San Clemente Island Goats
San Clemente Island goats originate from a feral goat population on one of the California Channel Islands, San Clemente. Thought to have originally been placed on the island by Spanish settlers in the 19th century, this group of goats evolved in isolation into a very unique gene pool, not closely related to any other goat breed. To protect the island ecosystem, the goats were removed from San Clemente in the 1980s and now survive in mainland breeding herds only, with a total global population estimated at 600 - 700. With around 60 animals, the QLLC herd is one of the largest breeding groups in existence.
San Clemente Island goats are small and slow growing which makes their meat more expensive to produce. This makes their conservation a particular challenge. On the other hand, they have some particularly desirable traits:
- San Clemente Island goats breed out of season. Kids can be born at any time of the year.
- The does have twins frequently and are generally good mothers. Three kiddings in two years are not unusual.
- The males appear to lack the scent gland found in many other goat breeds. For this reason the meat of even intact breeding males has an excellent, very mild taste. Neutering to improve meat quality is unnecessary, an advantage both for animal welfare and cost.
- San Clementes appear to be very resistant to foot rot - despite our wet West Coast weather, less than ideal for goats which are adapted to arid environments.
At QLLC, we attempt to maintain the herd under conditions that mimic their feral existence on San Clemente as closely as possible. This means that we do not neuter or disbud, the bucks run with the herd year round and kids are weaned naturally by their dams, at anywhere from 4 to 9 months of age. On the other hand, our colder and wetter climate and different vegetation makes some interventions, like providing shelter and feed, hoof trimming and targeted parasite control inevitable.