How the miniature dairy goat breeds are being developed

Breeding for specific qualities is a long process that takes a high level of dedication. Breeders the world over spend years trying to breed stronger, better producing animals and often the judge of a good producer is the strength of their animals' genetics.  

In the United States, breeders are taking standard dairy goats such as the LaMancha and Nubian and are crossing them with the Nigerian Dwarf to create breeds of miniature dairy goats. The desirable qualities of the Nigerian Dwarf serve to enhance the positive attributes of the standard goats and have encouraged a number of breeders to try their hand at developing these new breeds.  

To learn more about the this fascinating process, we talked with Paula Terrell of Creamcup Miniature LaManchas about why breeders have chosen to mix these breeds, and exactly how the breeding-up process works in developing purebred miniature dairy goats. 


In the miniature dairy goat world we have essentially five, or six depending on how you look at it, breeds that people are working with. Is any of the standard ADGA [American Dairy Goat Association] recognized breeds crossed with a Nigerian Dwarf, which is also an ADGA recognized breed, and the each individual breed has its own breed standard, just like the standard dairy goats do.  

The five basic ones are LaMancha, Alpine, Toggenburg, Nubian and Saanen, [Oberhasli]. We also have a very few number of Sables a couple people are working on and we have a couple of Miniature Guernsey, too, that people are working on but, there's only a couple of people actually starting to breed those. Most recently the most popular breeds of course are the Nubian and the LaMancha.  

In most cases, the breed standards for the miniature goats are very similar to those standards that are used by standard goat registries the visual characteristics. The heads and ears are virtually the same as the standards type.  

We do encourage the retention of the Nigerian characteristics that was one of the reasons that Nigerians were chosen to help develop these breeds, such as being multiparous, breeding out of season and the higher butterfat that they contribute to the miniature goats.  

They also encourage the retention of some of the other physical characteristics like greater body capacity, and more ruggedness, and better feet and legs than a lot of the standard dairy goats sometimes carry, so we don't consider them to be the miniature dairy goes to be replicas of standard dairy goats in every way; we consider them to be a smaller version of dairy goat which has those characteristics of the parent breeds, both of them including the Nigerian.  

Basically the whole mini program and development of through the generations mimics the way ADGA set up the LaMancha herd book in the beginning, and the way it continues to be to this way in the miniature goats.  

It's the same basically the same process; first two generations are in the Experimental herd book, the third and fourth and fifth generation are what we consider to be Americans, and are registered in an American herd book, and then when you hit six generations, if the animal conforms to the breed standard for their breed then they're considered purebred.  

In essence it sort of reproduces the tenth generation cross rule that was the basis for the American Dairy Goat Association herd books established back in the very beginning of the American Dairy Association before it was ADGA. It's a very similar process and we feel by the time we get to nine or ten generations that breed true with breed character that's that's consistent and obvious there are equivalent of purebred for that brief or whichever breed it happens to be such as Nubian or LaMancha.

Photos courtesy of Creamcup Miniature LaManchas

For more information about Paula Terrell and Creamcup Miniature LaManchas, please visit the Creamcup Mini's website

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