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Are Deer And Goats Related?

Are Deer And Goats Related?

Even though they are both mammals and even-toed ungulates, deer and goats are not very closely related. They belong to different taxonomic families and would be unable to breed.

Deer are of the family Cervidae while Goats are members of the family Bovidae. Goats are more closely related to cows and antelopes than they are to deer. Deer are more closely related to moose and elk.

While they both belong in the group of animals called the “even-toed ungulates,” goats and deer are entirely separate species. Even-toed ungulates” refer to animals that have evolved from hoofed animals with an even number of toes.

deer

According to the father of evolution, Charles Darwin, all animals are related through a gigantic web called the phylogenetic tree. Furthermore, he theorized that species of all organisms originated from another species through natural selection.

This means that goats and deer have common ancestry but grew apart at some point during evolution. This diversion occurred approximately 27 million years ago.

Nevertheless, goats and deer have several similarities. For one, they are both members of the order artiodactyla, which is primarily made up of even-toes ungulates.

Furthermore, they are both ruminants of the suborder Ruminantia. Ruminants are cud-chewing animals that digest plants by fermenting them. Ruminants also have chambered stomachs that digest plant matter in stages.

Deer in a reainforest

However, deer and goats are not in the same taxonomic family. Deer belong in the family Cervidae along with elk, wapiti, muntjacs, moose, and caribou. Animals of the Cervidae family are cloven-hoofed ungulates with long slender legs, small tails, compact torsos, and antlers.

On the other hand, goats are of the Bovidae family. Other members of this family include sheep, antelopes, cattle, buffalo, and bison. Instead of antlers, members of the Bovidae family have horns.

Read Also: 5 Top Reasons People Hunt Deer

EquidaeCervidaeBovidae
HorsesMooseOxen
DonkeysDeerAntelopes
ZebrasReindeerCows
ElkGoats
Sheep

Thus, while they have an evolutionary background, deer and goats are not closely related. Goats are even more closely related to sheep, as they both belong in the subfamily Caprinae. Still, deer and goats have a common ancestry in cows.

Related: Are Deer Related To Horses?

Can Goats and Deer Breed With Each Other?

Anglo-Nubian Goat

Goats and deer cannot interbreed. This is because they belong to different genera, and generally, different genera of animals cannot breed with each other. The offspring of such a union will either be stillborn or have biological shortcomings.

Some species can interbreed, such as the interbreeding of horses and donkeys to produce hybrids called hinnies, but this is because they are much more closely related than goats and deer. Even still, for hinnies, they are usually infertile because their parents are different animals.

One reason why animals of different genera do not interbreed is that they have varying numbers of chromosomes.

Goats have 60 chromosomes, whereas deer have 70. As such, they are not compatible as mating partners. In the event that they mate, the offspring will be stillborn.

Angora Goat

Furthermore, goats and deer have different gestation periods. While deer gestate for about 222 days, goats have a shorter gestation period of 150 days.

Therefore, a crossbreed between a buck and a female goat would produce offspring that is underdeveloped and premature with features from both parents. The offspring could not possibly survive – the gestation period is too short for the full development of a fetus.

Additionally, ewes tend to be resistant to fertilization by a buck. This means that if left in the same place and mated, the chances of fertilization occurring are minimal. Over and above this, the two species of animals have different mating temperaments. The males are usually super aggressive, and the animals may end up hurting each other.

Consequently, mating between goats and deer is not possible.

The closest it can go is probably a sheep/ goat hybrid, as they are more closely related. Even so, scientists have worked on the development of animal breeding and made advances in reproductive technology to make it possible for different species to interbreed successfully.

Related Article: Do Deer Eat Mice?

The Similarities Between Deer and Goats

deer

Goat and deer have quite a number of similarities. They include the following:

1. Both are Browsers

Goats and deer find food by browsing. That is, they eat leaves of high-growing twigs, woody-stemmed plants, forbs, and shrubs.

Since they have the same feeding habits, goats and deer occupy the same ecological niche. This means that they play the same role in the food chain.

2. Both are Ruminants

Both goats and deer are ruminants who have a multi-chambered stomach, made up of the rumen, omasum, reticulum, and abomasum.

These animals digest food in a process called fermentation, where bacteria in the stomach break down plant matters into simple sugars. Like other ruminants, goats and deer chew the cud, meaning that they chew food that returns to the mouth from the stomach.

3. Both are Mammals (Have Two Mammary Glands)

Female goats and deer have two mammary glands in their udders. Like in all mammals, mammary glands are essential for lactating mothers as they produce milk required by the young one. While other animals, like cows, have four mammary glands, goats and deer only have a pair.

4. Both are Seasonal Breeders

Seasonal breeding means that the animals breed only at certain times of the year. They do not exhibit estrus throughout the year.

The breeding season of goats comes during fall, while for deer, it comes in the period between October and December. The breeding season for deer is dubbed ‘the rut.’ In both cases, males will mate with multiple females before the season is over.

What Sets Goats and Deer Apart?

With all the similarities, there are attributes that set deer and goats apart. The most obvious one, of course, is that they belong to different taxonomic families.

Other than that, size is a factor that clearly differentiates the two species. Deer are significantly larger than goats.

Another feature that sets apart these two species of even-toed ungulates is the fact that deer have antlers, but goats have horns instead.

Antlers start off by having a velvet texture which the deer sheds as it matures. Elsewhere, horns consist of a sheath that covers a bony core that grows from the frontal bones of a goat’s skull.

Conclusion

Goats and deer have an evolutionary background where they share a common ancestry. However, the two species are not closely related as they belong to different taxonomic families.

Deer belong in the Cervidae family, while goats are part of the Bovidae family. As such, they cannot interbreed as the product would be an underdeveloped, immature, stillborn offspring. Even so, deer and goats have several behavioral and physical similarities, which is why people tend to think they are closely related.

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