Nubian Goat

The floppy ears of the Nubian used to be distinctive, making it a no brainer to recognize them from a distance. With the import of other South Eastern breeds with floppy ears, that particular feature is no longer so surprising to people who have long been familiar with the upright or horizontal ears of so many other breeds.

The largest of the goat breeds, Nubians have traditionally been the dual purpose choice for small farms, with does producing a high volume of rich milk, and young bucks being wethered and routed to meat production when they were not needed to be kept for breeding.

Nubians are also the noisiest of goat breeds, and do not like to be alone. The more goats you have, the quieter the Nubian will be in the pasture or pen. 

Because of their heavy size, they are hearty eaters. They will happily much on a wide variety of foods, far more than most people will ever think of giving them, so feeding them enough ends up not being as difficult as it sounds. They are good brush clearers, and are happy on any pasture, be it rich or poor.

Nubian goats have the richest milk of any of the full sized goats, with about 4.5% butterfat content. They are only outdone by the Nigerian Dwarf in this category, and their protein content is on the high side also.

The bucks can be bullies, and are large enough to do some damage if they get rowdy. The does can be obnoxious at times also, but then, I've never met a goat that didn't have that trait to some extent!

According to some sources, they breed year-round, and according to others, they are seasonal breeders. This may be an issue of varying bloodlines, since there are some issues with this breed that seem to only be a problem for certain bloodlines and not others.

Nubians are relatively prolific, with twins being pretty common.

  • Type - Dairy, or Dual purpose
  • Size - Large
  • Production Capacity - Good milkers, also produce good meat
  • Special Features - One of the most popular dairy goats, kids generally sell well.
  • Best for Farms - A good choice for home farm milk production for family or for sale, but especially good where pasture is plentiful. 
  • Eggs, Milk, Meat Features - Highest butterfat content of full sized goats.
  • Other Products - Not applicable
  • Historic or Contemporary Significance - A longstanding breed in the US, with solid popularity on sufficiency farms and goat dairies.
  • Housing and Space Requirement - Large goats, require ample space.
  • Regional Adaptations - Highly adaptable.
  • Feed Requirement - Due to large body, they require ample feed, which can be accomplished by generous pasturage.
  • Other Considerations - Nubians have been crossed with everything else, and often you'll find goats with ears that are somewhere between floppy and upright, at various angles in between. The ears are one of the giveaways to unmentioned crosses - if they are not oversized and drooping completely, they are not purebred, but have been out-crossed with something with upright ears.



Dairy goats and meat goats are two very different things in most cases, though the kids from dairy goats are often wethered and used for meat. 

Meat goats have a heavier carcass, but do not produce much milk. They will produce enough to nurse twins or triplets, but do not produce for an extended period of time and will dry up quickly.

Generally dairy goats require some extra feed - either grain, or sprouted grain - to produce well. All breeds are not equal in this, and higher producing breeds are often fairly feed inefficient, requiring a LOT more grain to produce a little more milk.

There is no such thing as a true dual purpose goat, they always tend to be stronger in dairy when they are classed as dual purpose.

For the purposes of listing here, weed eating is not sufficient reason to warrant a listing. Wethers are not classed here as utility animals, except for meat production, because keeping an animal just so it can eat is kind of silly, when keeping a milker or regularly replacing the wether so you can produce meat is a much wiser use of resources (yes, even scrub brush is a resource).

I am not a fan of meat goats, though many people are. Goat meat must be aged prior to consumption, to break down the muscle fibers or it is fairly tough. My sister, who raised meat goats, recommended freezing the meat for at least a month, and stated that this will work in lieu of aging the meat.

When comparing breeds, remember that top producing breeds rarely produce that heavily. They generally produce much less than they are advertised to produce. A few quarts of milk per day is considered to be good average output for a milk goat, and 1-2 is more realistic, because they do not produce heavily for an extended period of time, and their milk production will wax and wane as they go into heat, breed, and then building up again after they kid. 

To keep good milk production through the year, you need more than one goat, and they need to be bred at different times. Those breeds that are NOT seasonal have an advantage here, because you can stagger the breeding more, and maintain a more consistent production through the year. The disadvantage to breeds that are not seasonal breeders is that they will go into heat a few months after they birth (or sooner), and plague you once a month or so with a heat cycle that will slightly reduce their milk supply for a day or two and set them to bawling. 

Mini breeds usually give only 1-2 cups per milking, and while they can fit into smaller spaces, they are also much more difficult to milk - they are so small that hand milking is extremely difficult. Some full sized breeds are more difficult to milk for the same reasons.

Milking machines have attachments that are available for standard size, and miniature goats. But a milking maching is a significant investment, and they do not tend to strip out the animals well. Milk production tends to decline more than it does with hand milking, unless they are stripped out manually after using the machine.

Many sources for care of goats will recommend birthing kits, and suggest that goats require a lot of intervention for successful birthing. This is not so. Only those breeds that have been sloppily bred, or breeds like Lamanchas that have more birthing problems than other breeds will require intervention on a regular basis. NEVER EVER assist a goat with a birth (do NOT try to "pull" the kid), unless the goat is obviously in trouble, and has been laboring without progress  for more than a couple of hours. Forcing a birth can cause damage to the uterus and connective tissues in a doe, increases the likelihood of uterine prolapse, and can compromise her ability to birth naturally in the future.

I grew up with goats, and know the routines with trimming hooves, disbudding, milking, and birthing. I have also milked cows, and given the choice, prefer a cow to several goats to supply the need for milk in our home. This in part because of the nature of goat's milk, because I really like to make butter! But in a small space situation, I'd do goats again in a heartbeat.

If a farm has sufficient space for a cow, they are much easier to care for to produce larger amounts of milk. But in small spaces, goats can be kept on less than an acre of land without stressing the land as much.

We have listed only those breeds which we feel have strong utility function, no outstanding issues with birthing or genetic problems, and which can actually be obtained (some types of goat are in closed herds and are not able to be purchased by small farmers).

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