Eastern Cape Xhosa Goat

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

The Eastern Cape Xhosa goat is a regionally specific ecotype that derives from the indigenous Veld goats, a population unique to Southern Africa. “Indigenous veld goat” is a collective term describing all varieties of native South African goat breeds. Over centuries the indigenous Veld goat survived a long and dangerous journey through Africa, accompanied by Nomadic peoples, who started migrating southwards from the Lake District region of Central Africa, during the 5th century.
The indigenous Veld goats are bred through natural selection, without human interference, to walk long distances, and browse on a wide variety of plants, shrubs and grasses.
They are highly fertile, have a long breeding season, they have excellent herding instinct to help protect themselves from predators, fighting them off with their sharp horns.

It is said that in the eastern cape, early settlers developed the modern improved Boer Goat by using Xhosa lob ears, and a robust dappled colored male goat of this ecotype as the basis for developing the Buffelsfontein Boer Goat Stud.
More generally, early settlers started crossbreeding the indigenous Veld goats with imported Indian goats in 1661, which is how the Boer Goat appeared, but it resulted in the near extinction of indigenous Veld goats during the 20th Century.

The Eastern Cape Xhosa goat is mostly distributed in the south of the country. It is a well-muscled, medium to large frame goat. The face is rather long with a profile that is flat or slightly convex. The ears are lob ears, long and droopy, and the horns are present in both sexes. A wide variety of uniform colors, white, black, fawn, brown, and red-brown, pied, speckled and especially dappled and marble patterns, and all combinations of these colors, occur. Most goats have a short, glossy hair coat, and are inclined to grow cashmere in cold winters. Occasionally some individuals are found with longer hair on the lower body and hindquarters.

This ecotype of goat is also an economically viable breed for its ability to live in a “free range” natural environment, and its resilience to local diseases, parasites, and climatic challenges. They are raised for their meat, but also milk, hair and skins.

Back to the archive >


StateSouth Africa

Eastern Cape

Other info


Breeds and animal husbandry

Indigenous community:Xhosa
Nominated by:Melissa de Billot