Named after Rob Baylis, Eastabutchie, Mississippi
Rob Baylis was born in the early part of the 20th century. He began raising purebred Spanish goats in Eastabutchie, Mississippi when he was a boy. Eastabutchie is in the Pineywoods region in Mississippi—a hot, humid, region that is only rarely snowy in the winter, and the land is covered in pine trees. Where Baylis lived, closer to the river, there were hardwoods as well as pines, and the goats foraged on Yaupon bushes and Bluestem grass.
Those were the days when Spanish goats were used as brush goats, and goat meat was just a by-product. That was before the Stock Laws took effect in Mississippi—livestock wasn’t required to be in fenced pastures back then, and farmers allowed their stock to roam freely. The goats could forage at will, and move on as needed. As long at they didn’t mess with anyone’s cotton patch or crops, they were free to go. Farmers were used to wandering livestock, and if someone else’s livestock was grazing on your land it was fine. . . your own livestock was probably grazing on theirs.
Worms and parasites were not an issue in the Pineywoods, because the animals constantly foraged in different areas. Not only that, but although the subtropical conditions of the southeast foster prolific parasites and guarantee wet hooves, the Baylis goats had developed the parasite resistance and hooves needed to survive these conditions. This makes this Baylis strain in dire need of conservation as they are some of the few remaining animals that are specifically adapted to the climate in the southeastern states.
Predators weren’t a great problem in the area, either, in Baylis?time. Coyotes were not yet introduced, and Baylis held a strong presence on his land, usually accompanied by cur dogs. Cur dogs are an old breed found in the Deep South: fast, scent-tracking dogs, usually yellow with black mouths, that could tear apart any foxes or bobcats they found.
Rob Baylis?herd, at its peak, reached about 300–400 goats. They were moderately-sized, and were stocky and “typey?with classic Spanish heads and ears. They were of various colors. According to Dr. Phil Sponenberg, who visited Baylis in the 1990’s, some of the bucks were very ‘chunky,?and one buck showed very good meat conformation, suggesting that Baylis did breed selectively.
Baylis kept a primarily closed herd for almost 75 years. He made very few acquisitions. Some of the Baylis goats were sold by Rob Baylis to conservation breeders. In his final years Rob Baylis began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. He continued to maintain his herd, but suffered a great loss when roaming dogs killed off the remaining herd of over 100 goats.
There are now approximately 50 Baylis goats remaining.
History of Baylis herd from Justin Pitts, Gurney Davis, and Phil Sponenberg, January 2008.