Important Information to Consider Before Buying
It is such an exciting time when you make the decision to bring new kids (or adult goats) to live on your homestead.
There are a lot of questions that you should ask and a lot of preparation before you bring the new addition home.
There is so much to think about - where do you begin?
That is exactly what we thought when we began to seriously talk and think about adding goats to our homestead. Goats are a lot different than horses, cattle, sheep and pigs - We had not experienced taking care of goats before so we began researching and the more we read, the more questions we had and the longer the list became on what to ask when calling breeders.
Our top 3 things on our list were:
1. We wanted only healthy, disease free dairy goats.
(That meant buying stock from farms that had tested herds and published or supplied copies of the test findings.)
2. We wanted them to be as close to the breed standard as possible, register-able which meant tattooed & disbudded.
(We researched the Nigerian Dwarf Breed Standard.)
3. We wanted strong milking lines.
We had to figure out how to read pedigrees and specifically
Abbreviations on Performance Pedigrees.
Our list was not that much to ask, at least that is what I thought at the time anyway. Starting our herd with healthy animals was a must and therefore we knew Craigslist, the Auction and Sale Barn, and "freebies" were not what we wanted to start our herd with.
To begin our search, a year before ever owning goats, we joined the American Dairy Goat Association, the American Goat Society, and the Michigan Dairy Goat Society. We wanted to get reliable, up to date information and have access to breeders. Once we narrowed the breed of goats we wanted, we joined the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association to find out more about the standard, their care, etcetera.
ADGA posted that Langston University was offering a free course on becoming a Certified Dairy Goat Producer so of course, I immediately signed up. Once I completed that course, I signed up and took the Certified Goat Meat Producer Course as well. I can honestly say at that point, my list became a lot more important.
Any goat kids we were bringing home had to come from herds that had been tested for Johnes, CAE, Brucellosis, Tuberculosis and CL - No exceptions.
We began contacting breeders by phone or email in November and quickly realized finding breeders that tested their herds was not going to be an easy feat.
We ended up locating a breeder that was about a 3 hour drive away and another breeder about
5 hours away that tested their herds and had supplied documentation on the tests results.
We planned on drinking the milk, making cheeses and other edibles, and we knew we would need to sell
the extra kids so why wouldn't we want to buy tested animals?
We were surprised to find how many breeders do not test their goats.
About that same time, we began searching for a veterinarian that had experience in goat care. We found that too was not easy. We found 2 within an hour plus drive but they did not do farm calls to our area.
Persistence paid off and we finally found a farm veterinarian that
not only had experience with goats, she was located fairly close to our area and as a huge bonus, did farm calls!
(We were blessed to have found her!)
It's funny how persistence and determination played a huge role in finally finding breeders that tested their Nigerian Dwarf Goat herds, had strong milking
pedigrees and impressive pedigrees to begin our herd with.
Whatever breed of dairy goat you may be looking for, be persistent on buying from
tested, healthy stock with strong pedigrees. It may take some time to locate a
breeder but doing so will begin your herd on the right path.