"What's wrong with their ears?"
This is often the question asked by people when they come to visit us. Usually I make a quick turn to see what injury occurred to the poor animal before realizing my visitor is surprised by our goats' tiny ears. The ears now look normal to our family, and since we only have Miniature La Manchas, standard goat ears now look funny to us!
Despite their diminutive auditory appendages, we are very happy with this wonderful dairy breed. We researched many types of dairy goats extensively when deciding which one to raise. We chose the Miniature La Manchas because of their size, milk yield and disposition.
The small size of this miniature breed comes from crossing Nigerian Dwarf with La Mancha goats. The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature goat that originated in West Africa. They are typically between 17" and 23" high and weigh around 75 lbs. The butterfat content of their milk is higher than most other breeds at 6-10%. Notably, the Nigerian Dwarf goat is a year round breeder, so breeders can stagger breedings to have milk all year long. The ears and larger dairy characteristics of the Mini Manchas however, come from the standard sized La Manchas.
The exact background of La Mancha goats is unclear, but it is thought they descended from short eared goats brought to California by the Spanish. Mrs. Eula Fay Frey of Oregon had the first goats registered as a breed in the mid 1900's. La Manchas are medium sized goats noted not only for two types of tiny ears (the snug fitting gopher ears and the ever so slightly longer elf ears), but also for their calm dairy temperament and good milk production.
The Mini Manchas are a great blending of the two breeds and are recognized by The Miniature Goat Registry and The Miniature Dairy Goat Association; our goats are registered with both. We prefer the Mini Manchas because the animals are small enough for the whole family to handle, quiet in disposition, and require less feed than the standard goat. We are also able to tune breedings to our schedule because they are year round breeders like the Nigerians. The Mini Manchas are also great dairy animals because they are great on the milk stand, large enough to get a bucket under them and produce enough of their sweet milk for the whole family to consume.