Nubian Goats and Cheesemaking

Episode 59
For the Love of Goats

Nubian Goats and Cheesemaking featured image

Today’s episode started as a discussion of Nubian goats with Joanne Danielson who has been raising them for 40 years. However, because of Jo’s experience as a professional cheesemaker, it quickly turned into a deep dive into the science of cheesemaking and how starting with the right goats can make all the difference.

At 5%, Nubian goats have the highest butterfat of any of the standard breeds. But because Jo is serious about making the best cheese, she has incorporated genetic testing into her toolkit so that she can focus on breeding goats with the best genes for making cheese. And she quickly adds that if you have any issues with milk sensitivities, these goats would not be the best choice for you.

If you love goats and you love cheese, this is the episode for you!

Want to see a comparison of all of the goat breeds side by side in a spreadsheet, from milk production averages to appearance?

Listen right here…

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Nubian Goats and Cheesemaking – Transcript

Introduction 0:03
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann 0:18
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode. This is going to be a lot of fun, because we are talking to Joanne Danielson, who is in northeast California at Curds and Whey Farmstead Dairy. And, she’s going to be talking about Nubian goats today, because she has been raising them for over 40 years. So, I’m really excited to talk to somebody who has so much experience with this beautiful breed of dairy goat. Welcome to the show today, Jo.

Joanne Danielson 0:50
Thank you. Good to be here.

Deborah Niemann 0:53
So, tell us a little bit—because you also have some LaManchas now. And when I asked you which one you would like to talk about, you said that Nubian goats were your first love. And so, tell us a little bit. Go way back. Like, how exactly and why exactly did you fall in love with them and get involved in raising Nubian goats?

Joanne Danielson 1:12
Well, I moved to California from New England, and I had a neighbor that I was getting raw milk from, and she had a Jersey cow. And when I moved to California and I bought milk from the store, I was very disappointed. I now call that “mutilated milk.” So, I decided that I was going to pick a dairy animal, because the place I had rented in California—and it was a different part of California. It was down in the Great Valley; I had rented a little six-acre piece. So I thought about it, and I went, “I really don’t need all the milk from a cow.” So, I started looking for a milk goat. And I bought a bred Nubian doe. And that’s how this whole thing started. That was about 43 years ago, I think.

Deborah Niemann 2:08
Wow! And how many goats do you have today?

Joanne Danielson 2:12
Oh, at this day, probably around… Well, I can’t do it exactly. Between 150 and 175 head.

Deborah Niemann 2:21

Joanne Danielson 2:21
Everything that I wished to sell has been sold for the year, and the last two just left the day before yesterday. So, I actually sit down and do a headcount when I’m predicting my hay usage for the year. And that was a week ago, and I think—don’t quote me on it, really. But to give people an idea, it’s probably around 165 head right now. The head count includes the milking does, the currently dry but hopefully bred yearlings, and the replacement kids, and the bucks and bucklings. So, they aren’t all in milk right now, but I usually freshen between 100 and 125 does, and I have least 50 to 60 in milk all year round.

Deborah Niemann 3:14
Okay. Wow. And so, obviously, that is way more milk than you can drink yourself. So, what does your dairy do with the milk?

Joanne Danielson 3:21
I make raw milk hard cheeses.

Deborah Niemann 3:24
And when did you get started with that?

Joanne Danielson 3:27
Oh, boy. Well, I started in the kitchen a long time ago. But as far as being a licensed dairy, it was in 2013, I believe.

Deborah Niemann 3:35

Joanne Danielson 3:35
So it was about nine, ten years ago?

Deborah Niemann 3:38
All right.

Joanne Danielson 3:38
The herd wasn’t always as large as it is now.

Deborah Niemann 3:42

Joanne Danielson 3:42
It started with one goat.

Deborah Niemann 3:43
Yeah. So for most of those years then, how many goats did you have?

Joanne Danielson 3:50
Oh, well, I was teaching full time for the first… probably 25 years. And I would generally keep about 15 to 20 head—and again, I would milk all year round. So, I would have 8 to 10 in milk. I tried to do a fall freshening and a spring freshening; spring’s usually bigger. And that’s still the way I do it. It’s just with more animals now.

Deborah Niemann 4:18
Okay, that’s interesting. You don’t hear a lot of people breeding Nubian goats outside of the traditional fall breeding/spring kidding season. So, what month are you breeding, then, for those fall kiddings? And when are the fall kiddings?

Joanne Danielson 4:36
As we are high desert, I don’t like to be kidding, really, past about the 15th of November. So the falls, I shoot for September and October for their kidding, which means I put the bucks in—or at least across the fence from them. Nubians are a little trickier than the LaManchas. The LaManchas pretty much cycle year-round, and the Nubians mostly do, but I trick the bucks by putting them under lights. So, when we have the equinox, I put the bucks under lights; I take whatever daylight is available naturally. And then I feed them in a closed barn that is lit with just regular lights and give them 16-hours-a-day light. So, when I let the bucks out from the lights—and I’m not able to do it with the does—but the bucks think it’s spring instead of fall. And I put them across the fence from the does I want to breed, and you get what I call “the buck effect.” So, these does that are cycling, but not really strongly, begin to cycle more heavily. And about 60% of my Nubians will come into heat and will actually settle that time of year, is what I’ve found over the years.

Joanne Danielson 5:09
Wow, that’s interesting. Is that something that you figured out on your own? Or had you heard about someone else doing it?

Joanne Danielson 6:08
Well, kind of a combination. I inquired about how people, you know, were manipulating estrus without using hormones. I prefer not to use hormones, if possible, just because I feel their lactation is so tied into the hormones that I don’t like messing with them unless I have to. So, I kind of put together ideas I got from several other people and tried it for what worked here. Most of the other people are at lower latitudes, so their days are already longer. And they also had different breeds. So, it kind of makes a difference on all of that. It was kind of trial and error.

Deborah Niemann 6:47
Okay, yeah. Let’s talk a little bit more about the breed. And if anybody sees the show notes for this, they will definitely see photos of Nubian goats. But if you’re just listening to this in your car, and you’re wondering what is unique about a Nubian goat, it’s the ears. They’ve got these beautiful long ears that hang down; they’re not erect like the majority of goat breeds. And it’s not the teeny, tiny, little, almost non-existent ears of the LaMancha. But they’re these big, long, beautiful ears, which always remind me of, like… When I look at their face, I think of a little girl with a bob haircut.

Deborah Niemann 7:24
So, was there any particular thing that drew you to Nubian goats? Like their butterfat, or their look, or was it just a goat that you found initially that was available for sale?

Joanne Danielson 7:34
Well, it started as the goat that was available for sale. And I do love the ears, to be honest with you. That was my hardest thing when I bought my first LaMancha—I dont’ know, 10 or 15 years ago—was I didn’t really want to let go of the ears. But their ears and their big Roman nose is kind of what to me makes a Nubian a Nubian. But, as life moved on for me being a cheesemaker, the high components are a big draw, which is why when I decided to bring in a second breed, the LaManchas were the second-best candidate. So, I had to bring in what I call my “earless wonders.” I just love them—and their personalities. The Nubians are very timid compared to the LaManchas. And I don’t say this to be mean—because, you know, I love them—but they’re not as smart. They don’t adapt very well. They’re really big babies. And I kind of like that about them. The LaManchas are very bold and very gregarious. And, you know, if I move them from one pen to another pen, they run around and check everything out, and the Nubian will stand at the gate and cry, “Mom, you put me in the wrong pen! I don’t live here!” You know? They’re really different temperaments. But I just love the Nubian temperament and their looks both, and being a cheesemaker, it’s a good breed for me to be in love with.

Deborah Niemann 9:02
Okay. So, can you talk a little bit about the butterfat and other components and how it affects your cheesemaking?

Joanne Danielson 9:10
Well, you get… The butterfat and the protein are what are referred to as the “solid” components. And that’s what will determine, in part, your yield. So, the higher the butterfat and the higher the protein—to a degree—you’ll get a higher yield. But also playing into that, you also have a casein protein that is the most retrievable. So in addition to, you know, sifting my goats for high butterfat and high protein and the right balance between them, I also prefer, as a cheesemaker, to have what is called the “high alleles.” And these are genetic tests that can be run now, and the A and the B alleles tend to give you higher yields. So, I like does and bucks that are AA or AB or BB. Those are the main factors that determine how much solid product—or cheese—you get when you process a gallon of milk.

Deborah Niemann 10:10
Okay. And one of the things that’s awesome about Nubian goats is that of all the standard-sized goats, they do have the highest butterfat. And you know all about that, because you’re on milk test. So, can you tell us a little bit about the percentage of butterfat that you see in your goats? Like, what’s the average, and then what do you see on the high end and the low end?

Joanne Danielson 10:34
Well, let’s take just the classic lactation curve first for a goat—and it wouldn’t matter the breed. But when the animal first freshens, they tend to have a high component in both butterfat and protein. And then, as they go through their lactation, the milk increases until we reach what we call their “peak” of their lactation, which is the greatest number of pounds or gallons of milk they’ll make. When they’re peaking, that’s when their butterfat and protein are the lowest. And then, as they decrease through their lactation, the components begin increasing again.

Joanne Danielson 11:13
So, if you look at an individual doe when you’re on milk test, you’d have to look at how many days in milk they are before you used one milk test to do too much. So, what we normally do for the breed and the breed averages, is those butterfat and proteins are average for a whole lactation time. So, I’m not even positive I know now off the top of my head what the breed average is, but I really like my Nubians to be at least 5% average butterfat for their lactation, or they probably need to go somewhere where their butterfat’s not as important. And I like their protein to be 4% or better.

Joanne Danielson 11:56
But during their lactation curve, like at the end of their lactation—which many of my girls are now. They’re starting to dry up, they’ll be bred for spring, or they’ve been bred already—you’ll get 8 or 9% butterfat, you know, this time of year. And that can be hard to recover in cheesemaking, which is part of why I brought the LaManchas in and why I also try to have a spring and a fall kidding, because you get so much butterfat that in order to recover it, you have to use a lot of rennet, and it tends to make the cheese bitter. So, if you have newly fresh does, like in the fall—like now—that you’re mixing into the bulk tank with the does that are at the end of their lactation, it kind of evens out the bulk tank’s average. I guess where I’m going with it is: I try and think in terms of the average components in the bulk tank when it comes to yield.

Deborah Niemann 12:56
Okay. Yeah, that makes sense, because you’ve got so many goats together. That’s interesting about the butterfat getting so high and the amount of rennet that you have to use affecting the taste of the cheese. We have Nigerians, which also have extremely high butterfat, and in the fall and winter we see butterfats that are, like, 8 to 10%. And… Now I’ve got to go back and look at all of our cheese notes and see, because we tend to take notes on the cheese as we eat it, but we’re just making cheese for ourselves. So that’s really fascinating. My husband’s gonna love this, because he’s the hard-cheese maker the family, and he’s an engineer. So, he really loves it, anything that starts getting into percentages and numbers and statistics and stuff.

Deborah Niemann 13:45
So, the Nubian goat average for butterfat on ADGA in the 2019 lactation list was 4.9%, so that’s awesome that you’re striving for goats with a higher butterfat like that.

Joanne Danielson 13:58
And I even select the LaManchas for it, too, and I do have some that are really high. I have one little LaMancha that—I call her my “butterfat queen”—her butterfat’s as high if not higher than some of my Nubians. And I do, I screen for it. I mean, if you’re going to get—and your husband can probably relate to this. If you’re going to take a gallon of milk and make a cheese with it, isn’t it better to get a higher yield and process less fluid? You know, you have less whey, which is pretty much waste. So, the components are very important, but the butterfat—like I said—is less important as far as recovery than the protein. But it does make for a really rich cheese. I’ll bet your Nigerian cheeses are just really marvelous with that high butterfat. What do their proteins run?

Deborah Niemann 14:49
Um, you know what, it’s been a few years since we were on tests, but it was over 4. So the breed average for Nigerians is 4.4%, and I think ours were, like, right around the average for protein.

Joanne Danielson 15:01
Okay. Yeah, I’m looking at a milk test, and I’m looking at the butterfats—and this was for a March test. And we have an 8.4, and a 7.1, and an 8, and an 8, and a 4.7, and a 5.6, and a 6.3. So… You know, but those are deceiving, because that’s just one little window into their lactation. I will, at the very end of their lactation, get into the butterfats that you guys see, but I think the Nubian is probably second to the Nigerians for butterfat.

Deborah Niemann 15:36
Yeah, definitely.

Joanne Danielson 15:37
I mean, the Nigerians aren’t a standard breed, so you’re not going to get the volume of milk, but for home-scale cheesemaking I’ll betcha you make delicious cheeses with it.

Deborah Niemann 15:47
Yeah, it’s really fun. And we had LaManchas for a while, and that was… I just, I would look at them, and I’d look at their milk test results, and then look at the LaManchas, and go, “You guys are giving me watered-down milk.” Because their average butterfat on the ADGA breed average is 3.7%. And, as I said earlier—just in case you’re listening and are like, “What was Nubian goat again?”—Nubian is 4.9, is the average. And the LaMancha actually is in second place. That’s one of the reasons that we picked LaManchas for a second breed for a while, is because I had heard other people say that some of their LaMancha does had butterfat as high as their Nubian does. So I was hoping to get that. I didn’t, unfortunately; I should have gone to find some of those people who had said that and chosen the LaManchas more carefully. But if somebody wants to make cheese, you definitely want to look at butterfat and protein percentages.

Joanne Danielson 16:51
Very much the case. And I am now starting to test my LaManchas for casein, also. And that’s even trickier. Finding the high component ones—I did that pretty much through genetics. And I did it very differently than my Nubians. My Nubians, I started with kind of your basic backyard goat, and I really graded up over the years to what I feel is a much more well-rounded animal in both structure and milk production. When I went into the LaManchas, I didn’t have three generations or decades to do that. So, I went out and bought some really top-of-the-line LaManchas that I knew had the components. And now I’m starting to screen them for their casein genes, too. But it’s hard to get the high alleles in the LaManchas.

Joanne Danielson 17:37
It’s really worth—I mean, it’s so affordable now to get genetic testing done that, you know, if you really want to get analytical and numerical, you can. I mean, if you go on milk test, you get, you know, roughly on a monthly basis—however often you’re testing—you get your protein and your butterfat, and then you also can compare the does as they complete a lactation. And being an ADGA Plus member, I think it’s $20 now to run a casein test, and realize that’s not very much money if it helps you select does that increase your yield and your productivity. So, it’s really exciting to me that these genetic tests have become quite affordable. So it gives you—

Deborah Niemann 18:22
Yeah, that is exciting.

Joanne Danielson 18:23
Yeah. More tools to select the best animals for cheese production. It’s really kind of neat.

Deborah Niemann 18:29
So, do you use that testing to decide, like, which does you want to keep bucks from?

Joanne Danielson 18:35
Oh, absolutely. I even use it to decide which does I’m keeping. The LaManchas are now being sifted strictly on their casein—or not strictly, because again, I need a bit of a dilution factor sometimes of the year. But I don’t think I would buy a Nubian buck or keep a Nubian buck that was not a high-allele buck; you’d have to be offering me something very special, and something I really need structurally in the herd. I have a few does that have an E or an F in them, or maybe even an N; those are the low alleles, as far as butterfat and casein are concerned. But there does seem to be a really neat correlation: If you have AB combinations, their casein—if they have casein like that—they tend to have high components. So, I’m almost to the point where I quit testing. If you use a high-allele buck, and most of your does are high-alleles, you can pretty much quit testing. Whereas if you bring in new genetics that might have low alleles, then I’d have to spend more money testing, I guess. So, it’s kind of a balance, but all bucks are tested before I decided to keep them, certainly.

Deborah Niemann 19:57
Okay. And then, for the allele testing, this is completely separate from your monthly component testing that you do. Or is it? Like, how often do you have to do the allele testing? Is that something that fluctuates—?

Joanne Danielson 20:08
So, you only do it once in their life.

Deborah Niemann 20:10

Joanne Danielson 20:11
You pull hair, and just like you send DNA in, now they get DNA on file—

Deborah Niemann 20:16

Joanne Danielson 20:16
—you can ask them to run the casein test.

Deborah Niemann 20:20
Okay, perfect! I’ve seen that.

Joanne Danielson 20:22
Have you seen it?

Deborah Niemann 20:23
Yeah, I’ve seen it. Because, about three or four years ago, I had a buck get loose when I was traveling. And so, I came home and had no idea—or it was multiple bucks—had no idea. And so, I did a massive amount of DNA testing about four years ago; it was crazy how many kids I had to have tested.

Joanne Danielson 20:43
For progeny. Yeah, no.

Deborah Niemann 20:45
Yeah, yeah. Just to see who daddy was.

Joanne Danielson 20:48
Yeah. “Who’s your daddy?” is what I call it.

Deborah Niemann 20:50
Yep, exactly.

Joanne Danielson 20:52
Aye, yai, yai. That is one of the things, if you do keep track of… Well, and I guess, it doesn’t matter whatever breed or whatever you keep track of, because there are groups of people—I should mention—that have better tolerance for goat milk if they’re low-alleles. So, if you wanted to market milk to people that are prone to have sensitivities, you’d want the antithesis of what I’m breeding for. I don’t want to make it sound like, you know, my goal as a goat breeder and a cheesemaker is necessarily going to be the same goal that someone else would have. Whatever you decide to do, you want to keep things as tight as you can, and use whatever bucks tend to improve whatever your goals are, I guess is where I’m going with this. So in my case, I do DNA-test all of my bucks on the farm—unless I know their parents. You know, if a mom is AA—I’m just gonna take a simple case—and the dad is a BB, the only alleles that their progeny can have would be an AB. But, you do have to be certain that that’s who their daddy is!

Deborah Niemann 22:05
Yes. Yeah. And I remember seeing the testing on there about the milk. And I was like, “Ooh…” Because it’s like, “Just check another box and pay another fee.” And I was really tempted to do that. And I don’t remember why I didn’t. But now I’m wishing I had done it, because it sounds like it would have given us some really great information for our cheesemaking.

Joanne Danielson 22:24
But you know what? If you have their DNA on file…?

Deborah Niemann 22:28

Joanne Danielson 22:29
That DNA’s still on file. So, you can pay $20, and you don’t even have to resample the goats.

Deborah Niemann 22:35

Joanne Danielson 22:35
And they can run the casein for you.

Deborah Niemann 22:37
Oh, that’s awesome! All right. I know what I’m doing when I get off of this call.

Joanne Danielson 22:43
You’re gonna order casein? And I have no idea what the alleles are in Nigerian Dwarfs, so I’m curious. You’ll have to let me know what you find out.

Deborah Niemann 22:52

Joanne Danielson 22:53
The only breeds I really know about are the LaManchas and the Nubians. And specifically, you know, the genetics that I work with. I really don’t know… I’m guessing, if they correlate at all with the Nubians, that you’re probably going to have high alleles, but I’d love to know.

Deborah Niemann 23:11
Yeah, I’m kind of thinking so, too, because you were saying that people who are sensitive to milks tend to do better with the opposite. And I’ve actually—very sad to say—started to react negatively to our goat milk. So, I suspect it’s because it is on that same end with your Nubian goats.

Joanne Danielson 23:34
That’s what it sounds like. That’s why everybody should get goats that they need and that make them happy, you know?

Deborah Niemann 23:41
Right. Exactly. That’s why, to start off this series that I’m doing on breeds, I did a show on, you know, how to pick a goat breed, and it was: “There is no perfect goat for everyone.” You have to see what your goals are. So, totally depending on your goals, the breed choice is going to be different.

Deborah Niemann 24:02
So, one of the things I’ve heard is, like—seems controversial among Nubian breeders. I’ve heard some people say that Nubian goats are a dual-purpose breed because the wethers can make good meat animals. But of course, they are a dairy goat, so some people are offended by the dual-purpose thing. How do you feel about using Nubian wethers for meat, and, like, is it just a byproduct, or do you feel like they’re really a dual-purpose breed?

Joanne Danielson 24:31
I believe they’re a dual-purpose breed. I tend to breed Nubians that look very old-school. They’re big-framed. They are an older-style Nubian. And so, you know, I sell probably 90% or more of the bucks born on the farm for meat.

Deborah Niemann 24:51

Joanne Danielson 24:51
It’s a very important part of the picture. And the animals born here can either give us the gift of milk or give us the gift of meat, is the way I look at it. And the carcasses on the Nubians are definitely… I mean, they’re not a Boer carcass, you know? But they’re definitely a higher-yielding carcass. I mean, again, I don’t raise goats for meat. But unless a buck is something that I’d be willing to put over my own does, I will not let him leave here with testicles and papers in hand. I really don’t think that most of the boys born need to be herd sires.

Deborah Niemann 25:33
Yeah, exactly. One of my pet peeves is seeing people post on Facebook, you know, that “This buck is, you know, $100 as a wether or $300 as a buck.” And I’m just like, “That should not be, like, an option!” It just is not an option. Like, either he’s wether-quality or he’s buck-quality.

Joanne Danielson 25:51
Absolutely. And I don’t think the vast majority should be buck-quality. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. But, if my breeding program is working, I think a doe kid should be at least as good as her dam—if not better. And, in order to get that improvement, you have to be sure the buck is offering at least as good of a genetic package as the doe. And hopefully, that’s the easiest way to improve your herd. Because a buck can cover a lot more does, and you can get a quicker time increase by selecting them carefully. So, I think buck selection is probably one of the most underrated things by most breeders. I think 90% of the animals should go to slaughter. Or, if you can sell them all for pets, you know, that’s great. I used to sell, you know, some for wethers and some for pet wethers. And that’s fine, too. But I guess my point is, is that most of them should not be breeding bucks.

Deborah Niemann 27:01

Joanne Danielson 27:02
So, I’m not very popular with the people that don’t eat meat. I think that the byproduct of raising dairy goats is a lot of meat.

Deborah Niemann 27:13
Yeah, I agree completely. It’s funny, because we had been vegetarians for 14 years when we moved to the country. And we had no intention of changing that. But what did change us was that we had chickens that had babies—and half of them are going to be boys. And when you get too many roosters, it gets ugly. So, within a couple of years, we had to make some decisions about what we were going to do about all these roosters running around out there, you know, running—literally running—our hens ragged. Like, they had no feathers left on their back. And they were killing each other, because they all wanted the girls all the time. So that was just, like, basically our little lesson in: “Yeah, you don’t need as many males as you have females.” So, you know, if you don’t thin the flock, they’re gonna do it for you. So, that was when we started eating chicken. And then, you know, we saw the same thing happens in everything else; it’s 50% of them are gonna be boys, and you got to have a plan for those boys.

Joanne Danielson 28:15
You do. And like, I would like to believe that if someone thinks they should not be eaten, that they can find good homes. Because I would much rather the meat buyer come in, pick them up, and they’re going to go to the processing plant within two or three days; they’ve had a very good healthy life here. They are killed humanely. And I feel much better about that than taking a bunch and running them through the auction yard. And people think, “Oh, that baby is really cute. I think I want that baby goat.” And they take it home, and they tether it, and they don’t realize you can tether goats but they have to be trained. And, you know, they don’t realize they need adequate shelter, that you have to feed them. You know, that scares me more than sending an animal to slaughter.

Deborah Niemann 29:03
Right. Yeah, that’s why we actually eat some of our Nigerian Dwarf wethers. If they’re not gone by the time they’re a year or 18 months, then they go into a freezer—either ours or somebody else’s. And it’s not a lot of meat, but it’s delicious.

Joanne Danielson 29:21
Oh, it’s great.

Deborah Niemann 29:21
So, we love it.

Joanne Danielson 29:23
Yeah, no, it’s a great meat. And I am a meat eater. And even if I weren’t, I think I would still be able to sell to people that chose to eat meat. And I’d much rather—like I said—know that however length of life they had, you know, that they were properly taken care of. I think that’s more to me than, you know, “This animal can’t go for slaughter; it needs to go as a pet or as a pack animal.” There are people that I will do that for them, but it’s really difficult kidding the number of does that I do. So, the way I survive the kidding cycles, both fall and spring—and fall is a much smaller group—is I let the does dam-raise their kids. I end up with occasional, you know, bottle babies or whatever with large litter sometimes, but the vast majority of them are raised by the dam. I do it primarily for, you know, having it be less labor-intensive for me while I’m kidding, but I also think you get a better growth rate on the kids when they have free-choice milk whenever they want it. My kids are much bigger than my bottle babies.

Deborah Niemann 30:33
Yeah. I think it’s just easier on them to be able to nurse at will. Like, you watch them, and it’s like, you know, they only nurse for 15 seconds, but they’ll be back 5 minutes later.

Joanne Danielson 30:44
Exactly. You know, and the good mamas can—and you probably have really large herds…

Deborah Niemann 30:49

Joanne Danielson 30:50
…you know, litters. But the good mamas, you know, they’ll—it’s even with triplets or quads—most of my does make enough milk, but they also have to have the mothering skills that, “No, you just ate.” So they walk away from those two, and the other two will run over and nurse. It’s amazing what you can learn about goat dynamics watching different mothers, you know, nursing their kid. I think that, you know, little snacks here and there is probably better than just gorging, you know, 40 ounces of milk, two or three times a day.

Deborah Niemann 31:52
Yeah, exactly.

Joanne Danielson 31:52
It’s just more natural.

Deborah Niemann 31:23
Yeah. When we have to bottle feed them, we try to stay at four bottles a day as long as possible. But I know a lot of people try to get down to two bottles a day as fast as they can, so that it’s less work, which… I don’t know. We’ve never had any trouble with floppy kid or, you know, diarrhea with kids and stuff like that, and I think that’s one reason is because we’re splitting the milk up into more. And I’ve even seen there’s a vet in New Zealand who even says that six times a day is better. So yeah, I think the closer you can stay to, like, what they would do with mom, then the better it is for them overall.

Joanne Danielson 31:59
I think so, too, but the thought of me trying to get a bottle even four times a day…

Deborah Niemann 32:05
Oh, yeah.

Joanne Danielson 32:05
It’s just not practical. I do try to get them either weaned or to their new home sooner, because they are labor-intensive. Very labor-intensive.

Deborah Niemann 32:16
Yeah. This has been such a fun conversation; we’ve talked about so much here already. So, people will probably be listening to this thinking about, like, whether or not a Nubian goat is right for them. How do you feel Nubians are for people who are completely new to goats? Is it… Do you think it’s a good starter breed for people?

Joanne Danielson 32:35
I think any of the breeds would be a good starter animal, and what they really need to do is decide what their goals are.

Deborah Niemann 32:46

Joanne Danielson 32:45
I think a Nubian… I mean, the Nubian was a starter breed for me. And I knew nothing. I mean, I was a total newbie; I wasn’t even very much—other than a horse person—I wasn’t really much into agriculture at all. And I did fine with Nubians. They’re pretty mellow. They are very sweet. Like I said, they’re a little bit on the timid side. So, I think they would make a good first goat for someone. I may be biased because they made a good first goat for me. You know, kind of in light of what you and I were discussing earlier, they kind of need to look at what their goals are. If they have milk sensitivities, I don’t think a Nubian would be their best choice. They might want to go with an Alpine, or even get the genetic testing done. If they really wanted a Nubian, I’m sure there’s Nubians out there that are low-alleles, but they wouldn’t find them here.

Deborah Niemann 33:35
Yeah. So, do the low alleles tend to kind of go with the lower butterfat? Like, because like, Toggenburg is, like, 3.1% butterfat. They’re pretty much… Year after year, they always wind up with the lowest butterfat. Would you expect them to have really low alleles, too?

Joanne Danielson 33:52
I would. I honestly have not looked at how much testing has been done. But the Alpine and the Toggenburg and even some of the LaManchas tend to be low-alleles.

Deborah Niemann 34:03

Joanne Danielson 34:04
I mean, I was trained as a scientist. So, you know, so I hate to throw something out there without having pretty strong data to back it. But in my Nubians, there is a huge correlation between high components and high alleles. They tend to go hand-in-hand. Now, does that apply across all Nubians? Or does that just apply across the genetics? I think it’s a breed characteristic. I mean, obviously, the butterfat is higher in the Nubians than other breeds. But with the genetic testing, I would think it probably goes across the breed, too. But if someone is looking for low-alleles, I would probably look at the other breeds. I think they’d be more likely to find it in the Alpines in the Toggenburg.

Deborah Niemann 34:53
Yeah, because Alpines, also, their butterfat’s pretty low, too. The average on that is 3.3%. So…

Joanne Danielson 34:59
Yeah. Not much higher than the Toggs. You know, I did a few times have some Alpines that I tried, because they were well higher than breed average in both butterfat and protein, and the protein was more impressive than the butterfat. But temperament-wise, they didn’t mix in very well. The Alpines bullied my Nubians pretty badly. So, they ended up going off to different herds because of that. And even my LaManchas are much tougher than my Nubians. I have some sweet LaManchas that can run with the Nubians, but my strongest LaManchas string is exclusively LaManchas, because they’re bullies. You know, you want to match the temperament, and… I don’t know, I bet there’s a lot of stuff out in the literature about the advantages and disadvantages of them, isn’t there? I haven’t looked for a long time. But I know when I was looking for a second breed, and decided on the LaMancha, obviously I looked at components a lot, but I did look at temperament and other things, too.

Deborah Niemann 36:04
Yeah. It’s funny. I had LaManchas for eight years or so. And everything you said about them is absolutely true. I used to say all the time, like, “I can’t believe they’re not extinct.” Like, you know, they say “Curiosity killed the cat.” I was just like, “Yeah, I think curiosity is gonna kill LaManchas, too.” They were just so curious and brave, and they would do things that they shouldn’t do. Like, they would jump through windows. I don’t mean closed windows; I mean open. Where, like, “A window’s open! Oh, I’m just gonna help myself to the pasture now and go through that window.” You know? Just, I had a friend with Nubian goats, and she came over one day, and she saw one jumping up, like, just like popcorn right outside. And she’s like, “Oh, my gosh, your goats jump.” She’s like, “My goats don’t jump.”

Joanne Danielson 36:58
Yeah, the—like I said—the temperament of the two breeds I have are night and day. They really are. I don’t think—particularly as I get older—the LaManchas would ever be more than 25% of the herd. I think they’re around 15 or 20% now. And I love them. Don’t get me wrong. But they’re just totally wired. I joke that they should be a different species instead of just a different breed. But they really are that different. They’re night and day.

Deborah Niemann 37:30
Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much today! It’s been so much fun talking with you about goats. And if somebody wanted to get in touch with you online, how would they find you?

Joanne Danielson 37:41
There is a Facebook page. And it’s “Curds and Whey Farmstead Dairy.” And I do respond to Messenger. It depends on how busy I am, how prompt of a response you’ll get, but that’s probably the best way to get hold of me.

Deborah Niemann 37:56
Okay, awesome! Thank you so much. I’ve had a lot of fun today.

Joanne Danielson 38:00
Well, good. I enjoyed it, too.

Deborah Niemann 38:04
And that’s it for today’s show. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the “subscribe” button so that you don’t miss any episodes. To see show notes, you can always visit, and you can follow us on Facebook at See you again next time. Bye for now!

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