Area: American Northwest
Food: Hay, mineral supplements
Size: Weighs 53 to 86 lbs.
Baby goats nuzzle their momma
Goats are stout-bodied mammals with horns and cloven hooves. There are two types of goats: domestic goats, which are raised and bred as farm animals; and mountain goats, which live in steep, rocky areas in the American Northwest.
Goats are members of the Bovidae family, which also includes antelopes, cattle and sheep. Other members of the Capragenus include the ibex, markhors and turs, which are sometimes called wild goats. Mountain goats are the only living species in the genus Oreamnos.
Mountain goats can weigh from 125 to 180 lbs. Their black horns grow up to 8 to 12 inches long. They do not shed their horns, so a goat's age can be determined by counting the annual growth rings. Both males and female mountain goats have horns.
There are about 200 breeds of domestic goat, so sizes vary greatly. One of the smallest breeds, the Nigerian dwarf goat, weighs about 20 lbs. Pygmy goats weigh from 53 to 86 lbs.
Mountain goats are found in the Rocky Mountains, typically in Alaska, western Montana, central Idaho, South Dakota, Colorado and Washington. The wide spread of their cloven hooves allows them to climb steep mountain sides with ease.
Goats are very social creatures and live in groups called herds, which may contain as many as 20 goats in the wild. Mountain goats are most social during the winter and tend to go solo in the summer. In herds, there is a dominant female throughout the year, until mating season. At this time a male dominates the herd.
Goats typically spend their days grazing on grasses within their homerange, which is an area of about 14 square miles. Their favorite food is grass, though mountain goats also eat mosses and plants. The upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw, so they can only use one side of their mouths to grind the food. This causes the rotary movement that is seen when a goat (or a cow) is chewing.
Goats are ruminants, and like cattle, they have four stomach compartments. It takes 11 to 15 hours for food to pass through a goat's digestive system.
A baby goat nuzzles its mama.
A male goat is called a buck or a billy, unless it is castrated, and then it is called a wether. Female goats, also called nannies or does, give birth to one or two offspring in the spring after a gestation period of 150 to 180 days. Baby goats are called kids.
Within minutes of being born, kids are up and walking around. At three to four months the kids are weaned, and at 30 months they are ready to have kids of their own. Wild goats typically have a life span of 9 to 12 years.