The Chamois colored goat is a species of goat breed native to Europe and Asia Minor, this animal belongs to the genus Rupicapra. This goat was named Wild Animal of the Year 2012 by the German Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.
Chamois colored goat physical characteristics
The Chamois colored goat is a breed of goat that lives in Europe and Asia Minor. The size of the goat is approximately one meter long and 75 centimeters long at the withers. The tail is very short, and its length does not exceed 8 centimeters, in addition, the weight of the chamois goat ranges between 30 and 50 kilograms.
This goat has a compact and strong body with a thin neck, short face, pointed ears, the length of which is almost half the length of the head. Chamois goats have long, thin legs with flat hooves, as well as backward-curved horns, which are common in both sexes, behind them there is an opening from which a mucous and olfactory secret emerges during the mating period.
Females and juveniles live in small herds of 15 to 30 animals. Social ties change according to the seasons, for example in summer they are very intensive. One of the animals always acts as a guard and alerts the others in case of danger with a hiss. As winter approaches, the ties between the herds weaken, some mixing up and others simply disintegrating.
As a general rule, the herd is led by an experienced female. Adult males live alone and only visit herds in late summer. By driving the young males away, they fight with other rivals for the right to mate with the females, which occurs in the second half of November.
In late May or early June, one to three Chamois goat calves are born, which follow the mother and feed exclusively on mother’s milk for three months. Puberty is reached at the age of two to three years in females earlier than in males.
What do Chamois colored goats eat?
The food of the chamois colored goats consists of young shoots of alpine bushes and trees, as well as grasses and leaves. In winter, mosses and lichens.
How long do Chamois colored goats live?
Females have a life expectancy of 20 years, males have a life expectancy of 15 years.
Adult chamois goats have a head-to-body length of 110 to 130 centimeters, a tail of up to eight centimeters long, a height at the withers of 70 to 85 centimeters, and a weight of 25 to 40 kilograms (in females) or 35 to 50 kilograms (in males). Chamois colored goats have a strong but compact physique. The thin neck makes it have a strongly narrowed snout and the head is short, in addition, both sexes have horns. The horns can be up to 25 centimeters long and turn upside down.
They have circular notches at the root, straight ascending, and bent back at the top. The horns are not shed in winter, unlike deer horns, the pointed ears of the chamois goat are about half a head in length.
Chamois has relatively long, strong legs with relatively large hooves. Unlike deer, suede does not have tear holes, but rather a Brunftfeige. This glandular organ is behind the horns in a cavity. In the Brunftzeit, it secretes a greasy and foul-smelling discharge.
In summer, the Chamois colored goat is red with dirty brown, on the bottom a red with bright yellow, on the back with a line of eel black with brown, on the throat pale yellow, white with yellowish on the neck. The back of the thighs is white, the tail at the bottom and at the top black. A longitudinal black bandage on this goat extends from the ears to the eyes.
In winter, the suede-colored goat is dark brown or brown with black on top, white on the belly, yellowish-white on the legs and head, slightly darker on the crown and muzzle. Both coats blend imperceptibly. Hunters distinguish large, dark brown animals from smaller, reddish-brown animals. This goat is characterized by the fact that the otherwise light underside, throat, and cheeks are dark in color, thus the forehead and inner ears retain their usual light coloration.
Where does the Chamois colored goat live?
The chamois-colored goat inhabits the entire Alpine region and in parts of the Balkans and Carpathians, this goat can also be found in the Caucasus and Anatolia. In Spain, southwestern France, and central Italy they live in the Pyrenees. The largest district in Europe is in the Hochschwab region of Styria. After reintroduction into the wild, there are also small populations in the Lusa Mountains, the Black Forest, the Upper Danube Nature Park, the Vosges Mountains, and the Jura Mountains.
The habitat of the high mountains is a setback, the earliest spread of the chamois-colored goat in the lower mountain ranges could be verified by archaeological finds. Only 4,000 to 7,000 years ago the chamois goat was found in most of Germany and France. In the north it reached 52 degrees latitude, this animal usually lives between the upper forest belt and the rocky areas that surround it (from 1500 to 2500 meters), and towards the winter it goes further into the forests.
Females and young live in herds of 15 to 30 animals, social ties change with the seasons. In summer, they are very intensive, and towards winter, herd cohesion loosens, and some herds mix or disintegrate. These male goats also live very well alone and visit a herd only in late summer. They chase away young males when they are old enough, and they assert themselves in fights against their sexual partners. In the second half of November, mating takes place.
In late May or early June, chamois-colored goats are born, rarely two or three young, which soon follow the mother and are suckled for three months. Pregnancy is six months, and goats mature sexually after two years. In the third year, the young goat is already an adult, the male goats reach an age of 15 years, the females reach up to 20 years and eat mainly on young shoots of alpine shrubs (rose, alder, willow, juniper, pine) and trees, as well as grasses, leaves, and grasses, and in winter also moss and lichens.
Enemies and threats
Predators like the lynx, wolf, and bear hunt them. The golden eagle occasionally outshines the fawns of the suede-colored goat. These goats are also threatened by rolling stones and pieces of rock, as well as avalanches (especially early autumn avalanches are often fatal to many fawns), in severe winters also due to lack of food.
Chamois colored goat hunting usually takes place in the high mountains due to their way of life. As goats do not shy away in rocky areas, hunting is tedious and often dangerous. They actually hunted population is often very small because many young animals do not survive due to adverse environmental conditions, especially in the high mountain winter. Diseases such as chamois goat blindness, scabies, and other parasitic and infectious diseases can also be responsible for high mortality rates. But also in the low mountain range regions, significant population dispossession can be registered today due to the safe size of the population.
In the hunting years 2015 and 2016, the chamois goat hunt was carried out in Bavaria alone with 4,250 animals and in Baden Württemberg with 500 hunted animals. In 2010 and 2011, the figures were 4,070 and 400. Unlike other hunted species, Germany’s total quota has remained almost unchanged for 15 years. Also in Austria, the quotas are stable, with 20,370 hunted in 2015 and 16 and 20,300 in 2010 and 2011.
In Switzerland, the number of chamois colored goats killed in 2009 and 2010 was about 13,000, the chamois goat population in Switzerland has been steadily declining for years. The shooting figures were not up to the actual conditions, so overexploitation decimated the stocks. In particular, factors such as climate change, new predators, and increased tourism were not taken into account.
The hunting rate in 2015 was 11,650 animals, the lowest in 15 years. The total population of goat chamois goats in Switzerland is 90,000. In December 2016, Swiss Game and the Conference of Game and Fish Administrators produced a common position document and a brochure on the responsible management of chamois-colored goats in order to safeguard long-term populations and end the downward trend.
The aim is to “adapt chamois goat hunting to local and current conditions”. In hunting, the question is not which chamois-colored goat we want to hunt, but what the population allows us to extract to ensure healthy populations with a social and age structure that is as natural as possible. To answer this question and as a prerequisite for successful management, good databases are needed. The willingness of hunters to help collect data and conserve chamois goat populations in certain areas is essential.
The meat of chamois-colored goats is tasty and highly valued; The fur is precious fur, which is mainly used for pants and gloves. The horns are used for the handles of the sticks and the hair of the cross is used as hat jewelry.
In the stomach of chamois-colored goats, so-called chamois balls (Bezoar) are sometimes found. These are paid very expensively due to the supposed efficacy of the drugs, just like the Gamsblut in the past times, however, they are worthless. Captured young, chamois goats feed on goat milk and become very tame, sometimes breeding in captivity.
The chamois-colored goat has been found in the Pyrenees since the cold days of Saale. In the Alps, they have been known since the cold Weichsel era. From the high mountain ranges, the chamois goat also spread through the lower mountain ranges of Central Europe during the cold period of the Vistula.
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