How do you know which is which, in some cases they look very similar. This and other basic information on goats and sheep. Learn more about sheep and goats.
There are many different breeds of Goats and Sheep, many times they look a bit like one another. It is hard for many people to tell them apart. Not all sheep have wool, and not all Goats have short smooth hair. How on earth do you tell them apart if they do not have signs above their pastures?
This is a Barbado hair sheep, as he gets older he will grow a handsome set of horns.
What is the Difference?
- Goats are browsers, they prefer to feed on shrubs, bushes, and trees. Sheep are grazers, they prefer to feed on things on the ground, such as grass.
- Most Goat Breeds have tails that stick up, where as sheep have tails that hang down (many are docked or cut short within a few days of birth).
- Goats have 60 Chromosomes, Sheep have only 54. Reports of them being able to crossbreed are rare and unproven.
- Male Goats and some females have “beards”. Sheep do not, but some male hair sheep have “manes”.
- Goats are not very tolerant of rain or cold weather, often seeking shelter.
- Sheep are more likely to seek shelter from the sun on a hot day, and will tolerate some rain or cold weather.
- Goats often leave their “kids” in groups to rest while the “does” feed.
- Sheep keep their lambs by their sides.
- Many breeds of goats can climb fences.
- Sheep are not known as climbers.
- Male Goats rear up on their hind legs and come down to “butt heads”.
- Male Sheep back up and charge to “butt heads”.
- Goats have solid upper lips.
- In sheep the upper lip is divided.
- Female goats are called does, or nannies, males are called bucks or billies, their young are called kids.
- Females sheep are called ewes, males are called rams, their young are called lambs.
Both these photos are Goats, the pictures are from Wikimedia.
Other Facts on Sheep and Goats
Not all sheep are Woolly, some breeds have “hair” and shed in the summer. These sheep do not require sheering or having their tails docked.
Some goats are kept for fiber – such as the Angora Goat.
The average lifespan of a goat or sheep is 10-14 years, but some live much longer, depending on breed.
Gestation Period (pregnancy) is about 5 months for both.
Goats usually have 2 kids at once, but may have many more, Sheep usually have between 1-3 lambs.
Both Goats and Sheep are easily preyed upon by Coyotes, Wolves, and other predators, especially when they are young. A Llama makes an excellent guard animal against Coyotes, but is no match for larger predators. A donkey or guard dog should be used in such cases.
Father goats or sheep are called Sires, Mother goats or sheep are called Dams.
Goats and Sheep do not have front top teeth.
Neutered male goats and sheep are called Wethers.
Goats and Sheep can be kept together.
This is a Blackhead Persian Sheep, photo from Wikimedia.
If you are looking for a pet sheep or goat you may find that one who has been orphaned and bottle fed to be more friendly. Adult male goats will become aggressive, as such only Wethers or females should be kept as pets. Both do prefer company of their own kind and should not be kept singly. If however you do, then you should provide them with another companion animal, such as an alpaca.
Can you guess what this is?
He is a Jacob ram, a sheep. They often have four or more horns, even the females. Photo from Wikimedia.