Milk goat breeds: opinions

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Milk goat breeds: opinions

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    02-20-2012, 10:56 AM
Milk goat breeds: opinions

OK... So we almost decided on getting a goat. Here are the options and I'd love to hear opinions from those with experience.

And BTW, is it OK to get just 1 goat or I have to get 2? And what is the price range for the baby to 6 month old?

Goats - EAST RIVENDELL FARM in Damascus MD : Nubian goats

Live For Goats (no website): Pygmy, Alpine, Nubian & Lamanchas

Breezy Timber Nubian Dairy Goats - Nubians since 1978 : Nubian goats

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    02-20-2012, 12:02 PM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
OK... So we almost decided on getting a goat. Here are the options and I'd love to hear opinions from those with experience.

And BTW, is it OK to get just 1 goat or I have to get 2? And what is the price range for the baby to 6 month old?

Goats - EAST RIVENDELL FARM in Damascus MD : Nubian goats

Live For Goats (no website): Pygmy, Alpine, Nubian & Lamanchas

Breezy Timber Nubian Dairy Goats - Nubians since 1978 : Nubian goats

I'll take a look at the links in a moment, but unless a single goat will have adequate companions, she will be lonely. Goats are strong herd animals and while they can be integrated into other groups of animals, it will take some thought.
A happy goat is a goat with other similar animals to live with. Sheep are the next closest in terms of care, but a doe producing milk have needs that are higher than in the non-milking season, and are often far different than other livestock.

Most goats who are companions for horses are not producing dairy does.

Most decent quality milking stock start at $300.00 and up.
A good comparison goes like this: A family of four (two adults and two teenagers) can go through a gallon of milk a day.
Said gallon costs say... $3.00.
One month of milk = $90.00.
A quality producing doe can give between 3/4 to 1 1/4 gallons a day (there is a range that matches the needs of a kid as it grows, called the lactation curve) so on average a good doe should be able to pay you back her purchase price and care costs on her very first lactation cycle if you just drink the milk.
Most goats average being in milk 6 to 9 months out of the year. A terrific doe (like several I have) will milk right through for 18 months straight, or until your hands need a break so dry them up for that reason.

If you cook, make soap, cheese, etc... the value just goes up from there.

Whatever goat you choose, as a lot of questions!!!! (Um, a lot of questions as there no question is too silly to ask.)
If you are looking at a youngster ask about the production of the parents. Ask to see them, or pictures of their conformation and udder lines. You don't want a goat whose udder breaks down after just two seasons. It doesn't really "break" down, but if the supporting ligaments and structures are bad (come from bad lines) the udder will be subjected to damage as the supports fail and the udder stretches out with heavy loads of milk.

If you are looking at an adult, ask to see her handled, or put on the stand to see how she behaves. Ask the owner to milk her to see how she stands.
Above all, ask health questions. There are many diseases like CAE, CL, and Johnnes out there that are not always apparent, but will do damage down the road.
I'd be happy to send you some good goat links and info if I haven't already. Sorry, I forget who I've sent what to :)
    02-20-2012, 12:18 PM
Super Moderator
Although I'm not familiar with the farms listed (I have Obers and am in PA) the farms with links seem to be decent farms based on website observations.
If it were me, I would call any farm of interest have a list of questions to ask. See how they respond to your questions (or not, which is just as telling) and see what type of support they are willing to give you after the purchase.
Are they willing to teach you about how to trim hooves? How to milk if you need someone to show you? Are they upfront with any previous health issues?
What is their overall level of knowledge.
In my area most goat people are not very forthcoming with any info at all. If you don't ask specific questions, you will not get any answers and they sure won't offer up info to you.
The attitude is mostly a "buyer beware" which is sad to me. The more a seller is willing to share with a buyer, the better the buyer can care for the purchased animal.... especially if the buyer is new to goats.
Treat it like a horse purchase and do your homework.
    02-20-2012, 12:37 PM
Super Moderator
Ok, tied to add this, but the edit thingy said I was taking too long...

Breeds... of the breeds you listed, I've owned several of each before/or currently and know many of other goats of the breeds.
I also did tons of research on the breeds and personalitites to find the best fit for my farm.

Nubians are generally very loud but very personable. Lots of pretty patterns and colors to choose from. Their ears are both cute but somewhat difficult to deal with as they are always in the water buckets when they drink. They need their people are overall are more dependent, although some are "normal". They originate from Africa are were used as a dual purpose (meat and milk) goat. They usually have more trouble with deep cold (especially their ears) but can tolerate heat better. Their butterfat is one of the highest, which is good for certain food applications and for putting weight on the derri aire.

LaManchas are an American goat. Personalities range from serious to seriously goofy (I have one of each.) Overall nice goats with an easy to milk udder and give good amounts of milk. I wanna say about middle of the road for butterfat and good all around milk for any application.
Alpines. Swiss in origin and able to tolerate the cold better, and not so much the heat. Average butterfat and good for making distinctive cheeses, but I have found Alpine milk tends to be a bit "stronger" in flavor and overall many people will tell you that.
In a group of several breeds of goats, the Alpines are usually thr bullies of the group (had one) and others have agreed with that too. They are usually more independent like their own kind/breed the best, but having said that, there lots of perfectly overall friendly ones.
    02-20-2012, 12:48 PM
Green Broke
I have Nigerian dwarfs and zero intention of milking them (would be a bit hard seeing as I have a wether and a sterile female).

Goats are VERY social, a single goat would not do well. You can keep goats with your horses but you can't bring the horse into the barn at night and leave the goat outside or similar.

If you don't want the milk from two goats, a wether is a good way to provide a companion, they're pretty cheap as breeders need to find them homes since all they do is stand around and eat.

I prefer bottle-fed goats. They are VERY attached to people and friendly. It's more work in the beginning since you have to mix up bottles but it's not hard, you don't have to be up all hours of the night or anything and it's easy/inexpensive to procure baby dairy goats.

Goat people around here love to tell you all about their goats and how to care for them. I bought mine from the biggest breeder around here (my silly goaties are registered) and they sent me home with basically an e-book on how to care for them, bottle nipples, milk replacer and instructions to call with ANY questions.
    02-20-2012, 01:14 PM
Wow, Lockwood, thank you so much! That's lots of info for sure! I wouldn't even think to ask it all! If you could post links here (or PM me) that would be awesome too.

Thank you, Delfina! Yes, I think 1 milk goat is quite enough, so I'll look for the wether (sorry for the dumb question, but are those like bad quality so don't go for meat or in stud?).

From how it sounds I'm leaning towards nubian one.
    02-20-2012, 01:36 PM
Green Broke
Wethers are castrated males... so yes, non-stud quality and I guess they're the wrong breed for meat, since they would be a dairy, not a meat goat?

I guess you could say they are the "geldings" of the goat world since from my understanding 4h kiddos can show wethers and I would assume they wouldn't show a train-wreck conformation goat.

I guess you could eat them.... I have no idea, I've never eaten, nor do I really have a desire to eat goat meat.

Maybe they're like piggies, the fabulous ones are used for 4H and horrifically expensive and the "ugly" ones are cheap meat pigs? I have no clue... the fabulous "prize" piglets looked no different than the "reject" piglets I buy CHEAP and raise for meat (the "ugly" pigs taste fantastic BTW!).
    02-20-2012, 01:47 PM
LMAO! As someone uneducated I can't judge about the quality by the look. All looks same to me. I tried goat meat BTW, and I liked it (but I wouldn't keep one at home for "meat purpose", because if we get those 2 goats they'll be more like pets here).
    02-20-2012, 08:29 PM
Super Moderator
Because a stud (as in any given livestock species) has a greater impact on the national herd than females do, only the great ones should be kept intact and used for breeding.
Well, that leaves a whole lotta boys outa luck! Wethers (geldings) do serve a good purpose though, they provide companionship, pack goats, driving goats, pets, vast herds are for hire to take down brush, and meat. A goat that is going to be raised for meat should be castrated because it makes for better meat, unless there is a religious purpose for it to remain intact before consuming.

I have never eaten goat, but with most meat animals castrating provides better growth rates, tastier meat, and easier management.

The Nubian is indeed a dual purpose goat and many dairy goat farms eat the wethers of whatever dairy breed they specialize in. There are even 4H classes for “market” dairy wether goats as well as feeder/market dairy steers (castrated male cattle.)

Like Delfina said, bottle raised babies generally turn out friendlier, but there are farms like me who handle all the kids constantly … be it bottle kids or the ones who stay with the moms. There is no difference in temperament here, but on larger farms the bottle kids are more outgoing.

Nigerian Dwarves and Pygmy goats (very similar) are both cute and very personable, but with tiny udders and even smaller teats, you won’t get very much milk and it is challenging to milk with just two fingers. (Ask me how I know this! )

Nigerians have the highest butterfat of all so some folks do milk them (usually with milk machines) because the richness is wonderful for creamy soaps and knock your socks off ice creams.

I’ll PM you the links I have so I don’t congest things here.
If anyone else would like them, just PM me and put Goat Info in the title.
    02-20-2012, 08:48 PM
I used to have goats (FFA project) :) My favorites are the Alpines and Saanens, but I had good luck with the Nubians too. I will never again own a pygmy goat. I am truly convinced they are the goat equivalent of the Shetland pony, and therefore are planted on earth as minions of Satan to wreck havoc on the world.

You do need 2 (or more).. also.. keep in mind, you could get two does, and breed them at slightly different times of year (some breeders are able to do this), so that you always have some milk, but not too much at one time.

Also, don't feed them horse feed. Most horse feed isn't made for goats (obviously) and is too high in copper and low in protein. (If you get a livestock feed, make sure it's not one labelled as "safe for sheep" because those are too low in copper for goats, because copper is toxic to sheep).

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