Goat, or Copra, L. a genus of animals, comprising more than 30 species, only one of which is reared in this country, namely, the Hircus, or Common Goat, a native of Mount Caucasus, in Asia, whence it has been dispersed through Europe.
This species has arched and keeled horns, with a long beard, and is peculiarly attached to the company of man, even in its wild state. The females generally bring forth one or two, and very seldom three kids, after a gestation of about five months; they attain an age of twelve years.
Goats are sensible of caresses, and display a remarkable attachment to their friends. They are stronger, more nimble, and less timid thai) sheep ; possess a lively, capricious and wandering disposition; and delight in elevated and solitary places, frequently sleeping on the points of rocks and preci-pices.—These animals are more easily supported than any others of the same size; for there are few herbs which they will not relish.—. Nor are they liable to so many dis-orders as sheep ; and, though able to support the vicissitudes of heat and cold more easily than the latter, yet they are very susceptible of severe frosts, which they endure with less difficulty in the society of other animals.
Goats emit, at all times, a strong and disagreeable odour, which however is not without its use: for, if one of these animals be kept in a stable, it is affirmed that it will be an effectual preventive of the staggers, a disorder which is often very fatal to horses. This influence of the goat is not, as Mr. Marshall judiciously observes, in his "Rural Economy of Gloucestershire," merely that of a charm; for the staggers are evidently a nervous disorder. Odours, in many cases, operate beneficially on the human nerves, and probably the strong scent of the goat has a similar effect on those of the horse ; a conjecture which is partly corroborated by the practice adopted in Northumberland, where a few goats are generally mixed with the sheep, for the preservation of the health of the flock. It is also well known, that the former with safety eat plants, which would be destructive to sheep and other animals. Hence, goats devour the leaves of Hemlock with impunity; but the Spotted Snakeweed, Poly-gomrm Persicaria, as well as the leaves and fruit of the Common Spindle-tree,Evonymus Europaens, L. are to them not less fatal than to other quadrupeds.
Although the food of goats is attended with little expence, as they maintain themselves on the. most barren mountains, yet their produce is of considerable value.
The whitest wigs are made of their hair, for which purpose that of the Welch he-goat is in the greatest request. - Their fat is in equal esteem with the hair, and candles are made of it, which, in whiteness and quality are said to be superior to those of wax ; their horns afford excellent handles for knives and forks ; and their skin is well calculated for gloves, especially that of the kid, which is dressed abroad, made into stockings, bed-ticks, bed-hangings, sheets, and even shirts.
The flesh of these animals, however, is hard, and almost indigestible : hence the meat of kids only should be eaten, as it is more tender, and affords good nourishment. Goat's-milk is sweet, nutritive, and medicinal; it is an excellent substitute for that of asses; and, when drunk warm in the morning and evening, with a tea-spoonful of hartshorn, for several weeks, it has been productive of benefit to phthisical patients, who were not too much reduced.— Cheese prepared from goat's-milk is much valued in mountainous countries, alter it has been kept to a proper age; but, possessing a peculiar flavour, it is to some persons very unpleasant ; nor is it more easily digested than any other kind of caseous matter.