If you have ever even thought about homesteading, then you’ve thought about getting goats. These intelligent, curious and delightful animals are often considered a “graduation” of sorts: Most homesteaders start with chickens and move onto goats before considering larger livestock.
Goats can provide homesteaders with milk which can also be used to make cheese, soap or butter. Here are ten things you may not have known about domestic goats (Capra aegagrus hircus).
- Goats can vary in size from the 35 lb. Pygmy goats to the 230 lb. Boer goat. Both goats are actually raised for meat production, however, the Pygmy goat is also known for its high-quality milk.
- Genetic tests indicate that all domestic goats are descended from the wild Bezoar Ibex of Anatolian Zagros, a part of the Middle East. Scientists believe goats are one of the earliest domesticated animals, with evidence that suggests they were domesticated at least 10,000 years ago.
- Goats are naturally curious. While they don’t actually eat tin cans and paper, they are often seen chewing odds and ends mainly to find out more about these objects. Behaviorists think goats chew these items to find out more about them and to see if they are edible.
- That curious nature may be the root of a legendary story about goats and coffee. An apocryphal story on the discovery of coffee goes like this: Kaldi, an Ethiopian goat herder, started chewing coffee beans after his goats started dancing when they ate the beans.
- The largest number of goats in the United States resides in Texas. Goats can be raised, however, anywhere in the United States.
- While calling a group of goats a “herd” is acceptable, the more proper names for a group of goats is a tribe or trip.
- Cashmere, the super-soft and desirable wool used in many garments, is harvested from Cashmere goats. The wool is shorn from the goats and then “de-haired” which separates the coarse outer hair from the soft inner downy coat. The softer hair is spun into yarn and thread for textiles. Originally the goats were cultivated in Nepal and Kashmir, but they are now raised all over the world.
- The famous fainting goats don’t actually faint. A condition of the central nervous condition called Congenital myotonia, in which the muscles of the animals are temporarily paralyzed when they panic. The condition causes no pain, but the animals do fall over. Older fainting goats, however, keep themselves braced against a wall or other support, so they don’t fall over.
- The London Telegraph reported last year that goats have accents. Scientists at the Queen Mary University of London discovered the calls of goats change as they grown older and move into different groups. Goats in the same group sound similar to each other as they spend more time together.
- Milk goats should be separated by gender. If does (female goats) are kept too close to bucks (males) their milk can take on a “goaty” flavor, influenced by the strong scent of the buck. *Although, it should be stated that this is a controversial topic for goat dairy farmers… With many people stating that they would NEVER separate the goats. And many saying that they would never dream of having the goats live together in the same quarters because of milk flavor and breeding practices.