Early Spanish explorers were well known for traveling with livestock on their long voyages across the globe, frequently including goats. In fact, goats have historically been viewed as one of the most versatile and valuable livestock species. The Spanish brought them to the New World as early as 1500. These goats were very hardy and tolerant of the extreme heat found in the South and Southwest, where they were used as sources of meat and brush clearing for settlers.
The term “Spanish goat” can be confusing because some people call any crossbred or scrub goat a Spanish goat. The population of recognized Spanish goats SVF is interested in preserving is a genetically distinct breed that can trace its ancestry back to stock brought from Spain to North America in the early 1500s. Dr. Phil Sponenberg, a research geneticist, has used DNA analysis to verify the genetic importance of conserving of this breed.
Spanish goats are extremely hardy and herds are still used to clear brush from rough terrain. They are allegedly parasite-resistant, have strong mothering instincts and high feed utilization. Spanish does often raise kids without any human assistance.
They are a landrace breed, which means the population has a widely varied phenotype, depending on which herd or bloodline within the breed you are looking at. This happened because ranchers and farmers raised Spanish goats for different purposes, including meat production, land-clearing ability and cashmere production.
Today, most Spanish goats are kept in large herds on ranches throughout the South and Southwestern United States — especially Texas. Due to recent recognition of the Spanish goat as a pure, endangered breed, they are beginning to gain in popularity and therefore disperse to smaller farms.
Spanish Breeder Profile
SVF began work with Spanish goats in spring 2011. We began with an educational visit to Leslie Edmondson’s farm in The Plains, Virginia. Leslie shared much about the history and current status of the Spanish goat breed. Then our herdstaff headed to Critton Creek Farm in Pawpaw, West Virginia, where owner Priscilla Ireys showed off several representatives of different Spanish goat bloodlines and introduced us to Jack – our first Spanish buck. Jack is a young, white buck from the Smoke Ridge bloodline. We are looking forward to including additional Spanish goats from various strains in our germplasm collection over the next several years.