When you imagine a goat, a distinctive picture appears in your mind. For breeders, picturing any type of goat isn't specific enough. There are many different varieties of goats, each with special attributes, due to the efforts of breeders over the years. Goats are assessed at shows to determine which animal shows off the best qualities of its breed, and the winners are frequently used for breeding.
What Is Goat Breeding?
If left to their own devices, goats will naturally pair up and procreate. Goat breeding refers to the concentrated effort to breed two specific goats in order to create a kid with the best possible genetic traits. Breeders must consider which goats carry the best genes for their breed, including a goat's overall health, milk or fiber production and qualities, and physical attributes. There are many national registries detailing the lineage of goats to help breeders make an informed decision.
Popular Goat Breeds
The Angora Goat
The Angora goat is one of the most favored fiber-producing goat breeds. It’s been specially bred to produce mohair, a material similar to wool and prized for its utility and versatility. An Angora is easily identified by its white, curly hair and drooping ears. These goats are more heavily affected by cold and wet weather after shearing, so it’s important to make sure they have a warm, dry place to call home.
The LaMancha Goat
When it comes to dairy production, the LaMancha goat is one of the most prized thanks to the high butterfat content of its milk and volume of milk produced. The breed is the only one developed within the United States and was first introduced in Oregon. LaMancha goats have distinctive small ears, sometimes so short as to be almost non-existent. Their temperaments are relaxed and docile, which helps to ease and expedite the milking process.
The Anglo-Nubian Goat
The Anglo-Nubian is another breed of dairy goat. Unlike the LaMancha, this breed has long, floppy ears. While their bodies are sleek and graceful, Anglo-Nubians tend to be larger than other dairy goats. They, too, produce milk with a high percentage of butterfat, but they produce less than the LaMancha. These animals are extremely affectionate and enjoy interacting with their owners.
The Nigerian Dwarf Goat
Arguably one of the cutest breeds, the Nigerian Dwarf goat originated in West Africa and was specially bred to be smaller than other goat varieties. Nigerian Dwarfs are frequently kept as family pets, and they also produce milk with a high butterfat percentage, which makes the milk ideal for cheese-making. The breed never exceeds two feet in height, and their friendly, easygoing personalities make them manageable for children. Unlike another small goat breed, the Pygmy, Nigerian Dwarfs were bred to maintain the body ratio and elegance of their larger counterparts.