Debbie McSweeney of Peabody started her journey into the dairy goat industry a few years ago with three mixed-breed does. It was not until she purchased two rare Golden Guernsey goats in March, however, that she knew she found the love of her life, outside her other family members, of course.
“I’ve always loved all my goats,” McSweeney said. “But now that I have Sunshine and Falcon, I know I have found my favorites.”
McSweeney spent more than two years researching Golden Guernseys and looking for a way to buy some breeding stock. She had been tipped off to the possibilities by a friend who traveled to the Guernsey Islands for a vacation and told her about the beautiful dairy goats there. Then, in Wichita, she met a citizen from the British Isles who showed her colorful pictures of the Golden Guernsey’s in their natural habitat.
“I was drawn to them immediately,” McSweeney said. “I am very interested in sustainable living and these goats fit perfectly with my goals. They are a smaller to mid-sized breed, very sturdy and resistant to disease, and they don’t need grain to produce wonderful, quality milk with a high cream content.”
McSweeney said she learned through online research that the breed came from wild goat stock mixed with local island goats that might have descended from Spanish breeds, possible survivors of shipwrecks off the coast.
She then purchased a 2012 doeling and a three-year-old buck from Randy House, a Golden Guernsey breeder she found in Independence, Mo.
“They are excellent for sustainability farms,” she said. “They are very, very intelligent, and have calm, sweet temperaments.”
McSweeney said she had not been able to find any Golden Guernsey breeders in the middle states, other than House, in the United States. The bred is documented only in the east in Pennsylvania, and on the west coast in Washington.
“Those breeders I did find either didn’t have any does or bucks for sale, or wanted astronomical prices for them,” McSweeney said. “I was so lucky to find these two. I can’t even talk about it, that’s how lucky I feel.”
McSweeney said her two Golden Guernsey goats, Sunshine, the doeling, and Falcon, the buck, were both considered KB2 goats registered with the British Guernsey Society.
McSweeney said she hopes the American Dairy Goat Association will soon approve the Golden Guernsey as an American breed and accept them into registry in the United States.
“I think they would have to be registered with the British Goat Society and the Golden Guernsey Goat Society of England first, then second and subsequent generations could be entered in the ADGA registries,” she said. “If ADGA would accept them, it would save breeders working to establish the breed a lot of money.”
There are currently less than 350 Golden Guernseys registered worldwide and they are considered an endangered species on several rare breed lists. This creates a small breeding pool and finding unrelated stock is difficult.
“I will be very happy when ADGA accepts the Golden Guernseys fully,” McSweeney said. “Right now I am just so excited to get to know these goats. They have such a wonderful quality of temperament, are so sweet and gentle. My Sunshine gives me kisses all the time.”