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Nigerian Dwarf Buck
June 11, 2011
10:31 pm
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Sydney
Mighty Chicken
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So, does anyone know what to look for in a Nigerian Dwarf Buck?  I'm considering Nigerian Dwarf goats as a source of milk (and, of course, more pets!) and I am quite overwhelmed by all the bucklings, bucks, and does available…also, how many does?  Should a first-timer's herd be comprised of young animals, or experienced ones?  Help!

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June 12, 2011
6:53 am
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twiggityNDgoats
Spencer, WV
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We have Nigerians that we milk.  For your buck I'd do pedigree research and look for milk stars in his pedigree, especially his mother, sisters and grandparents.  A buck from milk producing lines at least has documentation that a certain level of milk production is in his pedigree.  There is a LOT of variation in milk production for Nigerians (all goats in fact). Because a buck is so influential in a herd (all his kids are 50% his genetics), the buck should be the foundation of your herd and should be the best animal you can find.  Do the the same with does.  Look for milk test results (American Goat Society, American Dairy Goat Assoc. etc.) for animals with pedigrees you are interested in such as parents, grandparents etc.  There are a lot of Nigerian farms online that post milk results and linear appraisal results (a somewhat objective method of evaluating dairy goats).  It is probably best to get animals from folks that milk their goats, then you can try milking, and get an idea of what the animals are actually producing.  That is not always possible though.

Availablity in your area then becomes a factor unless you're willing to travel to pick up animals or to ship kids (which is common for large farms).  Try to find someone who actually milks so you'll have an idea of what they produce.  

My advice is to start reasonably small.  Unless you are familiar with goats, there is a somewhat steep learning curve learning to care for them, especially breeding animals.  We started with kids and learned a lot about caring for them then added a few from there.  It might be good to start with two milking does if you want instant results.  Try milking them and make sure it is doable.  Some Nigerians have small teats that can be difficult to milk if you have large hands. The number you need will depend on how much milk you want and how you are going to milk (hand or machine) . We milk 4 first-fresheners and one 7 year old doe that had not been milked much and get just shy of a gallon a day and use a machine.  I will expect production to increase as the young kids mature.

If you start with kids, there is no need to purchase a buck immediately.  We did however, purchase a buck kid at the same time we purchased our kid does and handled him a lot as a baby so that he is now tame.  Do NOT purchase wild does (or bucks)!!  I have done both and it takes a long time to tame them. One doe still has to be caught on occasion (except at milking time) then she is your best friend.   Your buck will need a friend.  Make sure you have secure quarters for him and a buddy (wether is a good choice).  Bucks can harass does if allowed to run with them full time.  

Hope this helps some.  I guess the short answer is buy the best, most “milky” animals you can, decide how much milk you want, and consider learning with two doe kids from the beginning.  This gives you time to consider matching your does to a prospective buck and ease into everything.

June 12, 2011
8:42 am
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twiggityNDgoats
Spencer, WV
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Now that I've milked and had coffee…

 

Some other considerations are:

1. Herd health:  Ask to see documentation that a herd is tested for CAE (and possibly CL, TB and Brucellosis).  CAE can be debilitating and you don't want to start with this (another lesson I learned with a different breed).  Look for lumps along the lympth nodes where CL health issues such as foot rot and other nasties that LIVE in your soil for years.  

2.  Horns.  It is my opinion and general consensus that dairy animals should not have horns.  On does, they can rip udders, get caught in fences and poke out your eye accidently.  I would definitely not mix horned with hornless.  I have one buck that grew his back (not terribly uncommon) and I cannot mix him with my other de-horned bucks.  He WILL use them to his advantage.  I can only have him with his wether buddy that he grew up with and even then he can get rough especially around food and girls.  This buck is normally very docile but I have had him push me against the gate wanting to get to his harem and believe me it hurts.  I have gotten my fingers caught between his horns when trying to lead him.  Just not something you want to deal with if you don't have to.  If his kids do not live up to my expectations enough for me to put up with horns then he will be history.

3.  It is generally possible to get a better quality doe if you buy kids.  Most folks generally will not sell their best adult milk animals unless they have some undesirable trait that you probably don't want either.  You don't want a lovely doe that you have to tie upside down to milk twice daily.  On the flip side, you can see what you're getting and some great animals are sold just to reduce numbers to a managable level.  A farm that is looking to maximize milk production or show may not keep that lesser producing doe that might be a perfect home milker.

4.  Bucks:  Adult proven milk-producing bucks are often available because great bucks may have served their usefulness at a particular farm and new blood is brought in.  Look to see the udders and milk producing ability of his daughters.

June 12, 2011
8:16 pm
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Sydney
Mighty Chicken
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Thank you!!  This will be very helpful in my search for goats.  Two does sounds about right.  I'll be doing a lot of research online concerning goat ailments, too, beleive me!  I'll want to know all about what I'm looking at and for.  Thank you again for your time!

Visit my blog! http://andpossiblyadd.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-rather-unnatural-affinity-with.html

June 12, 2011
9:13 pm
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twiggityNDgoats
Spencer, WV
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You're certainly welcome.  Best of luck on your search.  I think there are a lot of quality goats out there depending on your locality.  Keep us posted!

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