"What's wrong with their ears?"
This is often the question asked by people when they come to visit our farm. Though my family and I are used to their ears, guests are often surprised to see them. Now that we are accustomed to the way Miniature La Manchas look, the usual upright or long ears of the other breeds look funny to us! Ears notwithstanding, we are very happy with this type of goat. We researched many breeds of dairy goats when deciding which one to raise and chose the 'Mini Manchas' because of their size, milk production and disposition.
The smaller 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, as are the Minis, so people can stagger the breedings to suit their situation. The ears and generous dairy characteristics of the Miniature La Manchas however, come from the standard sized La Manchas.
The exact background of the La Mancha 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. Standard La Manchas are medium sized goats known 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 resulting Miniature La Mancha size makes it very suitable for the smaller suburban farmstead or urban backyard with regards to handling, hoof trimming, and showing. These goats are also easier to transport than their standard sized counter parts as they can often fit in an extra large dog crate. Another advantage to the Mini Mancha size is that it eats 1/2 the amount of the standard goat while still producing 2/3 the milk.
Miniature La Manchas are a great source for the family milk supply. Their milk is wonderfully creamy and sweet and their high butterfat content is perfect for cheese making. The minis, though smaller than the standard La Mancha goat, have a great milk capacity. The range of milk yield can be from 2 - 6.5 pounds of milk (two pounds of milk equal one quart). These goats also have the ability to be milked for years without rebreeding, so the small farm has the advantage of a year-round milk supply. The suburban and urban farms can also take advantage of the Miniature La Manchas' calm and quiet disposition.
The Miniature La Manchas have inherited a docile, friendly and curious disposition from the standard La Mancha. They are also very adaptable and easy to train for the milk stand and grooming needs. This wonderful disposition makes them perfect as a small holder's dairy animal or great as pets (because goats are herd animals, they require at least one other goat for companionship, whether as a pet or milk source). They can easily be trained to walk on a leash like a dog, pull carts and even be used as pack animals for hikers.
The Miniature La Manchas are a great blending of the two goat 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 oustanding 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.