When I first started looking into goats, I discovered that one of my co-worker's partners had been a large breed veterinarian in California.(She still is, but at the time was not working as such). Once I told her I was thinking of getting dairy goats, we began an ongoing dialogue that continued over the months. I was working in a kitchen atmosphere, so as we baked and cooked, we talked. It was common for friends to stop in for a muffin or a bite of something, and visit a bit. My main questions at the time surrounded what breed to get. She told me that of all the dairy goat breeds, Lamanchas were here favorite and that is what she would get if she were to start her own herd which she intended to do some day. Her main reason was personality. In her opinion they had an easy going, friendly disposition, that endeared her to this particular breed more than others. I have very little experience with other goat breeds, so I cannot say if Lamanchas seem friendlier than other goats. I have a feeling that all well loved and cared for goats can be loving and friendly with their owners. However, it was this bit of insight, early on in my quest for goats that first steered me in the direction of Lamanchas.
As I begin to research online, Molly's Fiasco Farm site was a wealth of information. Her goat herd consisted solely of Lamanchas. Her heard was beautiful. Her goats coats were short and shiny (as ours only look in late summer). They were all different colors, ebony, shades of rich browns, whites, creams and light reds, buff and butterscotch, added to this they had various white stars, strips, splashes and belts. I am very partial to variety in coat colors and markings.
What about their lack of ears? Well, I suppose that just by looking at so many pictures of Lamanchas online, I grew quite accustomed to their lack of large ears, and then when I would see a goat with large ears, I would be surprised, oh yeah, that's right, some goats have ears that stand straight up and stick way out, or flop and hang way down. I like large ears, they add personality. However, I also find that there is something very graceful and streamlined about the lack of large ears that I find very smooth and pleasing to look at. Some people can't get past the lack of ears. It doesn't bother me, nor was it a major factor in why I chose Lamanchas. I have heard that Lamanchas should be more hardy, as their ears won't freeze. In response to this, I would say that I'd hope the goat has the sense to go indoors if it is that cold out. Or, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't provide them with a warm enough and large enough area that all the goats were able to escape from the cold in.
I prefer full sized goats to miniature breeds. I owned a horse for eleven years, she was 15.3 hands, a good sized quarter horse. We have a large dog, full sized chickens. The cuteness of miniature breeds has never appealed to me as it does to some. Miniature breeds often look more stocky and stout. I enjoy the gracefulness that longer legs and height give. Entirely personal preference. And the thought of milking those tiny teats is not appealing. Last night I was dreaming of milking our first fresheners, and grasping those new little teats, after growing use to nice large teats that my entire hand comfortably fits around, I've gotten spoiled, not milking first timers in a while.
As far as milk quality and butterfat go, I've read that Nubians have higher butterfat. There are other subtle differences in milk properties between dairy breeds, but nothing significant enough to point me in a different direction. I am still smitten by Nubians, their floppy ears and high butterfat are tempting. I have heard that they are nosier, I haven't been around any to know if this is true or not. I think that someday we may have a couple Nubians, but not for a while - and I'll have to hang out with some first and see if the stories are true.
The dairy breeds most common in the interior are Toggenburgs, Saanans, Boers and Nigerian Dwarfs. I suppose I figured that if we were going to bring goats in from out of state, might as well bring in something different. It seems as though Lamanchas have been increasing in popularity over the last several years. There are quite a few now in southern Alaska.
I am convinced that as people become more educated and aware of our current food situation; the lack of "real" food, the over processing and killing off of the beneficial nutrients, vitamins, enzymes and even healthy bacteria that our bodies need, the demand to have control over what we put into our bodies, the desire to put real food, real milk into our bodies, will result in a demand and appreciation for dairy goats and cows. Demand for quality milking animals can only go up, especially here in interior Alaska, where we are at the very end of the supply line, so far removed and so easily cut off from our food sources.
So here's to dairy goats whichever breed you raise or decide to raise!!!