Lamb vs Goat: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Published: February 5, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Matthäus Rojek
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There are significant differences to talk about when it comes to comparing lamb vs goat, but what might some of these differences be? For starters, lambs and goats are from different scientific genuses. Goats are from the Capra genus, while lambs are from the Ovis genus, but this is just the beginning of their main differences.

In this article, we will discuss all of the differences between these two animal species, including how you can tell them apart as well as any other relevant information. Before long, you will be able to tell the difference between a lamb and a goat without hesitation! Let’s dive in and learn more now. 

Comparing Lamb vs Goat

Lamb vs Goat

A-Z-Animals.com

LambGoat
Age: Baby or adolescentAdult
Size: Small; from 10-40 poundsDepends on species
Appearance: Young, woolen, white, and ganglyHairy, usually with horns and stocky bodies
Fur: Short woolHair, ranging in length
Horns: NoUsually, especially if male
Tail: Wooly and points downHairy and points straight up

The 5 Main Differences Between Lamb vs Goat

lamb vs goat
Goats and lambs are very different in their appearance, with lambs having white and woolen fur, while goats come in a variety of colors and have hair rather than wool.

iStock.com/Gareth Webb

There are many key differences between lambs vs goats. Lambs are considered young sheep, while goats refers to a goat at just about any age. Goats and lambs are also very different in their appearance, with lambs having white and woolen fur, while goats come in a variety of colors and have hair rather than wool. But this is just the beginning of their differences.

Let’s talk more specifically about what separates these two animals now.

Lamb vs Goat: Age

The primary difference between lambs and goats has to do with age. Lambs are young sheep, usually under one year of age, while goats are called goats at any age, but especially when they are adults. Young goats are often called kids, so comparing lambs and goats automatically has to do with the age of the animal. 

The difference in age between a lamb vs goat can also affect their appearance. While it can be hard to tell how old a goat is, lambs tend to look much younger than their older sheep counterparts. 

lamb vs goat
Many sheep grow their horns on the sides of their heads, while goat horns are found atop their heads. Sheep horns can be rounded as well, while goat horns are often pointy or uniquely shaped.

Daria-Borovleva/Shutterstock.com

Lamb vs Goat: Fur Types

Another key difference between lambs and goats is their fur types. Goats have a hairy coat, while lambs are just beginning to grow their trademark wool. While lambs will not have very thick coats until their adult years, you can still tell the difference between goat hair and lambswool.

For example, wool is dense and soft while goat hair is coarse and ranges in length. Some goats have very long hair while others have short hair, and all lambs have shorter wool than their adult sheep counterparts, given their age. Most lambs reach peak wool production when they become adults, and their optimum wool age is between 3-5 years.

This could be considered another key difference between lambs and goats: they are raised for different reasons. Lambs and goats are both raised for culinary purposes as well as farm purposes, but lambs will likely be used for their fleece and wool, while goat hair it’s not used in any commercial capacity. 

lamb vs goat
Lambs and sheep have tails that point downward, and they are often thick and wooly, while goat tails point upward, and they are more slender and hairy.

iStock.com/Tutye

Lamb vs Goat: Horns

When comparing lamb vs goat, an obvious difference can be found in their horns. Lambs will never be born with horns, well some goats are. Sheep can grow horns as they age, similarly to goats, but lambs do not develop horns until they are well into their adult years.

If Lambs grow up and develop horns as adults, these horns will still be very different from goat horns. For example, many sheep grow their horns on the sides of their heads, while goat horns are found atop their heads. Sheep horns can be rounded as well, while goat horns are often pointy or uniquely shaped. 

Lamb vs Goat: Tail

Another key difference between lambs and goats is the appearance of their tail. Lambs and sheep have tails that point downward, and they are often thick and wooly, while goat tails point upward, and they are more slender and hairy.

This can be an easy way to tell lambs and goats apart, given that goats often have erect and active tails. Lambs often have their tails docked at a young age, for their own health and safety. The same can also be said for goats, but goats have fewer health issues with their tails when compared to sheep. 

lamb vs goat
Lambs and sheep are considered grazers, while goats are browsers, a phrase that means goats tend to eat whatever they feel like as they come upon it.

Mircea Costina/Shutterstock.com

Lamb vs Goat: Diet

A final key difference between lambs versus goats has to do with their diet. Lambs receive a decent amount of their nutrition from their mothers milk, while goats are old enough to figure out their own nutrition. However, even lambs transition to eating solid foods while within their first months of life, similarly to goats. 

What goats and lambs choose to eat is where they differ as well. Lambs and sheep are considered grazers, while goats are browsers, a phrase that means goats tend to eat whatever they feel like as they come upon it. Goats often eat plants, twigs, leaves, and shrubs at their eye line. Lambs and sheep graze for the grasses found on the ground.

However, just like lambs, baby goats also need their mother’s milk in order to survive. Plant matter soon becomes important for their nutrition, but both lambs and baby goats need a combination of both food sources in order to grow into healthy adults.

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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