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Scientific classification
Trinomial name
Capra aegagrus hircus
A goat is any of several species of medium-sized grazing animal. All goats (and sheep) belong to the subfamily Caprinae of the family Bovidae. In common use, however, goat is usually understood to mean the Domestic Goat, Capra aegagrus hircus, a subspecies of the Wild Goat of south-west Asia and eastern Europe.

Female goats are referred to as does, intact males as bucks. Castrated males are wethers, offspring are kids.

Goats have been domesticated for roughly 10,000 years: they are kept for the production of milk and hair. They are also harvested for their meat. Domestic goats are generally kept in herds that wander on hills or other grazing areas, often tended by goatherds who are frequently children or adolescents, similar to the more widely known shepherd.

Goats are reputed to be willing to eat almost anything. Contrary to this reputation they are quite fastidious in their habits, preferring to browse on the tips of woody shrubs and trees, as well as the occasional broad leaved plant. Due to this they are less susceptible than other livestock to parasites when allowed to feed in a natural setting. They will seldom eat soiled food or water unless facing starvation. They certainly do not consume garbage, tin cans, or clothing. Their reputation for doing so is most likely due to their intensely inquisitive and intelligent nature: they will explore anything new or unfamiliar in their surroundings. Lacking hands and fingers, they do so primarily with their prehensile upper lip and tongue.

Table of contents
1 Reproduction
2 Goat Breeds
3 See also
4 External links


In some climates goats are, like humans, able to breed at any time of the year. In northern climates and among the Swiss breeds, the breeding season commences as the day length shortens, and ends in early spring. Does of any breed come into heat every 21 days for from 2-48 hours. Bucks (intact males) of swiss and northern breeds come into rut in the fall as with the doe's heat cycles. Rut is characterized by a decrease in appetite, obsessive interest in the does, fighting between bucks, display behavior and most notably, a strong, musky odor. This odor is singular to bucks in rut- the does do not have it unless the buck has rubbed his scent onto them or the doe is in actuality a hermaphrodite- and is instrumental in bringing the does into a strong heat. In addition to live breeding, artificial insemination has gained opularity among goat breeders, allowing for rapid improvement and access to a wide variety of bloodlines.

Gestation length is 120 days. Twins are the usual result, with single and triplet births also commom. Less frequent are litters of quadruplet, quintuplet, and even sextuplet kids. Birthing, known as kidding, generally occurs uneventfully with few complications.

Freshening (coming into milk production) occurs at kidding. Milk production varies with the breed, age, quality, and diet of the doe; dairy goats generally produce between 1,500 and 4,000 lbs of milk per 305 day lactation. Meat, fiber, and pet breeds are not usually milked and simply produce enough for the kids until weaning.

Goat Breeds

Goat breeds fall into 4 categories, though there is some overlap between them; meaning that some are dual purpose.





The goat is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the
Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. It is thought that each animal is associated with certain personality traits. See: Sheep (Zodiac).

See also

External links