Goat, a hardy animal closely related to the sheep. Wild goats are often hunted as game; domestic goats are raised for milk, meat, hides, and hair. The goat is often called the “poor man's cow” because it thrives where other livestock cannot. Goats were probably domesticated in Persia about 3000 B.C.

Goats are about the same size as sheep, but weigh somewhat less. The hair is usually straight, the tail short. The hooves are cloven. In many species, both males and females bear horns. The males (called bucks, or billy goats) are bearded and have a strong, unpleasant odor. They weigh from 125 to 225 pounds (55 to 100 kg). The females (does, or nanny goats) weigh about two-thirds as much as the bucks. Goats mate in the fall. Does produce two to four kids (young) about 150 days after breeding. Goats mature in about a year, and may live 10 to 15 years.

Wild Goats

There are several species of wild goats. They generally inhabit rugged mountain country. They live in herds of 5 to 20 individuals, led by an old female. Wild goats migrate to higher ground in the spring and return to lower ground in the winter. The ibex is native to the Pyrenees, Alps, Caucasus, and Himalayas. The spiral-horned markhor is found in the mountains of India and Afghanistan. The mountain goat of the North American Rockies is not a true goat.

Domestic Goats

Domestic goats are widely raised in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and to a lesser extent in North America.

Goat hair is made into high-quality fabrics such as mohair, which is used for upholstery, garments, shawls, and wigs. The hides are converted into high-grade leathers such as morocco.

Goat's milk is healthful and nutritious. The fat globules are so small that they remain in suspension, not rising as cream. It has more protein and fat than cow's milk. Goat's milk is more easily digested than cow's milk, and is often used in infant formula and in cooking as a substitute for cow's milk. It is also sold in evaporated and powdered forms. Goat's milk is used to produce a type of cheese called chèvre.

The chief breeds of hair-producing goats are the Angora and the Cashmere.

The Angora

is a native of Asia Minor. In the United States, Angoras are raised chiefly in Texas. The silky hair, about eight inches (20 cm) long, is usually clipped twice a year, averaging three to five pounds (1.4 to 2.3 kg) per clipping.

The Cashmere

is raised in the Himalaya valleys of Kashmir and Tibet.

Leading breeds of milk goats in the United States are the Alpine, LaMancha, Nubian, Oberhasli, Saanen and Toggenburg goat.

The Alpine

native to the Swiss and French Alps, is a large, hardy breed resembling the Saanen. The color ranges from pure white to black with white markings. An Alpine doe produces up to five quarts (4.7 1) a day.

The LaMancha

developed in the United States, is a sturdy breed. The hair is short and fine, and it has distinctive ears. Its milk is high in butterfat.

The Nubian

a hornless goat native to the Nile Valley, is larger than most European breeds. It has a prominent nose and large, flat droopy ears. The short, silky hair is black, dark brown, or tan, often with white markings. Nubian milk is particularly rich in butterfat.

The Oberhasli

a Swiss breed, is of a medium size. The color ranges from light brown to reddish-brown and it has distinctive black markings on its face.

The Saanen

largest of all Swiss breeds, has short, light-colored hair and is usually hornless. A doe weighs about 120 pounds (54 kg) and produces about three quarts (2.8 1) of milk a day.

The Toggenburg

another hornless Swiss breed, is medium or dark brown, with light-gray lower legs. The hair varies from short to long. A doe weighs about 100 pounds (45 kg) and produces about five quarts (4.7 1) of milk a day.

The ibex is Capra ibex; markhor, C. falconeri; Angora, C. angorensis; other domestic goats, C. hircus. All belong to the family Bovidae.