The domestic goat or simply goat is a domesticated mammal.
It i is descended of the wild goat from Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe.
The goat is one of the oldest domesticated species of animal, and has been used for milk, meat, fur and skins across much of the world.
Neolithic farmers began to herd wild goats primarily for easy access to milk and meat, as well as to their dung, which was used as fuel, and their bones, hair and sinew for clothing, building and tools.
The earliest remnants of domesticated goats dating 10,000 years before present are found in Ganj Dareh in Iran.
Goat remains have been found at archaeological sites in Jericho, Choga Mami, Djeitun, and Çayönü, dating the domestication of goats in Western Asia at between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago.
Over time, goat keeping spread over most of Asia, Europe, and Africa. In parts of Africa and Asia, large herds of goats were maintained and land was often overgrazed. This has contributed to the expansion of deserts over large areas of these continents.
The Spanish and Portuguese brought goats to North and South America, and the English brought goats to Australia and New Zealand.
Historically, goat hide has been used for water and wine bottles in both traveling and transporting wine for sale.
Goats were generally kept in herds that wandered on hills or other grazing areas, often tended by goatherds who were frequently children or adolescents. These methods of herding are still utilized today. Goats can survive in difficult conditions.
Goats are quite particular in what they actually consume, preferring to browse on the tips of woody shrubs and trees, as well as the occasional broad-leaved plant. However, it can fairly be said that their plant diet is extremely varied, and includes some species which are otherwise toxic.
Goats are better at fighting off predators than sheep and historically were kept sometimes with flocks of sheep to help defend the sheep.
The average lifespan for goats is between 15 and 18 years. An instance of a goat reaching the age of 24 has been reported.
There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat.
Depending on the breeds, adults stand from 65 to 105 cm (2 to 3.5 feet) at the shoulder and weigh from 18 to 150 kg (40 to 330 lbs).
Their bodies are covered with thick hair that protects them from the cold.
Goats have two horns, of various shapes and sizes depending on the breed.
Both male and female goats have beards, and many types of goat may have wattles, one dangling from each side of the neck.
They have horizontal, slit-shaped pupils. Because goats’ irises are usually pale, their contrasting pupils are much more noticeable than in animals such as cattle, deer, most horses and many sheep, whose similarly horizontal pupils blend into a dark iris and sclera.
Goats are naturally curious. They are also agile and well known for their ability to climb and balance in precarious places. This makes them the only ruminant to regularly climb trees. Due to their agility and inquisitiveness, they are notorious for escaping their pens by testing fences and enclosures, either intentionally or simply because they are used to climbing. If any of the fencing can be overcome, goats will almost inevitably escape. Goats have been found to be as intelligent as dogs by some studies.
Gestation length is approximately 150 days. Twins are the usual result, with single and triplet births also common. Less frequent are litters of quadruplet, quintuplet, and even sextuplet kids.
There are about 1 billion goats living in the world.
A male goat is called a buck or billy, and a female is called a doe or nanny. Young goats are called kids.
While the words hircine and caprine both refer to anything having a goat-like quality, hircine is used most often to emphasize the distinct smell of domestic goats.
The taste of goat kid meat is similar to that of spring lamb meat – in fact, in the English-speaking islands of the Caribbean, and in some parts of Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, the word “mutton” is used to describe both goat and sheep meat. However, some compare the taste of goat meat to veal or venison, depending on the age and condition of the goat.
In various places in China, goats are used in the production of tea. Goats are released onto the tea terraces where they avoid consuming the green tea leaves (which contain bitter tasting substances) but instead eat the weeds. The goats’ droppings fertilise the tea plants.
The intestine of goats is used to make “catgut”, which is still in use as a material for internal human surgical sutures and strings for musical instruments.
The horn of the goat, which signifies plenty and wellbeing (the cornucopia), is used to make spoons.
Goats are mentioned many times in the Bible. Their importance in ancient Israel is indicated by the seven different Hebrew and three Greek terms used in the Bible. A goat is considered a “clean” animal by Jewish dietary laws and a kid was slaughtered for an honored guest. It was also acceptable for some kinds of sacrifices. Goat-hair curtains were used in the tent that contained the tabernacle (Exodus 25:4).
In the New Testament (Matthew 25), Jesus returned to Jerusalem the first day of the week (Sunday) before his crucifixion. Having visited the Jewish Temple, Jesus met with his disciples on the Mount of Olives outside the city. At the end of an extended discourse he told of a time after his Resurrection when he would return in glory and sit in judgement of Gentile nations of the world
using a metaphor of the Sheep and the Goats. Commonly sheep and goats grazed together in mixed herds.
In Matthew 25:31–46, Jesus said that like a shepherd he will separate the nations placing on his right hand the sheep, those who have shown kindness to needy and suffering disciples of Jesus and others. These he will reward, but the goats at his left hand, who failed to show kindness, will be punished. Although both sheep and goats were valued as livestock, this preference for sheep may relate to the importance of wool and the superior meat of adult sheep compared to the poor meat of adult goats.
Popular Christian folk tradition in Europe associated satan with imagery of goats.
According to Norse mythology, the god of thunder, Thor, has a chariot that is pulled by the goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. At night when he sets up camp, Thor eats the meat of the goats, but takes care that all bones remain whole. Then he wraps the remains up, and in the morning, the goats always come back to life to pull the chariot. When a farmer’s son who is invited to share the meal breaks one of the goats’ leg bones to suck the marrow, the animal’s leg remains broken in themorning, and the boy is forced to serve Thor as a servant to compensate for the damage.
The Yule Goat is one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbols andtraditions. Yule Goat originally denoted the goat that was slaughtered around Yule, but it may also indicate a goat figure made out of straw. It is also used about the custom of going door-to-door singing carols and getting food and drinks in return, often fruit, cakes and sweets. “Going Yule Goat” is similar to the British custom wassailing, both with heathen roots. The Gävle Goat is a giant version of the Yule Goat, erected every year in the Swedish city of Gävle.