So this week we had our first goats born for this year on the farm. Ginger gave birth to a little boy on Sunday. So I thought I would explore a little bit about goats and their history.
Goats are one of the earliest domesticated animals. They were first domesticated from the Bezoar Ibex around 7,000 BC. They were generally domesticated for their milk, fur, meat, and skin. Goats are considered small livestock and, like many other farm animals, are ruminants.
A female goat is called a nanny, a male a buck or a billy, the babies are called kids. Goats tend to reach sexual maturity between 3 to 15 months of age. Generally a nanny can be breed when she reaches 70% of her adult size.
In many ways sheep and goats are a lot a like in many ways (To the point that they can actually interbreed. If this happens the offspring, which are general sterile, are called geeps or shoats.) One of the interesting difference between goats and sheep is that goats are “browsers” and sheep are considered “grazers”. Goats will eat vines and shrubs. In China they are used to eat weeds in tea fields. The tannic acid in tea, which tastes bitter, keeps the goats from eating the tea plants. Sheep on the other hand are grazers and tend to eat mixed grasses. It is a myth that goats will eat anything. They might nibble on things to gain an idea of something but they won’t eat aluminum cans or cardboard boxes.
Goats are naturally very curious and like to explore their environment. They particularly like getting out of their enclosures. They constantly test the boundaries and can very easily find a way out of their enclosure. One of our goats, Pepper, loves getting out and visiting the school kids, tasting their lunches, stealing from the gift shop and attending school in our one room school house. Perhaps to satisfy their curiosity, we might add some lidded boxes with treats to their enclosure to see if they can figure them out.