KEEPING’GOATS’ QUICK’ START’ GUIDE
By Valik Rudd
KEEPING’ GOATS’ QUICK’ START ‘GUIDE – Goats are one of the oldest species of domesticated animals. There are nine species generally accepted as true goats with around three hundred breeds.
Many small farmers or backyard raisers have found that they can earn from raising goats. Goats provide milk, meat, fiber, and hide which raisers can sell or use for themselves.
If you are willing enough to try raising goats, you can start by raising one to two goats. Goat-raising is not easy but if you also willing to learn more about them, you can confidently raise goats either as pets or as livestock. This quick-start guide will give you basic information about goats and goat-raising.
What You Need I. What You Need
To Know About Goats
Goats are herbivores. They fall under the genus Capra. What we know as the domestic goat is a subspecies of the family Bovidae. Goats are closely related to the sheep so that both animals will often exhibit similar traits. If you are serious about raising goats, you should start to memorize terms related to this venture.
A female goat is called a “nanny” or “doe” and a young female is called a “doeling”. A mother goat is referred to as a dam. A male goat is called a “buck” or “Billy” and those that have been castrated are “Wethers”. A goat offspring is called a “kid”.
In Middle Eastern and Asian countries, goats are kept for agricultural purposes or sometimes as pets. In the US, goat-raising is finding its way to become a fast-growing industry.
A Short Goat History
The oldest goat fossils and evidence of goat domestication were found in Ganj-e Dareh, a Neolithic settlement located in Iranian Kurdistan dating back to thousands of years ago. Other places that also showed early signs of goat domestication include Euphrates River Valley in Turkey, Zagros Mountains in Iran, and Indus Basin in Pakistan.
Archaeologists say that goat fossils found in these locations most probably belonged to domesticated goats since it is very unlikely that wild goats would have survived there on their own. In addition, the goat fossils had size and body shape different from wild goats.
Evidence of goat domestication show that they have been used as milk and meat sources as far back as 10,000 to 11,000 years ago during the Neolithic Age. Their dung was used as fuel and their hair, bones and sinew were utilized as clothing, and also as tools and materials for building.
Goat hide served as water and wine bottles, and parchment. Goats were also used as currency in the barter system before the invention of coins.
The Domestic Goat
The ancestors of the modern domestic goat came from Asia and Eastern Europe. Goats are sociable animals which made them easy to domesticate. They move in herds, so they are easy to look after. A goatherd tends the goat herd which usually has five to twenty-five heads. Goats communicate to each other by sight, smell or hearing. They have enough intelligence to make the obey orders from the goatherd.
You can easily observe the social structure followed by goats in their herd. Usually, there are two goats in the head. These are the head doe and the head buck. The leader is determined by means of duels. The rival goats butt their heads until one surrender and the winner becomes the leader.
Goats are naturally curious and intelligent. They are known to be highly alert animals that can quickly assess the danger in a situation and react accordingly. They can jump up high places up to five feet.
There are about two hundred breeds of goat known to exist today. They fall into different categories based on their use or products they provide such as dairy, meat, fiber and skin. Some goats are bred to become companion animals.
Basic Goat Facts
Goats have 24 molars in the back of their mouths both on the top and the bottom. Kids have 8 incisors in the lower front jaw. You can usually tell a goat’s age by their teeth.
Their stomach has four chambers which allow the goat to digest almost anything they feed on. Both bucks and nannies can grow beards. They generally dislike baths. Goats are ruminants which mean they chew their food, soften it in their first stomach, regurgitate it and chew the food again. Goats make bleating sounds which they use to express different moods.
Goats enter puberty at around seven to ten months of age. A buck’s breeding age starts at around eight to ten months while a doe’s at around one year. A female goat can have a maximum of 6 kids in one pregnancy. The gestation period is about 145 to 155 days. Their average life span is from eight to twelve years.
Owning Your First Goat
Being ready to own your first goat is important. Preparing yourself requires work but it is necessary in order to become successful. You need to check existing laws in your locality about keeping animals as pets.
Since goats are not considered as traditional pets and have to be raised in farms, you have to review those laws and make inquiries if you will be allowed to keep them as pets. If you are going to keep your goat in your backyard, you would need to install a goat pen or fences even before you buy your first goat.
You will also have to provide a clean, well-ventilated goat shelter. If you have a farm where you can raise your goats, you will have an easier time because they are farm animals anyway. They will have enough open areas for grazing.
In addition, you also have to make sure that you will be able to take care of their needs. Your schedule must permit you time to look after them or if not you personally, someone who has time and will to do it. You need to check your goats at least two times a day, making sure they are well fed and have enough water always.
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