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Goat

The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat.Hirst, K. Kris. "The History of the Domestication of Goats". About.com. Accessed August 18, 2008. Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species, and have been used for their milk, meat, hair, and skins over much of the world.Coffey, Linda, Margo Hale, and Ann Wells; "Goats: Sustainable Production Overview. In 2011, there were more than 924 million live goats around the globe, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Female goats are referred to as "does" or "nannies", intact males are called "bucks" or "billies" and juveniles of both sexes are called "kids". Castrated males are called "wethers". Goat meat from younger animals is called "kid" or (Spanish), while meat from older animals is known simply as "goat" or sometimes called , or in some areas " mutton" (which more often refers to adult sheep meat).

Etymology

The Modern English word goat comes from Old English gāt "she-goat, goat in general", which in turn derives from Proto-Germanic *gaitaz (cf. Dutch/ Icelandic geit, German Geiß, and Gothic gaits), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰaidos meaning "young goat" (cf. Latin haedus "kid"),Calvert Watkins et al., The American Heritage Dictionary (1975, edited by William Morris). itself perhaps from a root meaning "jump" (assuming that Old Church Slavonic zajęcǐ "hare", Sanskrit jihīte "he moves" are related). To refer to the male, Old English used bucca (giving modern buck) until ousted by hegote, hegoote in the late 12th century. Nanny goat (females) originated in the 18th century and billy goat (for males) in the 19th.

History

]] Goats are among the earliest animals domesticated by humans. The most recent genetic analysis{{cite journal |date=November 18, 2008 |title=The goat domestication process inferred from large-scale mitochondrial DNA analysis of wild and domestic individuals |journal=PNAS |volume=105 |issue=46 |pages=17659–17664 |doi=10.1073/pnas.0804782105 |pmid=19004765 |last1=Naderi |first1=Saeid |last2=Rezaei |first2=Hamid-Reza |last3=Pompanon |first3=François |last4=Blum |first4=Michael G. B. |last5=Negrini |first5=Riccardo |last6=Naghash |first6=Hamid-Reza |last7=Balkiz |first7=Özge |last8=Mashkour |first8=Marjan |last9=Gaggiotti |first9=Oscar E. |last10=Ajmone-Marsan |first10=Paolo |last11=Kence |first11=Aykut |last12=Vigne |first12=Jean-Denis |last13=Taberlet |first13=Pierre |pmc=2584717 }} confirms the archaeological evidence that the wild Bezoar ibex of the Zagros Mountains is the likely original ancestor of probably all domestic goats today. 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,Maisels, C.K. The Near East: Archaeology in the Cradle of Civilization'' Routledge, 1999; p.124 Djeitun, and Çayönü, dating the domestication of goats in Western Asia at between 8000 and 9000 years ago. Studies of DNA evidence suggests 10,000 years BP as the domestication date. Historically, goat hide has been used for water and wine bottles in both traveling and transporting wine for sale. It has also been used to produce parchment.

Anatomy and health

Goats are considered small livestock animals, compared to bigger animals such as cattle, camels and horses, but larger than microlivestock such as poultry, rabbits, cavies, and bees. Each recognized breed of goats has specific weight ranges, which vary from over for bucks of larger breeds such as the Boer, to for smaller goat does.Taylor, R.E. and Field, T.G., "Growth and Development" Scientific Farm Animal Production: An Introduction to Animal Science, 6th Ed. Prentice-Hall (1999) Upper Saddle River pg 321-324. Within each breed, different strains or bloodlines may have different recognized sizes. At the bottom of the size range are miniature breeds such as the African Pygmy, which stand at the shoulder as adults.Belanger, J & Bredesen, S. T, "Basic Information about Goats" Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, 2nd ed. Storey Publishing (2010) North Adams, pg 14 Most goats naturally have two horns, of various shapes and sizes depending on the breed. Goats have horns unless they are "polled" (meaning, genetically hornless) or the horns have been removed, typically soon after birth. American Goat Society:Polled Genetics, americangoatsociety.com. There have been incidents of polycerate goats (having as many as eight horns), although this is a genetic rarity thought to be inherited. The horns are most typically removed in commercial dairy goat herds, to reduce the injuries to humans and other goats. Unlike cattle, goats have not been successfully bred to be reliably polled, as the genes determining sex and those determining horns are closely linked. Breeding together two genetically polled goats results in a high number of intersex individuals among the offspring, which are typically sterile. Their horns are made of living bone surrounded by keratin and other proteins, and are used for defense, dominance, and territoriality. Goats are ruminants. They have a four-chambered stomach consisting of the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. As with other mammal ruminants, they are even-toed ungulates. The females have an udder consisting of two teats, in contrast to cattle, which have four teats.Taylor, R.E., Scientific Farm Animal Production: An Introduction to Animal Science, 6th ed, Upper Saddle River (Prentice Hall) 1998 An exception to this is the Boer goat, which sometimes may have up to eight teats. Goats 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. Both male and female goats have beards, and many types of goat (most commonly dairy goats, dairy-cross Boers, and pygmy goats) may have wattles, one dangling from each side of the neck. Frequently Asked Questions – Triple I Goats, tripleigoats.com Some breeds of sheep and goats look similar, but they can usually be told apart because goat tails are short and usually point up, whereas sheep tails hang down and are usually longer and bigger – though some (like those of Northern European short-tailed sheep) are short, and longer ones are often docked.

Reproduction

]] Goats reach puberty between three and 15 months of age, depending on breed and nutritional status. Many breeders prefer to postpone breeding until the doe has reached 70% of the adult weight. However, this separation is rarely possible in extensively managed, open-range herds.Payne, William J.A., An Introduction to Animal Husbandry in the Tropics, 5th ed, Oxford (Blackwell Science) 1999 In temperate climates and among the Swiss breeds, the breeding season commences as the day length shortens, and ends in early spring or before. In equatorial regions, goats are able to breed at any time of the year. Successful breeding in these regions depends more on available forage than on day length. Does of any breed or region come into estrus (heat) every 21 days for two to 48 hours. A doe in heat typically flags (vigorously wags) her tail often, stays near the buck if one is present, becomes more vocal, and may also show a decrease in appetite and milk production for the duration of the heat. Bucks (intact males) of Swiss and northern breeds come into rut in the fall as with the does' heat cycles. Bucks of equatorial breeds may show seasonal reduced fertility, but as with the does, are capable of breeding at all times. Rut is characterized by a decrease in appetite and obsessive interest in the does. A buck in rut will display flehmen lip curling and will urinate on his forelegs and face. Sebaceous scent glands at the base of the horns add to the male goat's odor, which is important to make him attractive to the female. Some does will not mate with a buck which has been descented.Smith, M.C. Goat Medicine, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1994 In addition to natural, traditional mating, artificial insemination has gained popularity among goat breeders, as it allows easy access to a wide variety of bloodlines. 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. Birthing, known as kidding, generally occurs uneventfully. Just before kidding, the doe will have a sunken area around the tail and hip, as well as heavy breathing. She may have a worried look, become restless and display great affection for her keeper. The mother often eats the placenta, which gives her much-needed nutrients, helps stanch her bleeding, and parallels the behavior of wild herbivores, such as deer, to reduce the lure of the birth scent for predators.{{cite video |people =Feichtenberger, Klaus, Jill Clarke, Elyse Eisenberg, and Otmar Penker (Writers and Directors) |date = 2008 |title = Prince of the Alps |url = https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/prince-of-the-alps/introduction/523/ |medium = Television Production |publisher = ORF/Nature |location = |accessdate = 2009-05-05 |time = Shortly after birth |quote = 'The mother eats the placenta to prevent predators from getting the scent.' }} Freshening (coming into milk production) occurs at kidding. Milk production varies with the breed, age, quality, and diet of the doe; dairy goats generally produce between of milk per 305-day lactation. On average, a good quality dairy doe will give at least of milk per day while she is in milk. A first-time milker may produce less, or as much as , or more of milk in exceptional cases. After the lactation, the doe will "dry off", typically after she has been bred. Occasionally, goats that have not been bred and are continuously milked will continue lactation beyond the typical 305 days. Meat, fiber, and pet breeds are not usually milked and simply produce enough for the kids until weaning. Male lactation is also known to occur in goats.

Diet

Goats are reputed to be willing to eat almost anything, including tin cans and cardboard boxes. While goats will not actually eat inedible material, they are browsing animals, not grazers like cattle and sheep, and (coupled with their highly curious nature) will chew on and taste just about anything remotely resembling plant matter to decide whether it is good to eat, including cardboard, clothing and paper (such as labels from tin cans). The unusual smells of leftover food in discarded cans or boxes may further stimulate their curiosity. Aside from sampling many things, 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."War on Weeds," Rails to Trails Magazine, Spring 2004, p. 3 They will seldom consume soiled food or contaminated water unless facing starvation. This is one reason goat-rearing is most often free ranging, since stall-fed goat-rearing involves extensive upkeep and is seldom commercially viable. Goats prefer to browse on vines, such as kudzu, on shrubbery and on weeds, more like deer than sheep, preferring them to grasses. Nightshade is poisonous; wilted fruit tree leaves can also kill goats. Silage (fermented corn stalks) and haylage (fermented grass hay) can be used if consumed immediately after opening – goats are particularly sensitive to Listeria bacteria that can grow in fermented feeds. Alfalfa, a high-protein plant, is widely fed as hay; fescue is the least palatable and least nutritious hay. Mold in a goat's feed can make it sick and possibly kill it. 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.Wild China A BBC2 programme transmitted on October 31, 2016 The digestive physiology of a very young kid (like the young of other ruminants) is essentially the same as that of a monogastric animal. Milk digestion begins in the abomasum, the milk having bypassed the rumen via closure of the reticuloesophageal groove during suckling. At birth, the rumen is undeveloped, but as the kid begins to consume solid feed, the rumen soon increases in size and in its capacity to absorb nutrients. The adult size of a particular goat is a product of its breed (genetic potential) and its diet while growing (nutritional potential). As with all livestock, increased protein diets (10 to 14%) and sufficient calories during the prepuberty period yield higher growth rates and larger eventual size than lower protein rates and limited calories.Pugh, D.G. and Rankins, D. L. Jr, "Feeding and Nutrition" Sheep and Goat Medicine, 2nd Ed. Elsevier (2012) Maryland Heights, pg 40-42. Large-framed goats, with a greater skeletal size, reach mature weight at a later age (36 to 42 months) than small-framed goats (18 to 24 months) if both are fed to their full potential. Large-framed goats need more calories than small-framed goats for maintenance of daily functions.Taylor, R.E. and Field, T.G., "Growth and Development" Scientific Farm Animal Production: An Introduction to Animal Science, 6th Ed. Prentice-Hall (1999) Upper Saddle River pg 324-325.

Behavior

in flocks, sometimes through head butting.]] 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 climb on. If any of the fencing can be overcome, goats will almost inevitably escape. Due to their intelligence, once a goat has discovered a weakness in the fence, they will exploit it repeatedly, and other goats will observe and quickly learn the same method. Goats explore anything new or unfamiliar in their surroundings, primarily with their prehensile upper lip and tongue, by nibbling at them, occasionally even eating them. When handled as a group, goats tend to display less herding behavior than sheep. When grazing undisturbed, they tend to spread across the field or range, rather than feed side-by-side as do sheep. When nursing young, goats will leave their kids separated ("lying out") rather than clumped, as do sheep. They will generally turn and face an intruder and bucks are more likely to charge or butt at humans than are rams.Fowler, M.E. Restraint and Handling of Wild and Domestic Animals, 3rd Ed, Witley-Blackwell, 2008 pg 144 A study by Queen Mary University reports that goats try to communicate with people in the same manner as domesticated animals such as dogs and horses. Goats were first domesticated as livestock more than 10,000 years ago. Research conducted to test communication skills found that the goats will look to a human for assistance when faced with a challenge that had previously been mastered, but was then modified. Specifically, when presented with a box, the goat was able to remove the lid and retrieve a treat inside, but when the box was turned so the lid could not be removed, the goat would turn and gaze at the person and move toward them, before looking back toward the box. This is the same type of complex communication observed by animals bred as domestic pets, such as dogs. Researchers believe that better understanding of human-goat interaction could offer overall improvement in the animals' welfare.{{Citation | last =Deamer | first =Kacey | author-link = | last2 = | first2 = | author2-link = | title =Man's New Best Friend Is a Goat? | publisher =Live Science | date = July 15, 2016 | url = http://www.livescience.com/55411-goats-communicate-with-humans-like-dogs.html | access-date = }}
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