Winning doe at a local ADGA goat show
|

Choosing a Dairy Goat Breed

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

When we first got dairy goats, we really just wanted goats that would give us milk. That’s all that we really needed to know, right? We didn’t realized what we should truly we looking for when choosing a dairy goat.

Luckily, we were able to get a decently producing purebred Nubian doe with her doeling from a trusted source. She produced about a gallon a day when baby was weaned for us. That was definitely a good doe.

However, after learning more about dairy goats and breed standards, we pivoted and changed up our herd to a different breed and to stricter standards.

Dairy goats on pasture
Dairy goats (and LGD) on pasture.

Why Choose Registered Goats?

If you are new to the goat world and are here doing research, we’d like you to consider buying a registered purebred goat. Here are the reasons for considering buying registered stock:

  1. You can follow the lineage. You can see where this animal originated and the genetics they carry. If you buy a goat that has a defective gene that isn’t manifesting in the doe, it won’t be evident until after you have bred her and seen her offspring. It’s great that you have the history of not just that doe, but the generations before her. Usually, good goat breeders will not continue to breed out does with defects (i.e. extra teats, low milk production, low parasite resistance, etc.)
  2. You can predict volume and quality. Registered breeders typically breed to better the quality of their herd. This means they are looking to rebreed those does who are producing larger amounts of milk and the higher fat content. If they are registered and the owner participated in the ADGA programs, the doe can be listed as having “milk stars”, and adds to the value of the goat. Our six year old Lamancha doe, Maple, has a history of a gallon to a gallon and a half a day in milk production. I know that her daughters will more than likely be similar producers.
  3. You can sell the offspring at a higher value. Because these come with a pedigree, and therefore proof of their quality (good or bad), they can be sold at fair prices. A kid from a doe that has history of higher quality bloodlines, high milk production, better confirmation, if bred to a quality buck, will produce quality kids with those same traits. Therefore, you guessed it, the value of the kid is higher than if you had bred out a lesser quality or goat of unknown lineage.
  4. You can show them at ADGA sanctioned shows. This may or may not be something you are interested in. We have participated in a few goat shows over the years. It is a lot of fun and actually the way that your goat can earn their value by how they perform in the shows. There are shows all over the United States. There is also the AGS (American Goat Society) that you can register your goats with and show through, however, ADGA seems to be more popular.
  5. Certain breeds come with certain traits. Lamanchas have a reputation of being laid back and producing good, high-fat milk. Nubians have a reputation of being loud. That being said, like people, they all have their own personalities and vary from goat to goat. But in general, you can use the general understanding of breed traits to make decisions.
Newborn Baby Finley 2022
Baby Finley with first time momma, Lola

What Breed to Get?

Common dairy breeds that are recognized by the ADGA are show below with the specific traits. These are copied from the ADGA website.

Lamancha does 28 inches tall. They weigh 130 pounds while bucks are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 160 pounds. Any color or color combination is acceptable. The hair is short, fine and glossy. The bridge of the nose is straight. The distinctive feature of the LaMancha is very short ears. To be registered, bucks may have ears no longer than one inch with little or no cartilage. Does may have ears up to two inches in length. The LaMancha breed was developed in the United States and is known for its calm nature. It produces well in a variety of climates and conditions.

Nubian does are at least 30 inches tall. They weigh 135 pounds, while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. The head is the distinctive breed characteristic with the facial profile between the eyes and the muzzle being strongly convex. It is often referred to as a “Roman nose.” The ears are “pendulous,” hanging down, flaring out and forward at their rounded tip. They extend at least one inch below the muzzle. Nubians may be any color, solid or patterned. The hair is short, fine, and glossy. This breed is also known for the high butterfat and protein content of its milk

Saanen does are at least 30 inches tall. They weigh 135 pounds while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. Saanens are distinguished by solid white or light cream-colored hair. Spots may exist on the skin and a spot in the hair up to 1 ½ inches across is allowable. Saanen ears are erect, and the bridge of the nose is either straight or dished. The Saanen is a favorite for commercial dairies due to its high milk production and calm temperament.

Alpine does are at least 30 inches tall. They weigh 135 pounds while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. They have erect ears and come in many colors and color combinations. The hair is medium to short and the bridge of the nose is straight. The Alpine is known for being a hardy, adaptable animal. It thrives in any climate while maintaining good health and excellent production.

Sable does are at least 30 inches tall. They weigh 135 pounds while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. Sables may be any color or combination of colors except solid white or solid light cream. The hair is short, and the ears should be erect. The bridge of the nose should either be straight or dished. Sables have the same high milk production and calm temperament as the Saanen.

Toggenburg does are at least 26 inches tall. They weigh 120 pounds while bucks are at least 28 inches tall and weigh 150 pounds. Hair color is solid, varying from light fawn to dark chocolate with correct white or cream markings. Does may be black with correct white or cream markings. The ears are erect and carried forward. The bridge of the nose may be straight or dished. Toggenburgs were among the first purebred dairy goats to be imported into the United States and registered.

Oberhasli does are at least 28 inches tall. They weigh 120 pounds while bucks are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 150 pounds. Oberhasli color is bay, ranging from light to a deep red bay with correct black markings. Does may also be solid black. Oberhasli have short erect ears and the bridge of the nose should be either straight or dished. This breed is also known for its calm disposition.

(Nigerian dwarf goats are excluded from this list. It is mainly because they are so different from the larger breeds. They may be cute. However, if you are going for quantity of milk to make cheese, soap, or butter, you will need a lot of them. So, we have purposely left them off here for this reason.)

Dairy goat on the stanchion waiting to be milked.
Maple on stand, waiting to be milked.

Once You Have Picked a Breed

You will want to search for reputable breeders. Also, there are specific things you want to look for when researching breeders. Do they show? Do their goats carry “milk stars”? What have the prior does done in the way of milk production? How does this doe kid? Does she have any issues kidding? What are the buck’s dam and granddam producing? Lots of questions.

So you found a breeder. Now, you will also now have to learn exactly what you are looking for as quality traits. Even if the genetics are great, it doesn’t that the doe (or buck) will express those traits.

If you’d like to learn these traits, you can head over to our article on what to look for in a dairy goat!

Similar Posts