The Bagot Goat is rarer than the panda and has been officially registered as ‘critically endangered’ by the Rare Breeds Society Trust in 2015.

There are only 200 registered breeding females in the UK and Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester, will be bringing some of their Bagot Goats along to the Sherborne Castle Country Fair and Rare Breeds Show on Monday May 25. The specialist Animal Park at the College is now home to seven Bagot Goats with a breeding programme in place to reach a total of ten.

Bagot goats are white and long haired with their heads and fore quarters black, although some animals have black spots and patches on their hind-quarters and a small white laze upon their face. Both of these are allowed in the show standard but they are faults that will probably be bred out as numbers increase sufficiently to allow improvement.

The emblem of the head of a goat has appeared on the coat of arms of the Bagot family since the year 1380 and the close association of the family with goats is believed to stem from the presentation of a herd of goats to Sir John Bagot by King Richard ll. In the Bagot family church at Blithfield, the crest with the head of a goat is carved on tombstones and there is a stone frieze of goat heads at Goat Lodge near Blithfield Park.

Available documentary evidence of the continuance existence of a herd of goats in Bagot`s Park, which lies close to Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire is sparse but the colour of the goats which is similar to that of the Schwarzhal goats in Switzerland lends credence to the theory that the Bagot goats are possibly descendants of animals brought back from the mainland of Europe, perhaps by the Crusaders. This makes the Bagot goat one of the oldest breeds of goats in Britain today.

The goats arrival at Blithfield Park around 1380 would indicate that they probably went first to one of the Royal Parks. The damage they would have done there, would probably have been considerable, and the King would have been glad to be rid of them to another place where they could be enjoyed for hunting.

Bagot numbers have fluctuated for a variety of reasons but it's hoped the breed is now more secure with the announcement by RBST that the Trust has recently invested in 38 registered in-kid Bagot nannies with the aim of strengthening existing breeding herds and setting up around four to six new ones.

RBST is currently looking after these goats until they kid and the plan is in May/June 2015 to relocate them to their new herds on a loan basis. RBST has also been working with the Bagot Goat Society to gather billy goat semen for the Gene Bank and this work will continue.

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