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The American La Mancha, & Its Ears

By Dale L. Woods

Originally Published In
January 1978 Dairy Goat Journal

Many conscientious breeders of dairy goats are becoming aware of the fact we have a new breed that is settling down to establishing its advance registry in milk production, with a very high percentage in butter fat.? It is an all-around sturdy dairy animal that can withstand a great deal of hardship and still produce. The main point of discussion, and reason for some to be hesitant in accepting this new breed, is the ears.

Glide, near Roseburg, Oregon, is the home of the foundation herd of the American La Mancha, established and owned by Mrs. Eula Fay Frey. Her farm is in a mountainous country, in a setting that looks as if it were painted by one of the old masters. Upon arriving, I was taken on a tour through guinea pigs, a sheep shearing, and then we went up the hill to see the La Manchas.

On the mountainside stood a magnificent black buck gazing serenely at the panoramic view below him and at the two human folk that were coming up to disturb the routine of his day. Beyond, in back, and to the side was the herd of La Manchas, every color known in the goat world and ears, yes ears, not the Nubian or Swiss type, but two types of gopher ears, La Mancha ears, and Cookie ears. The gopher ears were predominant, with the La Mancha ear next and an occasional Cookie ear.

Short gopher ear
Short gopher ear

Long gopher ear
Long gopher ear


Their ears are not the result of inbreeding, as I felt when I had first seen a picture of the La Mancha, but is a strongly inherited trait and would throw back should there be a La Mancha ancestor in a grade goat’s background.

The small ear evolved from a doe that was born into the herd of milk goats owned by Mrs. Frey.? Mrs. Frey believes it had an European ancestor that may have been imported into Mexico and then brought into California by the Spanish-Mexican people. This first doe was named “Peggy” and proved to be an outstanding milker, and became the mother of what is now the American La Mancha. Each generation has bred to the best bucks available of the other leading breeds until what we now know as the American La Mancha was established.

Mrs. Frey states: “Most of the foundation herd had regular La Mancha and cookie ears and the rule to register gopher ear La Mancha bucks only, was made in 1960. It did not disqualify bucks with regular La Mancha ears that had been registered. The only reason for this rule was to eliminate the possibility of a throwback to the standard ear (meaning Swiss-type ear). I have never known of either type gopher eared buck to produce a kid with a standard ear.”

The ear discussion is much the same as the different color markings in the French Alpine, you have to have them in front of you before you can learn by comparison; singly they may look similar, but when they are placed together there is no doubt about the difference.

The following illustrations show the four types of ears:

The short gopher ear (left, top) is the closest to the head and may have one fold to the head but there is no length to this type ear and gives a nice smooth appearance. This ear is the accepted ear for the La Mancha buck when registering and using for breeding.

The long gopher ear is a small round tipped ear, between one and one-half inches in length, accordioned at the head, it can be pulled out flat and will go back to it’s original folds when released.

The cookie ear is named after the first goat that was born with this type of ear. It is a neat looking ear that hugs close to the head of the animal, the tip is pointed and turns up and back to the head. To Mrs. Frey’s knowledge there has never been a buck born with cookie ears.

The La Mancha ear is flat with a downward bend and stands out from the head, it can be an inch or two inches in length.

The only thing that would disqualify a La Mancha, in regards to its ears, is if it had the standard Swiss-type ear.


By Pat Hendrickson

January 2000

Since the early or mid 1980s terminology used to describe the La Mancha ear has been changed to include only two types of ear to help avoid confusion when filling in the ear check-off boxes on applications for registration. As per the ADGA breed standard, following are Modern La Mancha Ear Descriptions:

Gopher ear: An approximate maximum length of one inch but preferably nonexistent and with very little or no cartilage. The end of the ear must be turned up or down. This is the only type ear which will make bucks eligible for registration.

Elf ear: An approximate maximum length of two inches is allowed, the end of the ear must be turned up or turned down and cartilage shaping the small ear is allowed.

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