Old English Goat Characteristics

Old English Goat Characteristics

Old English Goat characteristics. The Old English Goat is a breed with notable adaptability to the British climate, showcasing exceptional constitution and hardiness.

Thriving in various weather conditions, these goats are resilient foragers and can consume a diverse range of foods. They exhibit a unique trait of drinking water at the temperature of their surroundings.

Old English Goat breed

The Old English Goat, a compact and resourceful breed, is well-suited for supplying a household with a consistent milk source and the occasional kid for the freezer. Known for its hardiness, this goat boasts an extended lactation period, often lasting up to 18 months, and is bred for milking every other year.

These goats possess ample bellies and a robust digestive system that efficiently processes bulky foods. In contrast to larger dairy breeds, they require minimal concentrate ration to maintain their condition and milk yield.

Typically, the small size of these goats allows their horns to remain intact. They exhibit a variety of colors, including black, brown, or grey, with dark legs and the possibility of white patches. Their thick outer coat, accentuated by a cashmere undercoat (especially noticeable in winter), distinguishes them.

Nanny goats are characterized by beards, ‘trousers,’ and other hairy embellishments. The breed does not accept toggles on the neck or Swiss-style markings.

History of Old English Goat

Once a common sight among cottagers in the 19th century, the Old English Goat saw a decline in popularity as incomes rose, leading to reduced demand for house goats. The trend shifted towards importing and breeding larger, higher-yielding goat types, facilitated by a Stud Goat Scheme introduced by an early British Goat Society.

This initiative, offering males of ‘improved’ breeds, contributed to the diminishing presence of native domestic goats, with the possibility that non-feral goats in the country now trace some ancestry to Swiss or Nubian breeds.

Old English Goat Characteristics

Old English Goat Characteristics

Old English Goats exhibit a natural adaptation to the British climate, with their outstanding constitution and hardiness being among their key attributes. Unfazed by inclement weather, these goats willingly forage for a diverse range of foods and are content to drink water at the ambient temperature.

  1. Cobby: The goat is short-coupled, with short legs, resulting in the height from withers to brisket being equivalent to the height from elbow to ground.
  2. “Moderately fine” muzzle: Intermediate between the fine browsing muzzle of the Anglo-Nubian and the relatively broad muzzle of Swiss-derived dairy goats.
  3. Small ears: When folded forward, the ear should not extend beyond the corner of the mouth, with a preference for an even shorter ear.
  4. Swiss markings: This inherited color pattern includes prominent white stripes on the face, white ears, white legs below the knee, and a white rump.

Small size

The Old English Goat is characterized by its small and “cobby” build. Adult females should measure 26 inches at the withers (with a range of 24″ to 28″ considered acceptable), while males should be 28 inches (with a range of 26″ to 30″ being acceptable).

The body is deep and broad-chested, featuring a prominent breastbone and capacious belly. Short, well-boned legs support the goat, and the back should maintain a level profile from withers to hips before gently sloping down to the tail base. A well-attached udder with evenly sized teats pointing slightly forward is ideal.

Head, Ears, And Horns

Tapering to a moderately fine muzzle with a dished facial profile, the head of the Old English Goat is adorned with a beard in both sexes. Small, pricked ears add to its distinctive appearance.

While most goats naturally sport horns, a minority may be born without them. Horns are typically set well apart, rising straight up initially and then curving backward (scimitar) or twisting outward (Dorcas). The neck should be devoid of tassels.


Old English Goats exhibit variable colors, typically shades of grey or brown with frequent black markings. White patches are acceptable, while “Swiss” markings, characterized by prominent white stripes on the face, white ears, white legs below the knee, and a white rump, are not permissible.

Characteristics of Old English Goat

The Old English Goat is characterized by several distinct features.

  1. Adaptability to British Climate: Naturally adapted to the British climate, showcasing resilience and hardiness.
  2. Foraging Capability: Thrives as a forager, unbothered by poor weather conditions, and capable of consuming a wide range of foods.
  3. Water Temperature Tolerance: Exhibits the unique behavior of drinking water at the ambient temperature.

Read More: Beetal goat breed identification and rearing method.

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