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Goats are versatile animals and are at home in a number of environments. Heifer uses goats in projects from Albania to India to Uganda. In addition to being one of Heifer International's most popular gift animals, goats are an amazing resource to families.

Photo by Jake Lyell
After childhood illnesses left both Monica Mulongoti and her husband Jackson blind, the couple and their children lived for many years at the Fisenge Blind Center near Luanshya, Zambia. There was only enough food for one meal a day. But then Monica received dairy goats through a project Heifer had begun at the center. Monica now earns $5.38 per day from the sale of the goat milk, and the money affords the family three meals a day. "Heifer goes to those who are really needy, the really poor. They give animals that help us get food for our children," said Monica.

Preserved Pastures
Grazing animals can damage vegetation and soil. Heifer project recipients are taught zero-grazing: a technique where animals are kept in adequate enclosures and fodder is brought to them. This technique preserves pastures and leads to higher milk outputs and better manure for organic gardening.
Goats can have two to three kids a year. More goats means more milk, and more people worldwide drink goat's milk than cow's milk. Goat's milk is easily digestible because of the smaller milk fats. Goat's milk can also be turned into cheese and yogurt for family consumption and sale.
The sale of extra milk or the money earned from renting a buck to others in the community for breeding can dramatically increase income for a poor family. For many, this enables them to send their children to school, an almost guaranteed way to break the cycle of poverty.
This holiday season, consider giving the gift of a goat in honor of Uncle Steve, whose laugh sounds more like a bleat. And read Heifer CEO Pierre Ferrari's 18 Ways Goats Change Lives.


Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.