About Nigerian Dwarf Goats

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A walking flower garden is my favorite way to describe this breed of goat but they are so much more! They are delightful and endearing and produce the best milk you’ve ever tasted (I may just be a little biased).

Some of the reasons people love this breed are listed below but not necessarily in order of importance…
-small and easy to handle (16 to 23” at shoulder)
-gentle nature with individual personalities
-wonderful pet quality
-a perfect fit for a small family farm
-excellent source of dairy (milk, yogurt,cheese, etc.)
-high butterfat percent compared to most other breeds which is valuable in cheesemaking and other dairy products
-colorful and entertaining

My own personal interest in this breed includes all of the above but I’ve found the milk is truly exceptional!

There is a lot of good information already out there regarding the Nigerian Dwarf goat breed and what makes them special. In order to not “reinvent the wheel” you can visit the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association website at www.ndga.org.

Photo of goat milk yogurt with fresh picked strawberries.

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FAQ:  Where do I begin?

First of all….decide on your goals.  Your first goal should always be  healthy animals and that is reason number one to find a reputable breeder. Ask questions and be sure they’re able to mentor you in the future for any goat related questions.

I’m just looking for pets”   Wethers (neutered males) make wonderful pets and are more affordable than breeding stock.  Must have at least two (see Care page)

“I’d like to be able to have milk for my family and make cheese, yogurt, ice-cream, soap, etc.”    There are a few choices I would recommend if these are your first goats.

  1. Purchase a “starter herd”. Two doelings and two bucklings.  This may seem to be a big investment but each sex needs a buddy and you can’t keep a buck and doe together (bucklings can breed as early as 7 weeks of age).  It also isn’t fair in my opinion to keep them next to each other divided by a fence because goat buddies need to interact and snuggle at night.  Also if you keep a buckling next to a doe, that is  teasing that buck all year round.  He will keep your doe cycling and he will not eat like he should being distracted with those hormones.  Instead, find a separate area to keep your does from your bucks.  Our bucks are kept on the opposite side of the barn from the does.  If you want to have milk, you have to have bucks.  Having two gives you more breeding options too.  If you don’t want to keep a buck, find out before you purchase your goats if there is someone who will lease a buck to you during breeding season.  The problem with this route is bio-security.  You can also consider AI but I’ve found it is not as reliable and not all areas have someone trained to do it.  My opinion…..if you’re going to commit to this new adventure, keep your own bucks.  I love my bucks!  Sweet and easy to handle in this breed.
  2. Starter herd option #2.  If you just can’t bring yourself to invest as much money, you can purchase a doeling and a wether.  Next year when the doe is a year old, purchase another doe and a breeding buck.  Your breeding buck, if purchased early enough in the spring will be able to breed your does in  fall for spring kids and you can begin to milk then.
  3. Starter herd option #3.  Purchase two doelings, a buck and a wether.  Just a little variation from the other plans but saves you the price of a second buck.  Only one problem…this doesn’t give you as much breeding options as having two bucks if you choose to keep any kids.  If you sell all the kids, then it works.
  4. Starter herd option #4.  Purchase two does in milk and get your buck the following  year.  If you purchase the does bred and in milk, you can keep one of the buck kids from your bred does when she kids to be a buddy to your newly purchased buck (genetic diversity).
  5. This is not another option but I just want to emphasize that a goat buddy is important.  Many people think goats are fine alone as long as they have you for company or if they have another animal like a rabbit or chicken or horse but if you want a happy goat and do what’s best then get a goat buddy please.

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If your goals are to purchase show quality or animals with milk records, then pay attention to the symbols  you see on goat pedigrees (see article below on symbols) and talk to your breeder regarding specific traits you are looking for in your new herd!  Have fun with the building of your herd!!!

 

FAQ: What will I need for my new goats?

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For anyone who is a first time goat owner, this question is a good one to ask way before the new kids come home with you so you are prepared!  This is a big question because it includes supplies, feed, and shelter set up.  Some of this is covered on the CARE page of this website so please take time to read that over first.  I will use this space to list the things you should have for various situations.  For example, if you plan to keep two pets, you wouldn’t need many of the things you would need for two doelings who are future milkers.  You also don’t feed males the same as females and females are fed differently depending on if they’re getting ready to breed, are bred, where they are in their gestation and after they kid.

Here on our farm, we believe in preventative care and raising our animals as organically as possible. That being said to prevent health issues, there are times when using chemical wormers is a must or when tough decisions must be made and it is important to be well supplied so you aren’t left without the tools you need to care for your beloved goat.  So, here is a list of things I recommend you keep for the well being of your goat.

Before I start listing, the number one thing I recommend is a great resource book.  Yes the internet is full of information but there is a lot of bad information out there too.  I own many books on goat care but one I most highly recommend is the one pictured here.  It is well worth the investment and you will save yourself a lot of time, money and peace of mind in the long run having it. This is a complete book of information with sections including  natural goat remedies.  A must have!!!

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The author of this book, Cheryl K.Smith,  is a  breeder of Nigerian Dwarf goats who was the publisher for Ruminations: the Nigerian Dwarf and Mini Dairy Goat magazine. It is one of the most complete resources I’ve found and includes information on natural remedies too.

 

Wethers (pets)

  • Hay rack (keeping hay off of the ground to prevent worm load and waste)
  • Hay (good quality grass mix-no mold or dust)
  • Loose mineral /baking soda feeder (can get two compartment holder).I use Sweetlix Meat Maker loose goat minerals.
  • Water bucket (I like the 2 gallon so I can keep them clean and fresh)
  • Probios (incase of rumen imbalance-adds good bacteria)
  • Nutri-drench (livestock supply company)
  • Pepto Bismol (for loose stool- be sure to find out what is causing the loose stool  …This is a treatment not a cure if cause by stress or change in diet for example)
  • Ammonium chloride or raw apple cider vinegar (Braggs brand is good) for prevention of urinary calculi in male goats.  This is so important!  You can mix in the goat water when you clean the pail…just a splash is all you need to prevent a very painful and sometime deadly condition.
  • You do not need grain for pets but treats like animal crackers and fruits and some vegetables are great.
  • CD/T vaccine (booster given once a year. Recommend Colorado Serum /Essential 3+T )
  • Veterinary thermometer
  • Penicillin (broad spectrum Pen-G ) to keep on hand incase of infection but do not use without a vet’s recommendation or unless you are a seasoned goat owner.
  •  Needles and syringes (20 gage 1/2 inch needles are a good size for needles and 3 cc, 6cc and 10 cc syringes)
  • Dewormer (this a a topic in itself but for the sake of this list, Ivromec Injectable for cattle given orally at a dose of 1 cc per 30 pounds works well) We also use an herbal wormer year round from Fiasco Farm (Molly’s herbal wormer)
  • Hoof trimmer (I like the orange handle ones from Jeffers or Hoeggers)
  • Collar (I like the dog collars without the buckle for quick release)
  • Blood stop powder. Nice to have incase you get a little close when trimming hooves.

There are other supplies you may find yourself needing but this is basic list to get you started.  Most can be found at Fleetfarm, or in livestock supply companies which I have listed on the bottom of the Care page.

Doelings (females under one year of age)

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Photo by Pam Murphy/Cedar Gate Farm

The list of supplies for young does is almost exactly the same as what you would have for wethers but if you plan to raise does who will one day be used for dairy or show you would want them to have a different diet to aid in their development. We feed our doelings  a grain mix everyday twice a day until a year old.

 

 

Our grain mix recipe is the following:

  • 2 parts oats
  • 1 part barley
  • 1 part wheat
  • 1 part black oil sunflower seed
  • 1 part beet pulp
  • 1 part alfalfa pellets

We use this same grain mix to feed our does in milk.  Dry does and bucks are not fed grain.  Bucks can be given a very small amount of grain (about 1/2 cup a day) during breeding season to keep their weight on if needed.  We raise most of our own grain but if you do not have this capability, most farmer’s co-ops or feed stores may be able to mix this for you.  My main objection to “goat chow” is the heavy molasses but if it is the only source of feed available, just adjust the amount you feed by observing the weight and condition of your goats and increase or decrease the amount accordingly.

Kidding Supplies

  • Drying towels   kids 2013 001
  • 7% Iodine for dipping navels (I use old prescription drug canisters to put iodine in)
  • “Save a kid” syringe (incase you have a weak kid who needs to be tube fed)
  • Nutri-drench (if needed for weak and tired doe or weak kid)
  • bulb syringe (if needed for removing fluid from nose or throat)
  • Bovi-sera (some inject this to get kids off to a good start but I just keep it incase I have a weak kid)
  • Long disposable gloves and J-lube (if needed to help deliver kids…but to be honest I generally don’t wear gloves if I need to assist but rather make sure my fingernails are short, scrub hands well and put an anti-bacterial solution on my hands)
  • Diagram of various presentations of kids incase you need it as a resource in the event you need to help difficult delivery *(bottom of Care page has several links to articles with great diagrams of dystocia or difficult deliveries….http://kinne.net/ob1.htm)
  • Safe heat lamp (Premier Livestock supply has a great one.  See link on bottom of Care page) Only need this if you’re kidding season during a cold time of year
  • Blow dryer (optional but nice to have if you’re again in a cold climate)
  • Antiseptic wash (if needed to go inside to help with a delivery)
  • Bucket of warm water with molasses in it for dam after delivery and a treat for a job well done:)

Disbudding And Tattooing

  • Disbudding iron with a goat tip
  • Tattoo kit (alphabet and numbers and green ink included)
  • Blue-cote (spray on area that’s been disbudded)
  • Trimmer (to shave the horn bud area before disbudding and also inside ears if needed before tattooing)
  • Mentor to show you how to do this the first time

2013 kids 006Here is where I (again) highly recommend the purchase of the Goat Health Care book I endorsed above.  In this book you will find information on how to disbud and tattoo using a vet prescribed sedative.  I have been using this method for many years and have used this procedure on hundreds of kids with no ill effects.  The basic idea is to sedate the kid, wrap securely in a blanket (no need for box), shave the top of head, apply iron, scrape off horn buds, and apply Blue-cote.  I also tattoo kids at the same time while they’re sleepy.  After they’re done, I put them in a pen until they are alert enough to go back to the herd.  It works GREAT!

Milking Equipment: 

Milking time!

Milking time! This is an old photo…I now milk two at a time with a Caprilite milk machine.

  • Milking stand
  • Stainless steel milk pail
  • Stainless steel strainer and milk filters
  • Udder wash
  • Teat dip
  • drying towels
  • dairy soap
  • sanitizer
  • Mastitis testing kit
  • Feed dish for grain
  • Milk machine optional

Now that your milking, you will want equipment for making cheese, yogurt, and all the other wonderful products you can now make with your amazing milk!

 

Month by Month On Grasse Acres Farm

This “checklist” is for dairy goat breeders who are interested in knowing how I care for my breeding stock from month to month. I’m often asked what do I do to prepare for breeding season, kidding season and even in the dry season regarding feed, supplements, and care given. Below you will find a checklist of how I care for my breeding stock month to month. Since I don’t keep any wethers, I will not include them in this article. Their needs and care are not the same. You can find information on their care on the CARE page and in a separate article (above)  on this page.

You will find as you talk to other breeders that some will have other goat management practices. I don’t judge or say my way is the only way but I can tell you this schedule has been keeping my goats healthy for breeding and successful kidding for many years. I practice preventative care giving the goats everything they need to be at optimal health. Creating a strong immune system in your goats will save you a lot of heartache and cost too.

I breed for early spring kids (March and April), allow the kids to nurse for 8 weeks and then start milking in May (when the babies are weaned and go to their new homes). The rule of thumb is you can safely breed does at 9 months of age as long as they’re of good size and weight. but many people prefer to wait until the doeling is over a year to breed. It’s a judgement call based on the individual goat. There are also those who stagger breeding so they can have milk year round so you would just need to look at the information I’m providing and make the adjustments . I travel to see my two legged kids in February so it’s much easier for me to not be milking then so this schedule is perfect for my life…although I do dearly miss my goat milk in January, February and March while all the milkers are resting and creating those beautiful new babies!

September 

Preparation for breeding (about 4 weeks before breeding do the following for bucks and does)
-Trim hooves
-Deworm (Ivromec Injectable For Cattle given orally, 1cc per 35 lbs)
-Copper bolus
-BoSe (selenium and vitamin E injection that you must purchase from a vet…some people use the selenium/vit. E paste instead.  Very important in our area for breeding,and many other reasons too long to list here….google benefits of selenium in goats. )
-Close examination for any possible external parasites (mites/lice)
Treat if necessary.
-Add raw apple cider vinegar to the water (about half a cup per 2 gallon pail.) This is supposed to help with breeding but hard to prove. It’s wonderfully healthy for many other reasons so I do it)
-“flush” does by feeding a small amount of grain each day (about a cup of grain, twice a day) Does should be in good condition or weight before breeding so don’t overfeed. Over conditioned is not good. No grain for bucks unless they are thin due to forgetting to eat when in rut. If you feel this is needed for the boys then only feed a little (cup a day maximum) with raw apple cider vinegar in water to prevent urinary calculi.
-Be sure your doe and buck are in perfect health before breeding.
-When all the above are complete (3-4 weeks before breeding) then watch for does to cycle

October 

-Match doe (when she cycles) with chosen buck in breeding pen. (I watch for a successful breeding. Success is when doe is in a standing heat and accepts the buck. When buck is done mounting , the doe will arch her back.
-Very important….mark this date on your calendar! You will be VERY glad you did so you will know when the doe is due. One of the greatest keys to successful kidding is being there for the birth.
-Watch the doe for the next month to be sure she’s bred. If she’s not bred, she will cycle again within the month. Seeing a doe being bred does not mean she is necessarily pregnant.  Keep an eye out for signs of cycling and try again keeping the doe and buck together for at least a few days.
-Once the does are bred, you can discontinue the grain except of course unless the doe is in milk!  They will not need grain until close to kidding time. Giving grain can create a doe who has a difficult birth due to being overweight or too large of kids. This won’t be as likely to happen with does who are milking because they’re utilizing the feed to produce milk.
-Breeding bucks never should be given grain unless they look thin during breeding season. Sometime they forget to eat when in rut. Personally, I’d just be sure they get plenty of hay and clean water and if grain is necessary, then be sure you have raw apple cider vinegar in the water.

-Garden and orchard produce are a wonderful source for a variety of nutrients. Corn husks, green bean and pea plants and pumpkins and apples to name a few.  Be aware however that some plants are toxic to goats such as cherry trees.

November/December/January 

-Feed bred does good quality grass mix with some alfalfa hay. Milkers get 2nd crop alfalfa hay.
Hay should be available at all times.
-Still no grain at this time for dry does and bucks…except for the milkers who have been getting grain since two weeks before kidding. Generally I’m milking about 15 to 20 goats twice a day until December. In mid December I go to milking once a day and dry up all does by January.
-Observe, observe, observe. Watch for signs of unusual behavior that could indicate illness.
-Use heated water pails and keep them fresh
-Rather than cleaning the barn in winter, I top coat with dry straw as needed. The layers of bedding help keep the goats warm unless there is a strong smell of urine. Then I clean it out and add a thick layer of clean bedding. I use pine shavings first for absorbency and then straw. Hay does not make good bedding.
-Bucks job is done so they need a good quality grass mix hay at all times to keep warm. Also, heated water pail and no grain. Don’t forget loose goat minerals and baking soda too!
-This is the time of year I have my vet come out to draw blood for testing for CAE and Johnes. I like to draw blood before the does are too close to kidding and before they kid. I do this annually on ALL goats that are 6 months of age and older. The blood work is sent to the lab and results are sent within one week.

February 

-Trim hooves (actually, check hooves about every 6 weeks but especially before they start getting heavy with kids)
-CD/T vaccine (3-4 weeks before kids are due)
-BoSe injection or Selenium/Vitamin E gel (3-4 weeks before kids are due)
-Copper bolus (I do this twice a year…once before breeding and again about 6 months later)
-3 weeks before kidding…do the following
-Add some additional vitamin E to feed (a little wheat germ oil mixed in the grain works well
-Add grain to the diet gradually increasing to 1 cup twice a day also increase alfalfa in hay

March/April 

-Getting ready for the busiest time of the year!!! Kidding season is here!
-Prepare kidding kit/heat lamps/kidding pens
-Continue same diet through kidding
-Familiarize doe with kidding pen. I start putting the does in the kidding pens at night about a week before kidding. they can see the other does but have their own space. I use straw only in the kidding pens. When the kids are born the dam cleans them. If the kids are laying in wood shavings, the dam can eat the shavings which is not the best for her system. After the messy part of the birth is over I move the little family to a clean pen which has shavings on the bottom and straw on top.
-Two weeks before kidding give pregnancy tonic every day (can purchase at Molly’s Herbal Remedies which is also on Fiasco Farm website or make your own. I collect and dry raspberry leaves in the fall and mix with Molly’s Pregnancy Tonic to stretch it out)
-A week or two before kidding, give doe a “winter clip” around her back end and tail to make it less messy after kidding. They don’t like it much but you’ll be glad you did. Also, easier for kids to find teats and for you to see her udder to make sure it’s even. Some time the kids favor one side which can be a problem if not evened out.
-Get the barn cam ready and test it. A barn cam pays for itself for the night time kiddings and for saving kids.
-Start watching for early signs of labor including checking ligaments daily when close to kidding time. This is the very best method of determining how close she is to kidding.
-Kidding pen should have an elevated water pail so the kids don’t accidentally fall in and drown…have heard of this happening to others. I keep my Kidding Kit (complete with all supplies) ready so everything’s together when the event happens.
-After kids are born I record birth order, time of birth and what day of gestation kid was born. May also like to record weights. After kidding season is over I transfer all this information into a “Kidding Record Book” . I also include if it was an assisted birth and the position of the kids at birth. This information can be helpful in future birthing.
* Always keep resources close by incase you need information such as how to assist in a difficult birth including photos of various positions of kids in the uterus. You also may want to call your vet to let him know it’s kidding season to see about his availability …just incase. Good to be prepared!
-after kids are born I always make sure mucus is cleared from nose and mouth so kids can breath, I’ve observed each kid drink some milk, are dried off (mom does most of this but for cold weather a hair dryer works well) and navels are dipped in 7% iodine. Dam is given a treat of raisins and a warm bucket of water with molasses mixed in. Be sure if heat lamps are needed they are secured so to prevent fires. Best heat lamps you can purchase are from Premier 1 Livestock Supply Co.
-Day after kidding always deworm dam with a chemical wormer. There is an increase in worm load due to the stress of the birth
-Repeat deworming in 10 days to kill newly hatched worms
-Disbud kids and tattoo when you feel the horn buds rise…usually about a week old…sooner for males. See the article on how to do all this in Goat Health Care book recommended on my website. I have literally sedated hundreds of kids and never had any problems. Just be sure to have a vet or a goat mentor show you how the first time. While the kids are sedated, I also give them a little shot of banamine (I purchase a bottle from the vet each year…comes in handy for pain and inflammation.) and also their CD/T immunization booster. They’ll get another booster in 4 weeks.
-When the kids are at about a week old, I start putting the dam in the milk stand just to eat her grain. When she’s in the stand eating her grain, I run my hands over her body and on the udder so she gets used to being handled for milking. I don’t milk her but get her to see this as a positive thing . If she jumps around, I just set my hand on her udder without moving it and don’t take it away until she calms down. After she calms, I remove my hand. Goats are smart and will think they’ve won if you take away your hand when they jump around.
-Socialize kids! It’s a tough job but it has to be done:) I pick up each kid every time I go into the barn and give them a little snuggle time. I never miss a day and do it from the day they’re born. I do not allow young children to chase kids but rather when they come to visit, I have the children sit in the straw and I bring the kids to them. I’ve found when children move quickly around the kids, the kids become untrusting and all the time you’ve spent socializing can be set back and take time to rebuild. I tell children to move like turtles when they enter the barn because the kids are unsure of them. If children don’t follow the rules, they are asked to just look at the goats from the other side of the fence. I’m pretty strict for the sake of the kids safety and training to be friendly.
-At about 6 weeks of age I start separating the kids from their dam at night so I can milk the dam in the morning. I don’t milk them all the way out so there’s still plenty of milk for the kids the rest of the day.

May

Little buddy (photo by Len Villano)

-Continue to socialize the kids everyday by holding and just spending a little time letting them crawl over you when you’re in the barn.
-Kids should have all been disbudded (within the first week or so of birth), tattooed, and now second booster of CD/T. CD/T is given prenatally 3 weeks before the dam kids, again at a week old (when sedated for disbudding and tattoos) and a third time 4 weeks later. I use the Colorado Serum for best results (some other serums are more likely to leave bumps at the injection site). Some breeders are now choosing not to give the CD/T vaccine but to me I’d rather not risk the devastation of the disease.
-Very important to check the kids over carefully at least twice before they go to their new homes at about 8 or 9 weeks of age for any abnormalities such as fish tail teats or testicles that have not descended, etc. I like to look them over good when they’re sedated at disbudding time and again right before they leave for their new home.
-At 8 weeks of age I surgically castrate (trained by my vet) or band (if it’s fly season) the bucks who will be wethers. That’s a whole other discussion:)
-As mentioned earlier, does are milked in the morning (kids taken away at night at about 6 weeks) and allowed to nurse their babies the rest of the day. Most kids leave at about 8 or 9 weeks but all kids are weaned at 8 weeks. By then they have been eating hay, grain and drinking water on their own. Dam raising allows the kids rumen to develop more quickly than bottle raised and also being with the dam teaches the kids sooner how to eat solid food including browsing and grazing on pasture and plants. I have bottle raised kids in the past and they’ve grown well and healthy but this is just my preference and works best with my set up.
-Kids are also dewormed as a prevention before going to their new homes. Sometime I suggest new owners deworm again one more time due to the stress of moving creating an influx of worms.
-I have not had issues with coccidia but if I suspect there is an issue, kids are treated with Di-Methox. Some areas are more prone than others.
-Health records are included with the kids when they leave so new owners know if the kids have had treatment for this and if repeated doses are needed.

June/July/August 

-Milk in the morning and milk at night:) Approximately, 12 hours apart. 6:30 am and 6:30 pm works for me. When I was teaching full time I wasn’t able to keep up with this schedule so after summer was over, I milked only once a day after school…..yes, you can just milk once a day! It’s a matter of supply and demand so as you cut out one of the milking the does produces less.

-From June to breeding time, does in milk are given herbal wormer (Molly’s Herbal Wormer from Fiasco Farm).  I put the herbal wormer in their grain in the milk stand but you can also make “dosage balls”.  I also use this with my young stock, dry does and bucks.  Dry does and bucks get dosage balls since they don’t get grain.  If I had a small herd I would give everyone dosage balls but I found making the dosage balls for the whole herd took a lot of time every week and it works well just putting it in the milkers grain once a week.  I only use chemical wormer twice a year otherwise.

-Summer time is pasture time!  All the goats spend most of the day soaking up sun and on pasture.  I still offer hay first thing in the morning and at night. Milkers get 2nd crop alfalfa hay as well as the babies.  Bucks get 1st crop grass mix hay.

Here is an example of my daily routine starting at about 5:30 am…

*Feed hay to all the goats and fill water pails
*Prepare my milking equipment (machine milking)
*Milk does (I feed grain in the milk stand as I milk each doe. Does are trained to  jump right up in the stand and wait for grain. After milking, they jump down and go out a different door to where their alfalfa hay is waiting for them. Going out a different door really helps with “traffic control”.
*Process milk and wash/sanitize equipment
*Socialize kids
*Feed and water bucks
*Go in and eat breakfast
*Let goats out on pasture (by now the dew is off the plants and the goats have some hay in their stomach…helps prevent worm infestation)
*Projects of the day may include any farm work such as making hay, washing and sanitizing water and feed pails, cleaning pens, trimming hooves, summer show clipping, mentoring new goat owners, socializing kids, keeping records, making goat milk soap, cheese, yogurt, etc.
*Spend some time observing goats to be sure everyone is doing well and a little goat therapy time.
*Try to fit in the rest….family, garden,house work…you know. Early dinner at 5:00ish
▪ Start all over again at 5:30

I’m sure I’m missing something so if you have any questions please contact me for clarification.

One last comment regarding management….it’s very easy to quickly become too big to manage.  Over crowding or not having enough time to keep up with necessary care is not what’s best for your goats.  Set your goal for best practice and stick to it.  ALWAYS breed responsibly to better the breed.  For example, if one kid from a litter has abnormal teats, it’s a genetic flaw and none of the kids from that litter should be used for breeding.  There are no perfect goats so breeding to improve on certain traits is good but genetic flaws should never be recreated. I also make sure any goat that leaves this farm is in perfect health.  If you have too many goats, this may be more difficult for you to recognize.  When dealing with goats, bigger is not always better.  Quality over quantity is what I recommend.

FAQ:  What Do The Symbols Mean?

Looking at the pedigrees and seeing all the symbols can be very confusing but they certainly provide us with valuable information.  Making it even more challenging is AGS and ADGA have different symbols for production awards.  To make this as uncomplicated and easy to understand and since nearly all of our goats are registered with ADGA, I will only address symbols associated with ADGA. For more detailed explanations you can go directly to the websites of the specific registries.

Superior Genetics Designation (SG):
The Superior Genetics awards identify and recognize individual animals for their genetic superiority through participation in ADGA’s performance programs, DHI production testing and Linear Appraisal type evaluation. It’s an award for both bucks and does and is based on the animal being in the top 15% (85th percentile ranking or higher) of their breed according to the Production/Type Index (PTI) ranking, the PTI favoring productions (PTI 2:1) or the PTI favoring type (PTI 1:2) at least once in during the lifetime of the animal. It is possible for an animal to receive this award in some cases, even though the doe may not have production records of her own, if the daughters of that doe have production records or sons of that doe have daughters with records, a genetic evaluation on the doe is generated on the basis of her progeny, similar to how it works in obtaining buck genetic evaluations.

Earning Dairy Stars
*B Stars on bucks are earned by virtue of parents with production records meeting ADGA minimums

+B Pluses on bucks are earned by virtue of offspring meeting ADGA requirements

ST Star Volume – meeting minimum requirements from one-day tests, or on the basis of pedigree or progeny

AR Advanced Registry Volume – meeting minimum requirements through Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) programs

2*M Two Star Milker – refers to a second successive generation of a doe line that has earned a star based on minimums set forth by ADGA

STARS- ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM ADGA:

ADGA recognizes production on pedigrees through designation of *M for does, and *B and +B for bucks based on meeting minimum criteria either through Advanced Registry (AR) based on DHIR, or the Star program (ST) based on Owner Sampler production testing. One-day competitions, progeny recognition, or acknowledgment of approved non- ADGA DHI programs. The program designation (AR or ST)
is included with the *M on the pedigree.

The number of Stars shall indicate the number of consecutive generations of females in the immediate background that have qualified. For example: 1*M indicates that the doe has qualified by meeting AR or ST requirements and that her dam has no production record; 2*M indicates a qualified tested doe with a 1*M dam; 3*M indicates a qualified doe with a 2*M dam and a 1*M grandam, etc.

The Certificate of Registry for may be revised to show Star and/or Plus designations obtained (either automatically or by application) by sending the certificate to the ADGA office together with the revision fee. Any additions or revisions to registration papers must be accompanied by the correct fee (see Schedule of Rates.)

An ADGA-registered or recorded doe may be issued a Star Milker Certificate upon proper application and payment of fee (see Schedule of Rates) provided she has met minimum production requirements for AR or ST under ADGA rules. Certificates are not issued for does issued *M on the basis or progeny or on bucks.

ADVANCED REGISTRY VOLUME
An automatic *M designation is granted any ADGA registered doe that has qualified for Advanced Registry on the basis of milk, butterfat or protein without application or fee.
An ADGA registered buck shall be entitled to an automatic +B (AR) designation without application or fee if: He has three Advanced Registry daughters from three different dams. At least two of the dams must be registered or recorded with ADGA or; He has two Advanced Registry sons that are Advanced Registry Sires.
An ADGA registered buck shall be entitled to an automatic ++B (AR) designation without application fee if: He has three Advanced Registry daughters from three different dams and two Advanced Registry Sire sons.

STAR VOLUME DOES
A *M designation shall be awarded to those does meeting minimum requirements under ADGA rules, as follows:

On the basis of meeting minimum DHIR production requirements as defined in Section E, including a minimum DCR of 75, an appropriate VT, and documentation of the qualifying completed lactation record.

On the basis of earning 18 or more points at a recognized Milking Competition conducted under rules approved by the Board of Directors or On the basis of AGS Advanced Registry or Canadian R.O.P. certificate (original of which to be lent to ADGA office for verification) where production meets ADGA minimum requirements in 305 days or less. (British Goat Society records are also accepted.)

An ADGA-registered or recorded doe shall be entitled to an automatic *M designation without application or fee (with no Star certificate issued):
On the basis of three qualifying ST Does or Advanced Registry daughters, or
On the basis of two +B sons (ST) or 2 AR sons, or
On the basis of one AR son and one +B son (ST), or
On the basis of one AR son and two AR and/or *M daughters, or
On the basis of one +B son (ST) and two AR and/or *M daughters.

STAR VOLUME BUCKS
An ADGA-registered buck shall be entitled to an automatic *B designation without application or fee if:
His dam is either an Advanced Registry doe that has qualified on both milk and butterfat requirements, or a
ST Doe, and his sire is an Advanced Registry Sire, a Star Buck or a +B (ST), or His dam is either an Advanced Registry doe that has qualified on both milk and butterfat requirements, or a ST Doe, and his sire’s dam is an Advanced Registry doe that has qualified on both milk and butterfat requirements, or a Star Milker.
An ADGA-registered buck shall be entitled to a +B (ST) designation without application or fee if:
He has three *M daughters from three different dams. At least two of the dams must be registered or recorded with ADGA, or
He has two +B sons (ST), or
He has one AR son and one +B son (ST), or
He has one AR son and two A R and/or *M daughters, or
He has one +B son (ST) and two AR and/or * M daughters.
An ADGA-registered buck shall be entitled to a ++B designation without application or fee by qualifying in any
of the ways listed in the paragraph above except the way in which he earned his first plus. (++ must be earned on the basis of both
sons and daughters.)

ADGA Linear Appraisal Information

ADGA Linear Appraisal is a tool used by goat breeders to evaluate goats in order to improve their breeding and management systems. Goats are evaluated by trained appraisers and are given scores which help make decisions regarding breeding pairs and which goats fit best in your herd. The scores you receive tell you the strengths and weaknesses so when you breed two animals you can selectively choose pairings which will hopefully improve the traits of the offspring. For more detailed information on how all this works, please see the ADGA website under Linear Appraisal.

On our doe and buck page, you will see the major category and final score ratings as: Excellent (E) = 90 and above; Very Good (V) = 85-89; Good Plus (+) = 80-84; Acceptable (A) = 70-79; Fair (F) = 60-69; Poor ( P ) = 59 and below.

The ideal goat is a score of 100, but of course there is no such thing as the perfect goat. The highest score an animal can get is 94, and if they receive that score they have to go before a committee formed by ADGA to prove that the animal really deserves a score of 94. The highest score a first freshening doe can receive is 89.There are increasingly more ND goats scoring in the low 90’s but scores in the 80’s are still respectable and the scores can change from year to year as the goat matures. For example a first freshener doe in the low 80’s could score in the high 80’s as a 4 year old fully mature animal.

It is important to know the worth of the goat in your herd is not solely based on the scores your goat is given. Some examples to exemplify this:

-Temperament. If a goat scores high but is difficult to milk and hard to handle she may be of less value in a dairy program and managing for general care.

-Single undesirable score. A goat can be a valuable part of your breeding program even if scoring low in a single category. For example: we have a couple of does with roman noses. A result of this is a lower score in the General Appearance area which brings the final score down. This doe may be a wonderful milker and rate well in all other dairy traits. A doe like this would not be culled in our program but rather paired with a buck who has an E or V rating for his head hoping to produce kids who do not have roman noses.

-Goals. Anyone who breeds goats should always breed to improve the quality of the goat rather than just breed for the fun of it. There are plenty of goats out there who would make wonderful pets already. Breeding goals may vary depending on your needs (milk production, show quality, etc.) but no need to cull an animal with a lower score if they fit well in your herd. A goat with a low score but a great temperament may be of high value as a family milker. Scores are best used to improve on desirable traits to fit your herd goals.

-Pets vs business. Lets face it…anyone who knows goats has a love for these beautiful animals. We have some goats who we keep just because we love them or may no longer be productive due to age or kidding issues. Is this economical or good business? Probably not but most of us have goats because we love them and some are in our herd just because they have touched our hearts…and that’s ok:)