As I listen to my Dwarf Nigerian buck announcing his presence to the world at the top of his voice, I think how nice it would be to have a quieter breed of goat, like Mini LaMancha Goats.
While I love the appearance of the Dwarf Nigerian, I’m not so keen on their escapology tendencies, nor the enthusiasm with which they destroy the peaceful ambiance of our farm with their endless bleating.
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We don’t see many LaMancha or Mini LaMancha goats in South Africa which is a shame, as they’re known for their “quiet, personable temperament” and high milk production.
LaMancha goats are considered an American breed of goat, even though they probably originated in Spain and, when crossed with a Nigerian Dwarf, produces a delightful, diminutive dairy breed known as the Mini LaMancha.
With its high milk production, good butterfat content, friendly temperament, resilience, and frequent breeding potential, the Mini LaMancha sounds like the ideal miniature dairy goat breed.
In fact, from what I’ve read about Mini LaMancha goats, it sounds too good to be true, so I thought I’d do some more detailed research on how to raise mini LaMancha goats to see if all the hype is to believed.
How to Get Started With Mini LaMancha Goats
One of the most challenging things about raising Mini LaMancha goats is deciding what breeds of goats to buy in the first place.
You could, for instance, opt to buy in a small herd of Mini LaManchas, but this limits your creativity when it comes to breeding.
Alternatively, you could invest in a LaMancha buck, and some Nigerian Dwarf does, although the experts say crossing a Nigerian Dwarf buck with a LaMancha doe delivers the best results.
As the ultimate aim of breeding the miniature LaMancha goat is to “have equal amounts of LaMancha and Nigerian Dwarf blood in the goat,” if you own the first few generations, you have more freedom to develop the qualities you find most desirable.
If, for example, you have a stunning mini dairy goat, but she doesn’t have one of the two approved ear types, you can emphasize this distinctive characteristic by crossing her back to one of your short-eared goats.
While Mini LaMancha goats are cheaper than the standard dairy goat, you should still expect to pay between $300 and $400 for a baby goat and anywhere up to $600 for a well-bred mature goat.
While you could find Nigerian Dwarf goats for as little as $100 apiece, if you’re planning to breed with them, you should look for high-quality specimens from a reputable breeder.
These cost considerably more, and you need to budget around $700 to $900 for a really nice buck.
Once you’ve secured your Nigerian Dwarf buck, it’s time to shop around for some LaMancha does to keep him company.
“Purebred Lamancha does typically cost between $350-$700” (source) so, your initial investment will be anywhere from $1,500 upwards, depending on the size of your herd.
How to Raise Mini LaManchas On Your Homestead
One of the benefits of having Mini LaManchas on your homestead, rather than the full-sized version, is that the mini breed is much hardier, thanks to the Dwarf Nigerian contribution.
While you will need to provide shelter at night and in bad weather, you can otherwise let your goats roam free.
Like the full-size LaMancha Goat, the minis will happily feast on all kinds of weeds, shrubs, herbs, and trees.
With access to a wide variety of food sources, a decent shelter, and clean water, Mini LaMancha does provide around 500ml to a liter of milk every day.
Better still, they only have to be bred every two years to maintain this steady production which means you can more easily manage your breeding program without missing out on their delicious milk.
What Does a Mini LaMancha Look Like?
If a goat is giving you a liter of rich, buttermilk-heavy milk every day, does its appearance really matter?
It does if you want to register your mini goats with either The Miniature Goat Registry (TMGR) or the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MTGA).
According to the TMGR’s LaMancha goat breed information, only Mini LaManchas with correctly shaped ears, a straight profile, and, if a doe, a nice udder are truly representative of this mini breed.
Bucks should stand between 24 and 28 inches high and does a little shorter at 24 to 26 inches. Their backs should be wide and straight, their legs strong but not excessively muscular, and their body wedge-shaped.
Ears, or the lack of them, are crucial when it comes to registering your Mini LaMancha.
While both elf and gopher ears are acceptable on all does, and experimental bucks, an American or Purebred buck must have gopher ears.
If your goat appears to have virtually no ears at all, you’re doing a good job.
The ideal gopher ear should be no more than an inch long and have almost no cartilage. The elf ear is slightly longer and, like the gopher ear, may turn either up or down.
One of the things goat breeders love about this miniature breed is that it inherits the widely varied LaMancha goat colors and patterns.
Although the breed standard requires that “the hair is short, fine, and glossy”, any color or combination of colors is acceptable.
What Else Is the Mini LaMancha Good for?
For the most part, Mini LaManchas are best known as miniature dairy goats, but they do have a few other uses as well.
Despite their small size, Mini LaManchas carry more flesh than your average dairy goat so, like the Pygmy, have some potential for meat.
Few people seem to want to make a meal out of their adorable goats, although a few have sampled LaMancha meat and say it tastes great – a bit like venison but without the gamey flavor.
No goat is too small to become a pack goat, and with the LaMancha influence, even the miniature version can be trained to carry a small burden.
It might be worth a try given that “LaManchas are one of the most consistently lovable and agreeable of all the breeds for a pack goat” (source) and the Nigerian Dwarf’s stockiness.
The Joy of Mini LaManchas
With their distinctive appearance and affectionate nature, Mini LaMancha can bring joy and sustenance to your homestead in exchange for some decent grazing and fresh water.
More amenable than many other goat breeds, this miniature version has the distinctive breed characteristics of the standard dairy goat, condensed into a more compact body.
They are consistent breeders and excellent milk producers, consistently providing around a liter of milk per day.
This affordable, hardy breed is designed for ease of milking, making them ideal for beginners and seasoned goat farmers alike.