Some breeds of sheep and goats look similar, but they can usually be told apart because goat tails are short and usually point up, whereas sheep tails hang down and are usually longer and bigger – though some (like those of Northern European short-tailed sheep) are short, and longer ones are often docked.
Goats reach puberty between three and 15 months of age, depending on breed and nutritional status.
The mother often eats the placenta, which gives her much-needed nutrients, helps stanch her bleeding, and parallels the behavior of wild herbivores, such as deer, to reduce the lure of the birth scent for predators.
Freshening (coming into milk production) occurs at kidding.
Milk production varies with the breed, age, quality, and diet of the doe; dairy goats generally produce between 680 and 1,810 kg (1,500 and 4,000 lb) of milk per 305-day lactation.
On average, a good quality dairy doe will give at least 3 kg (6 lb) of milk per day while she is in milk.
Does of any breed or region come into estrus (heat) every 21 days for two to 48 hours.
In temperate climates and among the Swiss breeds, the breeding season commences as the day length shortens, and ends in early spring or before.
In equatorial regions, goats are able to breed at any time of the year.
Bucks of equatorial breeds may show seasonal reduced fertility, but as with the does, are capable of breeding at all times.
Rut is characterized by a decrease in appetite and obsessive interest in the does.
Nanny goat (females) originated in the 18th century and billy goat (for males) in the 19th.