Goats were one of the first animals to be domesticated over 10,000 years ago! There are over 210 goat breeds (including 9 wild species) and close to a half a billion goats worldwide. Generally, goats have a lifespan similar to dogs, in the 8-15 year range.
Male and female goats, as well as different breeds, vary greatly in size, from small breeds like Nigerian dwarf goats who are 20 lbs. to large Anglo-Nubians who grow to a whopping 250 lbs. or more! Both males and females can have beards or horns, but not all breeds do.
No joke -- when goats give birth, it is called "kidding." Females are pregnant for 5 months, then usually give birth to twins. However, some mothers have single or triplet births, and even occasionally quintuplets! Goat "kids" learn to stand within minutes of being born!
Did someone say "Maaaaa"? Goats call or vocalize by bleating, which helps them express hunger, excitement, irritation, or illness. Each goat's voice is unique and is recognized by other individuals, which is especially important so that mothers and kids can find each other.
Goats do not have any upper teeth, but instead have a tough upper pad in their mouths that helps them chew. Their lips are sensitive and agile, allowing them to nibble fresh, tasty food. They are herbivores and can be selective in what they choose to eat, opting for clean, dry hay over trampled, wet scraps. Who can blame them?!
Because one stomach is not enough, goats have four--or at least, four chambers! Like sheep and cattle, goats are ruminants and use their four stomachs to maximize absorption and digestion of nutrients. The first three stomachs are for fermentation, and the last produces acid for digestion.
Goats may very well be the clowns of the barnyard! Their adorable personalities lend themselves well to an overall comical image and genuine zest for life as they jump, climb, leap, and explore the world around them!
Sadly, hundreds of millions of goats are used worldwide for milk, meat, skins, and hair, as well as for work. If we choose to be educated and empowered humane consumers, we can make the world a better place for goats!
What about those beautiful eyes? Like sheep, goats have rectangular pupils that allow them to see about 340 degrees (almost all the way) around them. This helps them to keep a watchful eye out for predators.
They can have best friends! Like all animals, goats have unique personalities and share special bonds with each other and with other species such as sheep, horses, and ponies. When they're not with other animals, goats can get sad or depressed. Friendships matter!