A Visit to Isle of Man Goats

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A visit to Isle of Man Goats, a goat farm that raises dairy, meat, and wool goats. They also supply artisan food items and wool on the Island.


A few months ago, I noticed some of my friends interacting with Isle of Man Goats, a Facebook page for a local farm specializing in, you guessed it, goats. As happens so often on the Isle of Man, I recently bumped into Clare Lewis, one of the farm’s owners, and got to chatting with her about her work and animals. Though obviously cute, I don’t know very much about keeping goats, so I leaped at the chance to visit when Clare offered a tour.

I was intrigued by the idea of herds of goats on the island and the fact that they’re now in the top ten producers of goat meat in the British Isles. They also produce small quantities of the softest Angora goat wool and are a supplier of colorful free-range eggs and salad greens from their polytunnel.

Visiting Isle of Man Goats

On my visit, one of the most fascinating things I learned is that aside from dogs, goats have the longest relationship with humans of any other domestic animal. Because of this, they’ve developed a special bond with people that makes them a valuable addition to farming but also friendly, relatively easy to handle, and playful. Nearly every animal on Clare and her partner Mike’s farm has a name (160+ animals), and each has its own personality and habits.

Isle of Man Goats -- a farm specialising in meat and wool goats
A male kid born this April. His mum is 50% dairy goat, and the mixture of genes means he hasn’t inherited his dad’s Boer brown head markings.

Angora Goats for Fine Wool

The small herd of Angora Goats they keep produce gorgeous Mohair wool, the likes of which I’ve never felt before. The wool from the babies is the finest, but even the material spun from adults is as soft as silk. The animals live in green pastures near the house and are as mischievous as they are cute – they even broke into one of the barn storerooms shortly before we arrived! The babies are especially curious, and no one is safe from their sniffing, light head butting, the occasional jump-and-push, and nibbles on your boots and jacket.

Isle of Man Goats -- a farm specialising in meat and wool goats
Angora females: Handel with the handlebar horns in the front, Spike (having a pee!) behind Handel. Nessie (Ballanorman Agnes) rear right and Agie (Ballanorman Agatha) behind her mum Spike. Handel is Nessie’s mum. Nessie won the best kid at the Royal Manx Show last year.

Boer Goats for Meat

Though some of the Boer goats live at the farm, most are located down the road in Kirk Michael. Here they’re rotated through several fields so that there’s always a supply of fresh green grass and no one pasture is over-grazed. Boer goats hail from South Africa and are far stockier in build than Angoras, making them ideal for meat production. I’ve never tried goat meat before but have put my name on Clare’s waiting list. The demand on the Island is so great that it’s likely that my order won’t be available until next year.

Isle of Man Goats -- a farm specialising in meat and wool goats
One of twin girls, just a few days old investigating a hen who was trying to lay an egg. This little goat has a pure Angora mum and a pure Boer father (Bertie, the youngest Boer buck).

All the animals on the farm live happy, free-range lives. I was impressed by the care and consideration Clare and Mike give their goats, especially those destined for meat. Some farmers might balk at naming these animals, petting them, and giving them attention but not so with them. Their goats are all well taken care of throughout their entire lives, and when it’s time, Mike personally drives them to the abattoir. He makes sure that there’s no waiting time between unloading and slaughter which makes the process as stress-free as possible.

A visit to Isle of Man Goats - a farm that raised both meat goats and goats that produce mohair

Local Goat Meat Served Locally

Being only in its second year of production, the farm has seen many more new arrivals than last. In fact, the number of animals born is four times that of 2013! They’ll keep many of the females as breeding stock, and all of the Angoras for wool. The Boer boys are destined for the table, though.

There are now two island restaurants serving their goat meat and a long list of requests from private individuals and butchers. For those who have tried goat, the meat from Clare and Mike’s farm is said to be of finer flavour and texture than that from other farms. It must have something to do with their happy and healthy upbringing.

A visit to Isle of Man Goats - a farm that raised both meat goats and goats that produce mohair
Boer Doe Impy with one of her twins, taking a drink of milk. Two of last year’s kids are behind Impy, does, and kids behind them.
A visit to Isle of Man Goats - a farm that raised both meat goats and goats that produce mohair
Male Goats: Victor with Albus and Stitch. Guinea fowl and hens in the distance. The breeding bucks and Angora castrates spend the summers together before Victor and Bertie (both Boer studs) go with the girls they each will ‘work.’

Goats as Pets

Though Clare and Mike raise most of their animals for meat, they also sell them in pairs as pets – aka living lawnmowers. Goats are highly social animals, so must always have a buddy, but if you have an area of land that needs clearing, they’ll be more than happy to oblige.

Being social and friendly, they’ll make great family pets but are escape artists, so proper fencing is required. Seeing Clare bonding with some of the Boers at the Kirk Michael pasture also made me realize how therapeutic having goats could be. All the cuddling and playful nuzzling show just how much the goats love her, and she them.

A visit to Isle of Man Goats - a farm that raised both meat goats and goats that produce mohair
Group of Boer goats. Nearest to the camera is Ian, then Frank (ginger head), both last year’s kids. Belinda, born in January this year, is on the seesaw. The kid with the black head is Buster, born in March this year.
A visit to Isle of Man Goats - a farm that raised both meat goats and goats that produce mohair
Clare with Meaty Dave (at the back of the photo). He is the first Boer goat to be born on the Island. April is standing sideways on, and the one hidden by April is probably Mark.

Supporting Local

I’m happy to have had the pleasure of visiting Isle of Man Goats and to have seen firsthand the work that Clare and Mike are putting into their new venture. It’s clear that they’re passionate about their farm and animals, and the public’s response and demand for their products is an optimistic sign for their business.

If you’d like to find out more, please visit the Isle of Man Goats Facebook page, where you can receive regular updates and message Clare directly. They’re also fine producers of free-range colored eggs and salad greens which are available direct to customers. Get in touch to discuss availability and prices.

Isle of Man Goats -- a farm specialising in meat and wool goats
Clockwise from the top left: 1. Basket of balls of Manx Mohair and washed locks of Mohair fleece. 2. Norwegian-style wrist cuffs 3. Agatha’s fleece straight from shearing. This is called ‘raw’ fleece, and it’s sold to hand spinners and people who felt. Agatha is one of the farm’s pure Angora goats. 4. Arnie, who is pure Angora. He’s a castrated male who will stay with them for life (as will all their pure Angoras), producing wonderful Mohair.

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  1. Edwin Wrestley Hutton says:

    Please let me know if you can help with the order.
    Do you sell whole goats as I love the meat and so versatile.
    I like to support local farmers on the Isle of Man
    #thesouthafricanabroad ???? regards ed