Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 16:08 UK

Soldiers choose regimental goat

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'Perks' of the job for Billy the goat are free cigarettes - and a Guinness

Soldiers have chosen a new regimental goat from a herd living on the Great Orme in Llandudno.

The goat joins the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh - continuing a tradition dating back 200 years.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Lock said the goat was a full member of the regiment, and needed to be 'calm under pressure' to perform ceremonial duties.

The last regimental goat, William 'Billy' Windsor, retired last month after a seven year military career.

Billy
It starts as a fusilier and if it is well behaved, and does well on parade, quite often he can be promoted to a lance corporal
Lt Col Nick Lock on Billy

According to Lt Col Lock the goat is more than a mascot.

"It is a member of the battalion, and in days gone by, when it was a 1,000-men-strong, it was 999 plus the goat," he said.

As a soldier the goat can also move up the ranks - if it is well behaved.

"It starts as a fusilier and if it is well behaved, and does well on parade, quite often he can be promoted to a lance corporal," he said.

'Sounds and noises'

"The one that's just retired was a lance corporal," he added.

All the goats are called William Windsor, or Billy for short.

Needing a new goat, and actually getting one, involves some effort however.

Goat Major, Lance corporal Ryan Arthur, from Cefn Hengoed near Caerphilly, along with the other soldiers, left the Battalion's base in Chester in the early hours.

"It was pretty hard as we left Chester at 3.00 then got here about 4.30 before going straight out on the ground with our teams rounding up the goats."

A new Billy was found however, although he was second choice - the first kid chosen was a nanny, so she could not join.

Months of work now follow to get Billy used to his fellow soldiers, and to learn what is expected of him.

"As he progresses the goat gets used to what he needs to do, and we get him used to sounds and noises because of the marches.

"We also get him used to the boys because obviously the regimental goat is a big thing... it's a pretty exciting period," he added.

There are perks to the job too because Billy gets a two-a-day cigarette ration, (he eats, them as traditionally they tobacco is thought to be good for the coat) and Guinness to drink when he is older "to keep the iron up".

The history of the regimental goat dates back to the American War of Independence when a wild goat wandered onto a battlefield.

Legend has it the goat ended up leading the regimental colours.

In 1884 Queen Victoria presented the regiment, then called the Royal Welch Fusiliers, with a goat from her royal herd, and the tradition has continued.



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