There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to getting goats. Once you have decided on a breed, you must then decide on which specific goats you want. But how will you choose your goats? Although we are writing this with Nigerian Dwarf goats specifically in mind, I imagine the following could also apply to any dairy goat breed.
Factors to consider to help you choose your first Nigerian Dwarf (other other dairy breed) goats:
1) Registered or Unregistered – this should really start to narrow down your field of potential candidates. We suggest paying extra up front and getting registered goats.
First, with registered goats, you have the potential to see their background and production records. Second, if you are getting a dairy goat to keep in milk, you will have to breed and( in theory) sell kids each year. Unregistered goats will cut down on the number of buyers interested and also bring in less money.
2) Appraisal/Production Records – if available, you should look at Linear Appraisal scores of the goat or its dam & sire. Linear Appraisal will tell you how several of the goats characteristics stack up.
Milk stars/production records of the specific goat or its dam and sires dam will give you an idea of the amount of milk you may get. If the goat is ADGA registered, you can find this information on the ADGA site.
3) Temperament/Personality – if you can, meet the goat and see if you “click”. Some goats are really friendly while others can be standoffish and some can be unfriendly.
If you want a friendly goat, but the one you are looking at is standoffish, do you have the time to work with her and get her to like you? If you live in an urban area, maybe you should look for a goat that is not too vocal.
4) Horns – most Nigerian Dwarf goats have horns. Many people will have their goats disbudded for safety reasons. Some Nigerian Dwarf goats are also polled (naturally hornless). You should think about if you want horns, disbudded or polled.
5) Extras/Fun – once you decide what you need on the areas above, you should decide if you want anything “extra”. Some people love blue eyed goats, goats with wattles, goats with moonspots or goats of a particular color. Look at some different goats and see what appeals most to you.
We would suggest letting areas 1 – 4 weigh most heavy, but if you look and do your due diligence it is very likely you can get goats that meet all 5 criteria.
What factors do you think are most important when choosing your first goats? Also, don’t forget to be properly prepared for your new goats.