I acquired my first goats in the fall of 2012. I purchased two beautiful Saanen does and learned how to milk. I loved them and soon bought several more goats, all Saanen crosses. A couple had a little LaMancha mixed in. These were my most mischievous goats, but at the time I attributed their antics to their young age.
Wanting to further expand my herd, I bought Maddy from a large dairy operation that was downsizing. Presumably she didn’t make the cut as a commercial milker. Curious to try a different breed, I was excited to bring home this new goat and her two newborn kids.
Her kids were adorable and she seemed sweet and gentle in her pen. But what I really was keen on was how nice her udder was! My other goats were all essentially backyard bred, so Maddy was my first well-bred milker. I anticipated gallons of milk flowing easily from this goat into my fridge and cheese-making equipment.
Nothing could have been further from reality.
Very quickly Maddy proved herself to be an incredible nuisance. Unaccustomed to being handled - I assume they must have machine milked her - she was not only nearly impossible to milk, just getting my hands on her proved to be quite a challenge some days. An amazing jumper and acrobat, she was constantly escaping from every pen or enclosure I put her in. Her kids were just as bad, and completely wild. I was very quickly at my wits end!
I have since learned that LaManchas have the reputation of being part monkey. Indeed, I sometimes found my Saanen-LaMancha mixes balancing on rails and fences like gymnasts. An admirable talent if you have strong infrastructure and no one living nearby, but when your neighbour a few hundred feet from the barn loves their garden more than anything… well, Maddy soon found herself for sale.
I also sold Maddy’s kids as I didn’t want to keep any of that bloodline in my barn. I simply didn’t have the fencing to safely manage such agile goats. I had enough trouble with my mixes!
Maddy’s kids were sold separately and each went to more appropriate homes. I am happy to report that they all settled in well to their new farms, although one had to be re-homed again for fencing jumping. She now lives in a field with a five foot wooden fence topped with a hot wire!
Looking back now with more experience, Maddy was actually quite a sweet goat. She had not had a great start to life, coming from a commercial operation, but even by the time I sold her she had friendlied up and become easier to handle. Had I had the fencing to contain her, she might have worked out well. I visit one of her now-adult daughters regularly, and she’s quite delightful.
All in all, this is a nice goat with good milking potential, but perhaps not the ideal breed for a novice goat herd. Maybe some day I’ll give the breed a second chance.