The Nubian goat is typically thought of as an African breed. In reality, it traces back to late 1800s England. As the British Empire expanded to new regions, ships brought back native bucks from many environments. Many of these bucks were large, hardy animals that promised to improve British dairy goats. In particular, bucks from Egypt, Arabia, and India were favored.
When crossed with English dairy goats, the foreign bucks produced superior milking animals with good health, high production, and long lactations. The blend gradually developed into a new breed known as the Nubian.
The Nubian’s fame quickly spread, as did its population. The first three Nubians in America arrived in California in 1909. In short order, the breed became a popular choice in the United States, as well.
Today, the Nubian is believed to be the most common purebred goat in America.
In the United States, the Nubian typically specializes in dairy products. It is well suited to the production of fluid milk, but also shines in the areas of cheese and ice cream.
However, Nubians are more versatile than they are typically given credit for. Surplus kids can be raised for meat and subsequently hides. They can also be trained to carry packs or pull carts.
Small-scale homesteaders will be interested to note that a miniature version of the Nubian exists for those with limited acreage.
The Nubian is an inquisitive, sociable goat that thrives on human interaction. It bonds readily and is patient with children.
While the Nubian goat is sometimes described as stubborn, this trait can be seen in a positive light—the Nubian is smart and forms habits readily. Take advantage of this characteristic by training your goat the desired farm routine. Once accustomed to being in the right place at the right time, the Nubian will respond obediently and with initiative.
Note that Nubians are known for their loud, complaining voices, which may be an issue in populated areas. While they are not vocal at all times, if they are dissatisfied for any reason, the entire neighborhood will hear about it. Keep them quiet by meeting their needs for food, water, shelter, and affection. Does will also need the attention of a buck to avoid noise-making problems when they are in heat.
Overall, the Nubian is a healthy, constitutionally sound goat. However, several structural problems are prevalent throughout the breed, so choose dairy animals and breeding stock carefully.
The Nubian originally had an undershot bite, as this was thought to help it efficiently browse high tree branches. Today, this trait is being selected against because it can hinder the goat from eating grass.
Another common structural difficulty in the Nubian breed is unsound udders. Be sure to examine the udder structure of any dairy goats you purchase.
The Nubian goat is known for long ears, originally developed to protect the eyes and ear openings from blowing sand. In colder climates, however, these ears can be more of a hindrance than a help, as they are prone to dangling into water troughs and freezing.
- Tolerance of most climates, particularly hot ones.
- Few health problems.
- Longevity; can often produce past the age of 12.
- Long breeding season.
- Prolific tendencies; healthy does regularly give birth to two, three, or four kids at a time.
- Udder conformation easy to milk.
- Good milk flavor.
- High protein and butterfat content of milk.
- Rapid growth.
- Heavy muscling.
- Exceptional ability as an escape artist.
- Susceptibility to frostbitten ears.
- Prevalence of unsound udders.
- Low milk production levels.