Alice C. Linsley
Aunt Ellen was fond of goats and her veterinarian husband certainly treated many of them in his years of practice. They were Quaker relief workers who served in Arkansas, Bolivia, Honduras and Cambodia. Ellen and Gordon Hatcher loved animals and they loved people. This brief piece on goats is dedicated to their memory.
Goats and Antiquity
The oldest goat fossils date to about 1.8 million years old and are held at the Archaeological Museum of Cartagena in Spain. Other ancient goat fossils were found at in Ganj Dareh which was part of the ancient water system of the Tigris-Euphrates.
In the ancient world goats were kept for milk, meat, their hides and for religious sacrifice. Goat milk was regarded as a symbol of life. The ancient Hebrew were forbidden to boil a kid in its mother's goat because this blurred the distinction between life and death.
Breeds are classified according to their primary use, though there are several breeds which are multi-purpose. They are raised for their fiber, meat, dairy products and skin. Dairy goats are some of the oldest defined animal breeds for which breed standards and production records have been kept.
Goat milk is more easily tolerated by children than cow's milk. An estimated 20 to 50 percent of all infants tested with cow's milk protein intolerance reacted adversely to soy proteins (Lothe et al., 1982), yet 40 percent tolerated goat milk proteins (Brenneman, 1978; Zeman, 1982).
Swedish studies have shown that cow milk was a major cause of colic in 12 to 30 percent formula-fed, less than 3-month-old infants (Lothe et al., 1982). In breast-fed infants, colic was related to the mother's consumption of cow milk (Baldo, 1984; Cant et al., 1985; Host et al., 1988). In older infants, the incidence of cow milk protein intolerance was approximately 20 percent (Nestle, 1987).
Goat milk fat normally has 35 percent of medium chain fatty acids (C6-C14) compared to cow milk fat 17 percent. Three are named after goats: Caproic (C6), caprylic (C8), capric (C10), totaling 15 percent in goat milk fat vs. only 5 percent in cow milk fat (See Table 1 here).
Capric, caprylic and other medium chain fatty acids are used to treat malabsorption syndrome, intestinal disorders, coronary diseases, pre-mature infant nutrition, cystic fibrosis, and gallstones. They provide energy and lower, inhibit and dissolve cholesterol deposits (Schwabe et al., 1964; Greenberger and Skillman, 1969; Kalser, 1971; Tantibhedhyangkul and Hashim, 1975, 1978).
Related reading: DNA Markers of Goat Origins, Diffusion