Modern goats originated from the wild goats that roamed the mountains of Asia and Eastern Europe. Along with sheep, they were some of the first animals to be domesticated between 6000 and 7000 B.C. for their milk, meat, hair and hides. Today, people continue to raise goats for these reasons and for pets. Over the centuries many breeds have developed that have specific qualities that make them better suited for each of these different tasks.
DAIRY GOATS Some of the most common types of dairy goats in the United States are Nubian, La Mancha, Nigerian Dwarf, Alpine, Oberhasli, Saanen and Toggenburg. The Alpine, Saanen and Toggenburg breeds originated in the French and Swiss Alps and are often referred to as the "Swiss" type breeds. They are very similar in conformation, all having upright ears, straight or slightly dished faces and an alert, graceful, deer–like appearance.
Nubian: Originated in Great Britain and is the most common breed in the U.S. They are medium–large and live well in very warm climates. Nubians are meatier and produce less milk than some other dairy breeds.
LaMancha: Developed in Oregon and are believed to be of Spanish origin. Known for their small ears, LaManchas are medium sized, very hardy, and excellent for colder climates.
Nigerian Dwarf: Miniature dairy goats known for their high quality milk, which generally has high butter–fat content.
Alpine: Medium–large size and are good milkers with long lactations. They are believed to have Swiss and French influence and can easily produce 3 liters of milk per day.
Oberhasli: Medium–sized Swiss Dairy goats. They are generally sweet natured but very alert.
Saanen: Largest of dairy goat breeds. Known for their superior milk production, Saanens are often compared to Holstein dairy cattle in terms of relative milk production.
Toggenburg: Thought to be the oldest and purest Swiss goats. They are medium size, have moderate production and are great for pets due to their gentle nature.
PYGMY GOATS Pygmies are miniature goats that originated in West Africa and were once called Cameroon Dwarf goats. Although they produce small amounts of high quality milk and are considered meat goats, pygmies are becoming increasingly popular as pets in urban and suburban areas. Typically they are 15 to 20 inches tall and weigh between 35 and 60 pounds. Because pygmy goats have very small ureters (the tube that empties the bladder), they are more prone to urinary calculi and must be carefully managed, including eaing a feed containing a urinary acidifier like ammonium chloride.
MEAT GOATS Popular meat breeds include Boer, Kiko, Kinder, Myotonic, Spanish, Tennessee Meat Goat™, and TexMaster™.
Boers: Classic meat goats from South Africa. Their name comes from the Dutch word for farmer. They have a fast growth rate and excellent carcass qualities. They can grow quite large, with bucks weighing several hundred pounds, yet they are quite docile and are popular show animals.
Kikos: From New Zealand and are named after the native Maori word for flesh or meat. They were developed for survivability and fast growth.
Kinders: Have only been around for about 20 years, but are small dual purpose goats, great for both milking and meat production.
Myotonics: Also known as Wooden Leg or Tennessee Fainting goats. When they get excited or frightened, their limbs often lock up causing them to fall over or faint for a few seconds.
Spanish: Also known as brush goats, because of their ability to clear brush and other undesirable plants. Their input requirements are often lower than other goats, making them popular for meat production. However, in addition to meat production, they are good kidders and milk producers.
Tennessee Meat Goat™: Developed by Onion Creek Ranch in Texas by breeding full blood myotonic goats. The contraction of the muscles causes their meat to be very tender.
TexMaster™: Developed by Onion Creek Ranch by breeding Tennessee Meat Goats with Boers for faster growth.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Purina® Goat Mineral
To best meet your goat's nutritional needs and to avoid potential toxicities, always use a goat–specific mineral supplement. Purina® Goat Mineral is a uniquely formulated mineral supplement that provides a concentrated source of salt, calcium, phosphorus, trace minerals, and vitamins. It is rich in nutrients that are essential for proper development and the well–being of goats of all ages and breeds. In addition, giving your goat Purina® Goat Mineral helps to stimulate water intake, which in turn helps reduce the risk of urinary calculi.
Copper and zinc: for supple skin and a healthy coat
Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D: for strong bone and hoof development and excellent milk production
Potassium, sodium, sulfur, iron, cobalt, iodine and manganese: for overall good health
Vitamin E and selenium: for strong muscle development and healthy immune system maintenance
Coarse particle: for less waste and dust
Remember that feed consumption will vary with life stage, environment and activity. Also, be sure adequate amounts of fresh, clean water are always available. This product is available regionally, so please check with your local Purina dealer for ordering details.