Differences Between Goats and Sheep

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 27th May 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Farm Animals

There are many different breeds of Goats and Sheep, sometimes they look a bit like one another. It is hard for people to tell some sheep and goats apart. Not all sheep have wool, and not all Goats have short smooth hair. Learn more about telling the difference between sheep and goats.

The Differences between Sheep and Goats

Goats are browsers, they like to feed on shrubs, bushes, and trees. Sheep are grazers, they prefer to feed on things on the ground, such as grass. Goats will also often eat things they should not... like the side of the barn.

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 sheep and goats being able to crossbreed are rare and unproven (However scientists have created a Chimera sheep-goat).

Male Goats, and some female goats, have “beards”. Sheep do not, but some hair sheep have “manes”.

Male Goats (Billies) will often urinate on their beards. Sheep do not spray themselves intentionally.

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”. Female goats and sheep sometimes butt heats as well but never as seriously as males.

Goats have solid upper lips. In sheep the upper lip is divided.

Copper is toxic to sheep, but goats need copper in their food.

When goats have horns they are usually straight, when sheep have horns they are usually curled. People often remove the horn buds on young goats, but not so much on sheep. Read more about horns of sheep here.

Female goats are called does, or nannies, males are called bucks, their young are called kids. Females sheep are called ewes, males are called rams, their young are called lambs.

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 shearing or having their tails docked.

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 sheep and goats.

Goats usually have 2 kids, but may have many more, Sheep usually have between 1-3 lambs, almost never having more.

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 (billies), or sheep (rams), are called Sires, Mother goats (does), or sheep (ewes), are called Dams.

Neutered male goats, and sheep, are called Wethers. This is usually done around 1 week of age.

Goats and Sheep do not have front top teeth.

Goats and Sheep can be kept together, however they must be feed sheep food due to concerns with copper. Goats should then be given supplements with copper added.

If you are looking for a pet sheep, or pet goat, you may find an orphan and bottle fed one 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.


Advantages of Hair Sheep

How to Care for a Bottle Baby Lamb

Considerations of getting a Pet Goat

Funky Farm Animals

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Animals, Breeds, Care, Differences, Different, Farm, Goat, Goats, Hair, Kid, Kids, Lamb, Lambs, Livestock, Sheep, Types, Wool

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar Erik Van Tongerloo
27th May 2010 (#)

I didn't know all these differences, thanks for sharing. Excellent article and beautiful picture too

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author avatar Sourav
27th May 2010 (#)

This is really amazing! I really appreciate your knowledge on this subject and as always your writing style. Thanks for the information... it's knowledgeable.

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author avatar PR Mace
28th May 2010 (#)

Thanks for this good information. I can always learn a lot from your knowledge of animals.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
11th Jun 2011 (#)

Everything I ever wanted to know about goats and sheep and more. Well done, as always. Thanks for the share, Mark.

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