The goat is one of the smallest domesticated ruminants which has served mankind earlier and longer than cattle and sheep. It is managed for the production of milk, meat and wool, particularly in arid, semitropical or mountainous countries. In temperate zones, goats are kept often rather as supplementary animals by small holders, while commercially cows or buffaloes are kept for milk, cheese and meat, and sheep for wool and meat production. Nonetheless, there are more than 460 million goats worldwide presently producing more than 4.5 million tons of milk and 1.2 million tons of meat besides mohair, cashmere, leather and dung; and more people consume milk and milk products from goats worldwide than from any other animal. Cheese production, e.g., from goat milk even in France, Greece, Norway and Italy is of economic importance. Goat herds, on the other hand low producing though, are an expression of capital assets and wealth in Africa and Asia where they are found in large numbers. In the United States, there are between 2 and 4 million head; with Texas leading in Angora, meat and bush goats; and California leading in dairy goats. Goats can survive on bushes, trees, desert scrub and aromatic herbs when sheep and cattle would starve to death. Goat herders often have neglected a rational numerical balance between goat numbers and sparse vegetation. Over-grazing has destroyed many tree and woodland areas which was blamed then on goats rather than man, and this has caused widespread ecological and political concerns, erosion, desertification and even ban on freely grazing goats in some areas. On the other hand, goats are valued by cattle and sheepmen in the fight against brush encroachment on millions of acres of open rangeland. Swiss goat breeds are the world's leaders in milk production. Indian and Nubian derived goat breeds are dual-purpose meat and milk producers. Spanish and South African goats are best known for meat producing ability. The Turkish Angora, Asian Cashmere and the Russian Don goats are kept for mohair and cashmere wool production. In addition, there are Pygmy goats from Western Africa of increasing interest as laboratory and pet animals. Goat milk casein and goat milk fat are more easily digested than from cow milk. Goat milk is valued for the elderly, sick, babies, children with cow milk allergies, patients with ulcers, and even preferred for raising orphan foals or puppies. Fat globules in goat milk are smaller than in cow milk and remain dispersed longer. Goat milk is higher in vitamin A, niacin, choline and inositol than cow milk, but it is lower in vitamin B6, B12, C and carotenoids. The shorter chain fatty acids (C6, C8, C10, C12) are characteristically higher in goat milk than in cow milk. Otherwise milk gross composition from goats or cows is similar except for differences due to breeds, climate, stage of lactation and feeds. Breeds of goats vary from as little as 20 lb mature female bodyweight and 18 inches female withers for dwarf goats for meat production up to 250 lb and 42 inches withers height for Indian Jamnapari, Swiss Saanen, Alpine and AngloNubian for milk production. Some Jamnapari males may be as tall as 50 inches at withers. Angora goats weigh between 70 to 110 lb for mature females and are approximately 25 inches tall. Birthweights of female singles are between 3 and 9 lb; twins being often a pound lighter and males 1/2 lb heavier. Twinning is normal in goats with a high percentage of triplets thus giving several breeds an average annual litter size above 2 per doe and more than 200reproduction rate. Females are called doe, young are kids, males are bucks; one speaks of buck and doe kids, and doelings, and of wethers or castrates.
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