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Meat, Dairy, Some Fiber

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Conservation Priority List Status


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Weight Range


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Conservation of the Arapawa goat began in the 1970’s when the New Zealand Forest Service concluded that the goats were damaging the Native Forest reserve and were to be eliminated. Betty and Walt Rowe inserted themselves both literally and figuratively between the Forest Service and the goats to prevent eradication of the breed. In 1987 they established a 300 acre sanctuary at Aotea with 40 goats. After Walt’s death in 2002, Betty continued to care for the herd and promote their well being until her death in May 2008. The sanctuary continues the conservation work under the trusteeship of family members. (More information is available on the International Arapawa Goat Association website,

The Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand has acknowledged that conservation of Arapawa goats is critically important, and there are now several breeders there.

In 1994, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Plimoth Patuxet Museum (formerly known as Plimoth Plantation)imported six Arapawa goats, after concluding that their resemblance to the extinct Old English Milch goat made the breed suitable for their 1600’s era village. Plimoth established a registry of the purebred goats, which is currently maintained by the Arapawa Goat Breeders Association.

Offspring from that population were disseminated in 2000 to small satellite herds across the country, from Missouri to Kansas to Oregon.

The Livestock Conservancy added Arapawa goats to their Conservation Priority List in 2004 in the “Study” category. In 2008, after genetic testing revealed the Arapawa to be a genetically unique population, they were elevated to “Critical” status.

While the Arapawa resembles the Old English Milch goat, further DNA testing indicates their origin is more complex and mysterious. And, as the Old English is extinct, there is no origin stock to compare them to. No matter the origin, the Arapawa is genetically unique, and of such a critically low population size, that The Livestock Conservancy deems them a high conservation priority.

About Arapawa

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