When you decide to purchase your first goats, even if you’ve carefully researched Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats, choosing them can still be intimidating. That’s because it usually takes time to develop an eye for what makes a “good” goat. It’s smart to learn what the different parts of a goat are (click HERE for an illustration), but even knowing that, at first it’s hard to recognize how all those parts should best be put together. And, what types of defects to avoid. Finding a reputable breeder that is willing to offer advise can therefore be a valuable early step to take. It is NOT a good idea to buy Nigerian Dwarf goats from auctions because there is no way to know their history, and they often bring disease or other problems with them.
Go To Local Goat Shows
One way to start your search for goats is by visiting a few sanctioned local goat shows. They can be a great way to begin both identifying what a “good” dairy goat looks like and find reputable breeders that may be near you. When judges place goats in dairy shows, they are required to orally explain the traits that made one goat place higher in the competition than another. By carefully listening and examining the goats as they’re placed, you can begin to train your eye for positive and negative characteristics. If you have questions, judges or owners are usually more than happy to explain what traits led to one goat placing higher than another after the show. And by talking with owners, you can locate breeders that may have Nigerian Dwarf goats for sale in your area. Many owners also maintain websites that provide significant information about their goats, so simply doing a few Internet searches may also help locate breeders.
Visit Local Nigerian Dwarf Breeders
After finding local breeders, you can usually make arrangements to visit farms with goats that interest you and observe how their goats are housed, handled, and treated. Before visiting a breeder, you should contact them and identify what you’re looking for as well as arrange a mutually agreeable visitation time. With the information on what you’re looking for, most breeders will try to match the goats they have for sale (or will have for sale) with your interests. If disease free goats are important to you, then you should verify that the breeder maintains a disease free herd, and has documentation available to support this. When planning a visit, remember to respect the breeders time, make sure any children you bring with you will be well supervised, and be respectful to the goats.
When visiting, the goat housing should appear neat, relatively clean, and not overly crowded. The goats themselves should appear curious and healthy. This means soft coats, bright-inquisitive eyes, trimmed hooves, and friendly animals. The goats should not appear to be under or overfed. It’s important to carefully examine any goats you are potentially considering, and make sure that there are no defects or problems that you can detect. The breeder should be able to provide you with a copy of the pedigree for any registered goats you’re interested in, and explain any questions you may have about that pedigree. Remember that through the pedigree, you can usually determine whether the goat you’re considering has the potential for the milk production, show quality, and/or conformational qualities you’re looking for.
You might also want to ask the breeder for references for others that have purchased their goats. By calling or contacting these references you can confirm that you are dealing with a reputable source. Before making a final selection, you should make sure that your requirements for goat age, registration, horns, disease, feeding, milking, and wethering will be satisfied by goats from that farm. And finally, determine whether the breeder is willing to provide the level of mentoring you feel will be necessary.
Reserve or Select Your Goats
Many breeders publish kidding schedules each fall for their planned goat matings so that interested buyers can reserve goat kids in advance. For goats from popular bloodlines and farms with good reputations, these reservation lists can fill up fast. So, if you’re buying young kids, it’s a good idea to get on a reservation list once you’ve identified a breeder with goats that meet your requirements. You will probably have to wait a few months before bringing anyone home, but the time can be used to prepare well for those first goats.
Once you have selected your goats, there are a few more things to check before finalizing the purchase or bringing them home. The goats should up to date on their vaccinations and supplements, properly disbudded (if you don’t want horns), tattooed, dewormed, and hooves should be trimmed. Many breeders keep a health record for each goat, and provide that to buyers so they can see the health history. Finally, if buying registered goats (or young kids that can be registered), make sure to leave with the registration paperwork in hand that will allow you to register them, or to transfer the registration to your name. There are many stories of disreputable sellers promising to mail registration paperwork that failed to materialize once the new owners left the farm.
Good Luck Finding Your Goats!