There were 2,621,514 goats in the United States as of 2012, the year of the most recent USDA Agricultural Census. If America's goats were their own state, its population would be larger than that of Wyoming, Vermont, D.C. and North Dakota -- combined. This is what all those goats look like on a map.
Now. This may not be the World's Most Important Map. But consider this: you might say that goats are having a moment. NPR's new-ish blog on "stories of life in a changing world" is called "Goats and Soda," a nod to the animal's ubiquity in many parts of the developing world. Closer to home, goats are being used in urban areas to trim grass and control brush.
The Post's Anup Kaphle wrote recently of goats as a cultural bridge between the U.S. and his homeland in Nepal. Goat meat is a mainstay of many African, Asian and Caribbean diets. As more people from those regions settle in the U.S., we'll see goat enter the American cooking mainstream. As it is, a Google search for "goat recipes" returns 19.3 million results.
America's goat population is heavily concentrated in the Southwest, Texas in particular. Nearly 80 percent of America's goats are raised for meat. Sixteen percent are raised for milk, with the remaining 6 percent is comprised of Angora goats raised for mohair.
You'll find commercial goat farms operating in 2,996 of the country's 3,143 counties. Of the top ten goat-producing counties, 8 are in Texas and two are in Arizona. In Sutton County, Texas, goats outnumber people 14-to-1. In Edwards County, also in Texas, the ratio is 22-to-1. All in all, goats outnumber people in 21 U.S. counties, all but one of which are in Texas.
While our national goat herd shrunk somewhat between 2007 and 2012 -- from 3.1 million to 2.6 million -- taking a longer view the trend in goat production tends upward. Back in 1982, for instance, the U.S. produced only 1.7 million goats.
Aside from meat, goats are making their mark on the culture in other ways too. There are currently 3.2 million YouTube videos relating to goats. Last year saw the release of the video game Goat Simulator. 28 million people have watched this video of goats yelling like humans.
In short, goats are pretty much everywhere.