There are many farm animals to choose from when it comes to farming. Two popular options are sheep and goats. While both animals have their benefits, sheep are generally more popular to farm than goats.
The ratio of sheep and lambs to goats and kids in the United States as of 2021 was approximately 2:1, with about 5.2 million head of sheep and lambs and 2.55 million head of goats and kids in total.
In this article, we will explore the reasons why.
Sheep and Goats: Similarities and Differences
Before diving into why sheep are more popular to farm than goats, let’s look at the similarities and differences between these two animals. Both sheep and goats are excellent sources of meat and milk.
They are also relatively easy to care for and require similar living conditions like housing, feed, and space. However, there are some key differences between the two.
One of the main differences between sheep and goats is their behavior. Goats are known for their tendency to climb over fences and other platforms, while sheep are more content to stay in one place.
Additionally, goats are browsers, meaning they prefer to eat leaves, trees, and shrubs, while sheep are grazers and prefer to eat grass.
Why are Sheep More Popular Animals to Farm Than Goats?
Now that we have a better understanding of the similarities and differences between sheep and goats, let’s explore the reasons why sheep are more popular to farm than goats.
Sheep are more popular animals to farm than goats due to their valuable wool production, widely consumed meat (lamb/mutton), and ease of care. Sheep’s wool is highly prized for various products, while goat wool is less valuable. Sheep meat is popular globally, while goat meat has a stronger flavor. Finally, sheep are easier to manage, less likely to escape or fall ill, and content staying in one place. In contrast, goats are mischievous, prone to escape and diseases, and require more space to manage effectively.
One of the main reasons why sheep are more popular to farm than goats is wool production. Sheep are known for their wool, which can be used to make a variety of products, including clothing, blankets, and rugs. Wool is a valuable commodity, and sheep farmers can make a significant profit from selling it. While goats produce wool, it is less valuable than sheep wool. Goat wool is often used to make specialty products, such as cashmere and mohair, but it is not as widely used as sheep wool.
Another reason why sheep are more popular to farm than goats is meat production. Sheep meat, also known as lamb or mutton, is a popular meat around the world. It is lean and flavorful, making it a favorite among many people. While goat meat is also popular, it is not as widely consumed as sheep meat. Additionally, goat meat has a stronger flavor than sheep meat, which can be off-putting to some people.
Read more: Top 4 Difference Between Lamb vs Goat Meat?
Ease of Care
Sheep are generally easier to care for than goats. They are less likely to escape from their enclosures and are less prone to diseases. Additionally, sheep are more content to stay in one place, which makes them easier to manage. Goats, on the other hand, are known for their mischievous behavior.
They are more likely to escape from their enclosures and are more prone to diseases. Additionally, goats require more space than sheep, which can make them more difficult to manage.
Trends in Sheep and Goat Populations in the US over the Past Decade
The statistics below support the notion why are sheep more popular animals to farm than goats:
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the total number of sheep and lambs in the was about 5.2 million head as of 2021, which has been dropping steadily over the last decade.
The 2022 survey showed that all goats and kids inventory in the United States on January 1, 2022, totaled 2.55 million head, down 1 percent from 2021. The 2023 survey showed that all goats and kids inventory in the United States on January 1, 2023, totaled 2.51 million head, down 2 percent from 2022.
A USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report shows that the rapid declines sheep industry has changed greatly since the end of . Both sheep meat and wool production has seen .
However, the 2019 lambing rate was 108 lambs per 100 ewes one-year-old and older on January 1, 2019, up 1 percent from 2018. Shorn wool production in 2019 was 24.6 million pounds, up 2 percent from 2018.
Reasons for the Decline in Goat Numbers in the US over the Past Decade
According to a report by , total goat numbers in the US have declined by 15.3% in the last decade, almost all due to the 21.5% decline in meat goat numbers. Southern states, where goat numbers had grown for the previous 20 years, experienced the largest reduction in goat numbers, while the goat populations in northern states increased.
Speculation on reasons for the overall decrease in meat goat numbers includes the sell-off of breeding stock due to the recession, drought, and high feed costs.
Another report by suggests that declining inventory numbers in the US sheep and goat industry could be due to several factors, such as improved genetics or weather. In conjunction with declining inventory numbers, wool production has also decreased.
While both sheep and goats are excellent animals to farm, sheep are generally more popular than goats. This is due to their wool production, meat production, and ease of care. However, it is important to note that both animals have their benefits, and the decision to farm one over the other ultimately comes down to personal preference and the farm’s specific needs.
Sarah Lane has been a farm wife since 2010 and mother of two children for nearly as long. She and her husband, Jonathan, live on a small farm in Texas where they raise dairy goats and beef cattle as well as chickens for eggs and meat. In addition to growing their own hay, straw and garden produce, the Lane family works with other nearby farms to source organic grain from which they make artisan bread sold at local farmer’s market.