All About Our Goats
We got our first Nubian dairy goats in early 2001 with the idea of having a bit of milk for family consumption and maybe even enough for some personal cheese-making. Our love for these intelligent and funny creatures as well as our growing appreciation for the superb quality of dairy products they allowed us to make prompted our decision to pursue starting up a certified Grade "A" goat dairy not long thereafter. We, only half-jokingly, say that we just started the dairy to help support our "goat habit".
These fine animals continue to be the focal point of our ranch businesses and the lynch-pin of our dairy operation, but the truth remains that we still operate our little dairy so that we can keep enjoying the goats - not the other way around - an important distinction that helps promote the well being of our herd and a guiding premise that allows us to keep the "Art" in our Artisan cheese-making. Come learn more about our Artisan Dairy Operation by clicking here.
Our milking line-up boards in the milking parlor
From the beginning we decided to get the very best animals we could find and opted for a 100% registered Nubian herd. Nubians, recognizable by their typically long, dangly ears and Roman noses, are an especially good choice for cheese-making operations as their milk is the richest and highest in butterfat content. We also have found Nubians a perfect breed for our Arizona climate. Summers here in northern Arizona, even at nearly 6000' elevation, can get pretty hot and the Nubians seem to be well adapted for the heat.
Our goats are a particularly sturdy and healthy bunch, in part due to their excellent genetics but more largely thanks to their open-range habitat and access to superior browse, lots of sunshine and fresh high-desert mountain air. Occasionally tragedy hits, but we work hard to restore a sick or injured goat to good health. In 2007 one of our young does suffered an accident damaging her udder and resulting in the loss (over time) of one udder half. Kathryn thoroughly photo-documented the process and has put together a special page on the subject. The graphic depictions are not for everybody but are offered as an educational aid for others experiencing the same situation for one of their animals. Click here for Nougat's Necrosis Page.
We do disbud all of our goats soon after birth. Please see our Disbudding Page for details and photos on this process, if you are interested.
While the number of goats we have here at any one time varies as some get sold and lots get born, we endeavor to keep the number small. Our Dairy plans and goals are based on an eventual cap of 24-30 milkers during full production. In addition to the production does we will also likely have a number of junior does we are bringing up as replacements, some in-milk does we are offering for sale and, perhaps a few older, retired does with no responsibilities at all except to browse contentedly around the ranch 'til the end of their days.
We also keep bucks here for our breeding program. Only outstanding bucks from some of the best genetic lines get to stay and "work" here. Our boys live in a separate, building and enclosure from the rest of the herd.
Nubian Buck "Rio" with Buckling "Zane"
And, of course, there are the wethers (castrated bucks) - the clowns and chief trouble-makers of the bunch. The few wethers we keep around earn their treats through their entertainment value mostly, but we also train them for light packing duties (with saddles and panniers). The wethers fast growth and large size make them perfect for doing a little work from time to time. Very occasionally, we will also have a wether or two that make it to our freezer - it's a delicious lean protein source and we feel that if we're going to eat red meat it should, quite naturally, be from our own healthy, well cared for animals.
In addition to their own free-range browsing schedule, the goats really enjoy joining our regular little morning walks on the property or up the mesa where we all (including all the dogs and whole goat herd minus the bucks) generally put on a mile or so before heading home to work on the various tasks of the day. It's quite a sight when even the few-day-old kids tag along!
BMR Herd is Free of CL and CAE
Our herd is 100% CAE free. We test our goats every year just prior to kidding. With the test results in, we can feed our kids delicious raw milk with all it’s benefits, instead of having to pasteurize it to prevent CAE. CAE is short for Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis.
CAE is an incurable, debilitating disease that is passed on most frequently dam-to-kid through milk and colostrum. Keeping our goats free of this disease is one of our top priorities, not only because the disease decreases production but because of the suffering it can cause the goats afflicted with it.
Another common disease that goats may have is CL (Caseous Lymphadenitis) or "Abscesses". It is a highly contagious problem that can even spread to humans. Our herd is 100% CL abscess free.
BMR Goats are 100% "G6S Normal"
Genetic testing done to screen for defect.
Known in some circles as "That Dirty Little Nubian Goat Secret”, there is a rather recently discovered genetic defect that Nubians and Nubian crosses can have. It is referred to, more formally, as the "G6S defect" (in reference to the enzyme not produced as the result of the defect).
Nubian goats with the defect can be either "G6S affected", in which case they fail to thrive and usually die at a very young age, or they can be "G6S carriers", in which case they grow and live normally but can pass the defect on to their offspring. Goats without any G6S abnormality (as can only be determined by a DNA test) are said to be "G6S Normal". The offspring of a "carrier" buck and a "carrier" doe will have 25% chance of being affected, 50% chance of being a carrier, and only a 25% chance of being normal. Up to 25% of all Nubians goats are thought to be carriers of this defect. When two G6S Normal goats are bred together they will produce 100% normal offspring.
The happy BMR herd browses contentedly
When we did our initial DNA testing in 2005 we were pleased that most of our goats were G6S normal, but we did have a few carriers. As of 2009 our herd is now 100% G6S normal!
For more information on G6S, please refer to: http://www.goatworld.com/articles/g6s.shtml
To read the BMR History of G6S click here: G6S at Black Mesa Ranch
Where are they now?
Where BMR Goats Have Found New Homes
We have sent BMR goats to the states marked in green!