Secret Life of Goats: Precious the Naked Goat

Secret Life of Goats: Precious the Naked Goat

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In beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia there is an off-grid bed and breakfast called Maple Heart Ranch. It features cabin units, campsites, and trail rides. As of recently, it is also home to a hairless goat. 

Maple Heart Ranch has had goats for three years. They originally purchased several Saanen does that were already bred to a Nubian buck. Since then, the lines have only been bred back to Saanen bucks, moving back toward pure Saanen. The youngest generation, including Precious, born just this year, is only 12% Nubian. 

Precious was born hairless other than about 10 hairs on the back of her neck. She wasn’t premature, as is usually the case with hairless babies, but simply completely bald. Unfortunately, Precious’s mother does not subscribe to the belief that “bald is beautiful” and immediately rejected her hairless offspring. Because of this, Precious moved into the house to be bottle-raised. 

Sometimes the best-laid plans still go to waste because Precious had no interest in suckling milk from a bottle. After trying many different bottles and nipples, her owner Conny gave in to simply syringe-feeding Precious. Even though Precious had a perfectly fine suckle reflex, she preferred a syringe and became quite adept at quickly emptying its contents. 

Because Precious is hairless, she is less able to regulate her own body temperature. She wears baby onesies for warmth and baby sweaters when it is colder. Conny has to be more aware of the house temperature now. Living off-grid, she previously did not bother to keep the house fully heated while the family was away during the day. Now, she must always keep a heat source available for Precious. One of the goat’s favorite places to rest is right in front of the fireplace. 

Precious regularly visits the veterinarian, who is fascinated by the ability to see the shape of veins, muscles, and tendons through her skin. As far as they can tell, Precious is perfectly healthy, just naked. At the time of writing this article, Precious is one month old. She is beginning to eat greens and alfalfa pellets, and she can regurgitate to chew her cud. She has developed a few eyelashes that help protect her eyes and hair inside her ears to protect from bugs and foreign objects getting inside. While she is getting along well and seemingly healthy, there is a possibility that she will still develop health complications as she matures that are connected to whatever genetic defect that caused the hairlessness. 

When Precious was born, her skin was incredibly sensitive to where almost everything irritated it. Fortunately, her skin has toughed somewhat to where she is not as sensitive. She has also developed a farmer’s tan around her onesie from the little time she spends outside. Conny is careful to use sunscreen on Precious and is grateful that her skin can tan rather than burn. However, Precious will never be able to live a normal life outside with the other goats. 

Being naked and exposed, Precious will need to live her entire life mostly indoors. She has no protection from not only the sun but also things such as blackberry thorns or rocks and sticks as she lies down. She sleeps in a dog crate in Conny’s bedroom at night. Conny has tried doggie diapers but they wouldn’t stay on, so there are a lot of dog pee pads on the floor right now. Eventually, Conny plans a sunroom addition to being built on the house for Precious. While she is small now, as almost full Saanen, Precious will grow to a good size. 

Even though Precious has lived in the house her whole life, she still has goat instincts and desires to be part of a herd. She dislikes being alone and prefers to spend her time with humans or other goats. She is noticeably smaller than the other goats born at the same time. Conny surmises that this may be because Precious uses so much more energy simply to heat her body that the calories she eats don’t go as far for growth. She also doesn’t get as much exercise from running and jumping like the other kids, so her body isn’t as stimulated to strengthen. 

Because Precious’ condition prevents her from living a normal goat life, she will never be bred. Her dam has been retired from breeding, and the sire has been taken out of the breeding pool as well. While intriguing, this genetic anomaly is not like the Sphinx cat or hairless Mexican dog, which either adapted to being hairless with thick skin or living completely and happily indoors. The risk of another goat being born with this hairless condition is enough of a worry to eliminate the genetic line. You can book a stay at Maple Heart Ranch to see the extremely rare hairless goat Precious, but do not expect a line of hairless goats to be bred just to satisfy our human intrigue. 

Originally published in the September/October 2022 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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