A "good dairy goat" is not just a doe with a pretty udder or one that milks 4,000 pounds a year. A "good dairy goat" must have a combination of positive qualities, all of which allow her to produce lots of milk, have numerous kids, and live a long productive life. Many traits go together to make a "good" goat, and if you learn to recognize these traits, you'll be able to improve your breeding program and purchase better goats.

No matter what someone tells you, no one can look at a young kid and tell that she'll be a permanent champion or have great udder attachment, but you can learn to recognize certain positive traits that does of all ages can possess.

The first thing that hits your eye is general appearance. Structurally, the doe should have a strong, level top line; her withers should blend smoothly into the shoulder blades (no bumps or humps as you run your hand down her neck over her withers and shoulders.) Her front legs should be wide apart, strong, and straight (not curved as you look at them from the side); her rear legs should be set wide apart at the hocks, with a wide arched opening in the escutcheon area. As you look at her rear legs from the side, they should be nearly perpendicular from hock to pastern. Look for short, strong pasterns, not ones that are broken and weak. Does with these positive structural traits should be productive does; they will have the strength to withstand the rigers of heavy milking and strenuous kid bearing for many years.

Dairy character is also important. A doe should look feminine; she should walk with gracefulness and animation. She should be an "open" doe - her ribs should be set wide apart; they should be flat (as should all her bones) and long. To feel the difference between flat-boned and round-boned does, run your hands down the ribs of a number of does. Flat-boned does' bones actually feel flatter; the space between ribs will usually be wider. The more times you doe this, the easier finding that flat-boned doe will be. With more experience, you'll actually be able to pick out "dairy" does from across the barn or ring; they ooze femininity, angularity, and, well, dairyness.

Caprine Supply Magazine, 2008

Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery, LLC
Farmstead Goat Dairy
3255 Buffalo Creek Farm Road
Germanton, NC 27019