Conservation | Heritage | Old Irish Goat
The main aim of the Society is to preserve and promote the Old Irish goat, the original and only landrace breed of goat in Ireland. The society was formed in October 2006, by a small group of enthusiasts who realized that the breed was rapidly heading towards extinction, but that its gene pool could be preserved if assertive action were taken.
The Society has worked to preserve the breed in the wild, bring it back into domestication as an ideal smallholder’s goat; study its benefits to landscape management; define its phenotype and characterize its genotype; work towards gaining it official rare breed status, and thus protection, and create a herd book to preserve its existing standard as an unimproved landrace breed rather than turn it into a “standard” breed.
10 random facts about the Old Irish goat:
- It was in England that the breed was first called the ‘Irish goat’.
- A thick cashmere undercoat under its long outer coat helps to keep the goat warm in cold weather.
- It is possible to tell the age of an Old Irish goat by counting its horn rings.
- Unlike the modern breeds of dairy goat, the Old Irish goat can be found in a variety of colours and colour patterns.
- Large numbers were once imported into England and Scotland annually, being called the ‘harbingers of spring’ as the drovers arrived in each town and village.
- The Old Irish goat was Ireland’s only goat breed until around 1900.
- It is closely related to the native goat breeds of England, Scotland and Wales.
- The breed can be polled, although horned animals are more typical.
- Feral herds of Old Irish goats are led by a female, the males forming bachelor herds for much of the year.
- In domestication, the breed could give up to 200 gallons of milk a year.