The Golden Guernsey looks the part of a burnished piece of caprine art.
This breed originated on the British Channel Islands. These islands were ancient ports of call for Mediterranean traders, and as long haul voyagers often did, those ships often carried goats of all kinds. Thus, the ancestry of the Golden Guernsey is shrouded in mystery and lost to the mists of antiquity. They do, however, bear a strong resemblance to Skopelos goats in the Greek islands and are therefore thought to have Middle Eastern, rather than Swiss, origins. While the origins may never be known, DNA research has found that Golden Guernsey goats are genetically distinct from other European breeds, and thus considered indigenous to Guernsey.
Guernsey islander Miriam Milbourne took an interest in the golden goats and began keeping them in 1937, and managed to retain her herd through the German occupation. When Nazi soldiers ran low on provisions because of Royal Navy blockades, they turned to eating the local livestock. The breed was saved by Miss Milbourne, who hid her own herd in nearby caves. Following the end of the war, she successfully developed a specific breeding program. Through her efforts a registry was opened, and the Guernsey Goat Society’s herd book established in 1965. The Golden Guernsey goat is listed with the British Rare Breeds Trust. They are now recognized in the US, although all herds there are comprised of the descendants of only 8 imported individuals.
These medium sized goats are known for the beautiful coats, their docile personalities, and their high butter content milk.
Scallywag Farm in Berthoud, Colorado, doe and twins.
If you are able to visit the British Channel islands, to visit a Golden Guernsey dairy farm on Guernsey, disembark at St. Peter Port (a 3 hour ferry ride from Poole in Dorset, England by Condor Ferries https://www.ferries.co.uk/poole_guernsey.html), or an even shorter trip from multiple ports in France. From the port it is only an 18 minute trip on Forest Road to the farm. For visiting hours, see the website for Golden Guernsey Goats Cheese at https://golden-guernsey-goats-cheese.
If you are in the US, there are a number of sites where you can interact with this lovely breed. One that is close to my stompin’ grounds is Scallywag Farm in Berthoud, Colorado, who kindly provided the photos in this post. They are mad about their goats and their milk and cheese. Proprietor Scott says…
“The thing we like best about the breed is definitely their demeanor, they are very docile, affectionate, and make for easy handling and milking. Their long, flowing golden coats are also an attractive attribute, and they have proven to be very efficient producers for a mid-sized goat. The milk makes great cheese, and – as we’ve been told by our herdshare members – fantastic yogurt and kefir as well. We love the chevre on crudités mostly, with a little garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper, but crostini or crackers is always a great snack as well.”
They do allow visitors by appointment, and they can be contacted at
https://www.scallywagfarm.com. They are one hour north of downtown Denver.
Speaking of crostini…this is one of my favorite recipes for enjoying chevre from my own goats.
Crostini with Cranberries and Chevre
4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup cranberry sauce (homemade is best, room temperature)
1/2 sourdough baguette
¼ cup fresh basil
Slice the baguette diagonally into slices ½ inch thick. Spread a little butter or olive oil on one side. Place that side face down in a skillet and toast on low heat for 10 minutes.
When toasted, spread the chevre over the toasted side, followed by the cranberry sauce, and then sprinkle liberally with basil. This topping can be alternated with fresh rosemary to switch up the flavor occasionally. Fast and awesome!