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Portuguese Native Breed Goats as Packer Prospects!

587 Views 25 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Moers kiko boars
Hi Guys,

[I also posted this to the Pack Goat Central forum so apologies if anyone sees it twice.]

So we're based in Portugal where the 'classic' pack goat breeds are hard to come by.

We managed to find one guy with a herd of alpines and alpine crosses, but they did not look well cared for nor healthy. We decided to walk away from those as unhealthy goats are obviously no good for packing no matter what the breed.

The healthiest looking goats we found are all Portuguese natives - extremely hardy, eat anything, go anywhere types of goats. They have floppy ears to cope with the heat (which can get up to 40c or 104f in the height of summer) and some do get quite big and leggy, helping them range over very rough terrain consisting of boulders and prickly brush.

These breeds tend not to be super well standardised. Mongrel native mixes are common and are appreciated for their rusticity. Native types are more popular here than globally-known commercial meat and dairy breeds as they tend to fare better!

We've got a couple of kids of a very local type that has been developed here for literally hundreds of years. I am no expert in choosing pack goat prospects, especially in breeds that as far I know have never been packed and don't look much like any of your guys' goats. We picked a very big yellow boy (the shepherd, who is breeding for size and docility, said this kid would grow up huge; he kept his brother as an up-and-coming breeder). This one was also very friendly and curious. We also picked a slightly smaller black boy (a week or two younger as well) who has what we thought was the nicest conformation of the kids available; he has a very gentle and pensive personality.

We tried to select for straight backs, long legs, straight pasterns, etc... This guy's bucks were massive goats but all extremely tame and gentle. They all go out twice a day for several hours to graze up the mountain with the shepherd.

One of my concerns is that I have heard 'floppy ears don't pack' a lot with reference to your American Nubians.... Despite having floppy ears, these guys are very much a European breed. They have a slight North African influence, but are more closely related to other European breeds such as the various Spanish breeds and (more distantly) Swiss, French, Carpathian goats and even, supposedly, traces of Iberian Ibex. I have no idea if they have 'the right stuff' in terms of personality, but they are bred to be extremely gentle, rustic and willing/able to walk all day with a shepherd, so who knows. They are definitely very loving and follow us everywhere, also walking on the lead beautifully.

I'd love to know your thoughts on their looks. They are 3 months and a bit old now and will be castrated soon. They were raised in a barn until we got them (not ideal, I know) and so I know they do need to put on some muscle - but do you think any raw potential is there at all in terms of their basic physical structure? They are perhaps a little more swaybacked than ideal (or maybe I'm being paranoid) but no goat has ever been bred to pack in Portugal and we would eventually be looking to improve on this type of genetics in future through a personal breeding project.

We're hoping to get a couple more of different native breeds and see which ones work out best to form the basis of our string, so this is very much experimental!

Pictures here! --->
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I hope they grow big and strong for you! Good luck with your pack training! 馃榿
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Hi Guys,

[I also posted this to the Pack Goat Central forum so apologies if anyone sees it twice.]

So we're based in Portugal where the 'classic' pack goat breeds are hard to come by.

We managed to find one guy with a herd of alpines and alpine crosses, but they did not look well cared for nor healthy. We decided to walk away from those as unhealthy goats are obviously no good for packing no matter what the breed.

The healthiest looking goats we found are all Portuguese natives - extremely hardy, eat anything, go anywhere types of goats. They have floppy ears to cope with the heat (which can get up to 40c or 104f in the height of summer) and some do get quite big and leggy, helping them range over very rough terrain consisting of boulders and prickly brush.

These breeds tend not to be super well standardised. Mongrel native mixes are common and are appreciated for their rusticity. Native types are more popular here than globally-known commercial meat and dairy breeds as they tend to fare better!

We've got a couple of kids of a very local type that has been developed here for literally hundreds of years. I am no expert in choosing pack goat prospects, especially in breeds that as far I know have never been packed and don't look much like any of your guys' goats. We picked a very big yellow boy (the shepherd, who is breeding for size and docility, said this kid would grow up huge; he kept his brother as an up-and-coming breeder). This one was also very friendly and curious. We also picked a slightly smaller black boy (a week or two younger as well) who has what we thought was the nicest conformation of the kids available; he has a very gentle and pensive personality.

We tried to select for straight backs, long legs, straight pasterns, etc... This guy's bucks were massive goats but all extremely tame and gentle. They all go out twice a day for several hours to graze up the mountain with the shepherd.

One of my concerns is that I have heard 'floppy ears don't pack' a lot with reference to your American Nubians.... Despite having floppy ears, these guys are very much a European breed. They have a slight North African influence, but are more closely related to other European breeds such as the various Spanish breeds and (more distantly) Swiss, French, Carpathian goats and even, supposedly, traces of Iberian Ibex. I have no idea if they have 'the right stuff' in terms of personality, but they are bred to be extremely gentle, rustic and willing/able to walk all day with a shepherd, so who knows. They are definitely very loving and follow us everywhere, also walking on the lead beautifully.

I'd love to know your thoughts on their looks. They are 3 months and a bit old now and will be castrated soon. They were raised in a barn until we got them (not ideal, I know) and so I know they do need to put on some muscle - but do you think any raw potential is there at all in terms of their basic physical structure? They are perhaps a little more swaybacked than ideal (or maybe I'm being paranoid) but no goat has ever been bred to pack in Portugal and we would eventually be looking to improve on this type of genetics in future through a personal breeding project.

We're hoping to get a couple more of different native breeds and see which ones work out best to form the basis of our string, so this is very much experimental!

Pictures here! --->
Personally, I think it鈥檚 a good idea to use a pack goat that is native to the area. You can always add animals that can improve your line. The person that you need to talk to about all things pack goat is @DDFN. I also think your two boys are beautiful especially the black one with the waddles馃槏
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I hope they grow big and strong for you! Good luck with your pack training! 馃榿
Thanks Boer Mama! I hope so too!

Personally, I think it鈥檚 a good idea to use a pack goat that is native to the area. You can always add animals that can improve your line. The person that you need to talk to about all things pack goat is @DDFN. I also think your two boys are beautiful especially the black one with the waddles馃槏
That was our thinking as well (although it still feels like stepping into the unknown somewhat!). Maybe we can add a drop of Alpine or Saanen somewhere further down the line, but hopefully these goats will give us a healthy baseline. We hope to have access to their in tact relations for breeding purposes. And thanks - we think they're adorable too - especially the wattles!
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Animals carry about a third of their body weight. So you could certainly make them a pack goat but their weight is going to determine how much they can actually carry.
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Animals carry about a third of their body weight. So you could certainly make them a pack goat but their weight is going to determine how much they can actually carry.
The sire of the blonde one was apparently approaching 100kg (or ~200lb). They're bigger goats than Alpines in general so weight and relative carrying capacity is one of the the things I'm not too concerned about, fortunately! Although as soon-to-be wethers they will probably be a bit smaller, we have high hopes for their size and carrying capacity.
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I think it鈥檚 great to go with hardy, native mix, especially ones that are taken out to forage daily. One benefit of that is they鈥檝e likely already started to learn what is good to eat and what isn鈥檛. Theirs personalities sound perfect too. Plus, they are neat looking goats. I hope you鈥檒l keep us updated on their training as they grow.
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I think it鈥檚 great to go with hardy, native mix, especially ones that are taken out to forage daily. One benefit of that is they鈥檝e likely already started to learn what is good to eat and what isn鈥檛. Theirs personalities sound perfect too. Plus, they are neat looking goats. I hope you鈥檒l keep us updated on their training as they grow.
Thanks - so much encouragement here, it's really putting my mind at ease. I'll definitely be back as we're new to packing and, although I have done a lot of reading over the last year, I'll definitely have questions as we progress.
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They look nice and big for 3 months old. To me, a native goat will survive the area,and have more immunity to pests. Are you going to breed for size and strength from your own closed herd?
For me, my boys grow in different stages. Theh do have an akward teenager growth stage around 6 months old. I like to watch them for a year, when chooseing a breeding buck. If they arent what confirmation I need, I sell them.
It will be interesting watching you develop your pack team. Good luck. Looks like your on a great beginning!
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They look nice and big for 3 months old. To me, a native goat will survive the area,and have more immunity to pests. Are you going to breed for size and strength from your own closed herd?
For me, my boys grow in different stages. Theh do have an akward teenager growth stage around 6 months old. I like to watch them for a year, when chooseing a breeding buck. If they arent what confirmation I need, I sell them.
It will be interesting watching you develop your pack team. Good luck. Looks like your on a great beginning!
Thanks Moers Kiko! Yes, we'll be breeding for size and stamina, a gung-ho and friendly personality and strength/fortitude in general... I'm looking for tall, athletic goats with a long stride and good conformation.

It's hard to keep a completely closed herd here as it is an area well known for shepherding; by necessity, we'll be using a lot of the same tracks as the shepherds, so it's hard to keep our boys totally isolated. I also hope to use the shepherds' bucks until we're set up for keeping our own. But we're doing everything we can to ensure our founding stock is clean and keep them that way...

I can see them muscling up day by day - looking forward to seeing how they turn out. I'll come back here with updated pics.
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I don鈥檛 have any experience with pack goats to offer advice, but they are beautiful! Congratulations! Can鈥檛 wait to hear more about them and your experiences!
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They're getting good on their walks now and growing fast! Wednesday is wethering day though, sadly!
Sky Plant Working animal Grass Dog breed


While hiking, they follow behind like this the whole way until we stop for browsing breaks. They're such good boys and very loving.
Plant Dog Sky Working animal Tree


We've also picked up one more - a different mix breed. This one is Serrana x Serpentina. He's still a bit nervous. I'll try to get a better picture of all of him one he calms down a bit.
Plant Sky Working animal Grass Fawn


Serranas are little mountain goats from our local area. Serpentinas are huge long legged plains goats from a bit further south. We're hoping he'll bring the best of both worlds - mountain aptitude but longer legs and bigger size over all. The Serpentina sire was rather buff.

He is a totally different type of goat in build and personality - very pretty as well. He's less dopey than the other two and much more alert. I think he's probably more similar to how I imagine an Alpine.

He is a month younger but he is much more agile and bouncy than the two Charnequeira crosses at the same age.

For reference I will include some pics from Google of the parent breeds.

Charnequeira (blonde boy and black boy are mixes with a lot of this breed):
Plant Natural material Working animal Horn Fawn

Serrana (mountain goat):
Terrestrial animal Grass Snout Goat Livestock

Serpentina (plains goat) - I love this breed. We'd like a Serpentina doe as well.
Eye Goat Plant Goat-antelope Sheep
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Wow, beautiful goats in a beautiful setting! They look like they are going to work out great as pack goats. Great pictures!
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They're getting good on their walks now and growing fast! Wednesday is wethering day though, sadly!
View attachment 252263

While hiking, they follow behind like this the whole way until we stop for browsing breaks. They're such good boys and very loving.
View attachment 252264

We've also picked up one more - a different mix breed. This one is Serrana x Serpentina. He's still a bit nervous. I'll try to get a better picture of all of him one he calms down a bit.
View attachment 252265

Serranas are little mountain goats from our local area. Serpentinas are huge long legged plains goats from a bit further south. We're hoping he'll bring the best of both worlds - mountain aptitude but longer legs and bigger size over all. The Serpentina sire was rather buff.

He is a totally different type of goat in build and personality - very pretty as well. He's less dopey than the other two and much more alert. I think he's probably more similar to how I imagine an Alpine.

He is a month younger but he is much more agile and bouncy than the two Charnequeira crosses at the same age.

For reference I will include some pics from Google of the parent breeds.

Charnequeira (blonde boy and black boy are mixes with a lot of this breed):
View attachment 252266
Serrana (mountain goat):
View attachment 252267
Serpentina (plains goat) - I love this breed. We'd like a Serpentina doe as well.
View attachment 252268
I absolutely love the Serrana mountain goat! I wish we were able to get this breed here in the states. Personally I just like the look of the more leggy mountain type of goats. Don鈥檛 tell my Nigerian Dwarfs though馃槣
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The charnequira is amazing. That would be an amazing pack goat. Looks as big as a donkey! I do hope your boys get that size. Your newest fellow is very pretty with his markings.
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馃槉馃
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Wow, beautiful goats in a beautiful setting! They look like they are going to work out great as pack goats. Great pictures!
Thanks! So far so good!
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Your boys look like they are doing amazing. And the new guy sounds like such a fantastic mix. Can鈥檛 wait to see him grow.
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I love those breeds- what a set of horns too! 馃ぉ
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I absolutely love the Serrana mountain goat! I wish we were able to get this breed here in the states. Personally I just like the look of the more leggy mountain type of goats. Don鈥檛 tell my Nigerian Dwarfs though馃槣
They're only made in Portugal, sadly! They come in other colours too - most are silver. You'll have to come here to smuggle some back with you! ;)

The charnequira is amazing. That would be an amazing pack goat. Looks as big as a donkey! I do hope your boys get that size. Your newest fellow is very pretty with his markings.
Yeah, those guys get quite big - they're a little bit scary looking! I have high hopes for Ulysses, our big blonde guy.

Your boys look like they are doing amazing. And the new guy sounds like such a fantastic mix. Can鈥檛 wait to see him grow.
Oh my god, me too. He is such a cool looking goat - like a little ibex!

I love those breeds- what a set of horns too! 馃ぉ
I know right. The horns maketh the goat!
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