I guess we should start off with the biggest and most believed misconception of them all. Goats will eat anything including tin cans, cardboard boxes and in the case of “The Andy Griffith Show”, dynamite.
The truth of the matter is that they are fairly picky eaters. The belief that they will eat anything comes from the fact that they are very curious and will chew or taste just about anything to decide if it is edible or not. While most of the animals will only eat grasses and grains goats will add some weeds and tree leaves to their diet such as wild rose vines, Kudzu, blackberry vines and the love pine (needles and bark).
Goats are not dumb animals. In fact they are very smart and curious animals but often find themselves in precarious positions. They can be hard to contain and will often get stuck in fences due to their rambling nature. They are also the only ruminant that is able to climb trees due to their awesome balance and inquisitive nature. They will climb on anything including fences. This is why a well maintained fence or enclosure is important to keep them where you want them to be. Equally important is to have enough food and space to keep them for searching for the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
Goats were one of the first animals to be domesticated. Archaeological dating has shown that Neolithic man domesticated goats about 10,000 years ago. They used them for milk, meat, clothing and used their bones for tools and building. They have also found that goats showed up in western Asia around 8000-9000 years ago.
A couple of interesting anatomical features are that goats have horizontal pupils that allow them to see 320 degrees with zero blind spots in front of them. Also both male and female goats have beards and horns.
Most people believe that there are very few people actually eat goat meat. In fact over 60% of the world’s population eat goat regularly. According to a 2011 United Nations Poll there were more than 924 million goats being farmed worldwide.
Goats are not only used for meat but also for milk and cheese. Their dried manure is used for starting fires and their hides for clothing. Believe it or not that Cashmere shirt you are wearing more than likely came from goats as there are several breeds used for this purpose as in the photo below.
The intestines of goats are still used today for catgut (surgical sutures for internal human procedures) and also for strings on musical instruments.
Goats also have large role in mythology and religion. Goats are mentioned many times in the Bible. A goat is considered a “clean” animal by Jewish dietary laws and was slaughtered for an honored guest. It was also acceptable for some kinds of sacrifices. Goat-hair curtains were used in the tent that contained the tabernacle. Its horns can be used instead of sheep’s horn to make a shofar. On Yom Kippur two goats were chosen and lots were drawn for them. One was sacrificed and the other allowed to escape into the wilderness, symbolically carrying with it the sins of the community. From this comes the word “scapegoat”.
According to Norse mythology, the god of thunder, Thor, has a chariot that is pulled by the goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. At night when he sets up camp, Thor eats the meat of the goats, but takes care that all bones remain whole. Then he wraps the remains up, and in the morning, the goats always come back to life to pull the chariot.