If somehow you have found our blog, Welcome!!  Chad and I will be taking turns blogging about our Willow Valley Farms adventures.  While we may be late to the blogging party, it is our hope that this blog will bring much needed attention to the plight of the critically endangered San Clemente Island Goat as well as chronicle our efforts in turning them into a dairy breed and in turn us into Artisan Goat Cheese makers.

We are in the process of building a Grade A microdairy on our property.  There is a lot of work to be done.  We are doing it for many reasons, but the main one is our way of saving the San Clemente Island Goat from extinction.  There are less than 600 of these beautiful animals left.  For more about their story, please visit our web site, www.willowvalleyfarms.org and www.scigoats.org

In 2008, our San Clemente Island Goats made their first appearance.  There are a number of different versions of how our goats made it here.  Chad will tell you that I may have in passing said something about wanting goats.  Long story short, Chad got about 12 minutes notice that we were about to get goats.  Turns out our first were barren.  They are the only two goats that are barren around here.  We now have over 100 of them running around here.  I have been told that we have the largest herd in the world right here in Nebraska.

I can tell you San Clementes and rabbits have a lot in common.  SCI's, as they are called by those in the know, breed all year round.  Most, if not all, traditional breeds come into season at the same time deer do, in the fall and early winter, which creates a big break in production between October and April.   SCIs are not encumbered by that problem.  They do however have a big hurdle to overcome: supernumerary teats.

That is a fancy way of saying that SCI does have too many teats.  Dairy cows have four teats that are milked.  Goats are supposed to have two.  All of the systems are set up to milk two teats.  Most of the extra teats either do not function properly or if they do, they are in the way of the good teat.  In order to make SCIs a viable dairy breed, the extra teats have to be bred out.

Both males, bucks, and females, does, carry the extra teat gene.  Two teats are the dominant gene in goats, but because the SCIs were on the island for so many years and were inbred, the recessive extra teats became the norm.  We are in the process of flipping that around and at the same time maintaining as much genetic diversity as possible.  We currently have enough two teated does to move forward with our dairy plans.  The question is whether we will have enough SCI milk to make the dairy operation viable. As we identify two teated SCIs in other herds and bring them into our herd, we will be able to balance two important pieces to quality goat cheese making, production and butterfat. 

SCIs naturally have a high butterfat content.  Testing has shown a range between 5-7% butterfat.  That is better than most of the common breeds.  If you want milk production, the Saanens, Alpines, and Nubians of the world are the way to go.   We have been told that if we want sweet creamy cheese, called chèvre, quality versus quantity, is the key.  We believe that the SCIs have a distinct advantage over the big producers, a higher butterfat and they breed all year round.  Which means you can have better milk for cheese through out the year. 

I am very excited about this new journey.  I cannot tell you how this will end, but I can tell you we are ready to do what we can to keep these beautiful goats from going extinct.  It is my belief their salvation is through the dairy world.  Stay tuned!



Michael Norton
02/24/2014 10:18pm

Love animals. Totally jealous and wishing you success.

kathy holleman
03/22/2014 5:45am

So do you use the multiple teat nannys for meat? Can you guarantee that a 2 teat nanny will always produce 2 teat offspring, or do they sometimes produce multiple teat females?

04/11/2017 2:03am

Unfortunately, a doe with 2 normal teats can have kids with supernumerary teats. I have that situation with one of my does. Generally it's not hard to find buyers for does with weird teats so I haven't heard of any being eaten for that reason. Many people keep them as pets or for brush & weed control so it doesn't matter.

06/06/2014 9:52am

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Karen Mardi
08/24/2014 4:45pm

Is this something that is open to the public, such as coming out to see your beautiful goats? Also, do you sell ant products such as goat cheese??

06/20/2015 2:22am

We just had our first SCIG kids. I am still puzzled about which months the does come come in heat--they sure are not like our Alpines were!

Good luck breeding out those extra teats--even our buck has them! Well I guess any teats on a buck are extra!!! One of our does only has 2 though. I was just reading that Boer goat owners have the same challenge--apparently because in Africa where they came from, breeders were selecting for extra teats.

Which bloodlines do you have? Ours have Plymouth, Rivetti &Pacheco. The dominant/recessive info. is interesting. I can't wait to read more about your dairy plans--if endangered farm animal breeds were more useful or productive, they would get un-endangered a lot more easily! My areas of interest regarding these goats is in finding ways to manage small backyard breeding herds--urban homestead style as that is a growing trend. This breed has several attributes that I think make them ideal for back yards in urban/suburban areas: The bucks are not stinky enough to bother neighbors, and they are easier to manage due to their mild personalities. The does produce good quality milk in smaller amounts--a pair of Alpines will drown the average family! They are not prone to health or kidding problems, so they're good for beginning goat owners. And, their smaller size makes them easier to handle while requiring less space. The challenge I'm working on right now is protecting the does from being constantly pregnant--in Africa and other places they have a couple interesting options as they don't always have fencing--and back yards here often won't have space for a buck pen & barn. Having a better idea of when the does will be in season will help. I'm keeping records.

I am looking forward to reading more about your goats! Thanks for your informative writing!

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    Two guys living on a hobby farm in Nebraska raising critically endangered San Clemente Island Goats, and a whole lot more.  We are in the process of developing a Grade A Microdairy.  We will be the first to use San Clemente Island Goat milk.  It is about time these girls earn their keep around here!


    August 2014
    February 2014