Goats are arguably one of the cutest and quirkiest types of livestock.
These adorable, silly animals have unique personalities and physical traits, making identifying (and naming) goats fun and entertaining.
One of the most interesting physical characteristics of many goats is a beard, also referred to as a goatee.
Male goats are more likely to sport distinguishable facial hair, but female goats can grow beards too. Typically, a male will have a more pronounced beard with thicker or longer hair, but beard growth varies across breeds and herds.
Like humans, the appearance of a luxurious goatee is based on various factors.
Genetic variations, breed, sex, age, and habitat can all affect the appearance of a goat’s beard.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about your goat’s facial hair.
Male Goat Beards Vs. Female Goat Beards
In humans, we associate facial hair with gender; males can grow beards while females don’t have a lot on their face, if any at all.
Goats don’t quite adhere to this rule.
Males and females can grow beards, though the female beard is usually less full.
However, many female goats won’t grow beards at all; it’s up to genetics and chance if they will or won’t.
Why Do Goats Have Beards?
Other than looking adorable, you’re probably wondering what purpose your goat’s beard serves.
While many scientists and farmers have theories, the exact purpose hasn’t been proven.
As we mentioned earlier, many factors can affect the presence of a goatee.
In addition to sex and age, genetic variations across different breeds are one of the most influential factors.
Wild goats are also more likely to have goatees than domesticated goats.
It’s also commonly believed a goatee represents strong genes and gains the attention of the opposite sex.
In this theory, a goat’s beard helps attract a mate.
Like a duck’s plumage or a peacock’s feathers, a goat’s beard increases the likelihood of mating and reproduction.
Like facial hair in humans, a goat’s beard also provides warmth.
The extra layer of fur insulates the animal keeping them warm in chilly climates.
Many goat breeds descended from the Eurasian Wild Goat, which lived at a high altitude with cooler temperatures.
In this theory, a goat’s beard helped their ancestors survive a harsher climate, and the genetic trait has been passed down over time.
Some speculate a goat’s beard is a sign of maturity, as beards don’t appear in younger goats.
Some farmers have reported their nannies didn’t grow beards until after giving birth to their first offspring.
At What Age Do Goats Get Beards?
If you’ve ever seen a baby goat (they’re adorable, by the way), you’ll notice they don’t always have the iconic goatee we expect from our four-legged friends.
While it depends on the breed, all young goats lack a full beard.
They may have some tufts of hair on their chins, but it isn’t until 2-3 years of age before you’ll see a full one, and this will be the length to expect from your goat at this point.
Breeds with the Best Beards and Other Common Breeds
While many goats, male or female, can sport a goatee, the goats known to boast some of the most impressive beards are:
- Alpine Goat
- Toggenburg Goat
- Rocky Mountain Goat
In addition to the hundreds of domesticated goat breeds, they’re also categorized into distinct types by the USDA.
- Dairy Goats: top milk-producing breeds, primarily used for milk
- Spanish or Mexican Goats: primarily used for meat
- South African Boer Goats: a newly recognized, adaptable breed which can rebreed while nursing and sustain in various climates
- Angora Goats: primarily used for wool or cloth
Pygmy Goats, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Nubian Goats, and La Mancha Goats are the most popular breeds.
The Myotonic Goat grasped the attention of many people on the internet when videos of the “fainting goat” went viral.
How to Identify the Sex in Goats
Its most difficult to identify the sex in newborn goats, as mature males and females have more easily identifiable anatomical structures.
To determine the sex of your baby goat, look under its tail.
Males will have one hole under the tail, and females will have 2 holes under the tail, one for the anus and one for the vagina.
Does and Nannies are typically smaller than their male counterparts and will have udders located on the belly near the hind legs.
However, a female’s udders won’t enlarge until she becomes pregnant.
Adult males will have testicles located between the back legs unless castrated.
Related: Why do goats have large testicles?
Castrated males are also referred to as Wethers.
Another unique difference between Bucks and Nannies is their scent.
Males will emit a strong, pungent odor to attract females during mating season.
However, only intact males will emit this musky scent, as the smell comes from their sex glands.
Facts About Goats
Goats, scientifically referred to as Capra Hircus, are domesticated animals closely related to sheep.
As herd animals, these 4 legged ruminants are social creatures and will stay together in a group or cluster and follow a dominant group leader.
These docile animals were one of the earliest mammals to be domesticated over 10,000 years ago, and they can serve many purposes on a farm.
Goats are used worldwide to provide milk, meat, fur, and other byproducts.
Additionally, domestic goats are frequently used to provide brush control by grazing and eat unwanted weeds and shrubs.
Their temperament and docile nature make goats one of the best livestock companions.
These playful furry creatures are curious, easy to handle, and relatively low maintenance compared to other pets and livestock.
In addition to their personalities and behavior, their unique appearance can vary drastically based on the breed of goat and bloodline.
Adult goats can weigh anywhere from 40-300 pounds and come in many different colors, such as black, white, tan, and various shades of brown.
Additionally, goats can have an assortment of eye colors, ear shapes, and coat patterns or markings.
Contrary to popular belief, goat horns occur naturally in males and females.
However, males typically have larger, more pronounced horns.
Terms to Know
- Female goats are referred to as does or nannies.
- Male goats are referred to as bucks or billies.
- Juvenile goats are referred to as kids, regardless of sex.