Named after Wesley E. Sawyer, Sonora, Texas
Wesley Sawyer, like most Texans of his day, kept Spanish goats. When Wesley Sawyer passed away, his nephew Ed Sawyer inherited the herd. Ed Sawyer had always liked Spanish goats, and began to breed the goats to bring out their vigor and strength, developing a line that both breeders of Spanish goats and non-Spanish goats want to breed into their herds.
Sawyer’s goats rotate pastures on a 14,000-acre ranch of rolling hills of rocky terrain, foraging on Live Oaks, Shin Oaks, and a variety of grasses. The goats are divided into groups, but the group sizes change according to the size of the pasture they are put into. Their feed is supplemented only if necessary in the winter with 20% protein blocks. Nannies tend to weigh 130?50 lbs, billies weigh approximately 200 lbs.
Billies are kept separate, and brought in early September for February kidding. The nannies kid in the pasture, and Sawyer obtains a kid crop of approximately 165%, with mostly twins and singles, and some triplets. Sawyer also keeps a “best?herd—those that he believes are superior to the rest. This herd is kept separate from the others and they breed amongst themselves, but some are also sold or culled. Sawyer breeds for good conformation, good udders, and “attitude;?he has no time for overly-wild goats. Color does not factor into Sawyer’s breeding choices at all, so his herd shows a great variety of colors. The horns are very consistent, and there are varying levels of cashmere on his goats. The culled does and wethers are sold at auction, and Sawyer also sells breeding stock to other goat ranchers. He is presently building up the size of his herd, but slowly and carefully, culling about 25% annually.
Sawyer deworms about three times per year, and the time for deworming is usually set to coincide with the handling and movement of the goats.
Sawyer uses only one method of predator control, which comes in the shape of his ranch foreman’s rifle. Although there are occasional attacks by eagles, bobcats, and foxes, there are no coyotes around. The foreman keeps an eye out for predators, but there has been very little problem of predation on Sawyer’s ranch.
Sawyer looks forward to continuing breeding purebred Spanish goats for years to come. He enjoys them.
Story by Ed Sawyer, February 2008
Updates Story: J. Preston Neely 2022
Neely-Sawyer Heritage Pure Spanish Goats
After 43 years in the oil industry, working all over the world, Preston and Sarah Sawyer Neely returned to their part of the family ranch. The Sawyer family has been in the ranching business in Sutton County since the late 1800’s when Sarah’s grandfather, Edwin E. Sawyer Sr. came from Maine to Texas to seek his fortune.
Uncle Wesley Sawyer, like many ranchers in West Texas, kept Spanish Goats. Upon Wesley’s death, his nieces and nephews inherited his ranch and his livestock. Eddie Sawyer, Sarah’s brother, managed his father’s ranch after his death, developing an interest in the Spanish Goats and began to breed those Spanish goats to bring out their strengths. He used a very respected herd consultant and started culling on undesirable traits. When Angelo State University started a billie performance test, he began sending the Sawyer bucks to the test. Upon the death of Lura Sawyer, the Sawyer ranch and the livestock, including the superior Spanish Goat herd, were divided among the four Sawyer children. With 21 years of selective breeding behind us, we are proud of our progress, and continue to work to improve our herd.
We run between 700 and 800 pure Sawyer Bloodline Spanish nannies. When the kids are weaned, we separate all the buck kids and select the top 125 or so to participate in a on the ranch Performance Test. The primary purpose of the test is to identify which billies have the ability to gain the most weight in their first 9 months of age. The reason for this is because most ranchers/farmers sell their male goats at about 9 months so maximizing their weight by this time maximizes your income. Our billie kids weight gain on test average as high as 0.7 lbs/day. At current pricing that amounts to as much as 35lbs or $140 extra per kid.
For the past several years we have weaned in the pasture a kid crop of 156% to 176% depending on the winter weather. Our nannie kids are for sale shortly after weaning. Our Spanish herd has never been mixed with any other breed. We have 100% pure Spanish goats. We are a certified DNA tested herd.
Other ranchers are recognizing the advantages of Sawyer Bloodline Spanish Goats and have started breeding them for sale. We encourage this spreading the genetics to allow new buyers to find the goats available to them in their area.
J. Preston Neely, January 2022