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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Facts


  • Goats were one of the first animals to be tamed by humans and were being herded 9,000 years ago. They are a member of the cattle family and are believed to be descended from the wild goat, bezoar.
  • Worldwide, more people eat the meat and drink the milk of goats than any other single animal. Most goat meat producers are also the consumers. For that reason, goat is not one of the top imports or exports.
  • There are over 210 breeds of goat. Of the 450 million goats in the world, 6 to 8 percent of them are in North America. The largest part of the world goat population can be found in the Mideast and Asia.
  • Oklahoma ranks number 4 nationally in meat goat production. Oklahoma meat goat producers had 75,000 goats and kids in 2006. Between 1997 and 2007, goat production doubled in Oklahoma.
  • The US is the largest importer of goats. Australia is the largest exporter.
  • The primary consumers of goat meat in the US are ethnic populations such as Muslims, Latinos and Asians. Typically goat meat must either be purchased in an ethnic marketplace or directly from slaughter facilities as a whole carcass.
  • The meat from a young goat is called "cabrito." Meat from more mature goats is "chevron."
  • The Boer is the most popular breed of goat in Oklahoma.
  • Goats are easy to handle and inexpensive to maintain. For this reason they are gaining popularity as show animals.
  • The biggest expense in goat production is adequate fencing. Because of their size and intelligence, goats are good at getting out. Predators are another worry for goat owners.
  • The female dairy goat is a doe; the male, a buck; the young, kids; and a castrated male, a wether. Femaile goats are sometimes called nannies, while males are called billies.
  • The life span of a goat is eight to twelve years.
  • Most breeding occurs in late summer through early winter. The gestation period is five months. Twins are common, but single or triplet births are not rare.
  • Kids are milk fed until two to three months of age.
  • Goats are ruminants, or cud-chewing animals
  • Dairy goats will graze grass pastures but prefer to browse brushlands and a varied selection of pasture plants, including non-noxious weeds.
  • Some producers allow goats and cattle to graze together on native grasslands because the cattle will eat the grass and the goats will eat the forbs. Cattle help eliminate goat internal parasites while goats minimize the population of ticks that affect cattle and carry cattle diseases.
  • Dairy goats have fastidious eating habits and are particular about the cleanliness of their food. Their natural curiosity may lead them to investigate newly found items by sniffing and nibbling, but they quickly refuse anything that is dirty or distasteful.
  • Dairy goats can be kept successfully in all climates.
  • Dairy goats have a strong herd instinct and prefer the companionship of at least one other goat.
  • Goat milk byproducts include cheese, soap and baby formula. Goat milk is used as a replacement for cow's milk for babies who are allergic to cow's milk.
  • Goats are usually dehorned when they are very young.
  • The main products associated with goats are milk, cheese, meat, mohair, and cashmere
  • Goat milk has a more easily digestible fat and protein content than cow milk. It has a better buffering quality, which is good for the treatment of ulcers, and can successfully replace cow milk in diets of those who are allergic to cow milk.
  • Many dairy goats, in their prime, average 6 to 8 pounds of milk daily (roughly 3 to 4 quarts) during a ten-month lactation, giving more soon after freshening and gradually dropping in production toward the end of their lactation. The milk generally averages 3.5 percent butterfat. A doe may be expected to reach her heaviest production during her third or fourth lactation.
  • Dairy goats are curious and agile and require well built fences for containment and protection from predators.
  • Goat milk is used for drinking, cooking and baking. It is used to make cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, candy, soap and other body products. Goat milk is whiter than whole cow milk. Butter and cheese made from goat milk are white, but may be colored during processing. Due to its small fat globules and soft small curd, products made with goat milk are smooth and cream-like. Goat milk is also naturally emulsified.
  • Chevre is the French word for goat. Domestically, it is a generic term that applies to all goat cheeses and, more specifically, the mild fresh cheeses.
  • Goats provide the principle source of animal protein in many North African and Middle Eastern nations. Goat is also important in the Caribbean, in Southeast Asia, and developing tropical countries. Three-fourths of all the goats in the world are located in the developing regions of the world.
  • Since goats are small animals, they can easily be raised on a small piece of land, as little as one to three acres.
  • The three fatty acids which give goat products their distinctive flavor are capric, caprylic and caproic.
  • Goats have a lower set of teeth which meet a hard pad in the upper jaw, and 24 molars on the top and bottom in the back of their mouths. Kids have 8 small, sharp teeth in their lower front jaw, and like children, when their baby teeth fall out they are replaced by permanent teeth. The age of a goat can often be closely determined by their teeth.
  • Both male and female goats can have beards.
  • The pupil in a goat's eye is rectangular in shape instead of being round like those of other animals. It is believed that goats have excellent night vision and will often browse at night. The actual color of the goat's eyes is varied. The most common colors are yellow or brown. Blue eyes are more rare.
  • Worldwide, goat meat is an important source of protein. Goats are inexpensive to maintain, and goat meat is lower in fat and calories than chicken, beef, pork or lamb.
  • There are few, if any, religious taboos limiting goat meat consumption. In fact, goat meat is an important component of the traditions of Hindu and Muslim faiths.