Nubian goats: demanding, but so worth it
Nubian goats: demanding but worth it
Nubian goats are a breed that definitely deserves attention as one of the more productive and desirable meat and dairy breeds out there. However, as it often happens, some excellent qualities that the Nubian goats possess are balanced with some aspects that can make this goat breed difficult for some owners. You as the owner need to fully understand what it is that you are looking for in a goat, and what you are ready to give up. Let’s find out more about Nubian Goats so you can decide if this is the goat for you.
Nubian Goat origins
Nubian goats originated as a result of the breeding and selection done by British goat lovers, that used a few goat breeds imported from South Africa (Namibia) and bred them to some European and Asian breeds. This is why Nubian goats actually have some Swiss and even Indian blood in their lines! In the 20th century, the breed was further improved by the American breeders who made the breed even more productive. But the breed itself is still known as Nubian breed, which reminds us of its African roots.
Nubian goats: appearance
Nubian goats are pretty unique among other breeds in the way they look like. Of course, one of the features of their appearance that makes them stand out, is their large ears. They tend to lie flat on both sides of the head and remind the ears of a basset hound. Another unique thing about the Nubians is the variety of their coat colors. They really can be any color, both solid and with various patterns. You can meet chocolate Nubians, black, tan, chestnut etc. White patches are common.
Even apart from their color, Nubians look different from other breeds. They have a uniquely shaped, medium-to small sized head and a characteristic curved nose. Their ears are quite a bit longer than regular goat’s ears. Nubians have strong muscly but graceful bodies with long, strong necks and well-proportioned legs. The coat is short, shiny and sleek.
Male Nubians display a beautiful set of large horns, while females are hornless. This is quite a large goat. Males can weight up to 100kg and stand as tall as 90 cm. Females are a little shorter and lighter at 80 kg or so.
Nubian goats: smell
One attractive quality Nubians possess (among many others!) is that they have virtually none of the goaty smell that some other breeds have. This is nice if you are sensitive to smells.
Nubian goats dairy productivity
Nubian goats are one of the breeds that are used for both milk and meat production. Although they are not champion milk producers like Saanen goats, they still produce a good amount of high quality milk with tender, nutty and buttery taste. In fact, it’s the taste of their milk that’s so unique about them and makes them a truly valuable and well-loved breed. Apart from the wonderful taste, their milk is rich in vitamins such as Vitamin A, B, C, D and E. It’s also full of minerals and good protein. Nubian goat milk can make a valuable part of the diet for both kids and adults, as well as people on a diet. It tends to be well tolerated by people who have allergies to cow milk. You can also make cheese and yogurt out of Nubian milk. Nubian goat milk is a great option for people with digestive system issues (such as gastritis), for people suffering with diabetes or liver issues. It’s also a great replacement for mother’s milk for babies that can’t be breastfed.
The interesting thing about Nubian goat milk is that, although dairy production of Nubians does depend on their feed, the taste of the milk does not. It is always good, regardless of what you feed your goat (of course, you should only feed them the correct diet, which you can read about further in this post.)
Nubian goat milk tends to be quite fatty: the contents of fat may range from 4 to 8% depending on the goat’s age, feed and environment! This is a perfect fat level to produce cheese. So if you aer into goat cheese, Nubian goats may be a perfect breed for you.
Nubian goats may not be the most productive dairy goats out there (we are looking at you, Saanen goats), but they still produce anywhere around 3-5 L of milk per day. Their lactation period normally lasts around 300 days a year, which is a very good length. Another thing to point out is that Nubian does bring a higher yield of milk after every freshening.
Nubian goats meat
Yes, people do use Nubian goats for meat too. Nubian meat is quite lean (it contains small amounts of fat) and can be used by people on a diet or trying to limit their calories. It is also quite delicious, and – extra bonus – it tends not to have that funky goaty smell that some goat meat has.
Nubian goats personality – curious and outgoing
Nubian goats are quite the characters when it comes to personality. They are very lively, very active and outgoing goats that sometimes remind dogs in the way they behave. Nubians get very attached to their owners and see them as leader of their herd. They will follow you around the yard and let you pet them (and maybe even insist on you petting them.) They are also very curious and need to know what is going on around them by keeping you and the other family members within their sight.
Some people thing Nubian goats are a bit “much” – they can be too outgoing, too loud and stubborn. Others love these extroverted goats for their energy and happy, positive disposition. Whether you will love Nubians or not so much really depends on your temperament as well. You can always try them out for a couple seasons! Some people think that Nubians don’t like other goat breeds too much and need to be the only breed on your pasture. That;s not always so, but it does happen sometimes, and it really depends on how closely your Nubians have to interact with other goats on you farm/homestead. They might just need more space!
Housing your Nubian goats – what you need to know
This is where Nubian goats are pretty special. Even though all goats in general tend to hate cold and wet environments, Nubian goats are particularly unhappy if they have to deal with “weather”. They are from South Africa, after all. They prefer their pastures and barns warm and dry (No surprise here). Their living areas need to be well-insulated from the outside environment, especially in colder and wetter climates. Their bedding needs to be dry, clean and warm. It’s also important that the area is well aired out, but avoid drafts! Bad weather, cold and wet environment can stress the goats and even cause diseases such as pneumonia. Once a Nubian goat gets sick, it may be hard to get them back to normal, so it’s highly recommended to do everything you can to prevent it. This low adaptability to colder and wetter climates and winter weather is what makes Nubians not the easiest goats to deal with. This is why, if you are a first time goat owner, Nubian goats may not be the best choice for you. There is just too many things to get right in terms of their housing and sheltering, and the price of mistakes may be too high.
You also need to keep your goats’ living quarters clean. Nubians are very clean and quite picky when it comes to cleanliness of their home. If it isn’t clean, the goats will get nervous and stressed, which always reflects in the goats health and productivity. Change their bedding regularly. You will also need to create elevated bedding for your Nubians, as they prefer not to sleep on the floor.
If you keep your goats’ living quarters just the way they like it, you will get better milk productivity and increased fertility of your goats in return!
Feeding your Nubian Goats correctly
Nubian goats can be pasture fed in the summer just like any other breed, provided you have enough pasture space and good enough forage for them to satisfy all their nutritional needs. If you don’t own a proper pasture, as well as in winter, you will need to feed your goats “manually”. Nubians love roughage, such as alfalfa hay or other legume-based types of hay. You can also add grain to their diet to increase the amount of calories and some micro and macro nutrients critical for their balanced nutrition. You can (and should) also add apples, cabbage leaves, carrots, other vegetables and tree weeds to their diet. Depending on where you live and what quality water you provide for your goats, you may need to add certain minerals and vitamins to their food and water. (Such as copper). But this will really vary depending on what the conditions are on your farm.
As far as pasture goes, Nubians love drier pastures and won’t do well in wetter areas. And of course, as any other goat breed, Nubian goats are browsers, not grazers. This means they prefer bushes and roughage from tree branches more than just grass. Make sure your Nubians have what they need on your pasture, or feed them extra yourself.
Breeding your Nubian goats
Hopefully you love your Nubian goats so much you need more of them! And goats being goats – this is pretty easy! Did you know there is a growing market for Nubian goats out there? Whether you are planning to sell the young goats, or raise them for yourself, here are a few tips on how to go about breeding your Nubians.
Nubian goat does become mature at around 7-8 months of age, but it isn’t recommended to breed that that early. The ideal time for breeding a doe is around 12-16 months mark when they are stronger and more ready to take on the challenge.
Nubian does gestation period lasts for about 150 days, after which they bring 2-3 goats, normally on their own. Nubians are quite strong and healthy goats and usually can give birth easily without people’s help. A Nubian goat can have kids twice a year, provided she is raised in a good environment and is healthy.
Nubian goats pros and cons
Nubian goat pros
- One of the pros of Nubian goats is their long lactation period which lasts around 300 days! This gives you lots of time to get plenty of their delicious milk.
- Even though they are not specifically dairy goats, Nubians still provide, on average, 5 L of milk a day.
- Nubians are very fertile goats that can give birth to kids twice a year!
- Nubian milk’s high fat content makes it an excellent basis for wonderful, delicious cheese which is especially attractive for goat cheese lovers.
- Even if you don’t make goat cheese, Nubian milk itself is delicious with it’s sweet, nutty and tender taste. Bonus is that it doesn’t smell goaty!
- Nubians themselves don’t have that goaty smell!
- Nubian goats almost always give birth to twins and triplets – they are some of the more productive goats out there.
- Nubian kids are born strong and healthy and don’t require much handling. You likely will not have to hand feed the kids – moms normally do a great job of it.
Nubian goat cons
Nubians do have some things you need to know about them. For example, they are one of the more demanding breeds when it comes to feeding standards. The quality of food can really affect your Nubian goats’ productivity. They tend not to thrive if their feed is even slightly unbalanced.
Another potential issue with Nubians is that they may get stressed and distraught if they are made to live in close proximity with other breeds of goats. So if you already have Saanens, or Toggenburgs, or any other breed, you may want to keep in mind that there may be potential issues. However, this isn’t always a problem and really depends on how close to each other your goats live.