When the Spanish explorers came to North America, they brought goats as a meat source. Some of these goats either escaped or were released when alternate meat sources were discovered. These feral goats became known as “Spanish” or “brush goats.” Although not of a specific breed ancestry, they have developed through natural selection. These goats never received much documented attention, so the history is hard to verify, but Spanish goats in this country show their DNA to be of Iberian origin. The term has also been used to describe any goat of unknown ancestry. Most are wild or at least semi-wild. Size varies greatly due to climate, terrain and available breeding stock. Body shape, ear shape, horns, hair and color are non consistent.
For the next couple of centuries the goats were used for milk, meat, hair, and hides. They survived well with minimal management, and those that became feral survived with no human management at all. They also adapted well to their regions, and natural selection was the norm, producing a breed of goat that was an exceptionally well-adapted survivor.
Goats were some of the last animals to captivate the interest of large-scale livestock breeders and commercial markets. Cows and sheep had all of the attention, and next to that were pigs and chickens. The Spanish goats thus escaped the intensive and industrialized livestock management practices that became so popular in the 19th and 20th century. In this country, in the 1840’s, a goat was still just a goat.