We absolutely ADORE our minis, and in our opinion they truly are "The BEST lil'Dairy Goat in the West!" But everyone needs to make their OWN decision about what breed of goats to raise on their homestead--this is a short article on the history of the breed, why we chose them, and how they compare to the breeds that helped make them.
Why Minis???? Why not a standard goat??
We chose to focus on Miniature La Manchas for a few reasons. First, they are a very economical animal to feed, and produce roughly the same amount of milk as a larger breed of dairy goat! Mini La Manchas produce on average 1/2-1 gallon of milk a day at peak production (3.5-7 gallons weekly)! And they tend to have higher butterfat than a standard La Mancha, making their milk extra creamy and perfect for cheese making, butter, yogurt, or just to enjoy in an ice cold glass.
Secondly, minis also require less space to house than standard sized goats, and as an added bonus eat 1/3 less feed than their standard counterparts! Miniature La Manchas range in size from being only 24"-30" tall, some are smaller depending on their generational percentage (the higher the generation is to being F6, the smaller the goat). A F6 animal is considered to be a purebred La Mancha, and yet is only about the size of a Nigerian dwarf, now that's a small dairy goat!
Mini La Manchas are also choice homesteading animals in urban environments, and often enjoy posh city life as pets or family milkers for urban homesteaders. Compared to most other breeds we have worked with, the La Mancha and Mini La Manchas alike are very intelligent, inquisitive, friendly, comical, and generally have a calm/quiet temperament that makes them enjoyable for both new & experienced goat owners alike.
Did you Know??
La Manchas are also THE ONLY breed of goat that was not imported into the US! That's right, the La Mancha is the only heritage breed of dairy goat that is native to our country; making La Manchas America's Dairy Goat Breed. Because Americans love to multi-task the La Manchas (especially the mini La Manchas) excel as an all around dual purpose animal; balancing their productivity on the milk stand with their ability to supply families with meat as well.
About Our Goats:
It is our goal to breed the highest quality milk producing Miniature La Mancha goats possible for our family Homestead. Having ample amounts of dairy is necessary to provide us with milk, cheese, butter, and soap. To achieve this goal , we have sought and purchased top quality goats from some of the best breeders in and out of state. Our bloodlines come from reputable breeders in and out of state, in our efforts to better provide the Southwest with a top quality milking animal. We focus our breeding goals on producing caprines that have correct dairy character, with an emphasis on milk production that lasts.
Often our does are kept in milk up-to and over 12 months. We feel that this length of lactation, coupled with level production in our herd is a valuable asset; especially to anyone looking to purchase a reliable milker for their family. Proof of a productive dairy goat is always found in the pail!
Also, in order to keep our finger on the pulse of the animals we produce, all mature does offered for sale will have freshened at least once. We strive to retain at least 1 doeling per new herd sire breeding in order to 'test' the results of each pairing. All of our bucklings are wethered (castrated) almost without exception. Why?
Bucks are half the herd, and carry many of the genes necessary to produce quality does, we will NEVER sell a buck that we feel would not have benefited our own breeding program; which is why you will RARELY (if ever) see a intact buckling on our sales page. Like it is with our does, we only try to sell animals that have been proven before we offer them for sale as breeding stock.
How were Minis Made?
They were created on 'accident' by dairies looking to capitalize on milking their yearlings sooner by breeding them to a Nigerian Dwarf buck. Because the buck used was smaller than the doe, kidding was easier for young animals; the offspring were then sold as meat. Little did they know that many people would soon see the advantages of owning a 'miniaturized' dairy goat breed. Once people discovered that this was one of the best crosses for a balanced multi purpose animal, people started to breed these first hybrid-crosses together. This propelled minis into a breed of their own as many people found them valuable for use on their farms.
It was about this time (with a steadily growing interest in miniature dairy breeds) that a registry for minis soon became established to help promote each mini breed, and ensure that their bloodlines could be recorded to separate them from other mixed breeds. This first registry was the MDGA, then in 2010 TMGR was established. Both registries provide tools and information for breeders and hobbyists working with mini breeds.
Starting from scratch, F1 (first generation/foundation) Mini La Manchas are created today by the use of a registered Nigerian buck (NOT A PYGMY!!!) Ideally this buck should have numerous proven milking animals in his background, and be complimentary to the doe being used. This buck is then bred to a registered Standard La Mancha doe (not the other way around!!!). This first cross creates the foundation of a mini La Mancha breeding program, so the use of the best quality animals is essential; otherwise through subsequent generations you will loose milk production and teat size!
Foundation animals are called F1 (first generation minis). Only REGISTERABLE minis can be considered a Mini La Mancha. So it is imperative that F1 animals come from registered parents to be eligible for registration through either the MDGA or TMGR; both registries help new breeders keep track of their breeding program. Only the MDGA currently keeps an NOA herd book-- NOA/NOP animals for TMGR are soon to be disallowed.
Next, by breeding two foundation animals together( F1 x F1), a second generation (F2) animal is created. Two F2 generation animals are bred together to generate a F3, and so on and so forth until you get a F6 animal which is considered a PURE BRED MINIATURE LA MANCHA. There are only a few herds in the US with F6 (generationally pure bred) minis. These animals should be virtually indistinguishable from a standard bred La Mancha, except that they are about the same size as a Nigerian dwarf! And as per the standard of the breed should be able to produce 1/3 the amount of milk as a standard animal of the same age at a MINIMUM. The only way to keep track of your generational percentages is to keep your animals registered. So if you are looking for a mini, it had better come with papers!
Most herds that focus on dairiness (and not so much on achieving a purebred F6 right out the gate) have F2- F5 animals, with A few F1 animals for good measure. And if you are purchasing from a reputable breeder your breed-able bucks/does should come with the ability to be registered (if they are not registered already). Only minis with registerable status should be used for breeding or milk production due to the possibility of having genetic influences that may adversely effect your herd in the future.
Non-registered minis are not considered 'minis' nor are they recognized by the MDGA or TMGR-- only a miniature dairy goat with paperwork ( or production stars (*) as in the case of NOA/NOP animals) to prove their genetic worth as a DAIRY GOAT can be considered a 'Mini'; There is more to minis than just size!
How do Minis measure up?
So, what can you expect from a mini? First, lets talk about the statistics: High-Quality Nigerian dwarfs have on average 6-7% butterfat compared to an average 4% butterfat produced by most High-Quality La Manchas....
High production La Manchas on the other hand, produce 1-1.4 gallons of milk on average daily compared to 1/2- 3/4 gallons daily produced by high production Nigerians.....
So, getting a good balanced blend takes a lot of work and effort! Which is why only the BEST quality LaManchas or Nigerians should be used.
Miniature La Manchas in our herd produce an average of 1/2-1 gallon a day-- with a butterfat average between 5-6.7%. Our herd (7-16 goats) eats the same amount of feed as a herd of 5 standard goats! And being smaller, are easy enough for one person to handle... unlike some of the larger breeds which can take the coaxing of 4 adult men to get them to walk just 10 feet on a leash!!
This is why we chose to start with registered minis, we wanted the BEST for our family, and demanded results in our milk pail at a price that we can afford!
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