Difference Between A Sheep And A Goat

When it comes to the types of livestock one can keep at home, there are a number of them that you can consider. From cows to sheep, there are many kinds of domestic animals you can rear at home. Generally, it all depends on your specific needs. That said, hardly can you visit a home and fail to find a sheep or a goat or even both. Due to how they look from the outside, one might be forgiven to confuse a sheep for a goat and vice versa.

It is important that you know the differences between these two ruminants so that you can know which one to rear at home. In this article, we shall take a closer look at both of them for clarity purposes.

What is a Sheep?

This is basically a domestic ruminant that usually stockier than the goat. It is commonly domesticated for meat, wool, and even milk. Some of the morphological features that you are likely to see on this animal are the horns. However, unlike other animals, its horns are more divergent. If you check keenly, you will note that sheep usually like flocking together and usually walk together.

Hardly can you find one on its own in the fields. Generally, they feel safe in groups and can become agitated whenever you try to separate them. Besides this, sheep are shy and usually run to safety whenever they are provoked. This characteristic makes them difficult for one to train or even tame them.

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What is a Goat?

A goat is a hollow-horned ruminant that belongs to the genus Capra. Unlike the sheep, the goat is less stocked and usually has horns that arch backward. Besides this, goats typically have more straight hair and a short tail. It is imperative to note that there are two types of goats. However, domestic goats are more prevalent in most places. These ones are raised at home. However, there are mountain goats that live in rocky and steep areas.

It is imperative to note that goats usually have beards. As far as size is concerned, the male goat tends to be bigger than its female counterparts. Generally, goats are friendly in nature and can actually be tamed. As long as you fence where they live, these animals will remain safe from predators. Consequently, they will live and grow happily.

Main Differences Between a Sheep And a Goat

Although both animals are ruminants, you will note that these animals differ in a number of aspects. Here are some elements that separate these two animals:

1. Classification

As far as classification is concerned, you will note that these animals differ. This is because the botanical name for the sheep is Ovis aries while that of its counterpart is Capra aegagrus hircus.

2. Number of chromosomes

Besides classification, these two animals differ when it comes to the number of chromosomes each of them has. For instance, the sheep usually has 54 chromosomes, while a goat has 60 chromosomes. In other words, a goat has more chromosomes than a sheep.

3. Tails

One of the morphological features that separate these animals is the nature of their tails. If you look closely, you will realize that the tail of the sheep tends to hang down. However, that of a goat usually points upwards. This is one of the most visible differences as far as these animals are concerned.

4. Foraging behavior

There is also a world of difference when it comes to the foraging behavior of these two animals. To start with, goats are known to be natural browsers. In this case, they usually like feeding on vines, twigs, and even shrubs. Unlike the sheep, you will note that goats are more agile and will try to reach vegetation that is above them all the time.

The good news is that they have strong hind legs that are able to support them during such moments. Sheep, on the other hand, are grazers and like eating forage that is within their hoof level. In this case, you will find most sheep feed on short and tender grasses out there.

5. Hair

If you check keenly, you will note that sheep are woolly, and as a result, their wool needs to be shaved once in a while. However, goats are quite different as they have hair coats that are not as thick as those of the sheep. In fact, the hair coat of goats do not require to be sheared every now and then. Besides the nature of their hair coats, you will note that sheep tend to have manes while goats usually have beards.

6. Behavior

When it comes to behavior, goats are known to be independent and curious. However, sheep tend to be more aloof and more distant. In fact, sheep tend to have a strong flocking instinct. This is the reason why you will find them in groups. Like we mentioned above, it is hard to find a sheep on its own in the field. Once it spots the rest, it runs towards them and joins them.

If you try to separate the sheep from the rest of the flock, it usually becomes agitated. Besides this behavioral characteristic, sheep are easier to keep than goats as they are not that wild. If you fence the areas where the sheep graze the most, you will be good to go.

7. Horns

Generally, goats are horned animals. However, many breeds of sheep hardly have horns. Only a handful have horns. The horns of a goat tend to be straighter and narrower than those of a sheep. On the other hand, sheep horns are mostly thick and curvy.

Final Thoughts

From their classification to the nature of their horns, there are many aspects that distinguish these two animals. As you purpose to rear any of these animals, you should note the differences mentioned above so that you can know the animal that suits your needs. The above-mentioned differences will help you make a wise decision as far as domesticating these animals is concerned.