I had never herd of Golden Guernsey goats before meeting Thomas McCurdy and Bailey Hale from Ardelia Farm a year ago http://www.ardeliafarm.com/goats-1/. We met at the Craftsbury Common farmers market. I brought my goats to the Sterling College farm stand during Farm Animal Day. That is when I met Bailey, and we started talking about goats, and the herd of Guernseys he and Thomas owned. Even then it was my intention to use Nymeria for my senior project and breed her the next year, when she was bigger. I asked Bailey more about his goats. Milk production, and size were concerns, because Nymeria is just like her nick-name “Little Girl”, and I was worried about her size, and birthing a kid that was too big for her. Nymeria is a Saanen Alpine cross. Both breeds are on the large side, Saanen’s being one of the biggest, so breeding her to her own breed would mean a big kid. Bailey assured me that Guernseys are one of the smallest of the dairy breeds. Nigerian goats are a dwarf breed, and Guernseys are just medium sized. Unlike other people breeding a dairy goat, milk production wasn’t my top concern. I don’t have a high demand for my milk yet. It is just for myself, her kid, and to create small batches of value added products, but I was happy to learn from Bailey that he found his Guernsey’s milk to be sweet tasting.
The complete origins of the Golden Guernsey are unknown, but thanks to DNA testing done by the University of Cordoba (Golden Guernsey Goats and Society in the UK), they concluded that Golden Guernseys are indigenous to Guernsey, which is part of the Channel Islands. During WWII the Golden Guernsey faced extinction, but thanks to Miss Miriam Milbourne, the breed was saved (Golden Guernsey Goats and Society in the UK). During WWII the Channel Islands were occupied by the German Nazis, and they would take farmers livestock to supplement their supplies. Miss Miriam Milbourne defied all and was able to save her herd of Golden Guernsey goats, by hiding them in caves over the island (Croft, Christina). After the war the original Golden Guernseys (GG’s) were imported to England in 1967. In order to save the breed they were bred with British goats to strengthen the bloodlines. They are a recognized dairy goat breed and a British Guernsey Society was created. This British version of the goat is heavier boned (Golden Guernsey Goats and Society in the UK). They might not be the most proficient milkers, but they have a high fat and protein count, not to mention that they are a medium sized goat breed that is very calm and docile, making them a great goat for small scale artisanal cheese production (Breeds of Livestock).
The British cross bred pure Golden Guernseys to their own dairy goats, so they could save the breed, but it was done with care, so now the British Golden Guernsey is about 7/8th pure. They are similar in appearance and still hold some characteristics from the Golden Guernsey sire, but in turn also hold features fron the none Guernsey mother. Those characteristics include an increase in milk production, and conformation, and over some years resulting in a variation of the original breed. These same steps were taken by Golden Guernsey enthusiasts from the United States, because we are not able to import livestock from the U.K., we had to (in a sense) create our own. This was done by importing semen from British Guernsey bucks and pure Golden Guernsey bucks, and inseminating U.S. dairy goats. They where even able to import a few embryos in 1996 to Canada. The resulting pure breed Guernsey kids where then imported to the U.S. As a result of the relative newness of the breed in the U.S, they are not yet recognized by the DHIR (Dairy Herd Improvement Registry) or the ADGA (American Dairy Goat Association), but proposals have been made to do so, and those are currently under review (Ball, Christine).
In truth I chose a Golden Guernsey buck for purely superficial reasons, Edgar was small, handsome, and free! But after researching the breed, I’m really happy I used him. Hopefully, the kid will be a girl, and her milk will be higher in butter fat, and she will be on the medium size, perfect for a small homestead.
1) Croft, Christina. “Grand Duchess Elizabeth And Other Stories: A Different Kind of Hero.” Grand Duchess Elizabeth And Other Stories: A Different Kind of Hero. N.p., 18 Apr. 2011. Web. 01 Jan. 2016.
2) “Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science.” Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University Board of Regents, 17 June 1997. Web. 01 Jan. 2016.
3) Ball, Christine. “Guernsey Goat Breeders of America.” Guernsey Goat Breeders of America. N.p., 2015. Web. 01 Jan. 2016.
4)”Golden Guernsey Goats and Society in the UK.” Golden Guernsey Goats and Society in the UK. GGGS, 21 Aug. 2010. Web. 01 Jan. 2016.
5) McCullough, Felicity, Golden Guernsey Goats. My Lap Shop Publishers; 2 edition, February 23, 2012