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April 24, 2013

What Kind?

Recently a good friend back in Michigan asked me what kind of goat I would recommend for their family with three small children.
Several years ago they'd been given a pygmy goat that had turned her husband against goats: the goat had gotten out and led them a merry chase across the road and around a huge field. (That reminds me of a similar afternoon my hubby and I spent when we first bought our Nubians!)
My doe Firefly as a newborn
Photo credit: SE Cates
With her little ones, I suggested a mini dairy breed. Nigerian Dwarfs are calm and sweet and beause they are popular, they are easy to find. There are also rarer Kinders (a cross between Nubians and Pygmies), and miniature versions of most of the larger dairy breeds created by crossing the larger breed does to Nigerian Dwarf bucks.
I also recommend getting disbudded goats, whose horn buds were burned off when they were very young. My personal feeling is that goats with horns do not belong around children. Some goats just know they have horns and how to use them, but even those with sweet temperaments can catch you accidently with a horn. Smaller goats with no horns seem to me to be the best choice for a young family.
Newly disbudded - you can see the rings on her head where Firefly's horn buds were burned.

If you just want pets, either does or neutered males (wethers) are good family companions.. Does don't have to be bred and milked unless you want to do so.
Whether large or small, all goats need good fencing. Chicken wire isn't strong enough; welded wire isn't either. Goats are hard on fences, but smaller goats aren't as hard as big goats. And just like big goats, you need at least two: an only goat is a problem goat - like that pygmy that got loose!
Which reminds me of a favorite saying: "goats are like potato chips, you can't have just one."

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