All about goats

Known for the distinctive beards on their chins, domesticated goats are some of the most important farm animals in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. They were domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Euphrates Valley due to their hardiness and multiple uses.These goats are grazing on pasture. Photo courtsey of Agriculture Image Gallery

It’s a cliché today that goats will eat whatever is lying near them, but it’s not that far from the truth. Goats can survive on tiny amounts of vegetation, and are thus often raised on land that isn’t fertile enough to support cattle or sheep. They are also more efficient with using water, so they are better suited for dry climates than cows.

Like cows, goats are considered ruminants, which are animals with multiple compartments in their stomach that help them digest rough plants like grasses and hay. Domesticated goats can eat fresh or dried grass, tree foliage, shrubs, bushes and various other plants. They are also adapted to many different habitats like the savanna, desert, scrub and mountain ranges.

Goats also offer humans many different products to make their lives easier. Goats are raised around the world for milk, cheese, wool, meat and leather. Because goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, it can be better for infants and for the ill.

Learn more about what ruminants eat