A History of The Guernsey Goat Society
The Guernsey Goat Society ("The Society") was inaugurated in 1922 with 30 members. The earliest minutes available start in 1927. The Society held its own show each year and on occasions had a British Goat Society ("BGS") judge. The Society also ran a goat section at the Whitsun Cattle Show with the blessing of the Royal Guernsey Agricultural and Horticultural Society ("RGAHS")
In 1928 Milk Test classes were first held and in 1929 it was reported that there were 215 registered goats.
The Society closed down from 1940 until 1945 due to the German Occupation of the Channel Islands although stock could still be registered. The Society restarted in 1946 when the subscription fee was 5s. Membership was good until 1956 when there was a shortage of both members and money! In 1963 The Society became active again with 14 members. Mr Bill Le Lacheur was President followed by Mr Cyril Wattam and Mr Tom de Garis.
In 1965 a Golden Guernsey Herd Book section was started, the colour of the goat being the main factor at the time. The main herd book dates back to 1922.
In 1969 five trophies were lost in a fire at Miss Milbourne's bungalow. One of the trophies lost had been presented to The Society by the Police. This cup had been bought with funds left over from funeral donations received in memory of Mr Steve Picquet who lived with his goats in a bunker at Pleinmont, all the five trophies were replaced by members and friends.
In the early 1970's The Society held a show solely for Golden Guernsey Goats at the RGHAS which takes place in July each year. Two trophies were transferred from The Society's Annual Show. These summer shows were initially run jointly by the Golden Guernsey Goat Association and The Society.
The Golden Guernsey Goat Association had emerged from the Golden Goat Trust whose aim was to save and improve the Golden Breed by fostering the best of Miss Milbourne's herd in good homes. The Golden Guernsey Goat Association became affiliated to The Society in 1972 and is known as the Golden Guernsey Goat Breed Society.
In 1980 a new competition was introduced for a Golden dam and kid entering all three shows. A year later the Jersey Goat Club became affiliated to The Society and with the agreement of the Golden Guernsey Goat Breed Society, the Jersey Golden Guernsey goats were accepted for registration in The Society's Herd Book.
The 75th Anniversary of The Society was in 1997 and the Annual Show was held at Saumarez Park. Mr Sid Poingdestre from Jersey agreed to judge at short notice, due to a change in show date resulting in the English judge no longer being able to attend. 22 goats were entered and there were 4 young handlers.
Over the course of The Society's history a variety of breeds have been imported into the Island. These include British Toggenburg, British Alpine, Saanen, British Saanen, Anglo Nubian, Pygmy and Boer goats. Currently we believe that Golden Guernsey, British Alpine, Pygmy and Boer goats are still represented on Island.
Since a low point in the late 1990's Golden Guernsey numbers seem to be slowly increasing. More people are expressing an interest in keeping goats. Six males and two females have been imported from England since 1998 and in 2010 a number of people qualified to carry out Artificial Insemination (AI) at a course run in Guernsey by Christine Ball of Goat Genetics. The first AI conceived Golden Guernsey kids in the Channel Islands were born in Guernsey in 2019. There were two female and one male kids. This was an important event for the security of the breed in Guernsey in the future.
AS part of their 50th Anniversary Celebrations in 2018, members of the English based Golden Guernsey Goat Society travelled to Guernsey. ON the Thursday they attended the Golden Guernsey Goat Breed Society's Show held at Saumarez Park under the auspices of the RGAHS. This was well supported by entries from members of both Societies.
June Atkinson and Jill Barlow, regular visitors to the Island, were part of the group and were asked to judge The Society's Young Stock Show on the Saturday. In their write up of the visit in their Society's Journal they described the show as 'a lovely Society Show' and commented on the number of child handlers. There were 8 handlers aged 3 to 8 and 6 aged 9 to 18 yrs.
The Society has held various social events over the years which help raise funds for The Society, with some very successful quizzes and goat keeping classes. Members have also been making products with goat's milk which are sold commercially and at the goat shows. Products include goat cheese, goat milk, goat fudge, soap, hand cream and caramel sauce! Money raised goes toward bringing over BGS registered judges, public liability insurance for both Societies and general expenses of putting on two shows a year.
The 2020 Covid pandemic placed limitations on the social aspect of The Society. Fortunately, The Society was able to put on both the Young stock and Annual Show in both 2020 and 2021, complying with the Guernsey Covid Policy. However pandemic travel restrictions meant that no BGS judge could attend and therefore no BGS Diploma could be awarded. We were lucky to have good local judges ready to step in and hold the fort.
Holding a traditional show was a rarity throughout the British Isles in those two years, when virtual shows became the norm due to various lockdowns and restrictions on gatherings in the UK. Some members of The Society successfully entered goats into "Photographic Shows" providing an opportunity for Guernsey goats to be seen outside Guernsey!
In 2021 The Young Stock Show moved to a new venue at Les Paysans as part of The Vintage Agricultural Show. The move went well giving the goats a much bigger audience. Also, in 2021 Clyde du Douit Beuval became the first Golden Guernsey Goat to be exported from the Island in more than 20 years - he moved to Yorkshire. In 2022 Clyde will be doing his bit to help sustain this wonderful breed.
Whilst The Society maintains the Herd Book for the Golden Guernsey goats for the Bailiwick of Guernsey (includes Alderney, Herm and Sark) and for Jersey, the alternative exists to register goats with the BGS and a number of Guernsey Islanders have done so. This makes tracking the number of goats on Island difficult. As of the end of 2021 Jersey had 31 registered Golden Guernsey goats, but disappointingly the current owner of the herd no longer wishes to breed or keep them all. The herd comprised 25 females and 6 males but there is no information as to how many of them still survive.
We believe there to be approx' 50 registered keepers of goats on the Island, however there is no way of knowing number or breed of goats held or if the holdings are still active.
IN Guernsey, from 1997 to 2021, The Society has registered 68 males and 212 females. Obviously quite a lot of these will have since died, but The Society has yet to persuade all goat owners to notify the death of a registered goat! Over the same period there have been 315 local transfers (including Jersey) and 23 transfers to the UK of which 19 were Mr S Poingdetsre of Jersey transferring almost all his Melmay Herd to Mrs Beviss in Devon in 2066/7.
So far in 2022 there have been 10 new registrations and 7 transfers.
The Society is an independent voluntary organisation financed through subscriptions and donations from members, friends and from fund raising activities.
The annually elected President and Committee will continue their various endeavours on behalf of The Society, with the support of its members but always remembering the main goal of The Society - the care and welfare of goats regardless of breed or colour!
Here's to the next 100 years!