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goat breed characteristics

 
Thekla McDaniels
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I have read (in the goat packing book) that LaManchas are the smartest of the breeds.

I have 2 acres and have goats first for the contributions they can make to soil development, second to earn some money.

Currently I have two adult dairy does. One LaMancha one Nubian. The Nubian seems dumber than dumb, stubborn, and very much a pain to deal with. When tethered out to graze - and under supervision-- the Nubian gets her foot tangled in less than 5 minutes. She pulls the cable really tight, she sometimes throws herself. In other situations, she is reluctant and cautious, very wary about and sometimes flat out won't jump up on the milk stand. To dismount the milkstand, she plunges off into... it matters not what. Of course I've moved things out of her way, and it's possible she just is not well suited to my arrangements. She won't lead, her response to everything is stubbornness, and throwing her weight against what ever it is. She does not calm down and react to the world around her. She carries a whole extra set of dangers and fears with her which she seems to overlay onto everything. She has trouble getting enough to eat, because when she has the opportunity to graze, she is too busy paying attention to other things. On the milk stand she only eats a fraction of her grain. I call her psycho goat. She was not a good birther either. She is headed for the butcher when I don't need her milk any more.

By contrast, the LaMancha does not tangle herself up, if the cable gets around her hoof or lower leg, she does not just pull against it, she picks up her foot shakes it a bit to disentangle it. She is willing to jump up onto the milk stand, and is careful how she dismounts, turns herself around on the stand and steps down. She leads pretty well, even when she would rather stop and have another bite of today's favorite.

I had not wanted a LaMancha, thought the ear thing was just too weird, but the circumstances this spring were such that... I have her.

I had thought I wanted Nubians, which I would cross to Nigerians to get a smaller thriftier animal with higher butterfat. Now I wonder, would I be better off with LaManchas?

Now, I am curious. Is this a matter of two individuals, or do these differences, in varying amounts, run through the two breeds?

Any help out there?

Than ks

Thekla
 
L. Zell
Posts: 33
Location: Missouri
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My experience is almost the opposite of yours. My Nubians have been super calm, sweet, easy to lead, seldom get themselves into trouble, stay inside the electric fence. I'm getting rid of the lamanchas, because they tend to bully the other goats and are the first ones to test the electric fence. I got rid of the first one a couple of weeks ago, when her kid was old enough to be weaned, and the rest of the herd has been much better about staying inside the fence. And she had ear infections. Good riddance.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Ah, so don't give up on the Nubians because of one psycho goat. Glad to hear it because I have 4 nubian doelings I was planning on breeding this fall and milking next season. And speaking of bullying, my one LaMancha is kind of a bully.

Thanks for your input,

Thekla
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I've had goats for most of the last 31 years. I've had all of the standard-sized dairy breeds EXCEPT LaManchas (never could get past the ear thing, and then I heard they were prone to ear infections, which I really don't want to deal with). I've also had several Kinders, which are a cross between Nubians and Pygmy's. As far as temperament in Nubians, most of the Nubians I've had were just fine. I've got one now who is a big, placid tank of a girl. She doesn't like to get up on the milking stand, but it's too small for her (I built it when I only had Oberhasli's), and she managed to tip it over a couple of weeks ago while she was fastened into the stanchion. I just barely was able to get her and the stand back upright. Now I steady it as she gets up, and hopefully we won't have any more issues, but I can't blame her for being reluctant to get up on it!

But, when I bought her last year, I also got another reg. Nubian doe in milk, and she was the most nervous, skittish, high-strung creature I've ever had to deal with. She also didn't milk worth a darn, so she went in the freezer last fall when we were doing butchering. I think it's just an individual thing, not a breed thing.

I've had a number of Alpines, and have found them to be too 'bossy' with the other goats. Had one that tried to kill her pen mate.

The best-flavored milk seems to come from Nubians, Oberhasli's, and Kinders. I've been told that LaMancha's also have good-flavored milk, but have never had opportunity to try it. Alpine milk was good, but there was always a faint tang to it that my children didn't like -- I had to add chocolate in order to get them to drink it. When we got Nubians, we didn't have to do that anymore. Saanen milk was about the same as Alpine; Toggenburg was worse. Nigerian Dwarf milk is supposed to be quite good, too, if you don't mind milking in a pie pan!

For temperament, I like the Oberhasli's best, with the Nubians a close second. I sold my Jersey calf a few weeks ago, and used the money to buy three more reg. Nubian kids, a buckling and two doelings, from very nice stock. I'm slowly switching over to all Nubians, carefully selected to be easy to milk, because I have trouble with my hands. (The big black Nubian doe I bought last year, the placid tank, is very easy to milk, so I looked for someone breeding goats like her.)

Anyway, that's about all I know about breed differences!

Kathleen
 
Brian Cantley
Posts: 17
Location: Sprague River, Oregon
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I help out on a small natural goat dairy occasionally. Mostly Nubians. There are three that are half Alpine and they are more aggressive and more flighty. Two Nubians were from a 'professional' breeder/dairy. Both were pulled off their mothers and bottle fed with pasteurized milk [disease prevention protocol?!]. They're the ones that have been sickly, insecure and (one male and one female) in the case of the male - pushy and disrespectful.(the other males are not)
The point is that there are different personalities with the different breeds/animals with some traits coming from the breed and some from how the animal is raised. The one neurotic Nubian doe that was bottle fed her mother's pasteurized milk has calmed down due to being able to nurse and naturally raise her own 2 little munchkins this Spring. She's not only able to feed her babies but give us 1/2 a gallon of milk per day.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Brian,

I guess that is the situation with every living thing isn't it? It's never nature or nurture, always nature and nurture. Though always and never are pretty strong words. My psycho doe is going to a more experienced goat person, with full disclosure of all the things that are not working out. She's leaving on Sunday, and I have only5 milkings to go. yay.

And I am still hopeful that my four nubian doelings will be while goat people and therefore capricious, they will also be easy enough to live with. They are learning as young to get along with each other, to eat what is here, that they move around, and that I come and go.

All that will be left is if one doesn't birth well - for a first timer, can't feed her young, won't tend her young, doesn't make much milk or give it up easily, or is nervous, pacing instead of eating, and so on.

This experience did bring out some learning experiences for me, and increase my awareness that some folks make full disclosure when selling livestock, and some folks think if they can get someone else to pay good money for bad stock, then they take the money. Both ways are right I guess.

Thanks for your experience and perspective.

Thekla
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I've bottle-raised nearly every kid I've ever had, and none of them were sickly. It's possible that the sickly ones didn't get enough colostrum. It's also possible that, if they were bottle-raised because their mother wouldn't or couldn't care for them, something may have been wrong with them from the start.

Bottle-raised bucks can be pushy, because they have no fear of humans. I've had bottle-raised bucks that were not pushy, and one that was pushy to the point that I finally just put him in the freezer (he was also destroying fences and shelters, feeders, and everything else he could push on with his head). I've also had a dam-raised buck here who was pushy enough that I was very thankful when he went home (I borrowed him last fall, because I hadn't yet bought a replacement for the one I butchered).

Temperament is, to a large extent, inherited, so it's important to select animals with the temperament you want, and then cull the ones with unsuitable temperament.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to bottle-feeding. I've weighed both sides, and decided to continue bottle-feeding, even though it is less natural. I don't have to worry that if my goats get out of the pasture, they'll bolt for the hills and try to go wild (until the coyotes and the cougar get them). When I need to catch one, I don't have to chase her all over the place until I can corner her -- they are bonded to me, so they come to me. I can wean doe kids and put them in the pasture with the adult does, without having them start nursing and taking milk that I need for cheese-making. I don't have to have widely-separated pastures in order to keep weaned kids separate from their mothers until the following year when the new kids are born (and it's not unknown for a weaned yearling doe to nurse her mother and take all the new babies' milk even if she was separated for a time). The trade-offs are that the newborns and their mothers have to be separated at birth (you can do it later, but you'll be making a lot more work for yourself, as neither babies nor mother are going to be very cooperative at that point). You have to do all the work to feed and care for the new babies (which really isn't a hardship if you have the time for it). By separating them at birth, the babies think you are their mother, and the does think you are their babies (they are operating on instinct and smell -- make sure you have some birthing fluids on your hands the first time you milk the doe, and she'll accept you as her baby, which prevents a lot of the rodeos that people experience when they try to start milking their goats when the kids are three to six weeks old!).

Other than the extra work of hand-raising the babies, my life is a lot simpler and more peaceful with goats that are bonded to me. So to me, it's worth the trade-off of being less natural. Someone younger and in better health may be happy to make the trade-off, though, and leave the kids with their mothers. Or if you can spend hours a day in the goat pasture taming the kids, you may be able to make them tame enough to handle easily. It's a choice that really has no right or wrong answers, just what works for you.
Kathleen
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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I wonder if, after all these generations with goats and humans together how "un-natural" bottle feeding is anyway? I'm bottle feeding doelings because their mother can't feed them. That's probably included in my first post.

And I always like to hear people promote culling. The breeds we - humanity- have, the domestic animals humanity has, it's all because people before us were willing to cull, to select, to excercize their judgement about which animals were worth reproducing and which not. To me it comes with care of humanity. I don't know if anyone else knows the childrens song: You gotta sing when the spirit says sing. Of course there are many verses, and maybe I should start singing the verse "You gotta cull when the spirit says cull".

Anyway, I enjoyed reading your post, Kathleen.

Thekla
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I suppose this is way off-topic, but I like domestic animals (most of them -- not too sure about llamas and ostriches, LOL!). I often wonder what on earth people are thinking to practically worship wild animals, even though some of them are beautiful, and interesting, and good for the local ecology. It's domestic animals that provide us with companionship, with food, with fiber and leather, with power for working and transportation, with manure to fertilize our fields. I wouldn't want to see all the wild animals disappear, but I hate to see them favored over domestic animals.

All of which has nothing to do with our topic of goats, but something you said brought it to mind.

Kathleen
 
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