Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Breed For The Need": The Nubian Goat

  Get this: We're starting a new series on the blog! I've been thinking about, and planning this, for almost two years; and today is the first post! I'm dubbing this the "Breed For The Need" series and what we'll be doing is this: Every Tuesday a different breed of livestock (both rare and common) will be highlighted. We'll go over the breed's pros, cons, perks + quirks, and what situation it's best for. Each month we'll highlight a certain species, and this being the first month of doing this (granted, we're halfway through the month), I'll be starting off with goats (of course). 

 So, in honor of this being the first post, I've decided to highlight a breed that I know best of all:

The Nubian Goat

  One of the most popular and identifiable breeds, the Nubian has long held the status of being an excellent choice in the goat world. Unfortunately, this popularity hasn't always been a good thing, and the breed has suffered from many an inexperienced/uncaring breeder to the point where a Craigslist search will bring up one ad after another, showing a steep-rumped, narrow-bodied, short-eared animal that only has the capacity to milk a 1/2 gallon a day, even at the age of 4 years. Blah. 

  A good quality Nubian is built like a tank. Albeit, a graceful one. She should be wide, deep, and have the capacity to milk 1 - 2 gallons a day. Butterfat percentage should be right around 4% to 5% (she's the Jersey cow of the goat world).

  Temperament wise, Nubians are probably the most dramatic, vocal, and gregarious. Think "needy, clingy dog". Nubians love people, but this isn't always a good thing since some will go through almost any kind of fence to get to "their person"! The vast majority of them though are mellow, sweet creatures (and not always the brightest). Even the mellowest doe though, will still retain the signature drama; recoiling in utter horror and disgust at finding a weed in her alfalfa hay, a piece of dirt in her water, or worst of all... That you tried sneaking deworming powder into her feed!! They are divas, but somehow that just makes them all the more lovable (well, until they've escaped from their pen for the 10th time in one day...).

Pros: Generally of gentle nature, and rarely gives off -tasting milk. The high butterfat makes for sweet tasting milk that is always in high demand by the public. It also means you'll get a higher amount of solids when making cheese! Nubians come in a wide range of colors too, which is yet another factor in their popularity. They're easy to find, usually easy to sell (who in this world can resist a floppy-eared goat kid??), and their sale price is generally pretty decent.

Cons: Noise level. These goats tend to be loud; especially during breeding season, or whenever something changes. Or when they see someone outside. Or when they're *sure* that they're about to keel over from starvation since breakfast was 2 hours ago. Alright fine, they're loud. My herd name of "Goat Song" originated purely from the noise level of all my girls. 
  Another con is that this breed has a unique genetic defect that isn't seen in any other breed. It's called "G6S", and surprisingly enough, many normal looking goats are carriers of this fatal problem. Rather than attempt to give you the scientific spiel on what exactly it is, I will direct you to this very long, very detailed article that should answer all your questions about it: WHAT IS G6S?

  Responsible breeders will test their goats, and state each animal's status publicly on their website. However, I've seen quite a few well-known breeders tap dance around this slightly and use a sleight of words to make it look like their entire herd is G6S negative. A truly G6S negative goat will have a note that says "tested G6S normal". If the animal didn't test normal, but holds a high value to the breeder, they'll often write "G6S normal on pedigree". See what they did there? It still sounds like they're saying it's a negative animal, what it really means is, "This animal is a positive carrier, but her parents are negative, so we don't know where the positive gene came in." Now, there's a chance that this "normal on pedigree" girl may throw normal kids, but it's a bit like playing with fire. And if you're paying $1,200.00 for that kid that may or may not be normal... Well, I wish you luck, and hope you have deep pockets. So consider yourself forewarned; these are great animals, but they do have this annoying fault!

Best Fit For... The Nubian is best for someone who has a good sense of humor, a lot of patience, and doesn't have neighbors right next door! If you only have a moderate amount of space, and want only a moderate amount of milk, then this might be a good fit for you. Make sure you're ready to take on the responsibility of being a breeder though! The Nubian really needs some help to breed out those horrible steep rumps and narrow bodies; and those problems won't go away until more of us make sure that we're doing our part. 


Anonymous said...

Wow! Do you have experience with nubians? It sounds like it. Brittany

Goat Song said...

Brittany, I raised Nubians for a little over 6 years, and still love the breed! I've owned every single breed of dairy goat, but the Nubians have always been a favorite. :)

Shiloh said...

I love Nubians!!! I've been raising Mini Nubians, but someday I want a herd of Nubians. :)

Goat Song said...

Shiloh, the mini Nubians are fun, aren't they?? I had always wanted to have a few around, but never found a Nigerian buck that I like AND could afford. LOL. The mini breeds are neat though, since you get better milk yield than a Nigerian (usually...), but they don't eat as much as a standard breed. Have you ever heard of Pholia Farms? They're down in Southern Oregon, and Gianaclis Caldwell has written some AMAZING dairying books that are unbelievably popular. Anyway, they've had some of Oregon state's best Nigerians around, but they *just* sold of over half their herd of Nigerians (I almost bought them... But shipping them to Missouri proved to be too expensive this year) so they could instead start keeping Minis!! They've chosen to go with Mini LaManchas, but I still think it's neat that one of OR's best breeders/producers is now using a mini hybrid. :) Cool stuff.