Goats are raised throughout the world for milk, meat, fiber, biomedical research, and companionship. Goat milk is known for its hypoallergenic properties and easy digestibility. Certain breeds of goats yield some of the most valued fibers in the world. In addition, goats are useful in pasture management and brush control. Goat meat is a major source of animal protein throughout the world, particularly in Asia and Africa. In the United States, the importance of goats as meat animals has increased in the recent years. However, meat goat marketing systems are still not fully organized, which makes the management of meat goats prior to harvesting a challenge. Management practices that improve well-being of goats invariably result in better productivity, although scientific data available regarding these aspects are limited.
Goats are highly social animals and tend to be together, particularly when they sense danger or are moved from their home range. However, it is common for a few goats to break away from the herd when cornered. Goats use head butts to establish dominance hierarchy, and a dominant goat often butts the sides of subordinate ones. Physical injuries such as bruising may increase in horned goats under crowded conditions, resulting in elevated blood creatine kinase (CK) activities. Dominance hierarchy in goats primarily depends on body weight and horn size. Interestingly, an individual with the largest number of relatives in the group tends to be the dominant one in the Jamunapari breed of goats. Kannan et al. observed a spike in CK activity in goats, when measured after 7 h of holding in pens, as a result of a higher frequency of agonistic encounters during the initial hours of holding.
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