I am planning to get a couple of Nigerian Dwarf goats before next summer. My wife and I want to raise a couple of does for the sake of having fresh raw milk for the family. I have been doing some research as to where to obtain them, general husbandry, and safe and productive practices. I reached out to several farmers in my area asking all kinds of questions. One of those questions was "do you offer breeding services?" Most people either gave me a yes or no answer, but one goat keeper gave me an answer that I hadn't even considered: beware of goat diseases. Here is what she said:
"Under no circumstances do I breed any does other than the ones I own here. I spend a lot of money testing my herd every year for those horrible goat diseases and would never risk an unknown as once it is in your herd, you have to pretty much put them down and start over. Which leads me to your plan to purchase goats and breed them elsewhere. I will caution you to be leery, very leery over anyone offering to breed an outside doe. Reputable breeders with exceptional genetics will not risk it. Generally it is people who don't even test who offer outside services. And if you pay 1000 dollars for an animal, why not keep them safe? Goat diseases are much higher on radars than genetics to close. In fact, a lot of breeders line breed. I don't personally, I like to out cross but I have purchased many line bred animals in the past who are some of my exceptional animals."
So....what do y'all think? How prevalent are goat diseases? Is it worth getting an in-tact, stinky buck who has been tested for STDs to sire my small herd? Would it be worth it to offer to pay for a test for the sire in somebody else's herd, so that I could rest assured that my doe would be safe?
There are some diseases better avoided... CAE, CL, Johnnes to name a few. I keep goats and don't test... Most are descendants of a herd I managed for someone else long before I educated myself on the diseases (16 years ago) and for the past 6-7 years I've only bought from people who do test and never lost one to what I believe was THOSE problems. Barberpole worms are the biggest nemesis in my herd... I milk them and eat and sell the offspring. Goat milk is delishious! If I were only going to keep 2-3 does I would look into AI. Check with a local veterinarian and see if anyone near you provides that service...
So, a couple of thoughts in response to this. One, under what circumstances are goats selling for $1,000 an animal? From what I have seen that is about 7 times a "normal" price - but I don't know whether that price is for animals from tested, healthy herds or not.
The reference to "horrible goat diseases" seems like language chosen to instill fear rather than inform or educate and that makes me wonder why this person used this language.
After the scary introduction, with horrible goat diseases losing you your $1,000 animal, she then talks about not doing line breeding in her herd and preferring to cross out in her breeding. I wonder how frequently she is bringing in new genetics to her herd and how she goes about selecting her new bucks (presuming bucks, more opportunity to introduce new genes with a buck). This seems to be somewhat contrary to the dire warnings at the beginning.
Seems to me you buy animals from tested herds, test your own animals and breed with tested herds (whether AI or otherwise) if you are going for maximum 'safety'.
There are many goat diseases that can be harmful and possibly even deadly to goats, but none that I have heard of that can't be prevented by taking the right steps. The best thing to do is to find a reputable herd. Ask around like you were, see what other farmers think of some herds. See if there are any long-time farmers that can recommend a good herd. Good herds should be CAE, etc. tested and should provide proof that they are a clean, healthy herd. Steer clear of herds that can not provide proof, or are not clean and healthy. As long as you fid a reputable, healthy herd, renting a goat to breed with your animals should be fine.
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