A small group of us are working towards establishing an organization for maintaining pedigree information and providing information about this breed in the United States. More details will be provided here as available.
Golden Guernsey...The golden goat from the Channel Islands
(Original article in "the Quarterly #68 February 1997 - by Linda Campbell)\
Their locks have been likened to spun gold illuminated wheat straw, sun-kissed honey..the Golden Guernsey goat has long held a fascination for many goatlovers. Their rich and striking color are unforgettable. The breed is very gentle, and is said to be "formal and affectionate and thriving on attention." according to the British Golden Guernsey Society. They are a medium size goat, and the males are 190-200 pounds. Legs are straight and strong, with good pasterns and feet. Milk yield is good for the size (slightly less but comparable to Alpines and Saanens in the UK), and butterfat (4%) and protein levels (3%) are also good.
The Golden Guernsey is known for its remarkable colour, which varies from a creamy pale gold to a deeper rich gold. Her true golden colour must be skin deep, not just hair deep. Small white markings are acceptable. Her head is somewhat longer than that of the Toggenburg, but it is dished, in the same manner, and whereas the Toggenburg almost always has wattles, the Golden Guernsey does not. The hair coat can be smooth or long, or a combination. She is the only breed to have erect ears with a slight curl at the tip, a feature possibly inherited from the Syrian goat, though this characteristic is not always found. The Golden Guernsey is on the "Rare Breeds Survival Trust" list, though numbers have increased in recent years (over 2000 in Great Britain). Bloodlines are very limited and greater efforts are being made to line-breed and establish separated families in order to widen the genetic base. Golden color goats have been reported in the Channel Islands for many years, and were mentioned in a Channel Island Guide Book dated 1826. In her book, Exhibition and Practical Goatkeeping , author Joan Shields tells us some of the history of developing the breed.
"With the help of new and enthusiastic breeders who had formed the Guernsey Goat Society, and sponsored by the States of Guernsey Committee for Agriculture, who took up the cause of their National goat (after seeing a herd and finding the breed worthy of their support) breeding plans went ahead, and the interest of the British goat Society and of buyers wishing to start herds in England, was at last aroused. A Trust Fund was set up and the British Goat Society opened a Registry in 1975, for the resultant progeny of outcrossed Golden Guernsey females with Saanen or British Saanen sires.
The stock resulting from those outcrosses were mated back to Golden Guernsey or English Guernsey sires for three generations, and thus gain access to the English Guernsey Section. Much voluntary work by members of the Guernsey Goat Society went into the Island's own HerdBook for purebreds, and there has been good liaison between the two Societies. The progress made in the interests of the breed since 1922, when the Island Herd Books started, is excellent."
I have wanted to purchase these beautiful animals for years, but the quarantine and testing procedures made it prohibitive. With the scrapie concern, there has been a ban on importing animals, embryos or semen. Recently, I found that the ban had been lifted (at least temporarily), to allow semen to be sold to breeders in the US. After announcing the availability of the semen, a small group of us managed to organize and order semen. By early summer (1997) it should be shipped to the US. However, in order for the semen to be used, the herd must be enrolled in the Voluntary Scrapie Eradication program. Work is underway to have a similar program for Canada in the hear future.
One of the donor bucks was selected "best male kid" at the National Golden Guernsey Breed Show in 1995, and described as "an elegant quality male of excellent conformation, gentle temperament, and superb pedigree." His dam is known as one of the breed's most successful show goats, and also an excellent milk producer."
We're hoping that additional bucks will be available in the coming years, and hopefully we'll be able to purchase embryos and/or live animals in the future. For now, those of us purchasing semen will be using Saanen, Alpine or Toggs in an effort to produce some crossbreds. For a limited time, semen may be purchased for shipment to herds in the US.
Head: Ears erect, slight curl at tip. Horned, hornless or disbudded. Facial lsin dished or straight.
Neck: Slender, without tassels (wattles)
Coat: Short, with or without long hair along spine and on quarters/
Colour: Golden, with or without white splashes. White blaze on head allowed, but not with Swiss markings on face or legs.
The following points differing from the ideal are found and are permissible: Neck- tassels' Coat - long; Colour - shades of gold, ranging from pale honey cream to deep gold; Size - larger than the ideal, but not coarse.