Goats – Classification, Habits, Diets and Facts

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Goats can be physically characterized as the plump-bodied animals with horns, beards, and cloven hooves.

The two types of goats include the mountain goats “Oreamnos Americanus,” which inhabits steep and rocky places in the Northwest part of America, and the domestic goats “Capra Hircus,” which are raised and kept as farm animals.

According to ITIS “ Integrated Taxonomic Information System, goats belongs to the Bovidae family, which includes animals like the antelopes, sheep, and cattle.

Other animals belonging to the Capragenus family include the markhors, ibex, and turs, which are often referred to as wild goats. The only living species that still belongs in the Genus Oreamnos is the mountain goat.

Classification

Goats Taxonomy according to ITIS;

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Subkingdom: Bilateria
  • Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
  • Superclass: Tetrapoda
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Subclass: Theria
  • Infraclass: Eutheria
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Bovidae
  • Subfamily: Caprinae

Scientific Classification

  • Genera & species: Mountain goats are known as Oreamnos americanus, while domestic goats as known as Capra hircus
  • Subspecies: Capra hircus aegagrus (wild goat, or bezoars), found in Western Asia
  • Capra hircus chialtanensis (Chiltan goat), can be found in west-central Pakistan
  • Capra hircus cretica (Kri-kri, Cretan goat, Cretan ibex or agrimi), is found in eastern Mediterranean
  • Capra hircus hircus
  • Capra hircus jourensis
  • Capra hircus picta

Size of a Goat

An average mountain goats can weigh from 57-82 kilograms (125-180 lbs) and grow from 124-178 centimeters (49-70 inches) long. The horns on their head can grow up to 20-40 centimeters (8-12 inches) long.

Goats don’t shed their horns, and you can guess their age by calculating the yearly growth rings on the horns. Both female and male goats have horns.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, there are at least 200 breeds of domestic goat, and there are variations to their sizes.

The Nigerian dwarf goat, being one of the smallest goat breeds, weighs about 9 kg (20 lbs), while the Anglo-Nubian goat can weigh up to 113 kg (250 lbs).

Habitat

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Mountain goats can be found in rocky mountains like western Montana, Alaska, Colorado, central Idaho, South Dakota, and Washington. The ease to climb mountain steeps with ease is possible because of their cloven hooves.

They can be found scaling incredible heights of about 1,000-5,000 meters (3,281-16,404 ft) above sea level.

Domestic goats are kept all over the world in almost every type of terrestrial habitat, and according to the ADW, the general requirements for a domestic goat include grass to eat and a well-ventilated shelter.

Habits

Goats are very social animals that live in groups commonly known as herds, and according to National Geography, that can contain as many as 20 goats. Goats are more active in winter and often go solo during summer.

A herd of mountain goats would commonly have a dominant female all through the year until it’s mating season. At this time, the herd is dominated by a male. Sometimes, male goats would live with few other male goats or would choose to live by themselves, all year.

Goats generally go about feeding on grasses within their home range, that can cover an area of about 23 square kilometers (14 square miles). Mountain goats are also known to dig up to 25-50 mm depressions in the ground to rest, sleep, and dust bathes in.

Diet

Goats are by nature, herbivores. This means they only eat vegetation. Although goats would eat plants and mosses, but their favorite on the menu is grass, which they can graze on all day.

Many domestic goats have also been known to eat house plants, trash (paper or leftovers), or any other items lying around.

Goats feed by grabbing food using their lips and then bringing it into their mouths. Their upper jaw is slightly wider than their lower jaw, meaning they can only chew by using one side of their mouth to grind food.

This rotary movement is commonly seen when cows and goats chew their foods. Like all cattle, goats also have four stomach sections.

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The rumen can hold 15-23 liters; the reticulum can take up to 0.98-1.9 liters, the abomasum can pocket up to 3.8 liters, while the omasum can hold up to 0.98 liters. It takes about 11-15 hours for goats to fully digest their foods.

Offspring

A male goat is known as a billy or a buck, but when castrated, it is known as a wether. Female goats are referred to as does, or nannies can give birth to one or two baby goats known as kids. Their gestation period commonly lasts up to 150-180 days.

After birth, kids can walk and prance about in a matter of minutes. After which they feed on their mother’s breast milk for about 90-120 days before getting weaned.

By this time, they are equally ready to graze on grass, and they reach sexual maturity when they are 30 months old. Wild goats have a lifespan of 9-12 years.

Conservation status

Most wild goats, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are categorized as threatened, vulnerable, or endangered.

The Capra Horus Aegagrus is considered vulnerable, following a decline in its population of about 30% in the last three generations.

A mountain goat-antelope or the West Caucasian tur that inhabits the Caucasus mountains has been classified as endangered due to an estimated decline in the population of not less than 50% over the last three generations.

Other facts

Goats

  • According to National Geography, mountain goats are capable of jumping about 3.5 meters (12 feet) in a single bound.
  • Mountain goats can blend in easily into snowy areas due to their white coats. Domestic goats have coats that are black, yellow, or chocolate.
  • When exposes to bright light, the pupils in the goat’s eyes turn rectangular instead of round.
  • According to the Smithsonian, goats were one of the earliest domesticated animals, and they got domesticated around 9,000 years ago.
  • Goat meat — known as cabrito or chevon — is eaten all over the world.
  • People consume goat milk more than milk from any other animal.

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