As a new goat owner, you are probably starting out like the rest of us—dazed and confused by breeders flashing their ‘bloodlines,’ ‘strong dairy genetics,’ ‘dual-registered,’ ‘correct’ goats around on their websites and on local sales boards… And if you are currently anything like I was at the time that I was looking to purchase a dairy goat, you are also probably thinking the same thing I did… so before you give-up and purchase an unregistered goat, here is my experience and where it finally lead me..
In the Beginning......
As I perused websites and livestock sales boards I was overwhelmed by all the lingo, and the prices! All I wanted was a goat I could milk for heaven’s sake! I didn’t want to pay $300+ for some fancy-prancing-show-goat with all these titles attached; heck I didn’t know what any of these breeders were even talking about! I just wanted to find a down to earth person who wasn’t asking a down payment on a new car for a dairy goat….
The problem was at the time, I really had no clue just how much work and effort goes into breeding/ producing a good quality dairy goat. Initially, I really only wanted to make soap with my goats milk…I had heard so many bad things about how the milk tasted that I didn’t even really want to try it. So really, any goat would have sufficed… and I ended up purchasing a Boer-Nubian cross; a cross that came highly recommended for their ‘dual purpose’ qualities.
Andromeda aka ‘RED’ was a big pain in my rear. She was loud, bossy, and if a goat could be considered an air-head she was one. But, it was something I was willing to tolerate. Being half boer I figured when I had enough of her obnoxious antics I would most likely have a doeling or two out of her to keep.. then I could eat her. The other thing about my big-red-boer- bowling ball was that she had four teats.. just like a cow, and each one worked; which meant each had to be milked.
Another problem I encountered was the fact that goats need goat friends, I couldn’t have just one. So I figured I would look around and find her a doe friend. I didn’t care about what breed it was, or mix, it just needed to be healthy and keep Red from screaming all day and night… and provide some extra milk, because even though Red had an impressively large and quite supple flour sack hanging between her legs she really only gave me about 32oz of milk.
Using my same method as before (buying the cheapest goat I could find that wasn’t a buck or whether) I found a La Mancha doe. Her breeder told me some things about her genetic background, how her registration wasn’t transferred correctly, and some other things that went in one ear and out the other; I wasn’t planning on showing her any way so what did I care about registration paperwork?
It was after this doe, that I soon realized that I was going to need a buck…and compared to Red, this new doe was super sweet, friendly, quiet, well mannered, and was more like a dog than a goat—Red was more like a menstruating hippo with mad cow disease… So, I decided that because I really liked my new La Mancha, I wanted to get a La Mancha Buck to make more of these wonderful, sweet, goats.
As I began my search for a buck, I finally began to understand what all the hype was about surrounding these registered breeder’s goats. What had finally dawned on me was the fact that after looking over hundreds of goats, and perusing many breeder websites I began to notice just how consistent the quality of their animals really was.
None of their goats had a saggy udder like Red, all of them produced much more than she did, and if all I had done was invest an extra $100 for one of their goats I would have saved my self the trouble of having to feed the mistake I had originally purchased. And also I began to notice that the bloodlines provided for the animals weren’t there to win you over with some fancy linage, it was to show the buyer proof of how many goats in that particular goat’s bloodline were producing or exceeding the expected amount of milk for their breed; animals with ‘+’,‘*’, and ‘D’s’ respectively.
This is where I finally realized that a registered animal pays off:: With registration in hand YOU are 100% capable of tracking the top milkers in your herd. Tracing their genetics shows you just how successful (or not) a breeding is/was. IT HELPS YOU SELECT THE BEST ANIMALS to use for breeding. If you are seriously looking for a goat that will give ample amounts of milk, and that you can actually look up their inheritance to see if the goat you are going to purchase is all that the breeders think they are cracked up to be, investing in a registered animal from a reputable breeder I realized was actually worth the money!
Plus, I figured that I could also earn titles for my goats if they turned out to be really good milkers. It sounded fun to get more involved with my goats, and to me having a top quality milking goat to replace my not so top-shelf Nubian-Boer mess would be worth every penny invested; plus interest! The trouble was I didn’t have much money to spare in order to buy both a better quality doe, and good quality buck for that matter. The solution; sell Red and get my money back... And I did, gladly.
At this point (it took about a year) I was beginning to switch, not only my train of thought, but also my goals for my herd as well. And since I greatly desired to make cheese, I was now going to need a lot more milk! This gear switch into producing my own milk, my own cheese, and my own butter that was FREE from all the different types of industrialized chemicals that somehow (through lobbyists) find themselves in our food these days was my new priority. I mean seriously, have you ever looked into the history of butter ‘alternatives’? They were all once industrial lubricants for heavy machinery! And who thought to put pig guts in hard cheeses?? Don’t even get me started on what they put in bread, wine, or some beers…ick!
So any way, in just a few short weeks, I found myself with a pair of registered goats. And I am happier for it! Now, not only can I track the success of my herd but now other people can too. I can earn titles with my registered goats and their offspring, sell those offspring at a price that better helps off-set the cost of my feed, vet-care, registration, DIHI testing fees for my herd improvement breeding goals, and help make better improvements/repairs to my herds’ shelters/pens. If I had stuck with my original path, breeding and struggling with unregistered animals, I would not have near enough the ability to invest back into my herd with my lowered income and off-grid living situation.
Now, my goats can speak for themselves—no hoping, wishing, and speculating their milk production required; and I don't have to feed ten poor quality does to get the same amount of milk I get from four good to excellent quality does!
So to sum things up… Here are some Pros and Cons:
1) You can track ancestry, milk production, and even show wins.
2) Offspring can be sold for more money to better help offset the cost of feed, health care, etc.
3) Offspring and Adults can be shown in shows sanctioned by their registries
4) Your children can get involved in 4-H or FFA programs that will help teach them to better care for their livestock, and give them a better perspective on how to raise a quality goat for meat, fiber, or even dairy!
5) If your children don’t participate in 4-H or FFA, they can still show at events sanctioned by your goats’ registry.
6) Other families can purchase your goats and get involved as a family in raising and showing.
7) Registered goats can be involved in the DIHI program that will tell you exactly how much milk your goat produces, the butter fat, protein etc. Animals that produce the level required for their breed or exceed the minimum levels can earn awards and titles for production.
8) Registered goats often have a far better quality of life, because their owners want to be more involved.
9) You can make a more informed breeding decision with the animals in you herd. Breeding only the animals that have performed well in milk production testing programs that measure butterfat, protein, volume, and somatic cell count levels. Breeding the best animals, preserves the best milking qualities!
10) Registration is for Dairy Goats, not 'show dogs.' If you don't have paperwork on your goats, you are gambling with their inherited abilities. OR worse yet, potentially acquiring a sister or brother and contributing to inbreeding!
11) You get what you pay for. Provided you can match the nutritional requirements of a high-production animal.
1) Registration can cost up to $25 per animal, depending on what registry you are registered with.
2) Higher investment cost. Breeders usually base their pricing based on performance of their goats in shows, milking tests, or other programs used to asses the 'Dairyness' of their goats. Dairy Goats can cost anywhere from $400--$1,000. Approximately $200-600 more than an unregistered goat depending on what goat you purchase from a breeder or dairy.
1) Lower Purchase Price/ Low investment. Unregistered goats can range from FREE--$300; depending on where you live, and what is currently being offered in your area. You always get what you pay for. Sometimes Free animals come with a bunch of other free 'issues' you will inherit.
2) You can still enjoy an unregistered goat as a pet.
3) You can still milk and eat an unregistered goat. Sometimes unregistered animals can produce a good amount of milk, there is no law that says they don't. But being sure that you are not inbreeding can be a HUGE challenge. Cheap goats travel fast, and more often than not, most unregistered goats in your local area are going to be very closely related because they are easy to acquire, breed, and sell. So be careful, and be very selective!!
1) How do you know that this goat has a good milking back ground? A seller can claim all they want that the Nubian you are purchasing comes from Jacob’s line…but where is the paper to prove it??? I can not tell you how many people have claimed that their $100 goat has the 'best' or 'good' dairy lines, and the result was FAR below the hype. Our Nubian Cross was one of these proclaimed 'good quality' milkers--she was FAR from the truth!!
2) You cannot participate in milk productivity programs/ herd improvement. Ok. No one says you have to, but sometimes people who purchase from you may want to get more involved, but can not because their goats don't have the credentials to prove they are a pure bred, and not a hybrid.
3) As a Buyer, you cannot prove the animal you have purchased is a purebred or hybrid; not without expensive DNA typing! How do you know that you really have a pure Alpine and not an Alpine- Togg cross? Or a Nubian, and not a Boer-Alpine-Pygmy? How do you know if either of the parents/grandparents that the seller is boasting on were actually any good at being a dairy goat without looking at the parentage (which lists the ‘D’,’*’,’+’ status in most cases)?
4) Your children won’t be able to use their animal in 4-H or FFA… neither will anyone who purchases from you. If you have kids. 4-H is an excellent way for families to 'bond' and share a fun project together. But pure bred goats are only allowed in most clubs to make judging easier, and equal for all participants.
5) Neither you, nor Buyers will be able to participate in any goat related shows, events, or programs if they change their mind in the future. EVEN if they purchase a purebred unregistered goat! Things may change, but Grade and NOA does don't receive as much recognition as a fully credentialed goat. Their status is similar to a 'salvage title' on a vehicle.
6) Unregistered goats are not worth as much money, Ok if you don’t plan on using any of the money earned from your goats to invest back into your herd.
7) Unregistered goats receive a poor quality of life; many often living in pens filled with trash, scrap appliances, broken fences that provide opportunities for the animals to become injured. Just look at the Craigslist pictures of cheap goats. Especially Bucks! I bet you can find at least 2 ads where goats are ankle deep in feces, have an old rusty torn apart car or appliance in the background, or a fence stitched together with scraps of wire that is falling apart. And there is always one ad asking $200 for a severely emaciated 'goat in milk' that has mastitis.
8) Unregistered goats are sold as ‘weed eaters’ and are not given the opportunity to thrive off of a well-balanced diet complete with the necessary mineral supplementation that would have prevented muscular/skeletal deformities, kid death, and/or other injuries.
9) Unregistered goats can become food—a problem if you don’t want to sell your goat to become someone’s dinner, or a bait animal to train dogs!
10) Unregistered goats may not be given a companion of the same species; may be kept entirely alone, and receiving no comfort or herd etiquette from another goat… leading to aggressive behavior toward the pet owner, or toward other animals on the property. Depression, frequent illness, increased stress, and YES even death can occur in these situations.
11) Unregistered goats may even be given to a large livestock animal as a companion. This can be quite dangerous, as even large hoof stock use their weight to show their position in the herd. These goats can inadvertently be killed by a playful horse, crushed by one that is hungry, or bullied. In turn, horned goats may inflict injuries on their companions! In numerable stories of the family horse grabbing 'daisy' the goat and throwing her over the fence come to mind here. I don't care if grandma kept a goat with her horse and they were 'friends.' GOATS ARE NOT companions for large hoof stock!!!
12) Unregistered goats may be used for nursing large hoof stock DIRECTLY without the use of a bottle. When a hungry calf or foal nurses, their vigorous bumping and pulling destroys a goats delicate mammary system. Baby goats have the same behavior, but do not have the size or weight behind them to tear ligaments and cause bruising! **No matter what some old Cowboy tells you, VETERENARY SCIENCE as well as HUNDREDS of ruined does at auction houses testify differently!!!!!
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