Although San Clemente Island goats have not been "bred up" to today's dairy goat standard, there is no reason why they should not have the potential to be good milkers. We're seeking breeders who are interested in milking their San Clemente Island goats to help us survey the breed from a dairy standpoint.
If you're interested in sending in some San Clemente Island goat milk to be tested do the following:
Milk your goat when the kids have been off of her for a few hours.
The first two squirts usually go "in the gutter" but you may want to include them for butterfat testing
Make sure you get a full milking, not just a few squirts. The milk containing the highest butterfat will be at the end of the milking.
Don't worry if you can't get a lot of milk. Get all you can from your goat, and even if it turns out to be less than 1/4 cup, that should still be enough to send in to the lab.
Pack a sample of milk and mail it to your local lab (not to us!) including any fee. If your dairy friends start talking about preservers and test tubes, don't let it throw you. Every lab listed on your state's page will also accept samples that are packed in double ziploc bags, or a sterile bottle if you have one (pill bottles can be used if sterilized.) Use one of those little blue ice packs to keep it cold in transit, and try to mail it so it arrives earlier in the week, not on a weekend.
Have the milk tested for fat and solids—Saanens and Alpines run at about 3.5% butterfat, Nigerian Dwarves test at about 6%. The higher the fat, the creamier the milk, the better the cheese (if you like it creamy). Fresh forage will increase butterfat levels more than grain will.
And while you're at it, you may want to test the milk for bacteria (coliform from the pipes can be in their drinking water, and will pass through into the milk) and have a somatic cell count done (will be early indicator of mastitis).
THEN, please contact us with the results. It will help us all get a better profile of San Clemente Island goats. We're posting milk test/state lab contacts on your state's page as we go.
Can you milk goats that have supernumerary teats? Sure! One of our breeders milks hers twice daily, and gets about 2½ lbs. per day. You use the same action with your hand, there's just a little more there, and most of it goes where it should.
Another breeder found that two teats on one side of the udder were functional, whereas only one extra teat on the opposite side was functional. Not only that, but she suspects that the side with two functional teats also included two cisterns.
Milk Test Results
Let's see what these goats can do!
Heamour Farm Vindaloo tested at 5.42% butterfat in September 2007.
SVF 45 (Charlotte) tested at 6.97% butterfat.
Snowflake tested at 6.0% butterfat.
Tom's doe Lily tested 4.05% butterfat in August 2014.
One California breeder reports that her goats give a high yeild of "extremely creamy" milk, results forthcoming.
Another California breeder reports well-formed udders and 1 litre per day milk yield, butterfat content to be tested soon.
A Canadian breeder reports their goats as testing high in butterfat, no figures received yet.
We really need everyone to try milk testing their San Clemente Island goats. So far, they're looking pretty good! Your local testing site should be available by selecting your state from the Breeder Map page. It will be interesting to see whether these goats will be bred for meat, dairy, cashmere, or all of it.
Goat meat is delicious. There has always been a demand for goat meat in the United States, and it continues to grow. Goat meat is met with increasing popularity as the country's culinary tastes expand to include more cultural diversity. Try it if you can.
San Clemente Island goats reflect their insular history by being small and fine-boned, but can still be an excellent meat goat.
Some may question whether or not it is ethical to eat an endangered animal. The more uses we have for these goats, the more popular they'll become. It's much easier to save a breed that has proven agricultural value. San Clemente Island goats may be small, but they're also fuel-efficient.
We now have a report from one of our breeders who tried 3 different 2-year-old bucks. He reports that the meat was very tasty, and had good flavor but was not too goaty. He recommends San Clemente Island goat meat as an excellent "slow growth" meat.
Restaurants are excited about serving locally-raised meats, and the demand for organic and humanely-raised meat continues to grow.
Commercial meat goat breeders are also getting interested in San Clemente Island goats. Some of these breeders would like to add the hardiness of San Clemente Island goats into their herds, and these herds may contain percentages of Boer goats, Kiko goats, and others. For those of us who have worked hard to keep purebred San Clemente Island goats going, the thought of allowing them to be purposely mixed with crossbreeds might at first seem like a waste. However, if you do have a good-quality buck that you don't need, that no other breeder needs, and whose genetics are readily available and well-represented, please consider selling him to a commercial breeder who seeks hardiness and who is comfortable with a smaller goat. Spanish goats avoided extinction due to the demand from commercial breeders for their hardy genes, and it would do us well to increase the demand for San Clemente Island goats in similar arenas.
We recommend "The Meat Goat Handbook" by Yvonne Zweede-Tucker, published January 2012. It's complete but not complicated, and addresses meat goat ranching from all perspectives. It includes loads of San Clemente Island goat photos from SCI breeders across the USA!
Buying it direct from the author will keep the profits on her farm! You can do this at www.smokeridge.net/meatgoathandbook.htm