Goats in Europe Map
This interactive map shows goats in European countries. Darker shades of green, represent a higher number of live animals. Gray countries are not included in Eurostat data. For exact number of heads, and country, hover over the map. For more detail zoom in. For more information, scroll down.
Goats (1,000 heads)
Goats are domesticated animals that have been bred and raised by humans for thousands of years.
Archaeological evidence suggests that goats were first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East around 10,000 years ago, and from there they spread to other parts of the world as human populations migrated and traded.
Domesticated goats are typically smaller than their wild counterparts and have been selectively bred for traits such as docility, milk or meat production, and wool or hair production.
They have also adapted to a wide range of environments and management systems, from pastoral nomadism to intensive confinement.
Today, goats are kept for a variety of purposes around the world, including milk and meat production, fiber production, weed control, and as pets or companions.
They are known for their hardiness, adaptability, and intelligence, and are valued by many cultures for their contributions to human livelihoods and well-being.
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Facts About Goats
The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) belongs to the family Bovidae that also includes domestic cattle, antelopes and wild buffaloes. The goat is also closely related to sheeps as both belong to the same subfamily Caprinae.
Goats are ruminants, meaning they are mammals that have a four-chambered stomach and are able to extract nutrients from fibrous plant material through a process called rumination.
This process involves regurgitating and re-chewing partially digested food, allowing it to be further broken down and fermented in the stomach before being digested and absorbed.
Other ruminants include cows, sheep, and deer.
A male goat is referred to as either a "buck"or a "billy" goat.
Female goats are called "does" or "nanny" goats. Baby goats are referred to as "kids."
Goat Breeds in Europe
Europe is home to a wide variety of goat breeds, many of which are well-suited to the local climate, geography, and agricultural practices. Here are some of the most common goat breeds found in Europe:
- Alpine: This breed, which is originally from the French Alps, is known for its high milk production and adaptable nature. It is often kept for dairy production in mountainous regions of Europe.
- Saanen: This Swiss breed is one of the most common dairy goat breeds in Europe, prized for its high milk yield and docile temperament.
- Toggenburg: Another Swiss breed, the Toggenburg is known for its distinctive brown and white markings and excellent milk production.
- Pyrenean: This breed, which is native to the Pyrenees mountain range that spans the border between France and Spain, is a hardy meat breed with a distinctive black coat.
- Maltese: This small, hardy breed from the Mediterranean island of Malta is known for its sweet milk and gentle temperament.
- Murciana: This breed, which is native to the Murcia region of Spain, is known for its high milk yield and rich, creamy milk.
- Valais Blackneck: This Swiss breed is known for its distinctive black and white markings and its use in meat production.
- British Alpine: This British-bred breed is a hardy and adaptable dairy goat with a high milk yield.
These are just a few examples of the many goat breeds found in Europe. Each breed has its unique characteristics and is well-suited to different environments, management systems, and uses. Source: EU Breeds.
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Goats are adaptable animals and can thrive in a variety of geographical locations. However, they are particularly well-suited to arid and semi-arid regions with rugged terrain, as they have evolved to be able to survive in harsh environments with limited vegetation and water resources.
In general, goats are more commonly found in mountainous and hilly areas with steep slopes, rocky terrain, and sparse vegetation.
This type of environment allows them to use their natural agility and climbing skills to access food and water sources that other livestock might not be able to reach.
Additionally, goats are able to subsist on a wide range of vegetation, including shrubs, weeds, and grasses, making them well-suited to areas with limited grazing resources.
Some of the regions of the world where goats are particularly common include the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. However, goats can be found in many other regions as well, including Europe, North America, and Australia.
European Goat Production
Europe holds 1.9% of the world goat population and produces 15.1% of goat milk recorded worldwide.
According to a recent study conducted by the European Union’s statistics authority, Eurostat, Greece has the highest number of goats.
More specifically, according to the European Union’s Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries report for 2020, Greece is at the EU forefront for the largest number of with 3,625,000 goats.
The second place goes to Spain with a million fewer goats than Greece.
Spain has a goat population of 2,765,000 while Romania comes in third with about 1,539,000 goats.
France follows in fourth place with about 1,252,000 goats on its territory.
It is important to point out that Romania, France, and Spain have much greater land mass than does Greece. Nevertheless, Greece’s mountainous countryside is much more hospitable habitat for these charming animals. Source: Greek Reporter.
Goat meat, like goat cheese, has a distinct and often strong flavor that some people describe as gamey, earthy, or musky. There are several reasons why goat meat has this unique flavor profile:
- Diet: Goats are natural browsers, meaning they eat a variety of plants including shrubs, weeds, and herbs. This diverse diet can impact the flavor of their meat, as different plants can contribute to different flavors and aromas.
- Age: Older goats tend to have a stronger flavor than younger goats. This is because the flavor of the meat becomes more intense as the animal ages.
- Gender: Male goats (also known as bucks) tend to have a stronger flavor than female goats (does), as their meat contains more testosterone.
- Production method: The way the goat meat is raised and processed can also impact its flavor. For example, goats raised on pasture may have a milder flavor than those raised on a diet of concentrated feed. The butchering and processing methods used can also influence the final flavor of the meat.
- Cultural factors: Finally, it is important to note that the perception of "strong" flavors is subjective and can vary depending on cultural background and personal preferences.
Overall, the strong flavor of goat meat is a result of a combination of factors including the goat's diet, age, gender, production method, and cultural factors. While some people enjoy the distinct flavor of goat meat, others may find it off-putting or too strong for their tastes. Source: Washington Post.
Goat Consumption in Europe
Goat meat is not as widely consumed in Europe as it is in some other parts of the world, but there are still several countries where it is a popular part of the cuisine.
According to the latest data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the top five European countries for goat meat consumption per capita as of 2021 are:
- Greece - 5.3 kg per capita
- Cyprus - 4.5 kg per capita
- Spain - 2.4 kg per capita
- France - 1.6 kg per capita
- Italy - 1.4 kg per capita
It's worth noting that these figures are based on data from the FAO, which may not capture all of the goat meat consumed in these countries, particularly if it is produced and consumed locally rather than being part of the formal market. Source: BBC
Most of the EU goat farms are devoted to dairy products than in developing countries, especially in France, Greece and Spain, where annual goat milk production is 590, 562, and 491 million liters.
This constitutes 76% of the total goat milk produced in the EU.
Most European goat milk is transformed into cheese in large dairy industries, which coexist with small local industries and artisanal farm dairies.
These industries make pure goat milk cheeses, mainly in France, or blended cheeses with cow and/or sheep milk in Spain and Greece. Source: NCBI.
Bovine Growth and Condition
The feed for goats in Europe varies depending on factors such as the region, climate, and management system. However, some common feeds for goats in Europe include:
- Hay: Good quality hay is an important component of the diet for many goats in Europe, particularly during the winter months when fresh forage is less available.
- Pasture: Grazing on pasture is an important source of nutrition for many goats in Europe, particularly those kept in more extensive production systems.
- Silage: Silage, which is made by fermenting grass or other forage crops, is a common feed for goats in Europe, particularly in areas with a shorter growing season or where pasture is limited.
- Concentrates: Many goats in Europe are fed a concentrate supplement to their diet to provide additional energy and protein. These concentrates may include grains such as corn or barley, as well as protein-rich feeds such as soybean meal.
- Mineral supplements: Goats require a range of minerals and trace elements in their diet, and many farmers in Europe provide a mineral supplement to ensure their goats are getting all the nutrients they need.
- By-products: Goats in Europe may also be fed by-products from other agricultural or food processing industries, such as whey, beet pulp, or brewers' grains.
Good nutrition is essential for the health and productivity of goats, and farmers and producers should work with a veterinarian or animal nutritionist to ensure their goats are getting a balanced and appropriate diet.
Organic Goat Production
Organic goat production is a growing industry in Europe, with many farmers and producers choosing to adopt organic practices to meet consumer demand for sustainably produced, high-quality products.
Organic goat production in Europe is governed by the European Union's regulations on organic farming, which specify requirements for animal welfare, feed and nutrition, health management, and environmental sustainability. In general, organic goat production in Europe involves the use of organic feed and forage, avoidance of synthetic chemicals and antibiotics, and a focus on pasture-based management systems that promote animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
Organic goat farmers in Europe may also be certified by independent certification bodies that verify compliance with organic standards and provide assurance to consumers that their products meet certain sustainability and quality criteria.
Organic goat products from Europe may include organic goat milk, cheese, meat, and other products. These products are typically marketed as premium, high-quality products that offer superior flavor, nutrition, and environmental sustainability compared to conventionally produced products.
Overall, organic goat production in Europe represents a growing trend towards more sustainable and humane livestock production practices, as well as a response to consumer demand for high-quality, ethically produced food products. Source: Organic Milk.
Goat cheese has a distinctive, often strong flavor due to a combination of factors, including the diet of the goats, the age of the cheese, and the production process.
One of the main reasons for the strong flavor of goat cheese is the diet of the goats.
Goats are known to be browsers, meaning they prefer to eat a wide variety of plants, including weeds, shrubs, and tree leaves, as opposed to grazing on grass like cows. This varied diet can lead to a more complex and intense flavor profile in the milk, which is then transferred to the cheese.
Additionally, goat cheese is often made with unpasteurized milk, which retains more of the natural flavor compounds present in the milk. This can result in a stronger, more complex flavor compared to cheese made with pasteurized milk.
The aging process of goat cheese also plays a role in its flavor. As the cheese ages, the flavor intensifies and becomes more complex, with earthy and tangy notes developing over time.
Some types of goat cheese, such as the French cheese Crottin de Chavignol, are aged for several weeks or even months to develop their characteristic flavor and texture.
Finally, the production process of goat cheese can also contribute to its strong flavor. The cheese may be made using different types of cultures and techniques, which can affect the final flavor and texture of the cheese.
Overall, the strong flavor of goat cheese is a result of a combination of factors, including the goat's diet, the use of unpasteurized milk, the aging process, and the production techniques used.
The result is a unique and often complex flavor that is beloved by many cheese lovers around the world. Source: The Spruce.
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Goat Cheese Production
France is the country that consumes the most goat cheese in the world. In fact, goat cheese is a staple of French cuisine, with a wide variety of regional specialties and styles of goat cheese produced throughout the country.
According to a report by the French Dairy Board (CNIEL), in 2020, French consumers purchased 55,000 tonnes of fresh and ripened goat cheese, making it the most consumed type of cheese in France after cow's milk cheese.
This represents a significant increase from previous years, as the popularity of goat cheese continues to grow both in France and around the world. Source: CNIEL.
Resources for European Goats
The shapefiles with European Territories was downloaded from European Commission. This was a statistical unit dataset representing the NUTS2.
The data about European goats, was downloaded from Eurostat.
The country shapefiles where downloaded from ARCGIS.
Made by Luz K. Molina with D3.js.