Guns Germs & Steel Guns Germs & Steel Guns Germs & Steel
The Story Of... Goats

Domesticated nearly 10,000 years ago in the Zagros mountains of modern-day Iran, goats are arguably the oldest farmyard animal in the world.

Descendents of the ancient wild goat, the panang, the domestic goat is primarily a dairy animal, a large portion of its milk being used to make cheese and other by-products. One or two goats can supply enough milk to sustain a single family for a whole year.

For large-scale milk production, goats are inferior to cattle in the temperate zone, but vastly superior in colder and rougher climates. Goat flesh is edible, and some breeds, particularly the Angora and Cashmere, are raised for their wool. Common goat wool has also been used throughout history across the continent of Eurasia for basic linen, while young goats provide 'kid' leather.

Goats are easier to look after than either cattle or sheep. Notorious for eating a wide range of foods goats can clamber up steep inclines and digest even the toughest plant matter. They can also be penned in physical and climatic conditions which might be unsuitable for either cattle or sheep.

Nevertheless, throughout the Middle East, from the earliest days of livestock farming, flocks of goats have been partnered with flocks of sheep, since the grazing habits and by-products of both animals complement one another.

Where sheep are placid grazers, legendary for following a leader, goats are more fastidious and inquisitive browsers, infamous for wandering off on their own accord.

Playful and intelligent, the goat has been a mainstay of European and Asian culture for as long as the founder crops of wheat, rice and barley.

Where to next?

Get more stories about animals including Cattle, Sheep, Pigs, Llamas, Horses or Zebra.


- Wheat
- Rice
- Corn
- Sorghum

- Cattle
- Goats
- Sheep
- Pigs
- Llamas
- Horse
- Zebra

- Smallpox
- Malaria

- Steel
- Writing

- Latitude and Climate
- Shape of the Continents
- Cities and Civilizations

Home Variables The World The Show About the Book Resources Educators Guns, Germs and Steel Guns, Germs and Steel