How I got started with Mini-Nubians (and why I love them)
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Choosing the right breed of goats for your family can be a very daunting task! And it can cost you a lot of time and money if you make the wrong decision. Believe me, I learned this the hard way. In the United States we have 8 breeds of dairy goats (which I explain in this post). For our herd, the best breed is actually the mix between two breeds.
When I started with goats, I had it in my head that I wanted Mini-Nubians. However, I couldn't find them anywhere (or so I thought). I checked facebook, craigslist, asked all my friends and I just couldn't seem to get my hands on any! I contacted a well-known Mini-Nubian breeder in Wisconsin (Green Gables Mini-Nubians) but I wasn't ready to put top dollar into my herd (which I regret. I wish I would have known back then what I know now- buy from good stock right from the beginning. Otherwise you will lose money later when you realize that you should have bought from good stock and you have to start over)!
When I couldn't find any Mini-Nubians, I decided to go with Nigerian Dwarfs. I found a beautiful tricolored Nigerian with blue eyes and I fell in love. Without asking hardly any questions, I brought her home. She was in milk, so I knew that I needed to learn to milk quickly. I had milked twice before, so I thought I knew what I was doing. I got her into position on my makeshift milk stand (here is another tip: have your supplies ready before you start. It's not fun to realize that your makeshift setup isn't going to work AFTER you get your goats home).
I quickly learned that I needed a milking stand that closed around their head, especially for this goat. I still believe that this goat may not have ever been milked before (despite what her seller told me). I swear she screamed like I was killing her. It was one of the most stressful situations I have ever gone through. I realized that I was going to have to get the milk out of her, even if I had to spray it onto the ground. So, thats what I did. She was laying down at this point (remember, her head wasn't closed in this joke of a milk-stand) so I pulled her teats out from under her and got out as much milk as I could- right onto the concrete. I was devastated. There was so much buildup prior to this moment and now I was covered in dirt and milk and there was a massive puddle of muddy milk on my patio.
In moments like these, all I can say is, "thank God for good friends". My friend Nicole drove all the way down from the mountains the next morning and surprised me with a custom milk-stand that her husband had made sometime during the night. I swear I felt like Santa and Mrs. Claus were real and they had made me a milk-stand. It closed around their heads and it even had a removable section that I could take off to accommodate larger sized goats, should I ever change my mind. You can see the removable piece in the photo above. (Im telling you, they were Santa and Mrs. Claus, they knew my needs better than I did.)
Things got easier from this day forward- but not easy by any means. This poor goat still thought I was going to kill her via udder torture.
I had to add a section to my milk-stand that allowed me to make a sling out of dog leashes to prevent her from laying down when I milked her. Because she was so short, she would practically strangle herself when she would lay down! This leash-method worked well for me- so I'll make a future post about it to show you my technique.
After "Annabelle" (the Nigerian from hell) I purchased a few other Nigerians. I had "Buttercup" who I had to give back to the breeder after her horns almost took my 2 year old daughters eyeball out (This warrants another post about the concept of disbudding). Then I had "Olivia" and "Amelia" who are amazing goats. I actually still have Amelia to this day (but she is retired and is no longer being bred). She will be moving to a good friends farm very soon, where she will live out her life in Peace while she helps other does raise their kids. She will LOVE it!
It was after "Olivia" that I started to realize that Nigerians were the wrong breed for me. My hands were starting to swell and cramp (I have lupus and the joints in my hands are affected).
By this time, I knew more people in the goat world and I now knew where to find the Mini Nubians. Here is another tip, sometimes networking outside of your circle is the best way to find what you are looking for! Don't be afraid to get on facebook/instagram/MeWe/etc and ask for help finding things! Heck, just start typing things in the search bar and see what pops up. Had I done this, I could have saved myself so much time and money (and heart ache as I sold my Nigi's off). There were a BUNCH of Mini-Nubian breeders right in my area but I didn't network like I should have.
Fast forward to when I brought "Sophia" home to The Happy Hippie Homestead.... I was in LOVE. She had huge airplane ears (since she was a 1st generation Mini-Nubian her ears still had a lot of control). I thought she was adorable! She came from my friends farm, so I knew her dam and sire and I knew that her dam was an amazing milker. She is the reason that I fell in love with this breed.
There are so many reasons I feel that the Mini-Nubian goat is the best for us. For starters, their small size. I love Nubians but they are just too big for our backyard homestead. When I tried to bring two Nubians home, they overpowered me at the gate and dragged me around the yard while I tried to wrangle them up to the milk-stand. They lasted about 2 weeks until I sent them to a friends house who had more land and patience. They are loved and adored at their current home; but they were not the right fit for us over here on The Happy Hippie Homestead.
Mini- Nubians are very efficient eaters. They can eat about half as much food as a full sized Nubian and make about two-thirds as much milk (on average, about 1 gallon per day). Not to mention that they make delicious milk because they get the higher butterfat from the Nigerian Dwarfs. One of my does, Willow, has freshened three times and I just put her on a milk test. In 12 hours she gave me over #9 of milk with over 9% milk fat at 46 days fresh! This is AMAZING. I am incredibly happy with her milk. I also tested my first freshener, Ariel, and she gave #8.60 of milk with 5.5% milk fat at 60 days fresh. This will give you an idea of what VERY good producers can give you.
I also LOVE the look of Nubians and you can find Mini- Nubians that look exactly like their full sized counterparts. They have the ears that go for days and long, beautiful bodies. They carry the Roman nose that so many people adore. They come in an endless array of colors and patterns, too! It's so fun to try and figure out what color their kids may come out to be! Moonspots and blue eyes are probably the most popular among those who go after splashy goats.
I have found that there is a great community in the United States for Mini-Nubians. I have made many wonderful friends throughout this journey. Especially now that I have started showing my goats in shows sanctioned by The Miniature Goat Registry (TMGR) and the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA). I am part of an amazing mini goat club called The Mile High Mini Milkers and we are working really hard to improve the breed, educate the public and bring awareness to this amazing breed of goats. If you are in the Colorado area, we would love for you to check out our group! If you are not in the Colorado area you should check to see what clubs are in your area! I would be more than willing to help you reach out and help get you in touch with other goat people in your area.
Mini Nubians are very sweet, they love affection and tend to do very well with children. Their nice compact size is perfect for those with disabilities, for the elderly, for children and for anyone who enjoys a smaller goat with amazing ears. Not to mention the amount of milk without needing to "hork down" massive amounts of food.
I would highly recommend looking into this breed when you are considering all of your options!