We have 3 different breeds of goat on our farm at this time. Saanen, LaMancha, and British Guernsey.
Saanens are very large white goats with straight ears and delicate faces. They produce a lot of milk, albeit with a relatively low milkfat content which makes their milk taste slightly watery. What we love about them though, is their temperament. They are truly gentle giants… Quiet, mellow, friendly, loving and patient, they are a pleasure to have around.
LaManchas come in all sorts of colors and patterns, with tiny elf ears and slightly dished faces. Their affectionate, playful personalities and sweet, creamy milk make them a wonderful dairy goat choice. The downside to these goats (because there is always one!) is their mischievous nature combined with intelligence and athleticism… They will test fences, squeeze through tiny holes, and practically scale walls in their never-ending quest to see what’s on the other side. They will be the first to escape and the last to be caught, while somehow making you laugh even as you curse them. Buyers of LaManchas have to be diligent in their fence building and maintenance, but they are a joy if you can keep them contained!
Both of the above goat breeds also double excellently as pack goats. Both are large-boned, strong, and will follow their owners absolutely anywhere. (LaManchas want to escape enclosures, not people. They LOVE their people.) Saanens will do anything that you ask of them, they are like puppy dogs in their willingness to please, and LaManchas are alert, brave, intelligent, and loyal. Wethers (neutered males) are easier to handle, but LaMancha bucks (or wethers that were neutered later in life) have been well known to stand guard tirelessly to protect his herd, whether his herd be made up of goats, people, or whatever animal they adopt into their care.
Guernsey is a new breed to me. I only have one, and haven’t had any kids from him, so I don’t have an overall view of the breed yet. All I know from my own experience is that our little buck is an absolute sweetheart. Even as an unaltered male, he is unfailingly gentle and calm. He looks a lot like a Saanen, with the straight ears and sweet face, but he is smaller, with a longer coat that is a stunning gold color. The breed has lower production than standard dairy breeds, but with much higher milkfat content, so we’re excited to breed him with our Saanen does and see if we can achieve the best of both worlds through this little man. If we can increase the milkfat and get some cool colors into our Saanens while still having high production, I think we’ll have the perfect goat!
Some of these goats were given to us by friends, and some we traveled significant distances to purchase, but all of them were hand-picked and carefully considered. A good deal on a goat means nothing if the goat isn’t one that meshes well with your lifestyle and plans. So we researched, purchased, raised, fed and monitored them, and then sold the less well-matched goats until we were left with the ones that truly suited us. Keeping an animal that you hate because they’re a good producer, or an animal that you love despite their horrible milk production, doesn’t do anybody any favors. Find the perfect home for the animal, and find the perfect animal for your home.
We carefully looked into each breed of animal before purchasing. What personality traits are common? What genetic weaknesses should you watch out for? In this case, how much milk can you expect and how will it taste? Diet makes a distinct difference in the taste of milk, but so do genetics.
We don’t have registered animals. People can lie just as easily on a registration form as they can to your face, so we just focus on the animals themselves (what a concept!). Health can be improved and certain bad habits trained away, but an animal with bad conformation or a bad attitude will never be worth your time.
So after a lot of research, practical experience and trial and error, these are the goats we have settled on. For now
What breeds of animals have renewed your faith in the species??