Goats have been a staple in British farming and horticulture for millennia, these sturdy and nimble mammals continue to assist us from farming to cosmetics. They provide us with many commodities which humans has come to depend upon and as we learn more about them, the more ways we see for them to aid and assist us.
In this article you will learn about how and why the humble goat or ‘Capra’ has become such an essential part of farming along with other fascinating facts and information about this magnificent mammal.
British primitive goats have been on the island for thousands of years, some scientists predict that they have lived in Britain for around 5000 years, although called British primitive goats they are not native to Britain as no species of goat originated from Britain. Goats were introduced to Britain during the Neolithic period by some of the first farming communities but now we have 7 main species which are used for milk production.
To keep a goat healthy, they have a particular diet which allows them to produce great quality milk and to keep up their strength and agility. A goat’s diet consists of mostly fibrous foods which they graze upon such as hay and grass, this sort of food is very important for the goat as it allows their rumen to work efficiently, the rumen is the first stomach of the goat, it is also the largest compartment. Goats need to have a balanced diet of hay and grass for the as for mentioned rumen to stay functioning the way it should be. Farm grown goats will often also have supplements in their diet.
Goats have become evolved to have an appropriate coat for their climate with some species having thicker coats than others, although at times the weather can be unpredictable leaving the goats with thicker coats being more susceptible to the heat, so goats can naturally cool themselves in hot weather unlike other animals who produce visible sweat, they produce it around their snouts, they also have their mouths ajar to help cool them.
Unlike other animals who spend a lot of time sleeping, goats spend very little time if at all asleep. Domesticated goats can spend around 5 hours a night asleep or taking several naps throughout the day, but wild goats are thought to not actually sleep. When a goat finds a companion, they prefer to sleep huddled with that companion.
When scared a goat is known to faint this is thought to be because they have a cell mutation which causes their muscles to seize and lock up prohibiting them from moving away from danger. Not all goats suffer from this mutation though as it is Myotonic goats who have and carry this condition, the condition which causes this is called myotonia congenita otherwise known as Thomsen’s disease. Goats are fascinating creatures which we are only scraping the surface on learning about all the facets of their lives, but the information we have learnt has really proven that goats have become a quintessential part of our farming communities.