The Spanish Goat Association is still putting together a list of bloodlines. We have found most of the "old herds," but we are still finding (and seeking) spanish goats, so the list is not yet complete.
These bloodline histories were told to us by the breeders themselves where possible and are as accurate as we can get. We have named the bloodlines after the breeders, and are thankful to them for their many years of breed conservation.
Many longtime breeders have asked, "Fullblood Spanish? Is there really such a thing?" We think that if not, we can come as close as possible to finding the oldest bloodlines availablebloodlines that seem to have no history of crossbreeding with imports as far as we know.
The terms "nannies" and "billies" are here mostly superceded by the terms "bucks" and "does" primarily due to the inexperience of the editor at time written, and the gentle understanding of the breeders.
Please read on, or select from the following list to page down to a bloodline of your choice.
Willingham (info only, not purebred Spanish)
Named after Rob Baylis, Eastabutchie, Mississippi
Rob Baylis was born in the early part of the 20th century. He began raising purebred Spanish goats in Eastabutchie, Mississippi when he was a boy. Eastabutchie is in the Pineywoods region in Mississippia hot, humid, region that is only rarely snowy in the winter, and the land is covered in pine trees. Where Baylis lived, closer to the river, there were hardwoods as well as pines, and the goats foraged on Yaupon bushes and Bluestem grass.
Those were the days when Spanish goats were used as brush goats, and goat meat was just a by-product. That was before the Stock Laws took effect in Mississippilivestock wasn’t required to be in fenced pastures back then, and farmers allowed their stock to roam freely. The goats could forage at will, and move on as needed. As long at they didn’t mess with anyone’s cotton patch or crops, they were free to go. Farmers were used to wandering livestock, and if someone else’s livestock was grazing on your land it was fine. . . your own livestock was probably grazing on theirs.
Worms and parasites were not an issue in the Pineywoods, because the animals constantly foraged in different areas. Not only that, but although the subtropical conditions of the southeast foster prolific parasites and guarantee wet hooves, the Baylis goats had developed the parasite resistance and hooves needed to survive these conditions. This makes this Baylis strain in dire need of conservation as they are some of the few remaining animals that are specifically adapted to the climate in the southeastern states.
Predators weren’t a great problem in the area, either, in Baylis’ time. Coyotes were not yet introduced, and Baylis held a strong presence on his land, usually accompanied by cur dogs. Cur dogs are an old breed found in the Deep South: fast, scent-tracking dogs, usually yellow with black mouths, that could tear apart any foxes or bobcats they found.
Rob Baylis’ herd, at its peak, reached about 300400 goats. They were moderately-sized, and were stocky and “typey” with classic Spanish heads and ears. They were of various colors. According to Dr. Phil Sponenberg, who visited Baylis in the 1990’s, some of the bucks were very ‘chunky,’ and one buck showed very good meat conformation, suggesting that Baylis did breed selectively.
Baylis kept a primarily closed herd for almost 75 years. He made very few acquisitions. Some of the Baylis goats were sold by Rob Baylis to conservation breeders. In his final years Rob Baylis began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. He continued to maintain his herd, but suffered a great loss when roaming dogs killed off the remaining herd of over 100 goats.
There are now approximately 50 Baylis goats remaining.
History of Baylis herd from Justin Pitts, Gurney Davis, and Phil Sponenberg, January 2008.
Named after Gene and Margaret Bode, Harper, Texas
Gene Bode is a man who has always loved Spanish goats. Even his grandfather kept Spanish goats for the family table, and Bode loves goat meat barbecued, baked, and fried. Bode can taste the difference between Boer meat and Spanish meat. He finds the Boer meat to be fattier, and the Spanish meat has a notably different flavor which he prefers, as do many of his friends.
Bode began raising purebred Spanish goats in the early 1960’s. His first goats were purchased from Mr. Parker at Black Bull Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas (no longer in business). Bode began to take breeding very seriously in 1987, and added more top bucks to his herd from a few different sources, including some from the Kensing strain.
Bode would cull the smaller goats, and preferred greater length and height. His biggest bucks’ backs were waist-high, and Bode enjoys a height of nearly six feet. Bode did not breed for color, but preferred the colorful spotted goats. His herd sported horns that went straight back. The goats’ ears were solid, not floppy, fairly short, and were held straight back.
Bode’s goats were kept in Sonora, Terville, and at home in Harper. The terrain is hilly with limestone rock that would keep the goats’ hooves in excellent condition naturally. Their forage included Shin Oak, Spanish Oak, and a lot of low, leafy brush. He did find that if the goats gorged on too many acorns, they would get sick from the toxins.
Owning a feed store came in very handy. Bode formulated a feed that included hay, grain, and minerals, and had it mixed at the store. The goats would each eat about 5 lbs per day of this feed, and even Christmas Day would bring Gene Bode to his goats, lugging 40 sacks of feed. He attributes the fact that in 30 years he never had to worm his goats to his feeding technique. He also believes it was one of the reasons why his goats were so prolific.
Bode’s goats had excellent birth ratesevery year at least one doe would have quintuplets, four would have quadruplets, and about 100 would have triplets. The does could successfully feed their young, even the quintuplets. However, if for some reason a kid needed assistance, the Bodes would be there to help. At one time, when the herd had reached 1,000, Margaret Bode bottle fed 30 kids in one season. Bode only bred once per year, and would not begin breeding the does until they were yearlings.
Bode did not have a predator problem. Except for one year, however, at Terville. . . black crows came in at kidding time. The dogs couldn’t catch the crows, or keep up with all of them. That year, Bode lost 130 kids to crows.
During his years as a breeder, Bode would buy, sell, and trade goats, but always kept to purebred Spanish. He asserts that they’re best there is.
History of Bode herd from Gene Bode, January 2008.
Named after Eugene Bradshaw, Christoval, Texas
Like many Texas ranchers, Eugene Bradshaw was born into goat ranching. His family raised angoras, but when the mohair subsidy ended, Bradshaw, then a young man heading-up the ranch, switched courses and began to raise Spanish meat goats.
Bradshaw’s first goats came from neighboring ranches: Doug Jones, the Robinson Ranch, and the Abernathy herd all contributed to Bradshaw’s original Spanish herd, and he added a few choice goats that were selected carefully from the auction ring.
Bradshaw’s original herd included a variety of colors, but around the mid-1990’s, he developed a preference for all-black goats, enjoying the eye-appeal of a solid-colored herd. But even the all-black goats were strongly scrutinized when it came to culling. Bradshaw has always demanded good conformation and breeding ability from his goats.
The Bradshaw line has been raised to 1400 acres of rolling hills in the hill country of Texas, foraging on the sparse range of live oak and woody brush. They are occasionally given corn and minerals as a supplement.
Bradshaw has two kidding seasonsspring and fall. His kid crop runs at about 100130% per season (and about 150% per year). Usually he raises 2 kid crops every three years, and if nannies do not kid at all for a year, they are culled. Bradshaw keeps a few billies per hundred goats, and billies are re-evaluated every year. Kids are born in March, April, and May, and also in October, November, and December. At Christmas, and in late May, the billies are removed for a few months, but other than those times, they run with the herd.
Bradshaw’s kidding times are strategically plannedthe months of November through April are eagle season on Bradshaw’s ranch. By avoiding having kids when eagle predation is imminent, and waiting to kid after the eagles fly north, Bradshaw can reduce his losses. Attacks by bobcats and racoons remain. Bradshaw knows that if dogs are not fed regularly they’ll turn on the goats for meat, so he prefers to use traps.
The Bradshaw herd has recently drawn some genetics from Syfan and Kensing herds, but has also contributed its unique genes to other Spanish bloodlines. Bradshaw used to run tow or three thousand head of Boer nannies, but sold them all as they had poor mothering abilities compared to his Spanish goats. After a lifetime of goat breeding experience, Bradshaw has maintained, and prefers, Spanish goats.
Story by Eugene Bradshaw, October 2010.
“Uno” is a buck with a remarkable story. He belonged to a rancher who decided to raise Boer-cross goats, and was the one of the last purebred Spanish goats in the herd that got caught out. Uno was just a kid, and was scheduled to be eaten for dinner by his owner. That is, until Marvin Shurley saw him. Shurley was struck by the structural soundness of the little goat, and made a deal to buy him on the spot. Thus Uno found a reprieve from the BBQ pit and a new home on Shurley’s ranch in Sonora, Texas. Uno became the reference buck for what is now called the Devil’s River bloodline.
Shurley had raised Spanish goats for many years, running up to 2,000 head at one time, but got interested in Boers in the early 1990’s and crossed his Spanish goats with Boers. However, as the President for the American Meat Goat Association, Shurley is able to stay well-informed on the studies and trends of meat goats in the United States. And he had learned from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy that Spanish goats had been assigned as a conservation priority. He knew then that he’d like to put together a Spanish herd before the breed disappeared altogether.
So Shurley started with Uno, and set out to find some Spanish nannies. He found out that Eugene Bradshaw in El Dorado, Texas had put together a group of 900 Spanish nannies; Shurley chose what he considered to be the top 49 nannies out of the bunch and bought them. Since then he has added a performance-tested Sawyer billy to breed with Uno’s progeny, and to produce sires for use in his composite breeding program. He’s breeding both Spanish billies, Uno and Eddie, to Boer and Spanish nannies.
Shurley’s ranch has the same terrain as most hill-country goat ranches, with Live Oaks, Shin Oaks, and fairly dense brush. Apparently the brush is a deterrent for eagles, making landing and take-off too tricky for them. The ranch is devoid of coyotes, which have been virtually wiped out in the area by commercial ranchers' trapping efforts over the years. There are still predators though, mainly bobcats, raccoons, and foxes. Shurley does not use any livestock guardian animals, relying solely on traps and snares. In the past three years he’s caught 120 bobcats, 400 raccoons, and about 100 foxes, which not only benefits kid survival, but is also a fun and profitable hobby.
Shurley primarily chooses Spanish goats that are structurally sound. He likes large-framed and heavy-boned goats that show no signs of frailty. He prefers black coats, but does not breed for color. The goats are expected to be hardy—there is no deworming, and natural forage is only supplemented when necessary by 20% protein blocks.
Shurley’s long-term goat-ranching strategy lies in developing a composite herd that includes a mix of Boer, Nubian, Kiko, and Spanish in the mix. He’s not happy with guessing what’s best, he wants proof. He wants numbers, and has participated in goat performance tests since 1995. And Shurley’s willing to become actively involved with some very interesting studies to find out if his hunch about the perfect composite mix of goats is correct or not. In some on-farm testing in the mid-1990’s, some of his Spanish dressed out at 57% compared to his Boers who only hit around 52% on a live weight to hot carcass weight comparison. Unfortunately those ‘old’ Spanish genetics of his goats were lost due to out-crossing with Boers.
Shurley has seen the population of Spanish goats drop from well over half a million to today’s hard-to-find goats numbering perhaps 7,000 nationwide. Shurley has the experience to know that if you want to continue to keep Spanish blood in the herd, you’ve got to raise some purebred Spanish goats. Thankfully there are still a few isolated herds of Spanish goats running around in the Devil’s River area of Texas that aren’t being crossed with other breeds.
Shurley would like to state that many of the long-time breeders of Spanish goats listed on this website served as an inspiration to him in his meat goat ventures over the years. And he wishes to say, “Thanks to all of you who stuck with Spanish goats.”
History of Devil's Run herd by Marvin F. Shurley, February 2008. Shurley passed away in April, 2009.
Named after Robert and Doris Kensing, Menard, Texas
Robert Kensing was an economist for the Texas A&M Extension Service. One day in 1972 an extension agent called him in about horticulture—a local hobby farmer in Menard, Texas was considering growing pecans. When Kensing left that farm, he brought away 15 does and one buck. They were Kensing’s first goats. The Kensings had just purchased property in Menard, and although they still lived 60 miles away, they put the goats on the new land. The goats could eat brush and required very little maintenance. The Spanish goats were a weekend hobby, but right from the start Kensing began selective breeding and culling. When Kensing retired in 1986, he moved to Menard, expanded the ranch, and devoted his time to breeding purebred Spanish goats.
Robert Kensing had grown up with Angora goats, which were a popular breed in Texas when mohair commanded a high price, so he had experience. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, Kensing’s family were some of many ranchers who raised sheep and Angora goats in Texas. They also kept Spanish goats. When the shearers came, the crew would camp out on the ranch. Most were Mexican, and were very happy to eat goat meat. The ranchers ate it, too. That’s what the Spanish goats were foryou needed a small animal that you could eat before the meat went bad, because in the Kensing’s area, farms didn’t have electricity until the late 1930’s. Lambs were more expensive than goats. Angora goats were more expensive than Spanish goats, because Angoras could be sold for both meat and hair. Spanish goats were just for meat, so those were the ones for eating. And the Spanish goats could just take care of themselves.
Around the time that Kensing moved to Menard, meat goat ranchers in Texas were getting excited about imported breeds, specifically Boer goats. Boers became fashionable and popular, and most breeders chose to breed their Spanish goats with Boers. Not Kensing. He knew that very often that first generation of crossbreeding is very impressive, but as time goes on the crossbreeds may not prove to be everything hoped. So he kept his Spanish goats purebred, and added good stock to his herd. The additions were bucks. Two big, beautiful bucks from a Sonora breeder (no longer in the business), and some bucks from Bill Brown (now deceased) in Menard. There were also some from San Angelo. Kensing would pay the price for excellent bucks$300 in the 1980’s to bring bucks of excellent conformation into his herd.
The Kensings had a friend out west who needed bucks, and that type of demand helped shape their breeding strategies. The Kensings breed for kidding in January and wean the bucklings in April. The bucklings are then kept separate from the herd, and given feed daily to help them fill out and to keep them gentled. In September, bucks are leased out for breeding, and in December they return home, and are left to forage. Of these bucks, some are culled in January or February, but the best live on to breed again.
The Kensings’ ranch features gently-rolling hills and great expanses of oak trees. Limestone rock in the hills has always kept the goats’ hooves naturally trimmed. There are no natural water sources for the goats, so they drink from troughs. Temperatures often reach 105 or 110 degrees in the summertime, which the goats seem to enjoy. The average annual rainfall is 20 inches.
The Kensings’ goats forage on “weeds.” Live Oaks and Shin Oaks factor greatly into their diets, and Robert Kensing keeps an eye on the Shin Oaks to make sure that the goats do not eat them all down to the roots. Mesquite and Prickly Pear also grow in abundance. The goats avoid eating the latter, but they will sometimes tiptoe in to eat the Prickly Pear fruit. Kensing has worked hard to control the cacti and Mesquite on his ranch. There is rarely snow in wintertime in Menard, and during winter months there are still tall, dried grasses standing, so cut hay is never used. When the goats’ feed is supplemented, Kensing uses 20% protein grain cubes and shell corn. The bucklings receive the supplemental feed, as do the does at kidding time. The amounts given depend on the quality of the natural forage available.
Weather plays a large role in the Kensings’ operation. Rain can bring worms, and Kensing can visually assess whether or not the goats need to be dewormed, primarily by looking at the pinks around their eyes. The forage is affected by the weather, too, which then in turn can affect the birth rate of the goats. Triplets are not unusual, but if the weather is tricky during the year and forage is poor, the goats mostly have twins.
If weather conditions through the growing season are normal, about 10% of the does will have triplets, most will have twins, and there will also be single births. The Kensings do not interfere at kidding time, and if a weak kid cannot make it through with normal care, it is left to its fate. Does are given shelter at kidding time, but usually take refuge in the shelter of the oaks.
The Kensing bucks weight in at 100 lbs when immature at eight months of age, and 175 lbs when full grown. The does weigh about 150 lbs at adulthood in good body condition.
The Kensings are fortunate in that they can manage predator problems. Eagles are rarely seen on their ranch, and the goats are safe from raptors beneath the trees. They keep one llama with each group of goats (groups consist of 50 goats running on 300 acres). The llamas are effective against the occasional coyote, and are easy to care for as they forage with the goats. The Kensings also have Texas Longhorn crossbreds who are fiercely protective of their calves against any dogs that may show up. As calving time coincides with kidding time, the cattle offer protection for the entire birthing herd.
Doris Kensing’s favorite Spanish goats were always the ones that were kind of different—the “furry” ones. These have a thicker cashmere undercoat which, Doris believes, protects the kids better from the elements. They have slightly different horns, and different, less gentle, temperaments than the rest. Their horns tend to grow more straight back than outwards, but there is only slight horn variation within their herd. The Kensings’ goats have small sideways ears. Cashmere is no longer tolerated.
The Kensings do not usually breed for color, but did have a client who preferred brown goats, believing that brown coats helped to camouflage the kids and keep them safer from predators. The Kensings obliged him, and ensured that their herd included mostly brown bucks to sell. Most of their goats are brown or dark tan with a black line down the back. Some are spotted.
Robert and Doris Kensing still raise purebred Spanish goats, but most of the herd is now in the hands of their nephew, David Whitworth, who is dedicated to continuing conservation of the Spanish breed.
History of Kensing herd from Robert and Doris Kensing, February 2008.
In 1991, Zona Koy Hunt purchased 20 Spanish nannies. She grew her herd, adding a Spanish billy here and there to avoid inbreeding, and maintained a tight cull. Good breeding stock was rarely if ever sold, it was kept to increase the herd.
Before Mrs. Hunt passed away, she asked her family to watch over her black Spanish goats, and her daughter Koy and her husband Jim Adcock loyally continue to maintain and improve the herd, which had grown to approximately 400 goats by 2009.
Koy Ranch goats are bred for many attributes: conformation, mothering ability, tight udders, width of frame including width of horn placement, longevity, and color. Only black goats are kept: they were a favorite of Zona Koy Hunt and also of daughter Koy Adcock, who always enjoyed the dark colors found in many old-style Texas and New Mexico Spanish goats.
Koy Ranch rotates pastures, which range about 3501,000 acres each. The goats are kept friendly with occasional very small amounts of corn: about a handful per goat per week is all it takes. They have well-water and salt blocks available, but apart from that they are on straight forage year-round. Forage on the Koy Ranch consists of a west-Texas medley of live oak and acorns, tough weeds and grasses, prickly-pear apples, etc.
Koy Ranch nannies kid unassisted at the rate of 28% singles, 70% twins, and 1.6% triplets. They are bred in October for March kidding in a 350-acre kidding pasture.
Nannies average about 100 lbs., and billies weigh approximately 200+ lbs.
With the exception of eagles, all predators are kept under control by hunting, trapping, and coon dogs. Predators include mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, and eagles, and the Adcocks have had some success in keeping them under control.
The Adcocks cull heavily. Anything that is less than 'perfect' is sent to slaughter. The Adcocks are putting their efforts into keeping their herd of purebred black Spanish goats going strong for generations to come.
Story by Koy Adcock, 2009
On the coast of South Carolina, on a plantation that dates back to our founding families, is a small river island, home to the Lowcountry herd. The island was used as a rice paddy that was farmed until the 1911. When that enterprise was abandoned, coastal grasses, brush, and trees grew up on the island. In the 1960's a local resident living near the plantation stocked the island with Spanish goats and harvested a few for meat on occasion.
Unable to cross the channel to the mainland, the Lowcountry goats ran feral and untended on the island for over 40 years, being secluded from the mainland. The old dykes from the rice paddies acted as a network of dry 'highways' for the goats in the middle of very wet and swampy land. Some areas on the island became impassable over time due to dense brush encroachment or impassable swamp.
As time went on, the goats were harvested less frequently, but by then new predators were present: feral hogs. In recent years these became the main predators for the Lowcountry herd, and the hogs were joined by alligators and the wild cats of the region. The population of goats began to dwindle.
The Lowcountry goats originate in the Southeast. Like the Baylis line, they tend to be smaller than some of their southwestern counterparts: nannies average about 70 lbs and billies average about 90 lbs. Their coats cover a broad rangethey sport a variety of colors and color patterns, and the guard hairs and amount of cashmere vary from goat to goat. One adult on the island is polled. They typically give birth to twins twice a year.
In 2008, The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) learned of the existence of these feral goats. They began efforts to coordinate with the plantation owners and local residents to capture some representatives of the herd before predators wiped out the population. The goal was to rescue some goats, breed them off-island to increase the numbers, to conserve as many genes as possible, and to bring these rare genetics back into the hands of goat ranchers once the population is large enough.
In 2010, working with local residents, the ALBC caught five nannies and buck from the Lowcountry feral herd and plans to continue the captures in 2011. The goats were tested for parasites and found to have an almost non-existent parasite load. Their hooves were in great shape and their overall health was excellent. They adapted to their new home immediately and without any signs of stress. The first off-island birth occurred shortly after they arrival to their new home in December of 2010.
The captured goats are currently on a reserve in South Carolina in a conservation breeding program that is being carefully monitored by the ALBC. They are on natural forage supplemented by hay, and given occasional handfuls of corn to keep them friendly.
Story by Jeanette Beranger, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, February 2011.
Named after Dian and Glenn Morefield, Ohio
The Morefields started their herd when they brought home some Spanish wethers from Ann Wood in 2002. The Morefields wanted cashmere, but particularly wanted hardy goats that would help them clear their lush 17-acre Ohio property of brush, briars, and poison ivy. After the successful trial run with their wethers, the Morefields decided to become breeders in 2003, with cashmere as their primary goal.
The Morefield breeding herd started with cashmere does from Chris McGuire, via Kathryn Cooper, a former cashmere breeder in Southern Ohio. These are the genes that make the Morefield bloodline unique. They then added the now-famous 'Cocoa' from the Wood herd as a herd sire. And have also added some heavily-cashmered Syfan goats, and some Smoke Ridge.
The Morefields have been pleased that in their recollection, they've never had a 'bad' mom in their herd. Nor have they had a goat that they couldn't handle easily. They enjoy the good temperaments of their goats, and the continued hardiness and cashmere production. They do not breed for meat, and prefer a brown coat to black.
Morefield nannies grow to be about 90-110 lbs., the billies have grown up to 200 lbs but are usually around 175 lbs. They are raised on natural forage using rotational grazing with hay provided in the winter December-April). They are given a little grain in the winter, and kids are also given some grain for a strong start. Also, the goats are vaccinated with CDT, and are given minerals. Vitamins or probiotics if needed, and baking soda free-choice. Deworming is done by the Famacha method.
The Morefield herd is trained to respect electric net fencing. They use run-in barns for shelter, and their hooves are checked twice per year, but usually only need trimming once per year. Rock piles help.
Breeding takes place in November, but neither males nor females are bred until they are 18 months old. The nannies kid unassisted in the Spring, and usually have twins, although singles and triplets are not uncommon.
The Morefields continue to work hard to conserve pure Spanish goats with great cashmere.
Story by Dian Morefield, May 2012.
Named after Elgin and Shirley Pape, Harper, Texas
Shirley Pape was raised in Texas on a ranch that had bred sheep and Angora goats since the 1920’s, with Spanish meat goats kept separate from the Angoras. But Elgin and Shirley Pape did not raise goats themselves until one day, in the 1960’s, their daughter returned home with eight does and a buck, all purebred Spanish. She had been rewarded for her helpfulness by Mr. and Mrs. Midkiss of Kerville (now deceased), and thus began one of the largest purebred Spanish goat herds in Texas today.
The Papes added to their growing herd through the years, but only with stock from trusted friends and neighbors. They also raise Savanna and Savanna-cross goats, but the Papes keep the different breeds on separate ranches in the area. The Spanish goats are in ‘Hill Country’a hilly area that is dry, rocky, and quite open, where Live Oaks, Shin Oaks, Mesquite, Yucca, and cacti grow amongst other shrubs and forage. It is a constant task to keep the Mesquite and cacti in check. The goats forage extensively on brush and Live Oak leaves, but the Papes supplement their feed with round bales of Sudan hay, protein blocks, cotton seed, corn, and grain cubes, which are a composite of pressed grain. The goats love the grain cubes, and the rustle of a feed bag will bring them running to their owners, showing them to be a pretty tame bunch. The goats have constant access to both mineral blocks and loose minerals, and drink from troughs as there are no natural streams or water sources in their pastures.
The Papes deworm twice per year, running the goats through a chute and using a worming gun to dose the goats with oral dewormer, usually Ivermectin. The availability of rocky surfaces in the area ensures that there is never any need for hoof trimming.
Buyers of their Spanish goats usually want weaned kids that are 3050 lbs., and want them at different times of the year. The Papes meet this demand: most kidding occurs in January and July, allowing for the availability of young goats throughout the year. The bucks are never separated from the does, and mate selection occurs naturally. Because of this, the herd uses a mixture of inbreeding and linebreeding, which has worked well for decades. The Papes enjoy a reputation for having great goats, and have shipped goats to breeders throughout the United States.
The Papes do cull goats continually, but always for conformation, size, and udders, never for color. Their herd is comprised of a variety of colors, and includes slight variations in horn shapes, some curving slightly, some rising straight.
The success of the Papes’ Spanish herd is only marred by one thingpredators.
Bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, eagles, buzzards, and hawks have all taken their toll on the herd. When there are thousands of acres of pasture, pastures are hard to defend. The Spanish goats are now kept close to home and protected by one jenny per group. Each group consists of 300350 goats and ranges over a few hundred acres. The Papes find that jennies stay more focused if not in pairs, but sometimes will run ragged protecting the herd and still have difficulty keeping coyotes at bay.
Eagles pose another problem. There is no dense tree coverage protecting the land, and a constant supply of young goats also means that when the eagles return to the area after migration, there are kids to be had. Lately the eagles have been staying year-round. One day Mrs. Pape, grandchildren in tow, was horrified to find 16 kids killed by eight eagles who were perched at the water troughs. There may have been more kids missingeagles will dive down at their prey and swoop back up, carrying it off in their talons. They’re daring and fast, and seem to defy the abilities of any livestock guardian.
In the early 2000’s, the Papes lost almost 60% of their stock to predators, but every year that percentage lowers. In 2007 losses due to predation still amounted to almost 20%. For Shirley Pape, who has loved goats since childhood, the losses are heartbreaking.
The Papes use government trapping and control programs, including aerial shooting, to help with predators, but these methods are not completely effective. The Papes have participated in many meetings with other Texan ranchers to increase government intervention in predation, but would like to see more results from the effort.
The Papes believe that predation is one of the main reasons why many local ranchers are giving up goat ranching, and see this as a great threat to the preservation of purebred Spanish goats. But the Papes won’t give up yet, and continue to do their best to conserve this endangered breed.
History of Pape herd from Shirley Pape, February 2008. She passed away on September 26, 2010.
Named after Wesley E. Sawyer, Sonora, Texas
Wesley Sawyer, like most Texans of his day, kept Spanish goats. When Wesley Sawyer passed away, his nephew Ed Sawyer inherited the herd. Ed Sawyer had always liked Spanish goats, and began to breed the goats to bring out their vigor and strength, developing a line that both breeders of Spanish goats and non-Spanish goats want to breed into their herds.
Sawyer’s goats rotate pastures on a 14,000-acre ranch of rolling hills of rocky terrain, foraging on Live Oaks, Shin Oaks, and a variety of grasses. The goats are divided into groups, but the group sizes change according to the size of the pasture they are put into. Their feed is supplemented only if necessary in the winter with 20% protein blocks. Nannies tend to weigh 130–150 lbs, billies weigh approximately 200 lbs.
Billies are kept separate, and brought in early September for February kidding. The nannies kid in the pasture, and Sawyer obtains a kid crop of approximately 165%, with mostly twins and singles, and some triplets. Sawyer also keeps a “best” herd—those that he believes are superior to the rest. This herd is kept separate from the others and they breed amongst themselves, but some are also sold or culled. Sawyer breeds for good conformation, good udders, and “attitude;” he has no time for overly-wild goats. Color does not factor into Sawyer’s breeding choices at all, so his herd shows a great variety of colors. The horns are very consistent, and there are varying levels of cashmere on his goats. The culled does and wethers are sold at auction, and Sawyer also sells breeding stock to other goat ranchers. He is presently building up the size of his herd, but slowly and carefully, culling about 25% annually.
Sawyer deworms about three times per year, and the time for deworming is usually set to coincide with the handling and movement of the goats.
Sawyer uses only one method of predator control, which comes in the shape of his ranch foreman’s rifle. Although there are occasional attacks by eagles, bobcats, and foxes, there are no coyotes around. The foreman keeps an eye out for predators, but there has been very little problem of predation on Sawyer’s ranch.
Sawyer looks forward to continuing breeding purebred Spanish goats for years to come. He enjoys them.
Story by Ed Sawyer, February 2008
The Smoke Ridge herd was started in 1991 with a small group of Spanish does acquired through Texas auctions. A new venture, the production of Montana-hardy meat goats with a cashmere byproduct was the original business objective. After a few years, Smoke Ridge concentrated solely on meat production, with fertility, maternal abilities, and longevity heading the selection criteria.
The Smoke Ridge herd resides in north-central Montana, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The environment is dry (14 inches of precipitation per year) and holds great potential for generation of wind power! In the cold winters, with temperatures falling to 40 below zero, the cashmere undercoat that the goats still produce helps keep them warm and fuel-efficient while being fed grass-alfalfa hay (when the ground is snow-covered). Smoke Ridge feeds no grain or concentrates. The goats always have loose mineral available. The goats are used locally to help curtail the spread of weeds, including the noxious weeds Leafy Spurge, Spotted Knapweed, and Canada Thistle, and do brush reduction on nearby ranches, which benefits the community and provides extra forage for the herd. Smoke Ridge deworms their goats twice per year, one month before kidding and one month before breeding.
The original goats were trained to electric fences, subsequent generations were raised with them from birth. Although there are Golden and Bald eagles, Grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes and badgers, Smoke Ridge has no losses to predation thanks to their guardian dogs. Anatolians, Maremmas, and crosses thereof, guard the goats at home or off property at weed projects, at approximately one dog per 100 goats.
Nearly one third of the doe herd is purebred Spanish, and every few years those does are bred to a purebred Spanish buck to make a new batch of "mother goats." The entire Smoke Ridge doeherd is sorted into groups of approximately 75 animals, and a single buck is put with each group for three and a half weeks. Then all the does are put back together, with only a single cleanup buck, for another week Does are exposed to kid in the late Spring (May/June) so that the slaughter kids can be sold in the late Fall/Winter, when prices for milk tooth kids are highest. Even when more than 500 kids are born within four weeks, all kids are eartagged and recorded on the day of their birth. Does wean an average of 1.9 kids each.
Smoke Ridge primarily raises Spanish/Boer and Spanish/Savannah crosses for meat production, but maintains purebred Spanish does and bucks to keep the genepool available for the herd. Craig and Yvonne select does for fertility and their ability to successfully bring kids to weaning weight, on forage only, in half a year. They keep accurate records to monitor the performance of each individual goat. It is this attention to detail (and the bottom line), that enables Smoke Ridge to evaluate each goat and cull accurately. It also reinforces the decision to keep raising purebred Spanish goats, as they are such a valuable component of the enterprise which has been successful for over 17 years.
Story by Yvonne Zweede-Tucker, Fall 2008
Named after Tom and Meta Syfan, Mountain Home, Texas
Tom Syfan has raised purebred Spanish goats for many years. During Syfan’s travels to destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, he kept searching for the better breed of goat. He feels that it is at home in Texas.
Syfan raises Spanish goats for meat, and pays attention to uniform conformation. Along the way he also began breeding for their coat quality. He sought to breed goats with good coats, and more hair. The result of his attention to their coats led to an all-black Spanish herd with heavy cashmere. The black coats are striking and accentuate the goats’ good conformation. The goats are medium-sized, with does weighing in at about 80 lbs and bucks average about 120 lbs at maturity.
Syfan’s herd consists of several groups: three groups of does, one group of bucks, a group of young bucks, and a group of young does. They live on 5600 acres in the Hill Country of Texas. Their diet is naturalthe land offers Live Oak, Shin Oak, and many varieties of brush. They also nibble on the cactus. In the winter the goats eat a lot of Juniper sprouts, also known as cedar, which would grow extensively if it weren’t kept under tight control by the goats. Syfan only supplements their feed in the winter months, at which time he puts out corn. The goats drink well water due to an absence of natural streams in that area. The herds are continually rotated, with border collies to help.
Syfan uses six livestock guardian dogs and four donkeys to protect the herds. The dogs are Great Pyrenees, Akbash, and Anatolian, and Syfan asserts that it’s not necessarily which breed of livestock guardian dog is best, but whether or not the dog itself is effective. However, he prefers the Great Pyrenees, and finds that the Akbash (as a breed) will run off deer. Many Texans lease their land to deer hunters, and Syfan is among them, so the Akbash is not his first choice. His dogs (with help from the donkeys) deter and fend off coyotes, foxes, wild hogs, and they also watch for eagles. Syfan has successfully kept predators under control.
The herd is bred for springtime kidding. Syfan’s does usually have single births, which he attributes to the almost unsupplemented forage. If a doe has twins or triplets, she usually won’t kid out the following year. This is fine with Syfan, who finds that single-birth offspring tend to be extremely healthy.
Deworming is done on an as-needed basis, which depends on the results of fecal testing, performed a few times annually or depending on weather conditions.
Syfan has a lot of breeding experience. He was awarded the 1964 Ford Foundation National Award for Sheep Production, and applied his knowledge to goats. His methods are simple and effective. Here’s how it works:
The goats, male and female, adults and kids, are divided into three groups according to quality (conformation, size, etc.). ‘A’ does are bred to ‘A’ bucks, ‘B’ bred to ‘B,’ ‘C’ to ‘C.’ Once bred, the does are back to the brush, and resume their roles.
Every year, each goat is reassessed, and bred again using the same formula. A doe may drop from ‘A’ assessment to a ‘C,’ a buckling may come from a ‘B’ breeding and attain an ‘A’ statuswhatever looks right in the eyes of a master breeder.
Syfan will only keep a limited number of bucks, so 80 percent of the buck kids will be castrated and kept for a year to control brush, and then sold as “mutton kids.” Culled does and doe kids also go to auction. When a good buck can be replaced with a better buck, so be it, and the culled older bucks usually go to hunting programs where their horns are prized by hunters.
Syfan sells mature does, bucks, bucklings, and a few doelings to breeders. His goats have gone to 27 states, and, although they are meat goats, many clients have bought them for their cashmere. Syfan maintains that Spanish goats are the best and most versatile goats in the Hill Country of central Texas, as they provide meat, cashmere, and have the unsurpassed ability to clear land and control brush.
History of Syfan herd by Tom Syfan, February 2008.
Tom Syfan passed away on August 10, 2013.
Peter Schechter and Rosa Puech of Muddy Run Farm have been breeding Spanish meat goats since 1995. As Rosa is from Spain, they were attracted to Spanish goats and were interested in conserving a heritage breed.
Peter and Rosa researched the breed with the help of Virginia State University, who directed them to buying their first buck and two does from Irene Feltner in Stanardsville, VA. Feltner had brought the buck in from Texas in 1991, and the buck was from the Valera strain. Valera is a relatively tall-standing meat goat, with big rounded shoulders and shorter, upright ears. The does have tight udders, avoiding scratches and scrapes that prevent kids from nursing.
Their original Valera buck sired the herd from 1996 until its death in 2001. He was bred to a herd of Spanish goats brought to Muddy Run in 1996 from a doctor who was retiring in southwest Virginia. Peter and Rosa brought in a new Spanish buck for three years (20002002) to refresh the blood in the herd. They kept most of the original does from the original herd at the farm until their death. They then brought back in the grandson of the original Spanish Valera buck. This male and his sonwho looks exactly like the original Valera buck purchased in 1996have sired much of their present herd.
Peter and Rosa have endeavored to keep the more Spanish does to be bred to the bucks, maintaining the Spanish characteristics in the herd. Some of the most prominent characteristics are: high frequency of pregnancies, great maternal instincts, hardiness, and essential good health.
Goats at Muddy Run Farm have access to pasture year round. In winter the herd is provided daily with hay (from November to March) and a mixture of corn and pellets (the protein content is about 12 percent). The farm grows and bales hay onsite, which includes fescue, orchard grass, and clover. Outside the winter season, the goats are fed the mixed feed while lactating. During the summer, they reduce the grain or provide it every other couple of days just to keep the goats used to coming for food. The amounts of feed given depend on the kidding and pregnancies of the herd.
Muddy Run Farm provides mineral blocks with selenium to compensate for the low levels of selenium in regional soil. Salt blocks or loose salt powder are also provided regularly.
Peter and Rosa do hoof trimming approximately twice a year. If there isand sometimes there areany goat which needs more frequent trimming, this is done at de-worming or feeding time (when the goats are easier to catch at the feeder). The herd has not had any significant problem with hooves, which are kept trimmed and checked to avoid mud packing. They are more vigilant during spring and autumn when the ground is very soft and muddy (hence the farm name).
Peter and Rosa keep the buck in with the does year-round as they believe it's easier to keep them all together and that the herd is happier. The majority of Muddy Run does tend to kid together within a two-week period. Kidding times have been June and December, with some changes through the years. Younger goats have usually one kid; but as they mature, the goats tend to have two kids. They also have some old goats that they keep for life at the farm: these older goats kid just as often but usually only have one kid.
Like most Spanish goats, Muddy Run goats are disease-free, sturdy, and long-living. Other Valera goats in the area from Feltner's herd have not been found, nor have the original Valeras in Texas, so Muddy Run goats contain a unique bloodline.
History of the Muddy Run herd/Valera strain by Peter Schechter and Rosa Peuch, October 2008
The Weinheimer Ranch was founded in 1878. Roy Weinheimer, like many Texans of his time, raised Angora goats for mohair, and kept his Spanish goats for feeding the family. He brought Spanish goats onto the family-run Weinheimer Ranch in the 1950's, and was a very progressive Spanish goat breeder for that timehe started selectively breeding them right away. Weinheimer would add a billy here and there if he found a better one.
The herd was closed completely from the 1980's to 2004.
In 2004, the Weinheimers added some Kensing bloodline as an outcross. However, the original gene pool was not swamped by this, and the Weinheimer bloodline retains some unique Spanish genes.
Among the herd may be found a dozen or so 'blue' goats. For those of you who have never seen one, they are indeed blue. More blue than grey.
The Weinheimer goats tend to have horns that show less of a twist than most Spanish. Horns are part of their breeding selection criteria, and the Weinheimers prefer horns that are broad-based at the base and have less twist, sweeping back and flaring broadly. They find that such horns correlate with depth and volume of body.
The billies grow to be 230-250 lbs if their diets meet their nutritional requirements, but average under 200 lbs. in working conditions. At the Ranch, goats are raised on natural Texas forage. They occasionally receive supplemental feeding to ease handling, and this has helped to keep the goats very gentle.
Weinheimer deworms twice per year: right before the breeding season and when the kids are weaned.
Predatation determines whether or not the billies are kept with the nannies year round. On Weinheimer's 2,200 acres, some areas are safer than others, and goats are moved or separated in response to how coyotes are working the different pastures. Most births are twins, and the ranch usually has three kid crops every two years.
Weinheimer keeps about 1033% of his bucks as breeders, and keeps however many nannies he needs to keep the herd numbers up, and sells the rest for meat.
The biggest toll on the herd is coyotes. Coyotes have, in the past, killed one third of the population of the herd. And recently, they did it again. Weinheimer has tried to work every anti-coyote angle possible: government trappers, dogs, bait capsules, donkeys (who killed some kids themselves so they were booted off the ranch), llamas, you name it. Weinheimer has killed approximately 100 coyotes in the past three years. And they're still just as thick. He recognizes that the problem isn't just the death-toll numbers, it's the toll on selective breeding. Weinheimer has seen coyotes kill one third of his nannies and 100% of his kid crop in a 3-week period. There are just too many coyotes for a well-managed ranch to handle.
The coyotes are not selective-Weinheimer believes that sometimes coyotes will get your healthiest nannies just for the thrill of the chase.
Weinheimer goats are primarily selected for conformation, volume, and maternal traits, such as reproductive abilities and well-attached, small udders with small teats. Weinheimer goats are very hardy, forage well, are parasite-resistant, and are excellent mothers. They have no hoof problems, and require little maintenance in their environment.
History of Weinheimer Ranch by Chism Weinheimer, November 2008
Named after Ann Wood, Ohio
Ann Wood started raising goats for cashmere. Wood chose her herd for cashmere abilities. Wood has always preferred a goat that could survive well without too much human intervention. She liked Spanish, and chose her herd from Spanish goats that could also provide good cashmere.
The Wood goats came from two lines in Indiana. Wood goats from Northwest Indiana goats originated in the Southwest USA. That started herd provided some does and 'Merlin,' who became the main herd sire, and who became a cashmere prize-winning goat (this is a little more challenging for intact males than for wethers or does).
From southeast Indiana, Wood acquired goats from the Hotko family, whose herd were mainly from Texas, and one from New England.
Among Ann Wood's herd was a Texas doe called 'Snooks' who was kept for her good temperament and intelligence. Snooks carried an unusual black-and-white spotted pattern, which made her a little exceptional in the cashmere league, but her cashmere was certainly good enough to make her worth keeping. The Woods kept her despite the common shun of spotted goats by cashmere breeders. She was a good goat worth keeping, even if that ran contrary to the norm.
Ann Wood has always chosen her goats for cashmere, but always chose Spanish as her herd base because she liked the hardiness of the breed. Wood goats are chosen for cashmere and for good temperament. Mean goats are not tolerated in the herd. Does are expected to have twins by their second year, or they are culled.
The Woods pay close attention to their pasture make-up. The Wood goats have been raised to flat-land pasture supplemented as needed with hay, and a little grain to ensure that the goats come to call. They are also given goat minerals.
As the Indiana herds have disappeared, the Wood bloodline holds valuable and unique genetics, and are Spanish goats with gentle temperaments.
Posted February 2013
Named after Jim and Elaine Willingham, Uvalde, Texas
In 1974, the Willinghams began their herd with Spanish nannies. The first billies they purchased at auction were part Nubian, and this crossbreeding produced a good, hardy goat with more body length and height than purebred Spanish goats. The Willingham cross is approximately 1/8 Nubian and 7/8 Spanish. Subsequent breedings were made with the best Spanish billies they could find. Dairy traits can be seen in larger udders, floppy ears, and often roman noses. They have selectively bred their herd to develop the 'Willingham' goat, to which they added, over the years, superior Spanish billies and nannies. Although Willingham goats may look Spanish and are often referred to as "Spanish" due to their ability to forage (much as they could be called "brush goats"), they are not being conserved as purebred Spanish goats.
History of Willingham herd by Jim Willingham, February 2008.
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