Golden Guernsey Goats – Made for Microholding

I feel I should start with a confession: my experience of other breeds is limited. Although I helped to look after an Anglo-Nubian and a British Alpine goat at prep school (Floppy and Clemmie, as I recall), my relationship with them was somewhat distant – mostly due to Floppy being a psycho who butted boys into the pond – so I can’t really comment on them as potential breeds for the microholding.

That said, before getting the Golden Guernseys, I did a fair bit of research into four popular goat breeds and I came up with the following stats:

british-toggenburg-01British Toggenburgs

  • Used commercially for cheese production
  • Cross with meat breeds to produce kids for the table
  • Average daily milk yield: 4.54kg*
  • 3.69% butterfat, 2.72% protein
  • Good tempered and thrive on mixed pasture

Pros: high milk yield – well suited the land I had available

Cons: need to find a meat breed goat to mate with

(*1 litre of milk is just around 1.03kg)

Saanen-breeds-of-goatBritish Saanens

  • Used commercially for milk production due to long lactation period
  • Cross with meat breeds to produce kids for the table
  • Average daily milk yield: 4.29kg
  • 3.58% butterfat, 2.66% protein
  • Large, quiet natured goat

Pros: good milk yield and nature

Cons: large size means higher fence and need to find a meat breed goat to mate with

anglo_nubianAnglo-Nubian

  • Large dual-purpose goat, good for milk and meat
  • Milk drops off in winter
  • Average daily milk yield: 3.89kg
  • 4.84% butterfat, 3.51% protein – ideal for yoghurt/cheese making
  • Floppy eared and flat faced

Pros: good dual-purpose breed

Cons: milk drops off in winter and it looks… funny

Golden GuernseyGolden Guernsey

  • Medium sized, dubbed ‘the ideal household goat’
  • Can be crossed with meat breed to improve bulk
  • Average daily milk yield: 3.16kg
  • 3.72% butterfat, 2.81% protein
  • Good natured goat, either long or short haired

Pros: good milk solids, well tempered and ideal size

Cons: May need to find meat breed to get best out of kids

Golden Guernsey emerged as my breed of choice and, as luck would have it, the lady I bought my pigs from just happened to breed Golden Guernsey goats. So, in July 2008, I bought Emma, a first time mum with two kids, one male, who I would raise for the table, the other female, who I would raise as a companion for Emma. This female kid I named ‘Piper’.

And they really are the ideal household goat. Their small size means they don’t leap over garden fences, which I have heard is not the case for many of the larger breeds (I recall the Anglo-Nubian at school was always escaping and eating the headmaster’s wife’s rose!) I kept my goats enclosed with four foot fence panels and they never even tried to escape.

The milk yield is another factor. I have a family of six and the 3 or so litres I got each day was plenty. Not only did we have enough milk for the household, but we had extra left over for making cheese and to freeze (goat milk freezes perfectly) for when the months when I wasn’t milking. Had we kept something like a Saanen, we’d have been drowning in the stuff and our freezers overflowing.

Temper-wise, my Golden Guernseys were not aggressive in the slightest – I could leave my two and three year olds with them and know they’d be fine. They were, at times, skittish, but that was mostly when I kept them at the field and visited twice a day. Once I moved them to my garden, however, they soon settled down and were content and docile.

And they look nice. For goats.

One day I will keep goats again, and my breed of choice will undoubtedly be Golden Guernsey all the way.

Posted in Goats

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