|Capra aegagrus hircus|
Female goats are referred to as does, intact males as bucks. Castrated males are wethers, offspring are kids.
Goats have been domesticated for roughly 10,000 years: they are kept for the production of milk and hair. They are also harvested for their meat. Domestic goats are generally kept in herds that wander on hills or other grazing areas, often tended by goatherds[?] who are frequently children or adolescents, similar to the more widely known shepherd.
Goats are reputed to be one of the most stubborn domestic animals, and to be willing to eat almost anything. Contrary to this reputation they are quite fastidious in their habits, preferring to browse on the tips of woody shrubs and trees, as well as the occasional broad leaved plant. Due to this they are less suscpetible than other livestock to parasites when allowed to feed in a natural setting. They will seldom eat soiled food or such plants as kudzu unless facing starvation.
Goats have been long standing symbols of fecundity because in some climates they are, like humans, able to breed at any time of the year. In northern climates and among the Swiss breeds, the breeding season commences as the day length shortens, and ends in early spring. Goats of any breed come into heat every 21 days for from 2-48 hours. Gestation length is 120 days. Twins are the usual result, with single and triplet births also commom. Less frequent are litters of quadruplet, quintuplet, and even sextuplet kids.
Goat Breeds fall into 4 categories, though there is some overlap between them; meaning that some are dual purpose.
See also: Livestock