Wild mountain goat and kid ©Getty Images

Wild mountain goat and kid ©Getty Images

There are about 600 different breeds, or kinds, of goats. Some kinds of goats also live on farms. Goats were wild animals that were tamed thousands of years ago and became farm animals. There are still some kinds that are wild and live in mountains and other wild places.

A kid suckling milk from its mother ©Getty Images

A kid suckling milk from its mother ©Getty Images

Goats can live in places that are very hot and dry or hilly, where it is hard for other farm animals to live. Goats are farmed for wool, milk and meat.

What goats eat

Goats eat plants.  Mostly they eat grass, but they also eat leaves.  Farmers feed goats grass and hay because lots of that can be grown on the farm.  Goats have a special digestive system because plants are hard to digest. They chew food twice. After they swallow food it goes to a special stomach where it becomes a mush called cud, which then comes back into the animal's mouth to be chewed again.

Goats have horns and a beard,  and each foot has a hoof. Some have fur that is all one colour, but some kinds have two or three colours.  They are intelligent and curious animals.

Life Cycle

Kids ©Getty Images

Kids ©Getty Images

A doe, or nanny goat, mates with a buck or billy goat.  About 150 days later one or two babies are born. A baby goat is called a kid.  Kids drink milk from their mother's udders for about 6 months before they can eat like an adult goat.

Meat

We get meat from goats in the same way we get meat from cows and sheep: a goat is very quickly killed without pain, and then a butcher cuts up the meat for us to buy and cook. In some countries, goat meat is commonly eaten, but in other countries only a few special butchers sell goat meat.

Angora goats have long curly fur ©Getty Images

Angora goats have long curly fur ©Getty Images

Fur

Goats have fur covering their bodies. Some kinds have long fur, some short and some curly. Goats have different coloured fur. The kind and colour of the fur is different for different kinds of goat. Fur keeps them warm in winter and cool in summer, it makes it hard for insects to bite their skin, and helps stop sticks and things like that from hurting their body. When the animal gets dirty, the dirt comes out of the fur easily.

Making cloth from a goat's wool

Goat's wool is cut twice a year. It is washed, dyed and spun into threads called yarn which can be knitted or woven into cloth. The long curly wool of angora (say ang-gaw-ruh) goats is made into fluffy mohair yarn.

Cashmere fabric is fine, light and warm. ©Getty Images

Cashmere fabric is fine, light and warm. ©Getty Images

The soft fur of the cashmere (say cash-me-uh) goats is made into fine soft wool yarn called cashmere. In spring, the hair is naturally shed, and is collected. It is washed and spun into fine yarns to be knitted, or woven to make a fine, warm fabric that is cut and sewn into garments such as coats, suits, trousers, wraps and blankets.  

The word cashmere comes from the name of part of India where the goats originated, Kashmir. The fine wool was made originally into shawls, but around 1800, some shawls were taken to Paris and caused a sensation. The softness and lightness of a fabric that was so warm was new to Europeans at that time.

Milk

A goat being milked by hand. ©Getty Images

A goat being milked by hand. ©Getty Images

Some farms raise goats for dairy products. Many people who are allergic to cow's milk are able to drink goat's milk. Goat's milk is also made into cheese.

A doe or nanny goat has udders that fill with milk each day.  An udder is like a bag with teats hanging from under her tummy.  The farmer or person who owns the goat attaches a machine to the udders. The machine squeezes the teats gently and the milk comes out into a container.

Sometimes a goat can be milked by hand: the farmer puts a bucket under the udders and squeezes the teats, and the milk comes out and fills the bucket.


Read kidcyber pages about other kinds of farms: