I thought I already saw the most extraordinary breed of goat in the mountain goat, also known as the Rocky Mountain goat that is endemic to North America, when it is climbing up and down steep, rocky slopes with pitches exceeding 60 degrees, what with the tip of its feet having dewclaws that keep it from slipping.
Like our local, domestic goats, mountain goats are also herbivores and spend most of their time grazing. Their diets include grasses, herbs, sedges, ferns, mosses, lichens, and twigs and leaves from the low-growing shrubs and conifers of their high-altitude habitat.
But it looks like Morocco breeds the weirdest domesticated goats as far as I know now.
Domesticated goats in the region are unusually fond of climbing to the precarious tops of argan trees to find fresh forage because there is nothing much to eat on the ground.
Argan is popular for the beauty products which feature in argan oil, made from the tree’s nuts.
In some arid habitats, such as argan forests, most green vegetation is at the tops of the trees – which can grow 10 meters high.
Local goatherds are known to encourage the activity, pruning the bushy, thorny trees to make it easier for goats to ascend them, and even helping the goats’ kids to learn how to climb.
During the bare autumn season in the region, goats can spend three quarters of their foraging time “treetop grazing” in the argan trees.
In reality Moroccan goats are causing a paradox in the region.
While the foraging animals may cause to produce less tree nuts because of their fondness for the argan fruit, the fact, however, that they don’t like the large argan seeds and, like cows, sheep and deer, the goats re-chew their food after fermenting it for a while in a specialized stomach, and while ruminating over their cud, the goats have been observed spitting out the argan nuts.
Since it is tough for argan trees to thrive in the semi-desert Sous valley region of southern Morocco, the act therefore of spitting out the nuts means the goats are delivering clean seeds to new ground wherever the animals wander.