Animals Wildlife The Difference Between Sheep and Goats By Melissa Breyer Melissa Breyer Twitter Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehuggers editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. Learn about our editorial process Updated September 25, 2020 Treehugger / Allison McAdams Share Twitter Pinterest Email Animals Wildlife Pets Animal Rights Endangered Species Out with the Year of the Horse and in with the new animal for the Chinese lunar year: the goat. Or is it the sheep? Here we take a look at both. February 19 marks the new lunar year according to the Chinese calendar, and man oh man has the mascot been stirring up debate of for us westerners. Year of the Sheep! swear the sheep stalwarts; Year of the Goat! goad the goat devoted. Treehugger / Allison McAdams The problem is and note, this isnt a problem in China that the word for the eighth animal in the 12-year parade of critters is yang, which in Mandarin doesnt specify between members of the Caprinae subfamily, like goat and sheep do in English. Some people are even throwing rams into the mix. As The New York Times points out, Without further qualifiers, yang might mean any such hoofed animal that eats grass and bleats. Pray-tell, the uncertainty of it is driving us specificity seekers nuts! But rest assured. Few ordinary Chinese are troubled by the sheep–goat distinction, Xinhua, Chinas main state-run news agency, said in its report on the debate. However, the ambiguity has whipped up discussion in the West. Treehugger / Allison McAdams So if you plan on celebrating the new year, the bottom line is this: take your pick. To help you out, weve outlined out the differences between the two. Will you choose Team Goat or Team Sheep? The genes Treehugger / Allison McAdams While both hail from the subfamily Caprinae, sheep and goats diverge at the genus level and arrive as distinct species. Sheep (Ovis aries) have 54 chromosomes; goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) have 60. Sheepgoat hybrids yes, a geep or shoat do exist, but they are rare. Grazers versus browsers Treehugger / Allison McAdams A main difference between the two is how they forage. Sheep are grazers; they ramble slowly eating short plants close to the ground. Goats are browsers; they look for leaves, twigs, vines, and shrubs. And their agility and climbing ability allows them to attain charming positions in pursuit of their forage. Because they browse, goats spend a lot of time investigating things. They are forever nibbling on and eating things, Cathy Dwyer, a professor at Scotland’s Rural College, tells NPR. So they have more exploratory, investigate behavior because of their feeding style. They appear to be more interactive with the environment, and they are very engaging animals. Personality Treehugger / Allison McAdams Because of a goats natural curiosity and independence, they can tend to get into more trouble than sheep. Sheep are, yes, sheepish. They have a very strong flocking instinct and become agitated when separated from their posse. A tale of the tails Treehugger / Allison McAdams Generally, the quickest way to distinguish between the two is to take a gander at their tails. A goats tail usually points up; a sheeps tail hangs down. Treehugger / Allison McAdams What they wear Sheep are known for their woolly coats, which require annual shearing. Goats are generally hairy and dont require haircuts. Beards and kissers Some goats have beards, sheep dont. But some sheep have manes. Sheep have an upper lip that is divided by a distinct philtrum, goats dont. Horns Treehugger / Allison McAdams Most goats have horns, many sheep, but not all, are naturally without horns. Goat horns are narrower and usually straighter; sheep horns tend to be thicker and curved, tending to loop around on the sides of their heads, like a ruminant tribute to Princess Leia. Happy New Year!
Is a male sheep a goat?
Goat meat is called goat or chevon, and mutton in some areas. A male sheep is a ram or a tup. A castrated male sheep is a wether. A female sheep is an ewe.
Which is better goat or sheep?
Lamb meat is richer in vitamins and goat meat is richer in minerals. Lamb meat has more fat and cholesterol and can be the right choice for people who prioritize organoleptic qualities. In contrast, goat meat has lower amounts of fat and more protein and can be advisable for people trying to lead a healthier lifestyle.
What is the difference between a goat sheep and a lamb?
Sheep or lambs are mammals which belong to the Bovidae family and the Ovis aries species while a goat is a mammal which also belongs to the Bovidae family but is of the Capra hircus species. 2. Goats have 60 chromosomes while a lamb has 54. … Sheep milk has a higher fat content than goat milk.
Knowing the difference between sheep and goats will help you decide which type of livestock to choose for your farm. When choosing between sheep and goats, its important to consider the environmental conditions in which theyll thrive in. This way, it will be easier to care for them, prevent diseases, and more.
Sheep and goats each have their own distinct species and genus, and there are different subspecies of both. Sheep tails are also often docked for health reasons, so this can make the difference even more noticeable.
Hair Many types of sheep are woolly, and their coats require shearing each year. Another significant difference in terms of hair is that some sheep may have manes, while some goats may have beards. With their wooly coats and how their body processes food, sheep tend to have more meat on their loins and backs.
Goats are usually considered more independent, curious, and troublesome since they love to explore. On the other hand, sheep will start to act as a flock once there are at least four of them on the farm or wild. If you plan to own sheep, its best to start with two ewes per acre of land.
It means the animal likes to eat short plants that are very close to the ground. Theyll seek out leaves, branches, twigs, bushes, shrubs, vines, and more. When it comes to answering What is the difference between a sheep and a goat in terms of health issues?
You must also be mindful of footrot and foot scald, which are bacterial infections affecting the animals hoof. Your goat or sheeps susceptibility to these infections depends on several factors, including age, nutrition, environmental conditions, and genetics. Many people want to know which animal is smarter when making their selection between goat vs sheep.
Sheep act as a social group, and their reactions are very dependent on others in their flock, while goats tend to be more independent. That said, sheep raised on their own or in pairs can often show just as much inquisitiveness as goats. Its important to know the difference between goats and sheep so you can choose which is best for your farm.
Both sheep and goats are common livestock animals raised for their pelts, wool, meat, and milk. Since these two animals were among the first ever domesticated by man, theyve been our close companions for thousands of years. They are still some of the most popular livestock animals due to their wide range of use, ease of care, and calm personalities.
Lastly, the great majority of goats have varying sized horns, but very few sheep have any, and if they do, they are thick and curl around the sides of their heads. Image Credit: Pixabay Sheep are natural flock animals that rarely can be found on their own.
They feel safe in small groups and quickly become agitated when separated from their flock, making sheep easier to handle and keep together in one place than goats. If you are keeping sheep for their wool, its especially important to make sure they are amenable to being handled from a young age; otherwise, shearing them can become a massive task. Image Credit: Pixabay Sheep ewes come into heat every 16-17 days and breed almost all year round.
Goats are foragers more than grazers and can live on a variety of different terrains, but sheep need lush grass to graze on and plenty of space to roam. Of course, this habit also makes them far more curious, brazen, and mischievous than sheep, and they can cause havoc in your garden if left unchecked. With plenty of space to forage and exercise, access to clean water, and the best quality supplementary feeding that you can manage, goats are healthy, hardy animals that can easily live for 18 years and beyond.
Image Credit: Pixabay Goats are fairly prolific breeders, and females can be bred at around 8 months old. Meat goats are usually bred every 8 months, and it requires special skill, experience, and careful timing. If you live on a small homestead without the tons of grazing space that is required for sheep, goats are a great choice.
While they can be mischievous at times and difficult to keep fenced off, they are far hardier, longer-lived, and easier to care for than sheep, especially for beginner livestock keepers. They also have the advantage of being able to forage on a wide variety of foods and are great for clearing weeds and unwanted plants. The downside is that they can be mischievous and difficult to contain, and if they get into an area where you dont want them, like your flower beds or veggie garden, the results can be devastating.
A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand.
Are you wondering what is the difference between a sheep and a goat? Many people do. After all sheep and goats are similar farm animals. But there are many important differences between these species. Thats why weve put together this simple sheep vs goat reference chart designed to help you quickly learn the difference between sheep and goats two ruminant species that have a lot in common but which are easy to tell apart when you know what to look for.
Physical and Biological Features
There are a number of physical and biological differences when comparing sheep vs goats, including:The actual scientific classification of sheep and goats is different. Taxonomy is based on chromosomes, physical, and biological differences. Sheep and goats each have their own distinct species and genus, and there are different subspecies of both.Sheep, also known asThe tail is often considered the fastest way to see the difference in the goat vs sheep separation. Goat tails typically point upwards, while sheep tails typically hang down. Sheep tails are also often docked for health reasons, so this can make the difference even more noticeable.The upper lip of sheep has a separation known as a distinct philtrum, while the goat does not have it. This upper lip feature will help you differentiate them just by looking at their faces.Many types of sheep are woolly, and their coats require shearing each year. On the contrary, goats usually have hair coats that do not need regular cutting or shearing. Another significant difference in terms of hair is that some sheep may have manes, while some goats may have beards.After sheering a sheep, especially when they are clean-faced and clean-legged, some sheep breeds can resemble goats.More often than not, goats have horns that are usually narrower and straighter than sheep horns. Sheep horns are often thick, curvy, and looped, but not all sheep varieties have horns. Animals with hornsWhile goats and sheep are around the same size in terms of height and length, goats are usually slimmer than sheep. You could describe goats as more compact than sheep.With their wooly coats and how their body processes food, sheep tend to have more meat on their loins and backs.On the contrary, goats do not gain fat in the same areas as sheep do, making sheep generally heavier than goats.
Goats are usually considered more independent, curious, and troublesome since they love to explore. They are very curious about their surroundings and will interact with their environment to a high degree.Sheep are more mellow than goats since they prefer to eat what is on the ground and only graze to eat what they can see there.All goat breeds are more agile than sheep, so they tend to climb areas that sheep cannot reach. That can lead to some interesting situations that give goats the personality that they are known for by most homesteaders.
In the wild, goat varieties typically live in herds of around 20 heads. Herds can be larger than this when they are on a farm, but they can also be smaller.If you are planning to keep goats, it is a good idea to have at least two goats so that they can stick together. Goats will amuse each other, play together, and also seek each other for warmth.On the other hand, sheep will start to act as a flock once there are at least four of them on the farm or wild.Sheep have a powerful flocking instinct. They prefer to stick together and may become stressed when alone, though there are some independent sheep.Being very social creatures, sheep herds can get very large. Sheep herds are also divided by gender. Males will usually create their own herds of five to 50 sheep.If you plan to own sheep, it’s best to start with two ewes per acre of land. Sheep will benefit from having another of their own species around.
Sheep Go Grazing
Grazing behavior is typical for pasture animals like sheep. It means the animal likes to eat short plants that are very close to the ground.Sheep usually graze while wandering around slowly. They also prefer to eat grass and tender clover. As such, keeping grass length short is necessary when owning or caring for sheep.
Goats Go Browsing
In comparison, goats look for things at eye level and higher. They’ll seek out leaves, branches, twigs, bushes, shrubs, vines, and more. Goats investigate their surroundings more because of how they browse for food.Since goats are very agile, they can stand on their hind legs while seeking out food. With this behavior, their diet is generally more nutritious than that of a sheep.The variety of food items that goats eat is something that they are well-known for. In fact, goats may even try to eat things like your clothes at times!
Do Sheep Stink Like Goats?
Their smell can also help you identify between goats and sheep.Although sexually mature males of both species create very noticeable smells, the odor of male sheep is nothing compared to the strength of the smell that male goats (bucks) give off. However, wether goats do not smell.This smell is known for being incredibly pungent, and it is something that you have to get accustomed to if you plan to own bucks. The smell is worst during the breeding season.On the other hand, female sheep and goats have similar scents. At times, their smell will also be based on how you care for them and clean up space around them.
Sheep vs Goats Handling
Sheep are generally easier to handle and more robust than goats, but they don’t provide the same kind of cleanup that goats can help with. Still, they handle cold weather better and don’t get diseases as easily. For hot and humid weather, though, goats may do a bit better.Sheep have a more difficult time cooling down because of their wooly coats, but you can help them through a well-timed shearing.When it comes to answering “You must also be mindful of footrot and foot scald, which are bacterial infections affecting the animal’s hoof.Footrot infection severely affects sheep. In goats, foot scald is more common. Nonetheless, both infections are expensive and time-consuming to treat.Your goat or sheep’s susceptibility to these infections depends on several factors, including age, nutrition, environmental conditions, and genetics.Both animals require a lot of work, so make sure you prepare well. Provide them with the right living arrangements, food and nutrition, veterinarian care, and more.
Difference Between Sheep and Goats
Which are smarter? Many people want to know which animal is smarter when making their selection between goat vs sheep. Many people tend to assume that sheep are less intelligent than goats because sheep exhibit what is known as flock behavior.Sheep act as a social group, and their reactions are very dependent on others in their flock, while goats tend to be more independent.Even when goats are grouped together, they will show individual curiosities. That said, sheep raised on their own or in pairs can often show just as much inquisitiveness as goats.Ultimately, the environment will decide this, so one animal isn’t clearly smarter than the other.
The quickest way to visually tell the difference between a sheep and a goat is their tail: A goat’s tail typically points up, whereas a sheep’s tail hangs down. Another obvious difference is a sheep’s woolly coat that requires annual shearing. While there are long-haired goats, most have short, coarse coats, often with varying sizes of beards, which sheep do not have. Lastly, the great majority of goats have varying sized horns, but very few sheep have any, and if they do, they are thick and curl around the sides of their heads. A goat’s horns are typically thin and straight.
Health & Care
Sheep tend to handle cold weather better than goats and do not get diseases easily. Of course, this also makes them rather sensitive to hot and humid temperatures. This makes shearing them at the right time vital to prevent overheating. Both sheep and goats are susceptible to parasitic issues like mites and ticks, but treating these is made all the more difficult in sheep due to their wooly coats.Sheep commonly suffer from footrot, a bacterial infection affecting their hooves. Sheep do not like getting their hooves wet, and this may be their natural instincts at play. Sheep with poor nutrition or genetics and older sheep are far more susceptible to this disease, as are sheep that are constantly grazing on wet, marshy land.
Sheep ewes come into heat every 16-17 days and breed almost all year round. They have a gestation period of 5 months, meaning it is possible, though uncommon, for them to lamb more than once a year. In more tropical climates, they may have a birth cycle of 8-month intervals due to fewer seasonal changes.
Personality / Character
Sheep are only really a suitable choice of livestock if you have plenty of free land for them to graze on. Also, they need to live in small flocks and require more space than goats. Goats are foragers more than grazers and can live on a variety of different terrains, but sheep need lush grass to graze on and plenty of space to roam. If you live on a large farm with plenty of free grassland, sheep are a great choice.
Health & Care
With plenty of space to forage and exercise, access to clean water, and the best quality supplementary feeding that you can manage, goats are healthy, hardy animals that can easily live for 18 years and beyond. Other than parasitic issues like mites and ticks, goats suffer from few health issues if they are well looked after. They are prone to a bacterial infection in their hooves, known as foot scald, which can be expensive to treat but is preventable and easily treated if caught early.
Goats are fairly prolific breeders, and females can be bred at around 8 months old. Their gestation period is typically 150 days (5 months), and their estrous cycle occurs every 21 days on average. Females can have multiple births, twins, triplets, or even more, but one or two kids at a time is typical. Meat goats are usually bred every 8 months, and it requires special skill, experience, and careful timing.
If you live on a small homestead without the tons of grazing space that is required for sheep, goats are a great choice. While they can be mischievous at times and difficult to keep fenced off, they are far hardier, longer-lived, and easier to care for than sheep, especially for beginner livestock keepers.