewhere comfortable. The rumen, filled with billions of microorganisms that break down food, stores the meal until the goat is done eating. Then it will bring a ball of the fibrous matter it has swallowed back up to its mouth. This ball is called a "cud." A goat chewing its cud radiates contentment. Often they will let their eye lids droop while their jaws work over the mass. They resemble a child working on a too-big wad of bubble gum during this time. When the cud is sufficiently broken down by chewing, the goat swallows it and it travels through the remaining three stomachs, (the reticulum, omasum and abomasum.) This complex digestive system allows goats and other ruminant animals to convert some rather unlikely items into food. For example, my goats find that dining on discarded Christmas greens is a treat.
And here is another sign of contentment; when a goat rises from lying down, if it feels good, it will stretch its body in an exaggerated manner. Neck and back arched, it is plain to see that this animal feels good in its skin. Then, more often than not, the goat will give a good all over shake and head off to find a snack.
But to me, the most enjoyable action signifying that my goats are feeling perky is when they dance.