Selective Crossbreeding for Dairy Goats

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore crossing any breeds, there must be a view of what you want to achieve. Crossing an average Alpine with an average Nubian will result in average or below average kids. Good quality stock is important, but even with this there are misconceptions.

If both parents are registered, the offspring that is 50 percent Alpine and 50 percent Nubian is known by the American Dairy Goat Association as Recorded Grade, specifically Experimental. That doeling can be bred to Alpine or Nubian toward American status in the breed. American Alpine or American Nubian indicates somewhere in the background there was a cross or a paperwork issue that prevented a doe from getting purebred papers.

Alpines have particular colors in order to be accepted. Anything resembling the brown of a Toggenburg is not accepted, nor is the all white of the Saanen. There is Cou Blanc, a pattern that is colored with the front end and neck white with dark on the head and hindquarters. Cou Clair the neck is tan, off white or shaded grey with black hindquarters. Cou Noir has black front end with white hindquarters, where the sundgau is black with white markings on the legs and facial stripes. Chamoisee is a brown or bay with markings including a black face, dorsal stripe, feet and legs. A two-tone chamoisee has light front quarters with brown or grey hindquarters. Pied is spotted or mottled, and there may be combinations of these patterns referred to as broken. These may have white into the pattern, such as a broken chamoisee. With a straight facial profile and erect ears, Alpines are sometimes slightly nervous. They can be heavy milkers.

Nubians are distinctive with the roman nose and long ears. With a wide range of colors in both solid and spotted, the Nubian is widely reported as being the highest butterfat. Many do not milk heavy enough to be competitive, but there are some breeders who have taken milking into selection traits. Many have a tendency to be noisy.

gguernseygoatsChristineBallColor is the last thing to look at when crossing these breeds. Choose a doe who is wide without being coarse. She should be feminine and produce a good amount of milk. Do not rely on udder size as an indication – many large uddered does won’t fill a quart jar. Instead, when looking at her in milk, look for the “milk vein” that runs along under the belly, usually from under the rib area to the udder. The larger this vein, the better she will milk. If you can’t see or feel this, do not believe she’ll milk “a gallon a day.”

Equally breed does not determine butterfat content. I’ve owned a purebred Alpine doe that tested at 4 percent butterfat, a purebred Nubian that was just over 3 percent and a half Nubian that was 2.6 percent. The only way to know butterfat and protein content is to have it tested.

Look for a wide udder when standing behind the doe, and a strong foreudder. Note the attachment. Pendulous udders and teats increase the chances of injury and damage to the udder. Once you have a good idea of your doe’s strengths and weaknesses go looking for a buck to breed her to.

PureglowGGBesides looking at the buck, look at his daughters. Could you handle those in your herd? The doe has a great deal of influence, but chances are if his daughters are solid, the chances of what you get being solid increases.

These same principles are involved when crossing other breeds. Have a plan. Remember when crossing under normal conditions, bucks cannot be recorded. If you end up with twin buck kids, it could be expensive meat. Alternately, you have really nice but unrecorded offspring.

Nubian crosses can be outstanding animals. Ideally you’ll end up with a quiet, calm recorded grade that milks well. Whatever you do, have a plan for the kids. If they are replacement milkers, pay special attention to the milk production records of the buck’s daughters as well as his mother.

They can be wonderful animals with great personality, but choosing to improve your stock is a good idea whether you show or not. If you’re breeding for milk, you’ll select for soundness, production, attitude and other characteristics that make them work for you

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