Breeding MiniNubians

(or any other Mini Dairy Goat breed - just change the standard breed and breed character traits for that breed)

MiniNubians are a fairly new breed of dairy goat.  They originate from Nigerian and Nubian dairy goats.  The MiniNubians are bred to look like a Nubian but to be much smaller.  They are not as small as a Nigerian, but are not as large as a standard Nubian.  They are to be very good milkers on minimal feed that are hardy, well mannered, friendly, and small. The breed characteristics that set the MiniNubian apart are the same as their full sized cousins – long, pendulous, bell shaped ears and a roman nose.  They should have well built udders that will hold up to years of production and be easy to milk.  The main difference between a full sized Nubian and a MiniNubian is their height – Full sized Nubians have a minimum height of 30 inches for does and 35 for bucks and they can get MUCH taller with many weighing over 200#.  The MiniNubians on the other hand are typically around 23-26 inches for does and around or just under 100#.  Their smaller size makes them much easier to handle.  This article will walk you through the process of breeding for these wonderful little animals.

Select your foundation animals.  You can either choose to start from scratch with your own line of MiniNubians and begin with Nigerian and Nubians, or you can purchase MiniNubians from an established herd.  Either way you go, be sure to get the best possible animals you can.  Make sure you are looking at milk production, conformation and personality.  These animals will be the foundation for your herd and your reputation as a breeder.  If you start with animals with bad conformation and not very much milk, their offspring will carry those traits even if bred to a goat with good genetics.  Bottom line is: Find the best foundation animals you can!  You will be glad you did.  See here for a complete article on choosing a dairy goat.

Starting with the foundation breeds (Nigerian and Nubian), will allow you to bring in new bloodlines and you can start your own line of MiniNubians.  The first generation is usually created by breeding your high quality Nigerian buck to a wonderful Nubian doe (not the other way around with a big buck to a little doe - this can result in kidding problems).  The resulting kids will be first generation, 50/50.  The 50/50 shows the percentage of Nubian and Nigerian – 50%Nubian and 50%Nigerian.  The generation notes how far they are from the original cross.  The kids are always one generation higher than the lowest generation parent - the foundation breeds (Nigerian and Nubian) are considered ‘0 generation’. 1st generation can also be noted as ‘F1’. For more information on generations and pedigrees, view this article: 'Understanding Percentages and Generations in Mini Dairy Goats'.  The kids from this first cross will usually have airplane ears and a straight face.  Don’t worry that they don’t have the Nubian breed character, the first cross usually does not – that will come with more breeding.  Keep the best kids from these breedings – look for good conformation, dairy character and sweet personalities.  Pictured above are ARMCH Goodwood Tom Thumb +*S 'E' a famous Nigerian Dwarf buck (photo courtesy of Rosasharn) and SGCH Hoanbu Status Misty Moonlight 2*M EX91, a beautiful Nubian doe (photo courtesy of Hoanbu).

Once you have your first generation of MiniNubians, now what? The 1st generation 50/50 kids can be bred to another MiniNubian (of any generation) for 2nd generation kids.  Or they can be bred back to a Nubian.  Usually this is only buck kids bred to Nubian does.  The reason for this breeding is to get better breed character.  The kids from this cross will be 75/25 – 75% Nubian and 25% Nigerian.  This usually results in much better breed character than the first 50/50 cross.  They may get a little on the taller side, so the next step with these is…to breed these 1st generation 75/25 kids to another MiniNubian with a lower percentage of Nubian.  I recommend breeding them to a 50/50 MiniNubian.  That will give you a percentage around 60/40 which seems to be the best for getting the breed character we are looking for and still keeping the size down.  The buckling pictured to the left is an example of the breed character you can get with 75/25 - he did get large though - He is shown as a yearling on the right.

After breeding your first generation kids to another MiniNubian, you now have 2nd generation MiniNubians, either 50/50 or a different percentage.  You’ve had a little time to experiment and see what your animals are producing.  By this point you do not really have to worry about the percentages any more (as long as you are below 70% of either foundation breed) - you should be selecting kids based on conformation, breed character, size and personality.  You can now get to 3rd generation by breeding your 2nd gen MiniNubian to a 2nd or higher generation MiniNubian.  Just remember that getting higher generations is not the main goal – choose the buck that will be the best fit for your doe in all areas – not just generations.  It is better to go back a few generations and improve conformation, milk, breed character etc. than to continue up the 'generation ladder' and loose quality.

At 3rd generation your MiniNubian can apply for American registration status if they meet the breed standard – they must have the correct breed character (see standard below); they should LOOK like a Nubian but be smaller. They must also be likely to stay with in the height requirements (you can get an idea of this from the parents) and be under 70% of either foundation breed. The buckling to the left is a 4th gen American showing ideal breed character.

Here are the MiniNubian Breed Character requirements from the MDGA website: "The breed character setting the Mini-Nubian apart from other Mini's is a nose that is never dished, but straight to strongly convex (with the strongly convex being more desirable).  And distinctive, long, wide, and pendulous ears that when held along the face reach the end of the nose.  They should be held close to the head where they attach and then widen and flare out and forward to a rounded tip, making the classic "bell" shaped ear standard Nubians are so well known for."  See the full standard here.

After breeding for many generations and getting 3 generations of American MiniNubians, your 6th gen or higher kids may be eligible for registration as Purebred. Again, they must meet the same qualifications as for American (breed character, height and percentage), but must also have a solid 3 generations of American MiniNubians behind them. In other words, their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents must all be Americans. Complete requirements for American and Purebred registrations can be seen on the MDGA website here.

Tips:

Choose the best breeding stock possible – look at milk records, classification/Linear appraisal scores and meet the animal for personality evaluation if possible.  Click here for help with understanding milk stars (*B, *M etc.), championship awards and linear appraisal scores.

When choosing your Nubian foundation doe you will want to make sure she is a good representative of her breed – look for good breed character (long, wide, soft ears and a roman nose) in addition to good conformation and milk production.  When breeding her to a Nigerian, it will be difficult enough to get the good breed character, and if you start with poor breed character, it will be even harder to get it in the offspring.

Do not choose Nubians that have been stunted.  They are still genetically large and will throw large kids.

After your first cross of Nigerian to Nubian, you can continue breeding your Nubian does to your Nigerian buck for more 50/50 1st gens, or breed them to a MiniNubian buck for 75/25 kids 

Enjoy the adorable kids!

NOTE: MiniNubians CANNOT be bred using a Pygmy instead of a Nigerian - a Pygmy/Nubian cross is called a Kinder goat and is a dual purpose goat, not primarily a dairy goat.

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