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It's Been A Good Week For Goats

Here at Goats and Soda, we are always on the prowl for breaking goat news. And this week was a good week for goats.

Goats to the rescue

In Cameroon, there's a new program to help needy families displaced by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, reported Voice of America. The strategy: Give them a pair of goats. Working with the government of Cameroon, the French Red Cross will distribute a male and female goat to 510 households, writes journalist Moki Edwin Kindzeka. The families will get milk and (eventually) baby goats, which can be raised and sold to other families who'd like to have their own goats and/or dine on goat stew. Once the original couple of goats have produced kids, the idea is to give them to yet another household. So far, 200 pairs of goats have been distributed.

A goat gets serenaded

A baby goat that happened to be standing on a rock at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Event Center was serenaded by Grammy-winning soul singer Anthony Hamilton and his backup singers, the Hamiltones. Hamilton and his group, who sang at the fair this month, called their song "Whose billy goat is this?" The goat nibbled on some baby carrots that the singers had on hand.

Goat expert Susan Schoenian, a sheep and goat specialist at the University of Maryland Extension, notes that the title of the song might not be accurate:

"Doesn't look like a billy goat. I didn't see sheath [the foreskin that covers a male goat's sex organ]. I couldn't see rear end close enough to see if there's a rectum and a vagina," she wrote in her email exchange with us.

Horns, in case you're wondering, are not a giveaway to gender. "Almost all goats have horns," says Schoenian.

Also, when Hamilton sings "Baaa" to the goat, he may be speaking the wrong animal tongue: "Goats say maa more than baa. Sheep say baa," according to Schoenian.

Was the goat moved by the music? Let's just say it was probably more impressed with the bag of carrots. Notes Schoenian: "Some dairies play music in their milking parlors and claim certain music is better [for milk production]." But there's not a lot of research to back it up.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.