Goats were one of the first animals to be tamed by humans
and were being herded 9,000 years ago. They are a member of
the cattle family and are believed to be descended from the
wild goat, bezoar.
Worldwide, more people
eat the meat and drink the milk of goats than any other single
animal. Most goat meat producers are also the consumers.
For that reason, goat is not one of the top imports or
There are over 210
breeds of goat. Of the 450 million goats in the world,
6 to 8 percent of them are
in North America. The largest part of the world goat
population can be found in the Mideast and Asia.
Oklahoma ranks number
4 nationally in meat goat production. Oklahoma meat goat
producers had 75,000 goats and kids in 2006. Between 1997
and 2007, goat production doubled in Oklahoma.
The US is the largest
importer of goats. Australia is the largest exporter.
The primary consumers
of goat meat in the US are ethnic populations such as Muslims,
Latinos and Asians. Typically goat meat must either be
purchased in an ethnic marketplace or directly from slaughter
facilities as a whole carcass.
The meat from a young
goat is called "cabrito." Meat from more mature goats is
The Boer is the most
popular breed of goat in Oklahoma.
Goats are easy to handle
and inexpensive to maintain. For this reason they are gaining
popularity as show animals.
The biggest expense
in goat production is adequate fencing. Because of their
size and intelligence, goats are good at getting out. Predators
are another worry for goat owners.
The female dairy goat
is a doe; the male, a buck; the young, kids;
and a castrated male, a wether. Femaile goats are sometimes
called nannies, while males are called billies.
The life span of
a goat is eight to twelve years.
breeding occurs in late summer through early winter.
period is five months. Twins are common, but single
or triplet births are not rare.
Kids are milk fed until
two to three months of age.
Goats are ruminants,
or cud-chewing animals
Dairy goats will
graze grass pastures but prefer to browse brushlands
and a varied selection of pasture plants, including
Some producers allow goats and cattle to graze together on native grasslands because the cattle will eat the grass and the goats will eat the forbs. Cattle help eliminate goat internal parasites while goats minimize the population of ticks that affect cattle and carry cattle diseases.
Dairy goats have fastidious
eating habits and are particular about the cleanliness of
their food. Their natural curiosity may lead them to investigate
newly found items by sniffing and nibbling, but they quickly
refuse anything that is dirty or distasteful.
Dairy goats can be
kept successfully in all climates.
Dairy goats have
a strong herd instinct and prefer the companionship
of at least one other goat.
Goat milk byproducts include cheese,
soap and baby formula. Goat milk is used as a replacement
for cow's milk for babies who are allergic to cow's milk.
Goats are usually
dehorned when they are very young.
The main products associated with goats are milk, cheese,
meat, mohair, and cashmere
Goat milk has a
more easily digestible fat and protein content than
cow milk. It has a better buffering
quality, which is good for the treatment of ulcers, and can
successfully replace cow milk in diets of those who are allergic
to cow milk.
Many dairy goats,
in their prime, average 6 to 8 pounds of milk daily
(roughly 3 to 4 quarts) during a ten-month lactation,
giving more soon after freshening and gradually dropping
in production toward the end of their lactation. The
milk generally averages 3.5 percent butterfat. A doe
may be expected to reach her heaviest
production during her third or fourth lactation.
goats are curious and agile and require well
built fences for containment and protection from
Goat milk is used
for drinking, cooking and baking. It is used to make
cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, candy, soap and
other body products. Goat milk is whiter than whole
cow milk. Butter and cheese made from goat milk are
white, but may be colored during processing. Due to
its small fat globules and soft small curd, products
made with goat milk are smooth and cream-like. Goat
milk is also naturally emulsified.
Chevre is the French
word for goat. Domestically, it is a generic term that
applies to all goat cheeses and, more specifically,
the mild fresh cheeses.
Goats provide the principle source of animal protein in many
North African and Middle Eastern nations. Goat is also important
in the Caribbean, in Southeast Asia, and developing tropical
countries. Three-fourths of all the goats in the world are
located in the developing regions of the world.
Since goats are small animals, they can easily be raised
on a small piece of land, as little as one to three acres.
The three fatty acids
which give goat products their distinctive flavor are capric,
caprylic and caproic.
Goats have a lower set of teeth which meet a hard pad in
the upper jaw, and 24 molars on the top and bottom in the
back of their mouths. Kids have 8 small, sharp teeth in their
lower front jaw, and like children, when their baby teeth
fall out they are replaced by permanent teeth. The age of
a goat can often be closely determined by their teeth.
Both male and female
goats can have beards.
The pupil in a goat's
eye is rectangular in shape instead of being round like those
of other animals. It is believed that goats have excellent
night vision and will often browse at night. The actual color
of the goat's eyes is varied. The most common colors
are yellow or brown. Blue eyes are more rare.
Worldwide, goat meat is an important source of protein. Goats
are inexpensive to maintain, and goat meat is lower in fat
and calories than chicken, beef, pork or lamb.
There are few, if any, religious taboos limiting goat meat
consumption. In fact, goat meat is an important component of
the traditions of Hindu and Muslim faiths.