Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why Lamanchas?

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!!!


Steve & Paula said...

We have several breeds in our herd, and the LaMancha is by far our favorite.
If we let her, she would be our extra big lap kitty :o)

Jewel said...

I have heard the same thing about LaMancha's friendliness and personality, they are beloved by everyone who has them. After seeing many of your posts on this breed, I will agree that their beauty shines through.

I had a Nubian doe for a year in a rental house years ago, along with 4 alpine goats, she was my only milker, and our family all loved her milk and personality. I've heard they are noisier, but I didn't know any better at the time as I was new to goats.

I have since met a Nigerian Dwarf breeder, and may possibly go that direction, however I'm not committed yet... so still considering which breed I will go with, maybe 2 breeds. I have large dogs, and have had horses, and like the idea of milking a larger goat too... hmmm lots to consider here. The Nubian milk does have nice butterfat milk.

Thanks for answering a question I had about this breed. I may go look at local LaMancha breeders around here.

Denise said...

Emily, if you want to hang with some Nubians, get in touch with me. I have several, and I love them! They do have louder voices than most goats, but our Nigerians by far make the most racket on the farm. The Nubians only holler occasionally. I will say they are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, but they are super sweet and OH! Those EARS! We have three purebred Nubs, one almost-a-Nubian (there's an Alpine three generations back), and several Nubian crosses.

What I know about LMs is that they are the most CURIOUS and entertaining kids I've ever seen! We have a mini-LM wether who is a total crack up - what a clown! I plan to add at least one LM to my herd, either this year or next. But Nubians will always be my first love. We just keep the Nigies around to pay the bills - LOL!

Aubrey said...

I hope you don't mind if I ask you a question that's been driving me crazy for a long time. I always hear about how great Nubians are because of their high butterfat, but that comment is never followed up by what on earth is useful/good about high butterfat! :p I've not had goats yet but plan to one day & I love reading about them. I love the way Saanens look, especially the bearded ones! But then I read they have lower butterfat & I wonder to myself "how much does that matter? should I care? Ack, I have no idea!?" I'd be so appreciative if you'd fill in this clueless person (me) on what butterfat is useful for! :)

Emily said...

Aubrey, not a dumb question at all. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure that it is that big of a deal and I don't know too much about the properties of milk, cream and how it specifically relates to cheesemaking. However, the higher percentage of butterfat, the creamier and richer the milk, more cream on top, more cream to separate or possibly creamier tasting cheese. I have never had goat cheese that was advertised as solely from Nubians, next to the same cheese from other goat breeds, so I'm not sure I'd notice a difference- probably not. Some goat owners have their milk tested and graded, so they know the amount of butterfat each of their milkers produces on different days, and they take the average per year for that goat. when you are looking for goats to buy from large breeders, often you can look up the butterfat for that goat, it is a trait that people breed for. Although, sometimes that means that the goats produce less quantity.

There are numerous factors that affect butterfat levels in the milk, breed, genetics, hay quality and type, grain quantity and type, time of year and overall health of goats. We notice that our goats butterfat content ranges greatly throughout the year. When the goats first kid, and then when their production drops in the winter, the milk is creamier. In the spring it is closer to half and half, the rest of the year more like whole milk. The chevre we make in the spring is creamier, almost cream cheese like. I can skim cream off the top during the first few months of lactation, after that not so much.

I do prefer the creamier milk, although I feel indulgent and almost sinful eating cold cereal with half and half. I have drank milk from Saanans, toggs and Lamanchas and unless the milk is side by side, I doubt I could tell the difference, I'm guessing time of year and feed may even affect the butterfat more so than the breed of goat.

Denise said...

Butterfat is one component of milk. The more butterfat, the more cheese you get from the milk, and the better it will be - creamier. Nubians are said to be "The Jersey cows of the goat world" - Jerseys are known for their richer, creamier milk. Nigerian Dwarf goats, on average, tend to have the highest butterfat content of all goat milk. But, as Emily rightly points out, butterfat and protein content of milk varies greatly throughout a single lactation and from goat to goat within a breed.

Nubian milk, on average, will be creamier than other large goat breeds. But all goat milk is good! :-)

Aubrey said...

Thanks so much, Emily! Very informative. Just what I needed!

Emily said...

Thanks Denise, for helping supply my lacking info. It has been a while since I've done much cheese, butterfat, milk research. Someday I'm going to check out your Nubians, but probably not till I'm ready to get one - as I don't need to be obsessed with another goat breed right now.

Denise said...

Emily, when you're ready to become obsessed with Nubians, just let me know! :-) I have some fantastic lines - most of my Nubs go back to Kastdemur's. I'm very fortunate to have purchased a pregnant yearling last fall who was bred to Kastdemur's Impetuous, who is a son of SGCH Kastdemur's Temerity 5*M. She's one amazing doe, and I am so excited to see what her grandson can do in my herd!! But you already know they have fine goats, as you have some of their La Manchas!