Two new arrivals have been settling in at Church Farm, getting used to their new surroundings and meeting our resident goat family. We are pleased to welcome Kate and Jenny, young Golden Guernsey nanny goats, bought in to boost our herd numbers.
Golden Guernseys are not on the RBST’s list as particularly rare but it has been quite difficult to obtain good quality, registered females that are unrelated to our present blood lines.
The history of Golden Guernsey goats is quite interesting. They originated in the Channel Islands as a result of cross breeding Anglo-Nubian goats with the Swiss breed. An islander, Miss Miriam Milbourne, saw these goats in 1924 and kept some for herself from 1937. During the German occupation of Guernsey in WWII, an order was given to kill all livestock for food. It is thanks to Miss Milbourne that the goats survived when she managed to hide some in caves. It is from these few that the Golden Guernseys are descended. In fact our Kate’s Great, Great, Grandfather is from the island. In the 1950s a breeding programme began to increase the numbers and in 1965 they were introduced to mainland Britain.
The Golden Guernseys are small, fine boned goats with ears erect and pointing forward. The coat varies from shades of golden brown to a light champagne colour and the hair can be long or short. A favourite feature is their affectionate and gentle nature.
Goats are quite nervous, sensitive animals. Ours are used to being petted and walking amongst the public, but any unusual occurrence can cause sheer panic. For example, I recently found a pair of Guernseys in a state of shock; nay, quivering wrecks. I discovered that a plumber had been working near them. He reported that the nannies began shaking, then one fainted and the other one threw herself on the floor. It was hard to determine who was more shocked, the goats or the plumber!
On another occasion a new employee was asked to lead a goat out to meet the public. The instructor omitted to caution him not to pull on the collar as goats can easily choke. The advice came too late and (you guessed it) the goat collapsed feigning death. Over dramatic, but effective.
Goats have a reputation for eating almost anything, but in reality they can be quite choosy. They don’t like or need lots of fresh grass, preferring dry hay, shrubs and rougher vegetation, which other farm animals find unpalatable.
Anya is a hand-reared orphan Golden Guernsey kid, who is very friendly with visitors. She puts her front feet up on the fence and looks around appealingly until a human goes to meet her. Then she carries out the rest of her plan, which is to nibble and investigate anything she can reach; coats, buttons, hair, books, prams and their wheels, handbags (sorry!), cuddly toys, the washing on the line ……..