So, before we get on to the goats, what does the ‘Landrace’ in ‘Dutch Landrace Goat’ actually mean?
In fact, it’s a classification given to any domesticated, regionally adapted species of plant or animal, which has developed over a period of time through a process of adaptation to its agricultural or pastoral environment.
Due to its isolation from other members of the species of differing breed, it remains distinct, limited to within a specific geographical area. Unfortunately, but perhaps not unsurprisingly, this very nearly brought about the downfall of the Dutch Landrace goat.
Background of the Dutch Landrace Goat
There are records of the Dutch Landrace Goat breed (Nederlandse Landgeit) in existence since the seventeenth century and it is one of the original goat breeds to be found in the Netherlands. Similar goats are found throughout northwest European countries and Dutch Landrace goats are closely related to other European Landrace goats such as the Danish Landrace goat, Finnish Landrace goat, and the Swedish Landrace goat.
Originally numerous in population, incredibly, this Dutch breed is one that was down to a single pair in the 1950s – and in serious danger of extinction.
Thanks to a successful goat cross-breeding program, starting at the beginning of the twenty-first century (2000) initiated by the National Association of Dutch Feral Goat Breeders (mitigating the effects of inter-breeding), the goats now number more than 2000 worldwide.
A breed association, the Landelijke Fokkersclub Nederlandse Landgeiten, was also formed in 1982, to champion the Dutch Landrace Goat (Nederlandse Landgeit) breed.
Dutch Landrace Goat today
As a horned, medium-sized goat of medium weight with long hair, which thrives on vegetation, the Dutch Landrace Goat is an asset in land-clearance – and this is currently its primary use, roaming and maintaining National Reserves and moors in the Netherlands in herds of 60 – 120 goats – not a bad life if you can get it!
There are now well over a thousand Dutch Landrace goats being used for this purpose and their numbers are continuing to gradually increase; hopefully, this means that the population of these beautiful goats will soon no longer be considered endangered.
Until the twenty-first century, their original uses were for meat, milk, and fiber production – as well as for breeding – but they are not currently used commercially due to their small numbers.
Characteristics of the Dutch Landrace Goat
Dutch Landrace goats come in many colors. It has a long flowing coat in shades of black, cream, brownish-gold, or silver-grey. In order to qualify as a Dutch Landrace Goat, it must not have ‘Swiss’ or ‘Toggenburg’ markings, which are white or cream markings on various parts of the body.
Although their coat usually consists of long hair, short-haired types also exist. They are medium-sized (the billy around 65 cm at the withers; the nanny at 60 cm), with relatively short limbs and a stocky body. Their weight is on average around 80 lbs for a billy and 60 lbs for a nanny.
They are able to withstand and even flourish in extreme climates.
Both billy and nanny dutch landrace goats have long strong horns reaching up to 100 cm in length and in a variety of forms, such as:
Dorcas horn – The horns rise sharply from the head and then twist outwards at right angles. This is the most common presentation of horn in the Dutch Landrace goat.
Scimitar horn – This occurs frequently in wild goats’ horns. The horns grow straight up and slightly apart to form a V-shape.
Moderate twist – These horns are long and thick and grow backward on the head in a slight curl with the ends twisting outwards.
Incipient Corkscrew – The horns grow almost straight up from the head. They are thick and grow up in a V-Shape, before curving outwards, with the ends having a corkscrew twist.
Ammon horn – The horns ascend from the goat’s head, growing in a spiral shape which gives the appearance of a thick curl on each side of the head.
This is not a usual goat’s horn and is more prevalent in sheep.
In terms of personality, The Dutch Landrace goat is a fairly easy-going, self-sufficient type, which benefits from a large open area to roam and graze – so if you’re interested in keeping the Dutch Landrace Goat breed, you should keep naturally open areas available. Perfect if you’re planning a re-wilding project to keep naturally open areas maintained.
They’re not overly bothered about human contact or connection with other animals but are at their happiest in their herd, left to their own devices, grazing over diverse landscapes.
These low-maintenance goats are able to withstand the most extreme of climate conditions and are extremely agile with good jumping ability.
The amount of milk produced by the landrace goat is not enough to be used commercially, although the milk is considered to be extremely healthy, especially for growing children who need to put on weight healthily. The nannies have all the characteristics of good mothers, able to wean their young and give a good level of milk quality. Their lactation period can last for up to 284 days.
Meat production is average for this size of goat, but given their rarity, these goats are not currently used for meat. The meat itself is low in fat.
Their coat has a lovely silky texture but, again, is not currently used commercially, despite the hair length, feel, and color varieties.
The Dutch Landrace Goats’ superpower and one of their main characteristics! This application is also helping to slowly increase their population through the breeding program, which works in conjunction with maintaining national reserves and keeping them free of trees that are invasive, as well as other vegetation.
Dutch landrace goat requires land – lots of land seems to be the key for these dutch goats, which are an extremely hardy breed and able to fend for themselves, preferably within a largish herd. They take the majority of their nutrition from grazing and do not require special supplements. They are not prone to illness, although as with all animals, they should be checked regularly, vaccinated, and wormed.
Dutch Landrace Goat sounds great! Where can I find some?
Due to their extreme rarity, Dutch Landrace Goats are in very short supply and hard to find outside of Europe. The population is basically maintained by the members of the L.F.N.L.: the Dutch Breeders Association of the Dutch Landrace. Based on an inbreeding calculation program, breeders receive annual advice concerning the best animals to breed, ensuring the lowest level of inbreeding possible. So, basically, move to the Netherlands, become a member of the Dutch Breeders Association (in the Netherlands), and begin your fairytale life (in the Netherlands), moving nomadically with your goats across the national reserves! You could also try contacting the National Association of Dutch Feral Goat Breeders for more information.