The American Lamancha goat, also known as just Lamancha or LaMancha, is a distinctive dairy goat developed on the west coast of the United States in the 1920s.
These goats have quickly risen to prominence, not just in America, but have been shown internationally as well. The Lamancha goat is an excellent dairy goat with a colorful history.
What are Lamancha goats used for?
Lamancha goats are dairy goats, best recognized for their high milk production, and the high percentage of butterfat content in their milk.
They are also prized for being docile and sociable, and survive harsh conditions with little impact on their milk production.
Due to their distinctive ears, Lamanchas are also popular show and breeding animals, and their lovable temperament makes them good pets and companion animals. Their intelligence also makes them suitable cart or pack goats.
Lamancha goat origins
American Lamancha goats have an interesting breed history. While reference to short-eared goats can be found in literature dating back to ancient Persia, and earless goats from La Mancha Spain had shown in the Paris World's Fair in 1904, no distinct breed of short-eared goats had been developed before Mrs. Eula Fay Frey took an interest in the breed in 1937.
Spanish missionaries who colonized California and Mexico had brought with them short-eared goats, which they used for both meat and milk. These are thought to be related to the Murciana goats from the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
In 1936, a strain of Murcianas could be found in Mexico, mixed with goats from Granada. At the same time, in the early 1900s, a tribe of these original Spanish imports was being kept by Phoebe Wilhelm in northeastern California, where she bred them with Toggenburgs.
In the late 1930s, after Phoebe Wilhelm died, Edith Goodridge purchased 125 goats from her estate, and she noted that about half of these goats had the distinctive short ears. In 1937, Eula Fay Frey and her husband bought Poplar Dairy in Bell, California, after thorough study of the health benefits of goat's milk. The dairy had 130 goats at the time, of which two, a doe and her son, had short ears.
In 1938, that short-eared buck had sired a daughter, named Peggy, who was a beautiful doe with large eyes and short ears. Although she was small, Peggy produced 10-12 pounds of milk a day, and was a darling of the Freys. In 1940, Eula Fay purchased a short-eared doe from the Goodridge herd, another small, attractive doe with large milk production.
Frey continued breeding her goats, seeking a breed that would produce 3.5-6 quarts of milk with 3.5% or more butterfat, with 1-4 year intervals between freshenings.
In 1958, the American Lamancha was formally recognized as a breed, and is today the only breed of goat originating in the United States. By 1960, Mrs. Frey had established the 130 original goats of the American Lamancha foundation herd.
Lamancha goat characteristics
- “Gopher ear”: approximate length one inch, with little or no cartilage. The end of the ear can be turned up or down, and this is the only ear that is accepted for registering a buck.
- “Elf ear”: acceptable in does, the elf ear has a maximum length of two inches, and cartilage shaping is allowed. The end of the ear must be turned up or down.
Lamancha Goat Prices
As with all goats, prices will vary depending on whether you are purchasing registered pure breeds or crossbreeds, the quality of parentage, and local availability. The quality of the buck determines the quality of your herd, so expect to pay $400-$600 for a good Lamancha buck.
However, since Lamanchas can produce for such extended periods between freshenings, you may prefer to purchase semen every couple of years rather than maintain a buck. High-quality Lamancha semen costs $150-$250 for 5.
Purebred Lamancha does typically cost between $350-$700.
Mini Lamanchas (Lamancha/Nigerian Dwarf crossbreeds) are a popular variation on the breed, and can sometimes be available at a lower price.
Lamancha Goat Breeders
There are a number of ways to connect with reputable Lamancha goat breeders.
Check with the American Goat Society or American Dairy Goat Association. Most states also have a local Dairy Goat Association that can connect you with breeders.
The American LaMancha Breeders Association has an active Facebook group, and dairy goat groups and coops are a great source of information on breeders. Always buy your goats from a reputable breeder, and visit the site and inspect the goats before purchase if at all possible.
Raising Lamancha Goats
Lamancha goats are a hardy breed, able to produce milk in a variety of climates and forage conditions.
They are indispensable on a dairy goat farm, but also easily trained and make excellent pets and companion animals. When raising Lamancha goats, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Lamancha goat social needs.
Like all goats, Lamanchas are herd animals and will not be healthy or happy when kept alone. If you only want or need one doe for personal milk consumption, living with a wether, or even a farm dog, will help keep her happy and well-adjusted.
Lamancha goat medical needs.
Like all goats, Lamanchas need periodic hoof trimming and deworming. Find a local veterinarian who is familiar with goats, and learn to spot the early signs of parasites.
The unique ears of a Lamancha require special attention because they offer little protection from rain or wind-blown debris; check them often for signs of ear infections or ear problems.
Lamancha Goat Food Needs.
Water. Goats should always have access to fresh, clean water. Lamanchas can drink up to 10 liters of water a day when producing milk.
Forage and feed. Lamanchas will happily browse on shrubs, weeds, herbs, and tree leaves. Allowing them freedom of pasture also gives them the exercise they need to stay healthy and prevent health problems.
Depending on the size of your pasture, the variety of plants available, and the season, alfalfa hay can and should be offered for free feeding. Purchase very high-quality hay for the healthiest goats and best quality milk.
Alfalfa hay is high in calcium, which is essential when goats are kidding and producing milk. Alfalfa hay can be expensive, so some people supplement other high-quality hay with alfalfa pellets instead.
Supplements. Depending on the plants in your pasture, local soil composition, and nutritional composition of your hay, it is likely that your goats will need mineral supplements.
If you are providing high-quality food, they may only require small amounts of trace minerals. When free-fed, goats will only eat as much mineral supplements as they need.
Use a mineral supplement designed for goats or cattle, and avoid supplements designed for sheep, because goats and cows require copper, which is toxic to sheep. You can also feed your Lamancha goats fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen, which they will enjoy.
Lamancha goat enclosure needs.
Like all goats, Lamanchas are agile and ready jumpers. Lamanchas are also particularly intelligent and curious, which creates special challenges when fencing them.
Fences should not only keep goats in, but should keep predators out. Fences should be a minimum of 4 feet high, although some breeds and crossbreeds can jump over heights of 4 feet, and 5 feet is safest.
Goats will lean, stand, rub, and chew on fencing, particularly if they have smaller pasture, or if there seems to be attractive forage on the other side, so posts should be no further than 8 feet apart, and posts should be cemented into the ground.
The best way to secure your Lamanchas is a goat wire fence with 4-inch openings too small for adults to put their heads through; goat wire is strong enough to withstand the chewing, leaning, and standing that the fence will endure.
Because goat wire fencing comes at 4 feet high, it is best to run one strand of electric fencing over the top of the wire fence to increase the overall height and deter jumping.
Lamancha goat shelter needs.
All goats need shelter at night and in poor weather. Situate your shelter well away from your fence, so that goats can’t jump from the roof of their shelter over the fence, and avoid situating the shelter on low ground that would accumulate rain.
At minimum, the shelter can simply be a roof and three sides, so that goats can get out of bad weather. It is better to have a dry dirt floor than a wood one; wood flooring can get slippery with mud or manure, and potentially injure a goat or cause foot problems.
Breeding Lamancha Goats
Lamancha does come into season in the fall or winter when they are in heat for 1-2 days every 18-21 days until they are bred.
After successful breeding, their gestation period is 155 days, and they often give birth to twins or triplets.
While a doe can come into heat as early as 5 months old, it is better to wait until she is at least 8 months old or 80 pounds to prevent kidding problems. When she is coming into heat, she will generally show signs with signature behaviors, such as:
When breeding Lamancha goats, there are a few factors to consider.
For these reasons, breeders adopt a variety of different methods to breed their does.
Keeping a buck can be a challenge, as he requires a separate (and sturdy) enclosure to keep him from breeding when unwanted. For Lamanchas, it can be expensive to keep a high-quality buck year round if he is only needed for a few days every two years. However, keeping your own buck ensures that you can breed your does right when they are ready, and allowing him access to the does may bring them into heat.
Some breeders prefer to schedule “dates,” which is when a desirable buck comes to visit their herd. This is less expensive than keeping your own buck, but needs to be carefully timed due to the limited window of time in which does are in heat.
Some breeders choose artificial insemination, so that they can have full control over the timing of breeding. This requires some skill to do, and limits the number of times you can attempt to breed a doe without incurring more expense, but also allows your kids to have the best possible bloodlines at a reasonable cost.
Lamanchas are charming goats and great milkers, and make a strong addition to any goat dairy operation.