Choosing A Herdsire, Part 3

Reader Contribution by Caitlyn Menne
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So, y’all ended up getting slightly over a week in critiquing the Nubian bucks for this third part… My apologies there for my tardiness! I’m afraid life hasn’t been very conducive to goats lately as my family and I prepare for a wedding on the 17th (not mine though!). But once that’s over, life should hopefully slip back into the normal groove of things.

But never mind personal matters: let’s talk goats! What did y’all (please excuse my “y’alls”, by the way… I’m from the South. It’s in my genes) think of the Nubian bucks? Did you find that your eye is starting to get the hang of what to look for? Are you looking at your own goats differently now? My hope is that you are. Learning about conformation on any animal can take years of practice, and sometimes I wonder at myself for trying to compress it all down into a teachable post here at Mother Earth News! 

First off is the adorable Anglo-Nubian from a fellow Australian breeder. It has been fascinating to me to study the differences between Anglo Nubians (European style), and our American style here in the USA. The breed is still the same, standards are still the same, but Americans have really pushed this breed to a highly competitive level, which has given them more style, and better milking ability. The Anglo-Nubians are still chugging along, and I’m seeing some lovely specimens from breeders over there, so that’s exciting to me!

Now, letting your eye follow his contours what do we see about him? If you look at his topline (red letter ‘A’) you may notice that he has a dip just behind his shoulders, and in front of his hips. This could just be an awkward growth spurt that he’s going through (goodness knows enough of my own Nubians have done that before hitting two years of age), so while I would keep a close eye on it if he was my own buck, I’m not too concerned about it at this point. However, if he was two years or older, I would consider that a fault and unless he had superior milking genes behind him, I might reconsider him as a herdsire. A dipped, or “sway” back can cause spinal problems later in life.

“B” shows his rear leg angulation, which looks really nice to me. I wouldn’t  mind seeing a bit more angulation, but it’s not bad.

“C” is right beneath his barrel, showing off his depth. For a little guy, he’s got nice depth. It balances well with his length (you don’t want a short fat buck, but neither do you want a “wiener goat”). I think as he matures and ages, he’s going to pack some depth on really well, and something tells me that in a few years this guy is going to be a hunk.

 “D” is at the brisket. From what I can see, his extension is good; you’ll notice that his front left leg isn’t squarely beneath him, which hides the majority of his brisket and can give an inaccurate judging. I think if that leg was beneath him a bit better, we would see that he does indeed have a very nice brisket extension.

 I also added an ‘E’ to this young buck, which I haven’t done on any of the other bucks. The red letter ‘E’ is right at his head, and it draws your eye to his beautifully curved facial structure. If there’s one part that the Anglo-Nubians beat the American Nubians in, it’s head structure. Our U.S. Nubians still have nice heads, but if you look closely at some of the top breed specimens, you’ll see that their curve often abruptly starts at the bridge of the nose, just below the eyes. This young buck shows just what a real Nubian head should look like. Very convex and smooth. One entire arc going from the poll (top of the head) to the muzzle.


Buck #2, from the breeders at Prairie Trail Nubians, shows good strong lines from well-established breeders here in America. His topline is the main fault that I see though. His withers are sharp and pronounced, but still blending nicely into his topline, which gives his front set a nice overall smoothness. The part I’m not too keen on is namely his rump, which is noticeably steep. This is a problem in most Nubians (even in my own!), and is very hard to breed out, so this is definitely something to scrutinize carefully in each buck. His rear leg angulation is very nice though, and it would be more apparent if he was “stacked” (set up as though in a show). If you look at the red line with the ‘C’, you’ll see that the line is straight, whereas it’s normally about a 45 degree angle. He is obviously a mature buck, so seeing this lack of depth causes some concern in my mind, but I think if bred to the right doe it’s not too much of a problem. His brisket extension is fairly decent. I would prefer to see a bit more extension on him, but I’ve seen worse. Overall though, he has very nice balance, and if I remember correctly he has some very nice bloodlines behind him. I also really like his masculinity. I’ve seen some bucks that had very impressive pedigrees, yet they looked like wimps. You want a buck to be muscly, and big. A tough guy, no matter his breed.  This buck is still young, so he hasn’t achieved his full potential, but it’s coming. You can see it in his lines that as he grows, he’s going to fill out more. If I could change one thing about him, I would change that rump. I think you could get more brisket extension and depth from his kids if he’s bred with the right does, but that rump does throw a monkey wrench in things…


Lastly is this lovely little black buckling from Day Dream Farms. Out of the other bucks that we’ve critiqued today, I like his topline and rump the best. It wouldn’t hurt to see a tad more levelness in his rump, but even if it stays that way into maturity, I’d be okay with that. Even at his young age, it looks like he already has a really good, sharp shoulder assembly too. Very nice. J Brisket extension is noticeable, and well pronounced which pleases me, and his rear leg angulation is also very correct. I would prefer to see more depth potential on him, but that may come in time. Overall, I think this is a buck to watch. For one so young, he’s smooth, balanced, well-proportioned, and shows potential. I think the only fault I can find with him right now is that his ears could be longer. But as the La Mancha fans say, “You don’t milk the ears”, so this fault is more cosmetic.

 And so folks, this ends our ongoing lesson of what to look for in a herdsire. I sincerely hope that I may have helped a few of you to understand goat conformation a bit better, and that now you will feel more confident in not only choosing an outside buck for your does, but also in making the decision of which kids to keep intact and which to castrate. The bucks ultimately are what build the breed. We can further each breed and make each consecutive generation better by our choices, or we can inadvertently pull each generation down. It’s up to us to make the decision every time breeding season rolls around … 

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