Goat Breeds

San Clemente Island goat numbers are holding their own in British Columbia, and there are also a few small herds in Alberta. Having spoken with Leslie Edmundson of the San Clemente Island Goat Organization, we would both like to see this breed spread beyond those two provinces. Leslie is encouraged by the fact that breeders of San Clemente Island goats can now import bucks from the US. San Clementes are virtually unknown by conventional goat keepers.

Myotonic goat registrations for 2008 are somewhat misleading. The Myotonic Goat Registry (MGR) provided the numbers, which do look dismal; but, after discussion with breeders and the MGR, it appears that some did not register stock born in '08 until early 2009. Therefore these figures will be greatly altered in the coming year. Myotonic goats can now be found throughout Canada. From their small beginnings with only two pure foundation herds, these goats have grown in popularity. To locate breeders in Canada, visit the MGR website at www.myotonicgoatregistry.net .

Oberhasli goats have been a surprise, as far as their plight is concerned. In total there are only 30 purebred animals left in Canada (fewer in number than San Clementes), of which most are located in Ontario, with one breeder in British Columbia. Oberhasli numbers have dropped to this level as, according to breeder Patrick MacClean, bloodlines have been lost mainly due to the fact that people have bought stock and never continued to register animals. Whilst there may be purebred but unregistered Oberhaslis in Canada, their genetics have essentially been lost. The Oberhasli is, at this point, of great concern. This breed is currently under study to determine whether it can be classed as a heritage breed and, in my opinion, this study should be a high priority. When numbers are so low, it is hard to ignore a breed that even breeders consider to be on the verge of extinction.

Pygmy goats are not yet a heritage breed in Canada, but the number of newly registered females has seen a steady decline; note has been taken of the situation. There is, however, a simple explanation: a breeder with one of the largest herds in British Columbia has cut her herd number dramatically to concentrate on dairy goats. As a result Pygmy registrations have dropped. British Columbia is the only province to hold a sanctioned Canadian Goat Society show for the Pygmy.

Nigerian Dwarf goats are quite new to the Canadian Goat Society registry and, although their number is small, it is encouraging to note that this breed is seeing a rise in registration numbers.

Toggenburg goats, although being the first breed registered with the Canadian Goat Society, continue to be classed as "vulnerable". Toggenburgs have a steady following in most provinces, with the exception of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where they remain relatively small in number. Manitoba in particular has only two herds of registered purebred Toggenburgs.

Angora goats in Alberta, where two award-winning herds can be found, are represented by the Alberta Mohair Producers Association. Angoras are found from coast to coast, but their numbers are more limited in some provinces than others. Manitoba has only one herd of registered purebred Angoras.

LaManchas are a relatively new breed as far as dairy goats are concerned. Developed in the United States, the breed has seen great improvements over the past 20 years and is now widely accepted by dairies. LaMancha's are establishing themselves throughout Canada but are not yet classed as a heritage breed.

Nubian goats are ever popular, but their registration numbers are fairly stagnant. Nubians are certainly not in the same situation as their counterparts in the US, where they outweigh every other dairy breed by 2:1. Nubians have a footing in every province in Canada.

Saanen goats saw increased registrations in 2008. There are large herds of Saanens in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, where most of the commercial goat dairies in Canada are located. There is hope that this breed may one day be no longer rare.