“But why do would I want to spend extra money on a “show goat”? I just want a backyard milker.”
This is something serious breeders hear all the time, so I thought I would answer some questions here. There are a lot of great reasons to invest in a well-bred goat, and if you plan to be farmsteading or homesteading for awhile you should buy the best goat you can afford.
In the show ring, many of the qualities a goat is judged on translate into practical considerations for the goat owner. Things like good width, capacity and spring of rib mean your goat can carry multiple kids easily and have smoother births. Straightness and soundness of legs and feet, and width of brisket mean your goat is sturdy and can endure multiple kidding seasons without getting worn down before her time. Finally the mammary system is of utmost importance in the dairy goat world. We look at medial, lateral and fore-udder attachments. A poorly attached udder means that a doe will only be able to have a few seasons of kidding before her udder starts to hang uncomfortably low, predisposing her to udder injuries and mastitis. A doe with a “steep” rump is more likely to have a poorly attached udder, so a straighter topline is sought-after. Teat size and placement are also important. It is much easier to milk a doe with well-placed, nice sized teats than a doe with wide-spaced, small teats. A soft udder and teats are also desirable – so much easier on the hands. Milk pedigree is something to consider too. Does this goat come from other goats who produce a lot of milk with a long length of lactation? If so, she probably will too.
Still not convinced? Consider this: to keep your doe in milk, she will need to have kids every year or so. High-quality, registrable kids command a higher price tag. Your initial investment should pay for itself after the first kidding or two, and no matter the quality of the goat, they eat just as much.
Finally, a word about pricing. Don’t assume that the best quality goat is the most expensive goat. Many breeders adjust pricing for splashier colors and blue eyes, which have nothing to do with the qualities listed above. If having some eye candy in your backyard is important to you and you want to buy a “prettier” goat, go right ahead; just make sure that there are sound dairy traits under the frosting. An analogy: if you want a red car, you don’t go out and buy an Edsel just because it’s red; you do some homework and buy a Mercedes (or BMW or Cadillac or whatever your favorite car is) in a red color. Here at Size Matters, we have pretty AND plain, but our top priority is bettering the Mini Nubian breed and making sure that each generation is an improvement on the previous one.