Have you ever seen a Damascus goat in real life? This breed looks like a goat straight out of a science fiction book, but it’s often labeled as a monster and an ugly creature due to its bizarre appearance.
Its short face, protruding jaw, and folds in the face make it look grotesque, yet ironically, it was hailed as the most beautiful goat in 2008.
You probably disagree, but this breed has so much to offer that it makes up for its strange physical appearance.
So, in this article, we’ll share with you:
- What is a Damascus goat, and how does it behave around humans and other goats
- How much milk and meat can this breed produce
- And how much does a Damascus goat cost (I bet this will surprise you)
If you wanna know more about Damascus, the bulldogs of the goat world, join us as we uncover the mystery behind this breed.
Damascus Goat Breed Overview
|Capra Aegagrus Hircus
|Buck: 80 cm or 31 inches
|Doe: 70 to 75 cm or 28 to 30 inches
|Buck: 70 to 90 kilogram
|Doe: 50 to 65 kilogram
|Meat and milk production
|Friendly and docile
What is a Damascus Goat?
Damascus goat is a Middle Eastern breed known by several names, including Shami, Halpe, Aleppo, Baladi, and Damascene.
It’s like the bulldog of the goat world due to its short snout. Others find it scary because of its odd looks. However, some goat enthusiasts think it’s exceptionally beautiful due to its unique features.
In fact, in 2008, the Mazayen al-Maaz competition in Riyadh hailed a Damascus goat named Qahr as the “Most Beautiful Goat.”
While the public’s opinion about the Damascus goat is split, this breed has so much to offer, and even if it appears unfit for your homesteads or farm, you might have a change of heart later.
But first, let’s break down the unique features of Damascus goats that turn heads wherever they are.
Physical Characteristics of Damascus Goats
In this section, we’ll discuss Damascus goat characteristics that make it unique among hundreds of goat breeds.
Damascus are long-haired goats with mostly reddish-brown to brown coat color. Sometimes they have white marks and darker shades on their face, heads, and legs.
This wooly coat provides insulation for them during the colder season.
They have a plain black and white to cream coat color variety. However, they’re rare because due to the goats’ recessive genes.
They are closely related to Nubian goats because of the fluffy ears they’re born with, which always point down.
Their incredibly long ears measure up to 27 to 32 centimeters, and it makes young kids distinctly adorable.
Many believe their ears help them regulate their body temperature, especially in extreme heat, by dissipating heat.
This goat’s face has distinctive features that make them different and recognizable from other herds.
Matured Damascus goats usually have long neck and legs, but their head is small, and sometimes their ears can hide its face.
They have a broad forehead, a convex nose, and expressive eyes. Their short face looks like they bumped into a door.
So, you’re probably thinking, “Why are Damascus goats so ugly?” Some of them have more dramatic features than others due to extreme breeding.
Young kids actually look like other normal goat breeds, which helps because it’d be difficult for them to drink milk from their mothers if they’re born with a short snout.
But the Damascus goat’s unique physical appearance helps them adapt to extreme environments.
These goats have a strong and muscular build. The Damascus bucks stand at 80 cm or 31 inches and weigh around 70 to 90 kilograms, while the does’ height ranges from 70 to 75 cm (28 to 30 inches), and their weight is somewhere between 50 to 65 kilograms.
Damascus Goat Temperament and Personality
What is the personality of a Damascus goat? Contrary to its strange and sometimes scary face, a well-raised Damascus goat often has a friendly, docile, spritely, and gentle demeanor.
But like other domestic livestock, they’re naturally inquisitive and love exploring new things.
These goats are among the best livestock to raise. However, they sometimes demonstrate dominance over their social grouping, especially if they are larger than the others.
But if they are trained to interact with other herds, that can minimize their desire to dominate and make them less aggressive.
Is Damascus Goat Breed Hardy?
Damascus goats are developed in the Middle East, where the climate is generally hot, arid, and mostly desert. So, they are practically developed to withstand that extreme weather.
Does it mean they are hardy? Absolutely, yes, especially in hot weather. They are born to be strong and bold, so they don’t need much care.
However, cold weather is their downfall. If you live in a cold region, you must keep your Damascus warm to help them survive.
What is the Purpose of Damascus Goat?
Damascus goats are very popular as a dual-purpose breed. But they can be a multi-purpose breed. You can use Damascus in different ways, including the following:
Their first and primary purpose is milk production. A Damascus doe can produce 350 to 650 kilograms of milk per lactation, lasting over 200 days.
And they can do it not only when weaning but also suckling, depending on how you manage their feeding level.
Furthermore, their milk is easy to digest, so it’s great for those with digestive issues.
Since they’re a large breed, they can produce more meat, and it’s high demand in the market due to its lean and flavorful taste.
It’s slightly similar to lamb and is often used in traditional dishes like kebabs and stews.
Damascus goat is also prized for its distinctive hides, which can produce durable and beautiful leather. Since they have large bodies, you’ll get more leather, which means bigger profit.
Another thing that Damascus goats can produce is fiber. Their long hair is strong and does not break easily, so it can be used for making carpets, rugs, and other textiles.
Clearing Lands and Landscaping
Damascus goats are also useful in clearing lands, maintaining landscapes, and managing plants. They can aid in controlling weeds and other undesirable vegetation because they are natural grazers.
Due to their short snouts, they can easily browse for food in a wide range of vegetation.
Damascus goats’ strange physical appearance is actually an asset that makes them stand out in shows.
They’re often shown in agricultural fairs and livestock shows and are judged based on size, conformation, and appearance.
Damascus Goat History and Origin
The Damascus goat, also called the Shami goat, is a historic breed that originated in Syria, a country in the Middle East.
This goat breed has long played a significant role in Middle Eastern culture and commerce.
The breed was highly prized for its capacity to endure severe desert climates, serving as a vital food and money source for several pastoral and nomadic populations.
The Damascus goat was first imported to North America and Europe in the early 1900s, where it immediately became well-liked for its distinctive appearance, toughness, and productivity.
The breed is now widespread worldwide, notably in Australia, Europe, North America, Asia, and parts of Africa.
Damascus Goat’s Natural Habitat
Since Damascus goats were developed in the Middle East, they lived in Syria’s dusty, hot, and dry areas. It is their natural habitat for many years before being imported to other countries.
But due to breeding and domestication, many are now enclosed in pens.
Damascus Goat Breed’s Reproduction
Damascus goats are seasonal breeders. According to Mavrogenis (1988), they start breeding in late August and extend up to the middle of December.
Their first Estrous cycle often occurs when they reach 220 to 270 days of age. However, it depends on what time of year the goat was born.
Like other high milk production breeds, fertility is considered medium to high. It is an extremely productive breed, giving birth to 1.80 children on average, each kidding.
According to studies, 50% of Damascus goats produce twins, but sometimes, they can give birth to as many as four kids.
Damascus Goat Breed’s Population
Despite being widely used, the Damascus goat is a vulnerable species, and populations are dropping in many areas.
It is because of various issues, such as habitat degradation, competition from other animal breeds, and modifications to agricultural methods.
The breed is being protected and promoted through breeding programs, preservation efforts, and educational programs to increase public knowledge of the significance and their distinctive qualities.
How Much Does a Damascus Goat Cost?
A purebred Damascus goat’s price ranges from $5,000 to $8,000, but hybrids are less expensive.
This high cost is affected by many variables, including lineage, importation, and the features of the goat.
But finding a Damascus goat for sale can be challenging since they’re not common in the USA, and you may need to import from the Middle East if you want to have one.
Damascus Goat’s Common Predators
The common threat to Damascus goats are wolves, hyenas, wild boars, foxes, badgers, and jackals.
These carnivorous animals can attack and devour tame animals like Damascus goats. That’s why strong and well-built fencing is necessary to protect your herd from possible predators attacks.
You should not be complacent even if you’re in a quiet and peaceful area. It’s always better to build a fence before raising Damascus goats.
Damascus Goat Lifespan
On average, a Damascus goat can live up to 12 years. However, the lifespan may vary depending on their health condition and how you care for them.
But you can help extend its life by providing an appropriate diet, secure and clean shelter, and tending to its medical needs.
We’ll dig into that below.
How to Care for a Damascus Goat
Raising large goats like Damascus requires more time, money, and effort. But if you’d help them stay in shape and boost their health, they can be more productive than you thought, and every effort will be paid off.
Wanna know what’s the secret to raising Damascus goats successfully?
Provide a Balanced Diet and Supplements
Since goats are herbivores, they mostly feed on leaves and brushes. However, they still need to have a balanced diet and get many nutrients for their overall growth.
The best feed for them is hay and pastures. This type of grass gives them nutrients and moisture. But, of course, they need to have access to clean and fresh water to stay hydrated.
If you want them to produce more milk and avoid stunted growth, you must provide enough goat feed and supplements if necessary.
Here are additional feeding tips for your goat:
Have a Consistent Feeding Schedule
A feeding schedule is essential in raising goats. Divide your goat’s meals into three instead of giving them two large meals daily to avoid indigestion.
If they are always very full after eating, they will lose the desire to socialize or play with other herds. But, the adjustments of their feeding will depend on the goat’s size, age, and activity level.
Practice Good Forage Management
Managing the forage for the goats will help you determine how much forage a Damascus goat needs every meal. By doing that, you can prevent overgrazing of pasture.
And preparing the forage in advance will be less time-consuming because you can feed them immediately and do other stuff.
Provide More Space
Since Damascus goats are a large breed, they need more space to roam and browse. The size of the area should depend on the size and age of your goats and the number of goats you have.
Raising goats or other herds is not recommended if you live in an urban area and don’t have space. But if you live in a rural area, you need a vast backyard space or farmland.
The desired area is at least 10 to 15 feet wide for every animal. It allows your goats to roam freely and avoid being stressed by overcrowding.
Build Secure Shelter
A well-built shelter is very important when raising any breed of goats. They need it to avoid rain and help them keep warm when the cold season comes.
Since goats hate rain and getting wet and Damascus is not cold-hardy, they can’t withstand cold weather.
The shelter doesn’t need to be elaborate as long as it’s secure, clean, well-ventilated, and free from drafts.
Set Up Secure Fencing
Damascus goats are known for being active in physical activities like jumping and climbing, and they’re good escape artists.
So, you need to set up a strong fence to keep these large goats in one place and protect them from predators.
A simple electric fence is enough to inhibit your goats from roaming outside your area and avoid getting lost.
But if predators are near your area, the fence should be strong and durable, with no large gaps or spaces in between.
The recommended height of the goat fence is 4 feet, but since Damascus goats are taller than standard breeds, we recommend raising the fence height.
Keep Up With The Grooming
The coat of Damascus goats grows long easily, so they need regular hair grooming. You must also trim their hooves, check for signs of parasites and skin diseases, and brush their coats.
Grooming will maintain their physical health, help you observe changes in the goat’s behavior and health, and bond with them.
Provide Adequate Medical Care
Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccination, and deworming are essential to keep Damascus goats healthy and happy.
You also need to monitor any signs and symptoms of illness and injury so that you can give immediate care. It’s important because diseases like pneumonia are fatal in goats and can kill your ruminant overnight. And time is crucial for their survival.
Follow Good Breeding Practices
You must follow best breeding practices to keep your goat in shape, choose the best breeding stock, and monitor her closely during mating, pregnancy, and kidding.
You also need to provide appropriate nutrition and tend to the needs of your goat’s kids.
We highly recommend avoiding extreme breeding just to attain unique and dramatic features because it can actually jeopardize your goat’s health.
Pros and Cons of Damascus Goats
To help you make the right purchasing decisions, we summarized the advantages and drawbacks of this large breed below.
- A multipurpose breed
- Great leather, fiber, milk, and meat producer
- Low maintenance
- Friendly, active, docile, and easygoing
- Hardy, especially in hot weather
- It might dominate other small breeds
- Can’t stand cold
- Need more capital, especially for beginners
- Low in population
Frequently Asked Questions About Damascus Goat
Why are Damascus Goats like that?
You might think that their strange looks that it’s a disorder, but for them, it’s normal. Because of many breeding experiments, Damascus developed very long ears and strange nose shapes.
But this look makes Damascus goats unique from other goat breeds.
Are Damascus goats friendly?
Yes, they are so friendly. When you get to know them more, you will surely love and accept them as what they are.
They are also the same as other breeds that love being around people and herds.
Are Damascus goats endangered?
This strangely unique breed is endangered and on the brink of extinction. Many breeders are trying their best to preserve this wonderful breed, but the numbers are gradually decreasing.
Is a Damascus goat a natural breed?
The Shami goat, or the Damascus goat, is a native breed of Syria and neighboring nations in the Near East. But it has been enhanced by selective breeding for meat and milk for over 40 years.
What do Damascus goats eat?
The Damascus goat’s diet must include roughage since it gives the animal the fiber it needs for a healthy digestive system. Roughage can be found in pasture grasses, hay, and straw.
The hay should be clean, and no traces of molds, and it’s better that this would be their primary feed.
Where do Damascus goats come from?
Damascus goats originated in Syria, a country in the Middle East. This breed is the most unique goat we’ve ever known because of its distinctive face.
Despite their appearance, Damascus goats prove that they are very useful in the community and market industry.
Final Thoughts: Is Damascus Goat the Right Breed For You?
Damascus goat is often judged and overlooked due to its bizarre appearance, but it is actually a diamond in the rock.
In fact, it’s prized by goat enthusiasts for its ability to produce milk, meat, leather, and fiber.
If you’re looking for a profitable goat breed with a high growth rate, lots of meat, and easy-to-digest milk, fiber, and leather, this may be the right goat for you.
This is also perfect for goat enthusiasts looking to add an exotic breed to their collection. It’s crazy expensive and sometimes tends to be dominant, but the pros surely outweigh the cons.