Domestic Goats of Iran

The domestic goat, Capra Hircus, in both milk and wool producing varieties, was probably domesticated from the wild goat (Capra Hircus aegagrus) in Iran, as the earliest evidence for the domestication of the goat in the world, has been found in Iran (ca. 10,000 B.C.) showing traces of the systematic breeding of this animal. The wild goat still extant in the wild (boze kuhi, Pazan) from Turkey to Baluchistan. The goat is mentioned in the Avesta (Buza) in Yasht 14.25 and Videvdad 5.52.

Goats and sheep are classified in the Family Bovidae, Subfamily Caprinae, Tribe Caprini. The Genus Capra is reserved for true goats. The goat related to the sheep, is an ARTIODACTYL, or even-toed hoofed mammal, that is a cud-chewer, or RUMINANT.

According to Veterinary Center and Plan Organization of Tehran (1962-1966) The caprid population has been estimated at around 12.5-22 million head in Iran. These figures, show clearly the importance of the goat in the Iranian world. In fact it is less prized in the marketplace than the sheep and it is easy to care for. Goats can find something to eat where sheep can not, even on the undefined terrain on the outskirts of cities, playing a by no means negligible role in making paths.

The raising of goats is still almost always of the traditional familial type associated with small-scale agriculture. It reaches its greatest dimension and its most developed form among nomads that are said to possess herds totaling goats, those of Iran 12 million. The raising of goats thus does not involve a marginal investment for nomads: Although some tents do not have sheep, there are hardly any that do not have some goats. Whether tended by children or specialized shepherds accompanied by guard dogs, the goats are grouped into sometimes quite considerable flocks (of several hundred head), which may or may not belong jointly to several owners, separate from the flocks of sheep. They are led to different pastures from those of sheep and are brought back to the camps each evening to be milked. During the lactation period the kids are kept separate from the mothers or are furnished with weaning muzzles (each female drops one kid a year). Excess young males are sold to the butcher after being fattened in summer patures, only females are kept, along with those males neccessary for breeding and for leading flocks of sheep and of goats (these males are castrated and adorned with bells and tassels especially for this purpose).

The preferred uses for the goat, are those that permit extraction of products from the living animal. Always milked from behind, goats give a relatively abundant milk (among nomads about 40 kg a year which is mixed and processed with that of cows and sheep). The goats are shorn in the same way and at the same season as sheep (generally around May or June, when the nomads arrive in summer pastures), but in much greater numbers: the male leaders of the flocks, whose imposing appearance must in fact be enhanced by supplemental fleeces, are never shorn, pregnant or aged females, which are more vulnerable tho the cold, are also not shorn.

There is also much to be said about administrative measures relative to goats in the last years of the Pahlavi regime, with the application of the law nationalizing patures and forests - particulary the imposition of a tax sometimes ten times higher than that imposed on sheep and even, in some paces, outright banning. The injustice of these laws, like the injustice of the attitude that holds goats responsible for all kinds of misdeeds, is to be emphasized. It has now been established that it is not the goat itself that is harmful to vegetation but rather the uses often made of it. Indeed, in some mountainous regions its presence is, under certain conditions, a guarantee of rational use of space: It alone can reach certain steep pastures, which would otherwise be left entirely to wild herbivores.


The breeds of domestic goat in the Iranian world have not yet been studied systematically as a whole, nor has there been any effort at genetic improvement. All seem to belong to the same type, with hompnymous or scimitar-like horns. It is oblong or slightly convex in profile, with a long black or, more rarely, white or light brown fleece. The main regional variations, reflecting the environment (steppes or mountains), are in length of hair, tail, and according to the breeder's whim - the coloring of the head and hooves, the shape and length of the ears, and so on.

There are 7 breeds of domestic goats in Iran, that are: Adany, Arab, Morghoz (kurdi), Lori, Raini, Najdi, Tali (sahely). It is posible that there are 2 more breeds: Khorasani (A black goat producing pashmina)and Kashmiri in Iran, but we have not any information about that. The existence of Angora-type goats (with fine, wooly hair - mohair) in Iran is possible but has not been documented, isolated examples may have been found resulting from mutations but not produced by selective breeding, as occurred in Turkey. The Kurdi Persia is very similar to the Angora. Angora type (the Turkish name for which, tiftik, seems however, to have come from Pesian).


A native breed of Iran. This breed can be found in South-eastern areas of Iran. Both males and females have 2 horns. The main use of this breed is for milk.


Photo of this species from Iran is not available.

The main breeding area of Arab goat in Iran is Tehran. It comes in black and dark brown colours. Both males and females have 2 long twisted horns. The main use of this breed is for milk.


A breed of the Kurdish areas of Iran. It comes in various colours of black, white and brown. Both males and females have 2 horns. It is a pashmina-producing breed and main use of this breed is for its wool (Cashmere).

Photo of this species from Iran is not available.

A breed origin from Iran, distribution in south and central of the country. It comes in various colours of black and brown. Both males and females have 2 horns. The main use of this breed is for milk.

Photo of this species from Iran is not available.

The local Breed of the Kerman province. It comes with long black, grey, yellow and white hair. Both males and females have 2 horns. The main use of this breed is for milk, meat and hair.


A dairy and fleece breed of Iran. The main breeding area of Najdi in Iran is Khuzestan province. It comes in grey and brown colours. Both males and females have 2 horns. The main use of this breed is for milk and hair.

TALI (Sahely) GOAT:
Photo of this species from Iran is not available.

Another local name of this breed is: "Sahely". This breed can be found in South-western areas of Iran. It is a uni colour breed in: white. Both males and females have 2 horns. The main use of this breed is for milk.


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