A goat is a mammal in the genus Capra, which consists of nine species: the Ibex, the West Caucasian Tur, the East Caucasian Tur, the Markhor, and the Wild Goat. more...
The animal most commonly known as a "goat" is the domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus), a domesticated subspecies of the Wild Goat. Goats are bovids (members of the family Bovidae) and caprins (subfamily Caprinae). Goats are ruminants, meaning they chew cud. These animals have a four-chambered stomach which plays a vital role in digesting, regurgitating and re-digesting their food.
A male goat is called a buck or billy, and a female is called a doe or nanny. Young goats are called kids.
The Rocky Mountain Goat, despite its name, is not considered a true goat by scientists as it belongs to the genus Oreamnos.
Species and subspecies
Domestication and Uses
Along with sheep, goats were among the first domesticated animals, the domestication process starting at least 10,000 years ago. Easy human access to goat hair, meat, and milk were the primary motivations. Goat skins were popularly used until the Middle Ages for water and wine bottles when traveling and camping and as parchment for writing in certain regions.
The meat and milk of goats is still consumed, though not as commonly in the United States as in other regions of the world. However, goat's milk has become more popular because it is easier to digest than cow's milk. Many call goat's milk a universal milk, because it can be given to most mammals. Goats milk is also used to make cheeses such as Rocamadour and Feta. In India goat's meat is often called 'mutton' or even 'lamb'. Goat skin is still used to make kid gloves and other items of clothing. Angora goats produce mohair, a fine soft lusterous fiber. Pygora goats produce a cashmere type fiber. Cashmere and Mohair that can be made into sweaters and other items. Some people keep goats as pets as well.
These are the goats that create the fiber used in high fashion garments.
Similarity to Sheep
The goat is closely related to the sheep, but differs from it in that the tail is shorter and the hollow horns are long and directed upward, backward, and outward while those of the sheep are spirally twisted. Like sheep, goats are herd animals and survive better in a herd situation than alone. A herd typically has a Herd Queen, who leads the herd while browsing. They are also much more lively than sheep and their inquisitive nature makes them curious pets.
Hybrids With Sheep
Although sheep and goats seem similar and can be mated together they belong to different genera. Goats are caprinae and have 60 chromosomes while sheep are ovinae and have 54v chromosomes. This mismatch of chromosomes means any offspring of a sheep-goat pairing is generally stillborn (the famous geep is a chimera, not a hybrid). At Botswana Ministry of Agriculture, a ram that was kept with a nanny goat impregnated the goat resulting in a live offspring that had 57 chromosomes. This was called "The Toast of Botswana". The hybrid is intermediate between the two parent species in type. It has a coarse outer coat, awoolly inner coat, long goat-like legs and a heavy sheep-like body. Although infertile, the Toast of Botswana had to be castrated to prevent unwanted sexual behaviour because it continually mounted the sheep and goats sharing its enclosure.
Read more at Wikipedia.org