Our Billy Goat (not so) Gruff
Our Bagot keeping adventure is 3 years old today!
On 18 August 2018 we went to the rare breed sale at Lanark. We were just going to ‘look’, to see what they had for sale and to meet other breeders and rare breed enthusiasts. We enjoyed looking round and chatting with people we tend only to see at the sales. We saw three, wee, timid, female Bagot goat kids in a pen that were being sold as part of the sad Palacerigg Country Park animal dispersal and we thought they looked very attractive. However, we weren’t planning to buy anything and when we went to watch the auction, I thought we were quite safe from an impulse buy because we didn’t have a bidding number and we hadn’t brought the sheep trailer. I was chatting with my friend Jenni when Colin said he was just popping to the bathroom. When he came back I remarked he had been gone rather a long time and it turned out he’d been to get a bidding number just in time to bid for and win the three little Bagot girls we had seen earlier! Jenni found it very funny indeed whilst I was having a small sense of humour failure!
So we began with Blossom, Blanche and Beatrice, our new Bagot goat kids.
The very striking Bagot goat is believed to be the most ancient goat breed in Britain and they are of great historical significance. The first recorded account of the breed appears in historical documents from 1389, when Sir John Bagot was known to be the keeper of the original herd at Blithfield, his Staffordshire estate in the English Midlands. The Bagot goat was originally managed as a feral and semi-feral parkland breed. They proved to be extremely hardy and self-reliant, which has ensured their continued survival over many centuries.
You can read much more about the breed on the Bagot Goat Society website.
Our three girls were very timid to begin with and they still remain quite wild but over time we have built a relationship with them which feels quite special. Our friendliest girl Blossom just loves attention. In 2019, we borrowed a very impressive Bagot billy goat from Aylswood Rare Breeds called Whisper and in March 2020 our girls had one gorgeous baby each; two boys and a girl.
We found a pet home for the two Bagot boys who had been wethered (castrated) and we kept the female goat, naming her Lintmill Connie…so then there were four!
Bagot goats are on the RBST Watchlist because they are considered ‘At Risk’ meaning that there are lower numbers than ideal and with a degree of inbreeding that gives cause for concern for the survival of the breed. By keeping and breeding Bagot goats we understand both the value and the importance of conserving one of our rarest native breeds.
It was with breeding in mind that earlier this month we travelled to the lovely Cragend Farm in Northumberland to buy our own billy goat. They had three billys for us to choose from and we chose the rather magnificent four year old Mileshiggins Archibald (pictured above). We will introduce him to our girls in November and we look forward to our next Bagot babies in the spring of 2022.
If you have any questions about Bagot goats or fancy keeping them yourself, please get in touch – we love them and every opportunity to talk about them. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org