goat vs sheep

Goat vs Sheep – How to Tell the Difference Between Them?

You might want to know the difference between goats and sheep to understand their characteristics better. While some need it for educational purposes, some need to know it for animal uses. Here, we will significantly explain the aspects of goat vs sheep and differentiate between them.

How to identify sheep?

Sheep is a mammal, commonly a domestic animal. They are raised in an agricultural setting to produce labor and raw materials such as wool, milk, meat.

Sheep wool is the most widely used animal fiber. It is mainly used for textiles like clothing, carpets, beddings, curtains, etc. A sheep can provide nearly 4 kg wool per year.

How to identify a goat?

Goats are one of the oldest animals that were domesticated. Goats produce milk, meat, fur, skin. Goat’s milk is often turned into cheese.

Earlier farmers started herding wild goats for easy access to milk and meat. Even the manure of goats was used as fuel in previous times. Manuse is still used as fertilizer.

Goatskin is used to produce parchment. Earlier time, goats are used as a mode of transportation also.

Here, we will discuss goat vs sheep, know their characteristics and find the differences.

goat vs sheep

Goats vs sheep characteristics

If you want to know whether it’s goats or sheep ( goats vs sheep), which is more reliable, you need to know them and their characteristics first. Sheep and goats were among the first animals which were domesticated by human beings for livestock.

They might be similar in their labor, but you will find many physical differences between them if you look closely. Now we will discuss some of the characteristics of sheep and goats and distinguish them.


Sheep have thick, fuller coats that are sheared to produce wool. Sheep don’t have horns. Sheep’s tails are broad and are pared and cut often. Sheep have noticeable upper lips that are divided by a specific philtrum.

Goats have coats that are not very thick and less furry, and they have horns. Goats have fewer furry tails which don’t need combing or shearing. The animal produced mohair or cashmere by shearing their coat.

Scientific classification 

Sheep is a herbivorous animal with a fatty body. Its scientific name is Ovis Aries. Sheep has 54 chromosomes and lives on natural grazing. If you see sheep in the meadows, you might find them eating grass and clover.

They are less curious than goats in nature and are independent too. These animals like to stay in their flock. They feel nervous or get irritated if they are separated from the rest of their congregation.

Sheep have tear glands below their eyes and scent glands between their toes.

They are generally not aggressive, but the male sheep tend to attack head-on when they fight or get angry.

A goat is also a grass-eating animal that is used for farming and gives raw material. Goats have a tenuous body that is less fatty than sheep. The scientific name of a goat is Capra Aegagrus Hircus species, and they 60 chromosomes.

Goat is also browsed on natural things. They feed on leaves, stems but mostly tend to eat the upper parts of the bush.

Goats tend to stand up on their hind legs to reach out to plants. They are also independent and much more curious animals than sheep.

Almost all goat breeds have natural horns and have a beard. Their horns are more upright and less curved and narrowed.

A goat’s tail usually stays up. But if the goat is afraid or not well, then their tails can express their weakness.

Goats can be quite a fighter, and when they attempt to do so, they stand up on their hind legs and fight. Male goats, when they grow up, they develop a specific odor. The odor is powerful and may seem pungent to many.

goat vs sheep


Sheep are most comfortable with their flock, and they don’t like to interact with any other animals. If they are separated from their herd, they try to run and find their flock. Sheep like to eat mainly grass. They live on grass, actually what is easy to have for them. Sheep get agitated if they get separated from their flock.

Goats, as per nature are more curious and independent. For that, they face more trouble than sheep. They age more intelligent and generally more tolerant of interaction. Goats prefer to live on anything they get easily, including leaves, twigs, grass, or anything edible for them.


Although they match their nutrient recruitments, we can say that goats may need more maintained nutrient recruitments. That’s because goats cannot digest everything easily as sheep can. Sheep can have anything, and they can convert it more efficiently and quickly.

Sheep can be fattening very quickly because they deposit their external fat faster than they deposit it internally. In contrast, goats deposit their internal fat faster than the deposition of fat externally on their ribs and backs.

Although some breed goats also deposit fats internally first, like sheep. Sheep and goats both have copper requirements in their diets.

Sheep’s requirement of copper in their diet varies as their breed varies because sheep have little copper toxicity. However, the toxicity level differs upon the other nutrients and minerals in their diet.

Goats need a good quantity of copper in their diet than sheep. They don’t have any copper toxicity. They need added copper to their diet if copper is low.


Both types of animals are generally likely to be harmed by the same diseases, which include scrapie. Scrapie is a disease that is generally transmitted by the infected placenta. It is susceptible offspring.

Sheep and goats are generally susceptible to internal parasites. One such parasite is coccidia which is known to be host-specific. The animals can behave abnormally if they are affected by meningeal worms. Sheep grow their immunity lately, and the clostridial vaccine affects them nicely and rapidly.

Goats can get more affected by worms when compared to sheep because of their origins. They can get affected rapidly by worms during dry seasons mostly. They can also get affected by their natural browsing behavior. When looking into goats vs sheep, it is important to consider their immune system. The immune system in a goat is much more effective than sheep. Goats can metabolize dewormers very quickly, and they need high doses of drugs. Tissue reactions towards vaccinations are more likely and common in goats compared to sheep. Very few drugs are effective and approved for goats by FDA.

Some similar diseases can affect goats and sheep both these are OPP (ovine progressive pneumonia) and CAE (caprine arthritis encephalitis).

Social dominance

Goats are more aggressive than sheep. Because of their aggressive nature, goats are more likely to dominate sheep.

In the presence of horns, goats are mostly dominating sheep if they are maintained together.

goat vs sheep

Goat vs sheep behavior 

Sheep and goats may have some similarities, but they usually have different behavior. Now we will discuss sheep vs goats behavior to give you a better knowledge about them.

Sheep are most comfortable with their flock. They are primarily distant. They are commonly seen in a flock, and their instincts are also inclined that way. Sheep can get agitated when they are separated or separated from the rest of their flock. Sheep can be easily kept in a fence. They are pretty easy to handle. They gaze upon the grass, which is also a readily available food. However, goats are more curious than sheep. They like to be independent. Goats are not that easy to keep; they use to seek shelter more readily than sheep. Goats do not like to get their feet wet, and they look for upland leaves. They are more forceful and also have a fighting behavior.

Goat vs sheep farming

Sheep and goats are two popularly known animals that you can use for your livestock. But before starting your farming, you need to know who is more likely to you. Goats vs sheep farming:

Both of them are often a good option for farming because of their liabilities. Raising a goat or sheep for your farming is indeed a better option for you than any other animal.

To debate sheep vs goats you need to know that they have their different challenges in your backyard farming. Before you use them for farming, have a clear goal and a rational view of how the resources will help you and be the right thing for you.

Farming is a hard-working job, so your animal needs to motivate you every day and do what is needed. So basically, consider the job first, then choose between goats and sheep.

If you are looking for milk and goat milk, the cheese will be a better option for you. Goat milk and also cheese is used up at a tremendous rate all over the world.

Whereas if wool is your immediate need or want to go for textiles or woolen wears, then sheep is the one you are looking for. One sheep can give nearly 4 kg wool per year. It will depend on how many acres of land you have to farm for land farming with sheep, and keeping them will be determining the factor of the flock of sheep you need.

You can keep nearly 10 sheep in one acre of land, thereby almost a hundred sheep on 30 acres. But you need to keep in mind that you ought to have some additional acres of grass because you need to go around with your flock to give them something to feed.

Goat vs sheep – which one is better for farming?

Goats are analogous to sheep. You can have nearly eight goats on your one acre of land. That’s because goats are not grazers; they are known to be browsers. It is also essential that your land can provide them with their food.

If you have scarce land, then the smarter option for you will be not to raise many animals, be it goats or sheep. Because you also need to keep in your mind about your livestock and resources.

Additionally, you might have some space to protect them from wind, rain, and give them shade because you will not want your animals to drench in the rain.

Before any mowing mechanism was available, sheep were the fastest tool for mowing lands and to make them clean. So, sheep will have your grass. If you want to make your sheep happy, you need to have a healthy gazing land for your sheep. Sheep are grazers, whereas goats are browsers.

They don’t really like to get their shoulder down for food like to eat what is available at their chin level. So, they will clean out trees or any small stem-bearing leaves or flowers where they needed to bend lesser than grass. They will browse but not in a consistent way.

You also need to rotate your livestock to allow them to replenish your grass. If you rotate eventually, they can exercise also.

It depends on which area or which country you live in. Winter will be a significant factor in the availability of food. Thereby it would help if you gave a thought to your animal’s requirements. Moreover, you should have a place to keep your hay which needs to be dry.

Final thoughts

Now that you have a distinctive idea and can tell the goat vs sheep differences, it is time you choose either of the animal for your farming needs. You might also want to acquire both these types and fulfill your agriculture requirements. Hopefully, the differentiation has helped you choose what suits you best.