According to Goat World, there are more than 450 million goats in the world. That’s more goats than there are Americans…. The origin of the expression “to get ones goat” is unclear, but the Word Detective says that it’s an American expression dating back to the early 20th century and has something to do with goats being used to calm down horses at racetracks. Sounds fishy to me.
My favorite kind of cheese comes from goat’s milk. Goats produce around 1 gallon a day on average compared to 10 gallons from a cow. But if it’s quality and not quantity you are looking for, goat’s milk is richer and easier to digest than the cow’s. Sheep’s produce even less and their milk is even richer, and their milk makes great cheese.
I prefer the goat both for its cheese and its personality. Sheep are too sheepish and cows too big and clumsy. Goats are both manageable and smart enough to be worth having as “pets.” Although my life in Brooklyn prohibits having a goat or two, I am interested in raising a few at some point. If you think raising goats is only for the very hardy, consider that there’s even a “Raising Goats for Dummies” book. Anyone can do it!
This great article on Mother Earth News walks you through the process of raising and breeding goats and explains the different breeds.
The most problematic part of raising goats, for me, is what to do with all of the male goats (kids) that are born every year. To keep goats producing sufficient quantities of milk, you have to breed them every fall and they give birth to their kids (often twins or triplets) in the Spring — hence the spring lambs, etc. You keep some of the females for milk to replace any older does who drop out of your herd. But what about the males? They are usually castrated and sold as “lawnmowers” or pets or for meat. That’s disturbing. But what’s the alternative? You can’t keep all of the kids or you’ll be overrun by goats in no time.
Another funny goat tidbit — anyone ever hear of fainting or narcoleptic goats?
Last but not least, goats are smart. They’re smarter than we usually give them credit for as evidenced by this video clip:
Need I say more?