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Breeding Goats

If you are intending to become a breeder, then the questions we have raised here are the most important to you. There are a number of ways to start out as a breeder – perhaps you are looking for baby doe kids to start off with, and planning to breed in the future once they are old enough. Or you plan to buy a starter herd with a number of does and a buck. These days for Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf breeding you could buy a starter herd of does, then use artificial insemination to breed them to 100% local and imported semen straws. Another idea which can give you genetic diversity and not own a buck to start with, is to buy pregnant does. Its great to work with an established breeder that you have purchased stock from to mentor you through the first few seasons, or join or attend some shows to learn all you can, as well as ask questions in our member forums.

Whatever avenue to breeding you decide on, buying breeding stock is really where you want to do your research and ask many questions of the breeder to ensure you are buying a goat that will fit with your breeding program. Especially bucks as they have a big influence over your herd.

Some questions to ask the seller covering older breeding stock – Does the animal have any teat or other faults? Have they had any kidding problems in the past? When was the last time that goat kidded? Are there any health issues I should know about? How about temperament – is the goat friendly? Do they have horns or scurs? Is this goat polled? Have they been easy to contain in the past?

If you are already a member of the MGBA, you can log into our Premium Breed database and look up the details of goat/s you are considering buying. You will be able to see the full pedigree of the goat, and also any progeny. If you are not a member, the breeder can send you a copy of the registration papers for the goat.

Things to consider specific to Australian Miniature Goats – familiarise yourself with the AM grading system (click here to view). What is the current height of the goat? What is the animals grade (if adult) or potential grade (if less than 3 years). The grade will potentially be a contributing factor to the price. Are both parents of the animal already graded? If not, are those animals owned by current members as you will be relying on them to height verify once those animals turn 3 – this could impact the grade of the goat you are purchasing and their progeny and their progeny, so important to know. 
This applies to Nuwby goats as well, although Nuwby type will be a very important factor, possibly outweighing heights and grades as the breed is still in development.

If you are planning to go into Nigerian Dwarf or Pygmy goats, then there are other considerations – what the % proven genetics the animal is carrying. This is really a buyer beware situation if you are purchasing Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf stock that is not registered with the MGBA. All breeding and show goats entering the MGBA registry must have DNA proof of parentage back to the original import to have their % listed on their registration. When you see an MGBA registered pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf, the confirmed % genetics is listed after the goats name so you can buy with confidence. Make sure you get a copy of the goats DNA certificate so that you will be able to prove the parentage of any future kids you have to that animal.

The other main consideration for Nigerian Dwarf or Pygmy is breed type. When you are looking at high % or purebred animals then make sure they are representing the breeding, including the udder and milking capacity for Nigerian Dwarf does.

When buying breeding stock that is young and unproven it is good to ask for a written outcome should that goat be sterile for genetic reasons (ie not through an accident). Also when buying young bucks, especially Australian Miniatures, you need to understand the risk that this animal could go over height, in which case all the progeny would drop grades. You will need to ensure that buck is height verified once he turns 3 if you no longer own him. Work with an established breeder when buying bucks and research other bucks they have bred and sold on to help get an idea of what to expect.

It is not encouraged for new breeders to keep or sell bucks until they have sufficient experience to identify the qualities that make a good buck. Every animal you sell as a breeder will impact your stud name as time goes on, so being sure you are selling the best animals as breeding stock. Similarly, with the Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf breeds, in terms of bucks, % alone does not identify the quality of the animal so when buying and selling bucks, the standard of excellence should be closely considered.

If you are paying additional for pregnant goats, you should have an agreement with the breeder in the situation where the goat does not prove to be pregnant. This may be a refund of the service fee, or the possibility of another service, or semen straws. Many does are sold with a free service, which would mean nothing to do if they are not pregnant. For pregnant does be sure to the get the joining date (if known) or breeding dates, along with a service certificate at time of purchase.