Nubian Goats- What you should know

nubian goat

Nubian goats were once primarily raised as a dairy goat, but once their superior milk-producing abilities were fully realized this breed soared to the top of the dairy goat breed list. 

Even though the vast majority of Nubian goat nannies produce a smaller daily amount of milk than many other top dairy goat breeds, they still top most “most have” lists for both hobby and commercial dairy farmers. 

The Nubian goat is perhaps the most identifiable of any breed. Their long and floppy ears are quite distinctive and allow even newbies to the goat keeping world to quickly realize identify them. 

Nubian goat

Why Do Nubians Make Such A Great Dairy Goat?

Nubian goat milk boasts the highest butterfat content among most standard size breeds. Their milk is surpassed by only by the standard size Boer goat and two miniature breeds, the Nigerian dwarf and Pygmy goats in fat content and overall sweetness of flavor. 

With the exceptions noted above, Nubian nanny goats generally produce 5 percent more butterfat rich milk than all other breeds. To put this difference in butterfat content into better perspective, the percentage difference is typically twice that of 2 percent milk sold at your local grocery store.

It is both the butterfat content and general sweet taste of Nubain goat milk that makes it exceptionally good to use in the cheesemaking process. Milk from Boer, Nigerian dwarf, and Pygmy goats is far less likely to be used to make cheese, at least at the commercial level, because the butterfat milk content is so high – and some say less flavorful. Nubian nanny goats are capable of producing between three-fourths of a gallon to one gallon of milk daily.

History Of Nubian Goats

Nubians may be the oldest known goat species in the world. This heralded dairy goat breed hails from Great Britain. During the nineteenth century, Anglo-Nubian goats were crossbred with lop-eared goats from India, North Africa, and the Middle East. 

The work of French farmers with lop-eared goats from these noted regions may predate the husbandry and cross-breeding engaged in by the British. The first Nubian goats imported to England occurred in 1883 via Paris, France. 

The French breeding pair of Nubians were named Aida and Ararbi Pasha. Because no quarantine or other import restrictions relating to the introduction of foreign livestock existed at the time. Affluent British goat breeds simply went down to the boat docks and purchased any goats that were not used for meat or milk during recently ended trips – or from sales savvy ship captains. 

English settlers brought Nubian goats with them when traveling to the new world. The goats were used by the settlers as their main source of both meat and milk on the journey across the ocean and during their initial months in what would become the United States of America. It was not until 1896 that the Anglo-Nubian goat was officially established. 

Nubian goats did not become an officially recognized breed in the United States until 1913.

The breed name stems from the spot where original lop-eared goats were raised, the desert region of Nubia on Northern Sudan. Because of the cross-breeding it took to develop the goats we know as Nubians today, some breeders think the name really no longer fits this type of goat. 

Nubian Goats- What you should know
Close-up of an Anglo-Nubian goat with a distorted jaw, looking away against white background

Nubian Goat Personality

Nubians are known to be especially bright and curious goats. These charming lop-eared beauties boast incredibly friendly and docile personalities. Due to their amicable nature, Nubian goats are often kept not just for milk producing purposes, but for farm pets, as well. 

Nubians are not just friendly and easy to handle, most are also outright sociable creatures that seem to thrive on interaction with both each other and the humans that keep them. This goat breed likes to stroke and be stroked on the sides of their heads and necks.

Thanks to their sturdy physique and overall smarts, Nubian goats have been used to both pull carts and as saddle pack animals. 

Those are the many upsides associated with keeping Nubian goats – now for the downside. If you live in a suburban area or on a small homestead with neighbors who are not also homesteaders or farmers, this top dairy goat breed could cause major problems. 

Nubian goats are loud – really loud. They bleat both loudly and often. If a Nubian goat wants the attention of its human – it will bleat. If a Nubian is bored – it will bleat. If a Nubian goat is thirsty, hundry, cold … you get the point. Not only will a Nubian bleat, it will bleat loud enough so everyone with a quarter of a mile will hear it. 

Multiple this loud bleating by the number of goats in your herd and then think about the reaction of your most fussy neighbor, BEFORE purchasing a single Nubian goat. If you goat herd is going to free range, expect to find them frequently at your back door “crying” to come in or at least get your attention.

If you live in a place that puts any restrictions on keeping rooster or limits the number of livestock that can be kept based on either location of barnyard to property boundaries or by number of acres, keeping Nubian goats could actually land you in legal hot water for disturbing the peace. 

Nubian Goat Hardiness

Nubian goats are kept in nearly every climate the globe can throw at them. Because this lop-eared goat breed hails from Africa and the Middle East primarily, they are extremely hardy in hot climates. Their origins also typically provoke a more lengthy breeding season, a boon for both breeders and dairy farmers. 

The ability to produce milk essentially year round is yet another reason Nubians are favored by dairy farmers. Goats of this breed live to be between 15 to 18 years old, on average.

Physical Characteristics 

  • Nubian goats weigh roughly 130 pounds to 175 pounds on average.
  • Nanny goats stand approximately 30 inches tall and Billy goats (or bucks) generally stand 35 inches tall. 
  • These goats have what is often referred to as a “Roman nose” because their muscle is long and convex.
  • Their floppy ears are pendulous in design and are long enough to extend a minimum of 1 inch past the muzzle of their distinctively flat face. 
  • Nubian goat ears also round at the tip in a somewhat bell shape and flare just slightly forward and outward – while still lying close to the head. 
  • Goat of this breed all have fine short hair that often both looks and feels glossy.
  • Nubian goats are traditionally more reddish and white in color with mottling (spots) scattered throughout their body but can come in a vast array of colors. 
  • Typically, Nubian goats boast rapid growth rates, part of the reason why they were once considered excellent meat goats. The general fleshy body of members of this goat breed also helped once propel them to top meat goat breed status. Today, Nubian goats are considered a multi-purpose goat breed but are commercially raised almost solely as dairy goats. Nubians goat

Nubian Goat Breeding And Reproduction 

Both bucklings and doelings in the Nubian goat breed mature enough to reproduce when they are only 7 weeks old – but mating at this young age is strongly inadvisable. Breeding goats too young can lead to tough to deadly kidding, stillborn kids, as well as chronic health problems for both the new nanny and her kids.

A doe should not be bred until she is at least 8 months old and weighs in at a minimum of 80 pounds, for best results. Neither bucklings or doelings hit their full mature size and development until they are two years old. A doe will not hit her full milking ability until this age, as well. 

Nubian goat breeding season is typically considered to last from July through December. The gestation period for this goat breed, as it is with most others, lasts approximately 150 days. 

Nubian nanny goats are generally extremely adept and affection mommas. While they can give birth to as many as five kids at one time, a kidding of two to three baby goats is far more common. 

Nubian Goat Buying Tips

  1. When purchasing a Nubian doeling or nanny goat, ask to taste the milk. If it does not have the known or anticipated sweet taste of milk associated with this breed, that could be indicative of mastitis or other health problems. 
  2. Review the goat pens and general living area of the goat herd kept by the breeders. If you discover the living area is overcrowded and not generally kept in an orderly and clean manner, this could indicate a lack of proper care and husbandry techniques that could mean neither the breeding pair or the kids are in optimal health.
  3. Request to see test results that illustrate the goat herd is both CL and CAE free. Both of these diseases could make goats (and sheep) severely sick now or in the future. 
  4. If you only want a purebred Nubian, with or without papers, look both the animal and the breeding pair over carefully. If you do not mind a Nubian cross or want a Nubian-Nigerian cross (which are becoming incredibly popular) follow these same inspection tactics – and expect to pay less than what you would for a 100 percent Nubian goat of either sex or any age.
  5. Nubian goat prices will vary greatly by location, age, sex, and purebred status. The common price for a young Nubian male or female goat ranges from $150 to $300 each.

Nubian Goat Husbandry

Nubians need the same basic requirements as all goat breeds – shelter, waterer, feeder, hay, and grain. This is an exceptionally strong goat breed, even though they are not known to be intense escape artists like some other breeds, they will still need a sturdy pen or nighttime stall – if free ranging. I highly recommend using hog or cattle panels reinforced by locust posts and lined with electric fencing. 

Because Nubians are such sociable goats and will let you known loudly if they are not happy, make sure to provide climbing and tunnel “playthings” to prevent boredom and bad behavior if the goats are not free ranging on a farm with diverse terrain. 

See the related posts below.

All About Nigerian Goats

All You Need To Know About Goat Breeding

Keeping Goats As Pets

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