The estrus cycle of the ewe averages 17 days; 21 days for the
doe. Goats are much easier to artificially inseminate (breed)
than sheep. Sheep have a complicated cervix which makes passage
of an insemination rod very difficult. Sheep show few visible
signs of estrus (heat) as compared to goats. Male goats have an
offensive odor during the mating season; rams do not.
Though it varies by breed, goats tend to be less seasonal and
more prolific than sheep.
Sheep and goats have similar nutrient requirements, though goats
have slighter higher maintenance requirements, as they are usually
a smaller animal (by weight). Sheep tend to grow much faster than
goats, no matter what the diet is. They convert feed more efficiently.
Grain-feeding is less likely to be profitable in goat production.
With the exception of hair sheep, sheep and goats fatten very
differently. Goats deposit fat around their internal organs before
depositing external fat. Sheep deposit external fat before depositing
internal fat. Finn sheep and some of the hair breeds deposit fat
around their organs similar to goats.
Sheep have a narrow tolerance for excess copper in their diet,
though toxic levels depend upon the availability of other minerals
(Molybednum and Sulfur) in the diet. It is recommended that sheep
be fed grain and mineral mixes that have been specifically formulated
for sheep, as products formulated for other livestock or generic
livestock feeds will likely have added copper.
It can also be risky to graze sheep on pastures that have been
fertilized with poultry or hog manure. It is not advisable to
use copper as a deworming agent. Goats have require more copper
in their diet than sheep and are not as sensitive to copper toxicity.
When co-mingled, sheep products should be fed.
Sheep and goats are generally susceptible to the same diseases,
including scrapie, which is transmitted via infected placenta
to genetically-susceptible animals. Sheep and goats are infected
by the same internal parasites (worms), though coccidia are species-specific.
Goats tend to be more susceptible to worms than sheep, due to
their origins and natural browsing behavior. Goats metabolize
anthelmintics quicker and require higher doses of the drugs. The
clostridial vaccines also seem to be less effective in goats.
Fewer drugs are FDA-approved for use in goats.
OPP (ovine progressive pneumonia) and CAE (caprine arthritic encephalitis),
are similar diseases, caused by a slow virus like HIV, that affect
sheep and goats, respectively. The primary mode of transmission
is through the colostrum. Cross infection is possible.
There is no disease similar to "floppy kid syndrome"
Due to their more aggressive behavior, goats will usually dominate
sheep, especially if the goats have horns. However, when young
bucks and rams are maintained together, rams will dominate because
the ram will preemptively strike the buck in the abdomen while
the buck is still in the act of rearing up.