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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My boyfriend and I have been working up to homesteading for a while, and we are finally buying a house with some acres! We want to get goats as our "big" livestock. We're looking for primarily milk and pack/carting goats. Meat as a byproduct. Fiber would be an awesome side benefit, but is totally not necessary. We want a sturdy, healthy breed, that is friendly and intelligent.

We love the Kikos, but they don't give enough milk for humans and baby goats. Arapawas are adorable, but seem to be to small for packing. Angoras have the benefits of fiber, and being relatively quieter, but they aren't any good at packing. Golden Geurnseys looked wonderful, but they're basically ungettable.

I am in upstate new york, so the weather is both cold and hot, depending on the time of the year. We have a few acres for goat pasture(lots of scrub), and a small barn.

Any suggestions?
 

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Nubians would be good. Wethers for meat/packing, does for milk!
 

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Really any of the full size dairy breeds will work if milk is your main object. What many people like to do is have Nubian does and a Boer buck and breed them. Then you get the best the of both worlds for meat and milk in the kids. The Boer part would reduce milk amount if you keep the offspring does. You could really use a Boer buck with any of the large dairy breeds.

I probably wouldn't use Oberhasli if you went that route though. They are a little smaller. But you have Nubian, Saanan, Alpine, Toggenburg and LaMancha.
 

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Crazy Goat Lady
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I've seen some Alpine pack wethers. And Nubians are big and give great milk, can be noisy though, if you have close neighbors. You might consider a standard milk breed doe and cross with a "meat" buck...then your kids would be good as pack goats and also have meat potential. I think a "milk" doe feeds her kids pretty well. IDK much about the meat breeds. I had a herd of fiber goats and never once had time to "process" the fiber. If you want fiber goats, try for Cashmere goats. They don't have to be sheared, just combed.
 

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Are purebreds a must? If so, I would suggest either Saanen or Alpine. We went through the undecided phase as well. Once I met a nice herd of Saanen I was hooked. I came across a gorgeous deep bodies Alpine doe cheap, and since her, Alpine are my second best.

They're big, deep, strong, have that oomph in the udder you're looking for, as well as a decent carcass. We eat out extra wethers. Great personalities too boot. Alpine are sassy, "queen" like, demanding, Saanen are loveable, attention seekers, but are quiet and docile-great for kids. Alpine come in an assortment of colors, Saanen are pure white-which can be confusing when trying to introduce a visitor, "they all look the same". Haha, we get that a lot.

If you'd consider crossbred, go Saanen x Boer or Alpine x Boer. Larger carcass with decent milk.

For me, Nubians are NOT an option. They're loud, rude, and honestly I don't really like the appeal they carry. The ears are desirable for some, but I highly prefer erect ears over pendulous or elf/gopher of the LaMancha. The herds locally of Nubians also made my decision much easier as most of them have complained about how sensitive they are compared to their other breeds.

Good luck on your journey!!
 

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Boers & Nubians
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I think this sounds like a job for a Nubian/Boer cross! Great milkers, great tasting milk, muscular, intelligent yet sweet, hardy (if bred right), strong for packing & carting, and definitely easy on the eyes ;) Cross-breds are perfect dual-purpose animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've considered the conventional dairy breeds, and there's certainly nothing wrong with them, But I prefer an unusual or heritage breed. Not a dealbreaker by any means, just a preference.

Also, two things I have heard about many of the conventional dairy breeds, that they are more prone to disease than some of the other breeds, and they won't give milk without grain. I'm not sure how true either of those are, I'm still learning, but they have colored my opini?on a bit. I'm not opposed to feeding grain, but we will have the space/equiment to produce hay for our goats, and it would be nice to just feed them what we make, instead of having to buy stuff.

Lastly, I have heard the swiss breeds have the most "goaty" tasting milk, feed and all other things being equal. Is this true
 

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Goatless goat momma
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swiss breeds can have a sharper taste, but they mainly use for cheeses, so the sharp taste is good for that. Nubians supposedly have more sweeter milk b/c they have higher cream content in the milk.

i'm not sure about certain breeds being prone to disease, but with good management and clean space, you can keep really healthy goats. and there are plenty of places for help with keeping goats holistically.

if you're wanting milk, then they're going to need more food to keep their milk going. some people feed solely alfalfa for them, so if you want to go that route, you can plant some alfalfa for them (I don't know how much land you have), or you can see how much they produce with the browse they're on. just know with milk breeds, they'll be skinnier b/c they're putting so much into making milk. if you think you need to buy grains, you can go the fodder route (sprouted grain), it stretches it out (do some googling on that).

i'm not too familiar with heritage breeds...I heard kiko's can be a little skittish. it all depends on what breed is available in your area, or how much you want to spend to bring in the breed that you want.

maybe you could find some goat breeders near where you are, take a little farm visit and meet some different kind of goats? we can talk all we want on the forum, but there's nothing like meeting them in person to see which ones you like best (and which breeder you're most comfortable working with).

btw - welcome to the forum!
 

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If you want to milk or get meat, you'll pretty much need grain.
 

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Nigerian Dwarfs have great tasting milk, but they would not be good for meat/packing. Maybe a small herd of Nigerians for milk, and Boers for meat?
 

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Goatless goat momma
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yes...there is no rule that says you have to get ONE breed of goat. you can have a little mixed bag of goats!
 

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Nigerian Dwarfs have great tasting milk, but they would not be good for meat/packing. Maybe a small herd of Nigerians for milk, and Boers for meat?
It's my understanding that Nigerians are a dual purpose breed, milk and meat. But we have not ever use them for meat, that's just what I've heard.once I have too many boys, I'm goin to try it out. :)
 

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I'm watching you
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Nubians as a breed are known for not packing well. They are the most prone to laying down when it gets tough. There are some individuals out there that do pack well but in general, the breed has a poor reputation for working.
Boers are stubborn and opinionated. They are very good workers once you gain their respect. Most of them are too wide for a saw back saddle to fit so, your equipment costs more having to buy the custom fit saddles.
Saanens are very gentle, very easy to train, of medium intelligence. They are very big but, a little more delicate then some others. They are slow on the trail and have issues with heat.
LaManchas are very smart, very easy to train. They can be very large depending on bloodlines. They are a bit opinionated on the trail, tussling with each other over who goes first. They are always ready to go.
Oberhasli are of good intelligence. They have less trouble learning to cross water then other breeds. They are a bit small so you need an extra goat to carry the same load as two bigger breed goats. Their gene pool is very small so, have issues with being inbred unless you are very careful. They are very gentle with people and a little rough on each other.
Alpines are everything a working goat should be. Smart, lively, gentle, easy to work with. They have more get up and go then any other breed. I love working Alpines they are so easy and enjoy working so much.
Kikos haven't been used much yet. We do have a guy that is working with them and so far likes what he sees. I haven't met them myself.
 

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It's my understanding that Nigerians are a dual purpose breed, milk and meat. But we have not ever use them for meat, that's just what I've heard.once I have too many boys, I'm goin to try it out. :)
I guess you could use wethers for meat. Not much production there though. Boers grow super fast too, while Nigerians grow a little slower.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I am really appreciating all the advice and info I am getting, thank you all!!

Goathiker, your rundown is much appreciated. Packing ability is equally important to dairy for us-we love hiking and camping, and there's lots of trails around here. Much easier to take a break from the farm when you take the livestock with you!!
 

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Nubian's sound close to what you want but as Goathiker said they can be as a generalization pretty stubborn and lazy. They seem to be easier keepers than many other dairy breeds. You don't have to give grain in order to get lots of milk a very high protein hay could make up for it. I personaly would vote for Nubian/Lamancha. Then you could get the size and less grain on the Nubian and the sweet nature of the Lamancha. Or a Nubian or Lamancha/Boer or Kiko
 

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I'm watching you
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Well, there's this too. LaManchas have very sweet rich milk almost as rich as Nubians and the carcass weight of the butcher buckling yields more meat then the Nubians.
For a general all around multi-purpose goat I would probably choose LaManchas.
 

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Im not sure you will want to take your milkers with you hiking -- those udders could get in the way. What do you think goathiker? would you take a milker on a hike and expect it to do well?
 
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