- Anglo Nubian - The main identifying feature of this breed is the head, which has a pronounced “roman” nose and long drooping ears. The goat has a long deep body and an upright stance. The large number of colour variations, in the short silky coat, adds to the breeds’ attractions. It is one of the heaviest and tallest breeds of goat with males weighing up to 140Kgs and females to 110Kgs. The males have a longer and harsher coat than the females,
A good milking goat. The milk of the Anglo-Nubian goat is high in both butterfat and protein, tests having shown an average of 4.8% butterfat and 3.8% protein. The milk is ideal for yoghurt and cheese making. The average Anglo-Nubian has a high daily weight of fat and protein. It is for this reason that the milk is of such interest to cheese-makers.
The breed is also well suited to meat production, both in its own right and when crossed with other breeds. It adapts well to hot climates and has resulted in demand for exports to increase both milk and meat production.
Anglo-Nubians are friendly household animals, supplying fresh milk for the family or a commercial proposition.
Society website: http://www.anglonubiangoatsociety.com/
- British - This is the term used to describe goats that are registered with the British Goat Society, but are not eligible for a breed section. It is possible to “grade up” to some of the Breed sections when the pedigree is sufficiently “pure”. Grading up is not possible with Golden Guernsey, Saanen or Toggenburg.
Goats in this section can be any colour and often have a great deal of hybrid vigor. British goats are judged entirely on their conformation and milking qualities. Many of the UK’s highest yielding goats and also show Champions are in this section.
- British Alpine - This goat is black with white Swiss markings and has been developed in the UK. The goat should be rangy with a short fine goat. The overall effect is a most impressive animal when the black coat acquires its summer gloss. The breed can be highly individual in character and tends to be a breed for enthusiasts who like a challenge. The female's short, shiny, black coat set into relief by the contrasting white markings can make it a most attractive breed.
The BA milks as well as any of the other major breeds in the UK, and has a reputation for milk with a very pleasant taste. The breed also "runs through" very well i.e. milks well for a second year without having to kid.
Society website: http://www.britishalpines.co.uk
- British Sannen - a white goat, developed in the UK and largely influenced by imported Saanen goats. The white coat is short and fine, but freckles and patches of colour are allowed on the skin. Registered pure bred Saanens can be used with British Saanens and the progeny can still be registered as British Saanen. Goats of this breed have longer legs than the Saanen, and are heavier. Generally they have calm natures with high yields and long lactations.
It is a popular breed for those requiring high production of liquid milk throughout the year and where large groups of goats may be housed together. For these reasons the British Saanen forms the foundation breeding stock for some large goat farms in the UK, where liquid milk sales are the main objective.
Society contact: 01568 760649
- British Toggenburg – A brown and white goat with Swiss markings and developed in the UK. A medium brown colour is the ideal, but lighter and darker colours are acceptable. Slight fringes of long hair are allowed on an otherwise short and silky coat.
British Toggenburgs usually have sound dairy conformation as well as being strong and robust, having good longevity. The breed is one of the most popular breeds in the UK and is used in some commercial goat farms where cheese is a main product. Adult males usually have longer and coarser coats than the female. Markings are similar, but the facial stripes can become less distinct as they get older. They should be sound with good width across the front and rear, have good feet and legs, standing four square.
Society website: http://www.britishtoggenburgs.co.uk
- English - The aim is to breed a utility goat with all the qualities, which make an ideal smallholders animal, suited to the British climate and vegetation. The female should efficiently convert the latter into a moderate milk supply, over a long period, without the need for large amounts of concentrated feeds.
Coat colour is variable, mainly brown or grey, with a characteristic dark line "eel stripe" along the back. There are usually dark markings on head, legs and flanks; white patches are permitted, but Swiss markings are ideally absent.
In addition to the physical conformation and characteristics, the behaviour of the English goat is of importance and interest to its keepers. It has a good conversion rate of milk and meat throughout the year. It is keen to eat a wide range of wild and crop food, i.e. not faddy, and is not put off foraging by the British climate. It will generally milk through two years.
Society website: http://www.egba.org.uk
- Golden and British Guernsey - a golden colour with medium gold being the most common, but the golden colour can vary from a pale blonde to a deep bronze. The length of a coat can vary considerably, but generally there is some fringing. The Golden Guernsey was first imported to England in 1965 and a closed Herd Book is used for registration, but the British Guernsey is a breed being created from other breeds by the continual use of Golden Guernsey males on successive generations of female progeny. Swiss markings are forbidden in both breeds, but small white markings are allowed.
Golden Guernsey goats are smaller than other British dairy breeds, fine boned, and are generally quiet and docile. In many respects they are ideal “household” goats. They have a good yield when this is related to their size, and quite sufficient for most households. The milk is relatively high in fat and protein to make it suitable for yoghurt and cheese. They are suitable for those without grazing who have a very small plot of land, and want to give their family wholesome milk, produced at home.
The British Guernsey is slightly larger that the Golden Guernsey and is not easily distinguished from the parent breed.
Society website: http://www.goldenguernseygoat.org.uk
- Saanen - This is a white goat, which gets its name from the Saanen valley in Switzerland, where selective breeding of dairy goats has taken place for several hundred years.
The Saanens in the UK started with an importation of goats from Holland in 1922, and these had an enormous influence on the development of British goats.
The goats have a short fine coat and supple skin and a distinctly feminine head, which may be straight or dished. There are relatively few Saanens in the UK, but they have a quiet nature, can milk well and have qualities used with great advantage in improving British Saanens.
Society website: http://www.saanen.co.uk/
- Toggenburg - the breed originated in Switzerland within an area centred on the Obertoggenburg and Werdenburg valleys. The first Toggenburg goats arrived in Britain in 1884 from the Swiss Alps.
The goat has good length and depth, without legginess. Although smaller in stature than its British counterpart it is usually a strong goat with sound conformation. Its colour can range from mid-brown to shades of grey or fawn, with white Swiss markings. The head is distinctive, being wide across the level of the eyes, and having a dished face. The hair can be any length, but fringing is usually present to some degree and the coat is silky in texture.
Because it is originally a mountain breed, the Toggenburg is very hardy and adaptable to changes in environment and remarkably free of genetic faults, despite being a pure or ‘closed’ breed.
Society website C/O: http://www.allgoats.com/breeds2.htm#TOGGENBURG
- Angora - Angora goats produce mohair, which should not be confused with Angora wool, which comes from Angora rabbits.
While other goats are double-coated, i.e. they have coarse outer hairs and an under-down; Angora goats are the only single-coated breed. The presence of any coarse hairs, known as kemp and medullated fibres, are faults.
Mohair is a fine luxurious fibre, which can readily be dyed to brilliant colours. It is sometimes referred to as the "diamond fibre" because of its lustre and hardwearing properties. It is often blended with other natural fibres to produce yarns and textiles. Angora goats are sheared twice a year, usually in January and late summer. As the fleece grows, it forms "ringlets" or staples, due to a spiral twist known as style and a crimp known as character. The length, lustre, density, quality, fineness and evenness of the fleece are all-important, a product of heredity and management. Fibre diameter increases with the goat’s age; kid mohair is under 30 microns in diameter, young goat is 30 - 33 microns, and adult is over 33 microns. The finest fibre is the most highly priced and is used for sweaters and cloth, the coarsest for rugs.
Angora goats require plenty of forage in their diet, and adequate housing after shearing and around kidding time.
Society website: http://www.angoragoats-mohair.org.uk/
- Bagot - This ancient native breed is known to have existed continuously since the 1380's. The name is derived from the Bagot family, of Blithfield Hall, Staffordshire, who owned the earliest known herd which roamed wild in Bagots Park, three miles from the Hall.
The Bagot is a small to medium sized goat. It has large curved horns which sweep backwards with vey little lateral twist. The striking colour pattern which breeders aim for is entirely black from nose to shoulder, entirely white behind the shoulder line, however this pattern currently does not always breed true.
They have not been selected for meat or milk production and are not noted for their commercial qualities. Current work involves looking at them for use in conservation grazing.
Bagot goats are currently classed as ‘critical’ by The Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Society website: http://www.bagotgoats.co.uk
- Cashmere - The word “cashmere” describes the down, not the goat, and many goats have the genetic makeup that enables them to produce down. Cashmere is the down produced by the skin’s secondary hair follicles, which grows in response to decreasing day-length, thus protecting the goat from the winter cold much more efficiently than do the guard-hairs produced by the primary hair follicles (these coarser hairs make up the visible coat of the animal). Cashmere is one of the world's most rare and valuable fibres, prized by the textile and knitwear industries for its softness and handle.
To be acceptable for processing, however, cashmere fibres must be as fine as possible, and by definition the diameter must not exceed 18.5 microns. Other properties are also required - a suitable length (about 4.5 cm.), construction, crimp and colour (white is more valuable than brown or grey). Before spinning, the inevitable guard hairs shed when the cashmere moults out in the spring must be removed. For this reason cashmere processing is currently an industrial, rather than a domestic procedure.
The goats are easily controlled and herds are managed in a similar way to flocks of sheep. The main difference lies in harvesting the fibre. The growth of the coat is seasonal and the cashmere moults in early spring. This allows it to be combed from the goat in the traditional way, but it may also be harvested by shearing.
Society website C/O: http://www.allgoats.com/breeds3.htm#CASHMERE
- Harness – not a breed of goat, but a working animal. Ever since the goat was domesticated it has been used as a beast of burden. In the Roman times children used to mimic their elders and raced each other in miniature chariots. Even now in some countries they are being used to carry loads, small children or wood for burning.
A goat should only be asked to pull a maximum of one and half times its own weight, so the vehicles should be as light as possible. A pack goat in good condition can carry up to 25% of its body weight if the load is well distributed.
The Harness Goat Society was formed in 1986 to encourage the use of a working goat, pack or driven and to make sure no cruelty was involved. All breeds of goat of either sex can be trained, but the Society recommends a disbudded or polled castrated male as being the most suitable. Good temperament and soundness are important.
Society website: http://www.harnessgoats.co.uk
- Pygmy - Pygmy goats are miniatures, genetically dwarfed; they are kept mainly for enjoyment, interest and companionship. They are generally quiet and docile.
The adult Pygmy has a maximum height at the withers of approximately 56 cm for males, less for females. The pygmy goat is hardy, good natured, genetically small, cobby and compact. Head, neck and legs are short in relation to body length. The body is full-barrelled and well muscled, circumference in relation to height and weight is proportionally greater than in other breeds. Sexual characteristics are clearly defined. The overall picture is that of an alert, animated goat of pleasing proportions. They can be any colour except completely white, with white Swiss markings on the face not allowed.
Housing requirements are less demanding than for the dairy breeds, since the goats are so much smaller. Kids are reared on the dams, so milking is only rarely necessary. Castrated males (wethers) make ideal pets, but entire males should not be kept unless separate accommodation can be provided for them. The goats like company, so keeping single Pygmies should be avoided.
Society website: http://www.pygmygoatclub.org
- Boer - The Boer goat originates in South Africa and is completely different in appearance from the established dairy goat. Developed specifically for meat it is a stocky animal with short legs, broad chest and thick rump. The Boer has distinguished colours of a chestnut head and white body. Boers are docile by nature, despite their size and graze well. Adult bucks can reach 150 Kg., and does 100 Kg. Boer bucks can be used as terminal sires to improve meat carcasses from dairy does. Boer goat does kid regularly every year and a kidding percentage of 160 to 200 is normal. With proper care a Boer goat doe is able to kid three times in two years although one annual kidding is more normal. A Boer goat doe has a long producing life span of approximately 10 years and cases are known of Boer goat does kidding at an age of thirteen years.
As with most milkers, the Boer goat has short smooth hair and can be easily kept in good health. During and after kidding, the Boer goat needs good management to care for the many kids and with its placid temperament it is easier to keep in fenced paddocks and fields than longer legged breeds.
Although the Boer goat was originally bred in the warm South African climate, the breed has adapted well to the harsher northern climate and given field shelters, they can be out wintered in lowland areas of the British Isles.
Society website: http://www.britishboergoatsociety.co.uk
For further information, please visit http://www.allgoats.com