There was a large variety of goat breeds present at the Expo. Some of the breeds are well known here in Ireland such as Saanen, Toggenburg, Alpine and Anglo-Nubian. However others either don’t exist at all in Ireland or are present in only small numbers. Each of the individual breeds had a number of competitions for different classes and ages of animal. There was also a large number of other competitions including dairy (see photo below), meat, fibre, miniature and myotonic. It was also lovely to watch the ‘Pee Wee Showman’ competitions, where even very young children are encouraged to show their animals.
Dairy goats are by far the most common type of goat in Ireland. However some of the breeds at the Expo were much less familiar than the few we know so well. La Mancha are a very distinctive dairy breed, easily recognized by their very short ears – ‘elf ears’. They are known for high yield and milk butterfat content. Oberhasli are a form of Alpine goat, originally from Switzerland. They are known for their distinctive colouring and excellent temperament, along with high milk production. The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature goat breed with West African ancestry. Although short in stature it gives a surprisingly high yield of milk. The milk is also extremely high in butterfat (as much as 10%) and is therefore ideally suited to cheese and soap production.
In recent years we have become much more accustomed to seeing Boer goats in Ireland. Their powerful build and dsitinctive marking is easily recognisable. It is originally from South Africa, has a fast growth rate and excellent carcass qualities. This breed had the highest numbers shown at the Expo. The Myotonic goat or 'Fainting Goat is so called because when panicked the legs of this goat freeze for about 10 seconds, often causing it to fall over. It’s rarity means it can be quite valuable but they were originally bred for meat production.
The Pygmy goat is originally from West Africa, this hardy breed is typically kept as a pet but can be used for milk production. The Miniature Silky is bred for the quality of the coat and its miniature size. It was originally bred from the Tennessee Fainting Goat but other goat breeds have been added such as the Nigerian. The Cashmere is instantly recognisable by their name and any goat that produces cashmere wool is referred to as a cashmere goat. Breed standards vary regionally even in the United States.
The full report contains many more details and photos and is available on the Publications section of the Teagasc Goat Page.