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This article is about the domesticated species. A pygmy goat on a stump. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. Female goats are referred to as «does» or «nannies», intact males are called «bucks» or «billies» and juveniles of both sexes are called «kids». While both the words «hirsine» and «caprine» refer to anything having a goat-like quality, the former is used most often to emphasize the distinct smell attributed to domestic goats. Goat-herding is an ancient tradition that is still important in places like Egypt.
Goats are among the earliest animals domesticated by humans. Neolithic farmers began to herd wild goats primarily for easy access to milk and meat, as well as to their dung, which was used as fuel, and their bones, hair and sinew for clothing, building and tools. Studies of DNA evidence suggests 10,000 years BP as the domestication date. Historically, goat hide has been used for water and wine bottles in both traveling and transporting wine for sale.
It has also been used to produce parchment. Within each breed, different strains or bloodlines may have different recognized sizes. Most goats naturally have two horns, of various shapes and sizes depending on the breed. They have a four-chambered stomach consisting of the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. As with other mammal ruminants, they are even-toed ungulates. Because goats’ irises are usually pale, their contrasting pupils are much more noticeable than in animals such as cattle, deer, most horses and many sheep, whose similarly horizontal pupils blend into a dark iris and sclera.
Goats reach puberty between three and 15 months of age, depending on breed and nutritional status. However, this separation is rarely possible in extensively managed, open-range herds. In temperate climates and among the Swiss breeds, the breeding season commences as the day length shortens, and ends in early spring or before. In equatorial regions, goats are able to breed at any time of the year.