My perspective is one of many i'm sure. I believe in going slow and being methodical. Read it and take in what relates or resonates with you. I'm a DAIRY Goat breeder. So this list is from MY experiences.

1. Take your time.
Learn first. Buy later. Don't rush into it. Read up on everything you can on the internet about dairy goats. I have a list of goat websites listed upper left of this website. Start reading. Everyone that jumps into dairy goats, usually disappear within a couple of years. WHY? not prepared for what is to come. If you plan to be in it for the long haul then what is the rush? Start reading.

2. BE flexible with your breed choice.
Everyone starting out wants a Nubian. But one will not always be available. Be willing to start out with another breed. You can always add the Nubian later. You have to start out with what you want to DO with goats rather then WHAT goat breed it is. I literally had to wait one year before getting my Nubians. If you have that kind of time then stick with it. But most want to start. It doesn't matter what breed your Dairy goat is to learn about breeding, milking and management. Size matters if you are looking for a small breed for city living. But other than that, care and management is the most important.

3. What do you want a goat for?
Think about what you want to start with? EVERYONE wants an already established milker. :) 
ME TOO! Point being once I have this wonderful milker? All that time and effort to make her such? I'm not going to be willing to sell her easily. Especially to a new goat owner. Milkers are hard to come by. And when you find that milker? Price will be commesurate to her worth as a milker. At that point pedigree is secondary in my estimation.  Unless you live near a serious goat dairy milkers are truly hard to find.

4. Try to envision the future.  
There is no rushing in goat care. No short cuts. No rushing around the learning curve. My take on this is start with kids and grow and learn with them. By the time they are ready to breed you will be ready to handle all that comes with it.  Milking is not always easy. Bred goats need special care. etc. Breeding, too. AI. Showing. Linear Appraisals. DHI. I had no intention of ever getting that involved. All I wanted when starting out was a couple of family type milkers. You'll have a whole year to ease into being the goat herder you envision or migrate towards. And it will change as you learn. It very well might stay true to your original idea, but 90% of the time? it doesn't.  Trust me on this.

5. Ducks in a row.
Get your fencing up. Shelter done. Supplies ordered. THEN go buy. NOT the other way around. Make sure the dogs can't get into the goat pen. The goats have sufficient shelter from rain. Make sure that you can store feed and supplies easily and out of the weather. Make sure your pen setup is sturdy, etc. Find a vet in your area that treats goats. Find a mentor. YOU WILL NEED ONE. Please do all this BEFORE you buy a goat. Especially getting the supplies needed in an emergency.

6. ADGA. FDGA. INBA. Goat Associations.
These are the three I'm a member of. American Dairy Goat Association. Florida Dairy Goat Association. International Nubian Breeder Association. And start your research there. NOT on Craigslist. Unless you already KNOW goats. Go to ADGA.org and start looking for a breeder or other associations in your area.

7. Find a breeder & ask for a farm visit.
Most will be more then happy to show you around even if they have nothing for sale. If not? Then quite possibly find another. 90% of this business is word of mouth. If a breeder isn't friendly. Willing to help newcomers. Move on. Educating new potential goat owners is key to the success of all goat breeders- and future breeders. It's like a pyramid. With that one friendly breeder at the top.  As long as a potential goat owner has done some diligence on the subject, I'm more then willing to host a visit.

Finding a breeder in your area that is a member of associations pretty much guarentees they keep up to date with everything about goats. They take their breeding seriously. Husbandry is on track. They register their goats and possibly show them. It doesn't guarentee quality, but it surely is a step in a better direction then just buying goats unknown from Craigslist. Once you start understanding goat lingo thats when Craigslist can come into play.

A farm visit isn't always feasible. Then what? Well, hopefully they are friendly over the phone. Help you with answers. Sends you photos of stock for sale. Willing to work with you over the phone so when you do drive up, it's to buy the goat. But whatever you do don't expect them to educate you on everything. Show a bit of knowledge that you are learning. Trying to learn. etc. Worst thing is a phone call asking about goats and they don't know there are 8 different breeds to choose from. :( Due diligence!!!

8. Go to the Fair
If your fair is anything like ours (South Florida Fair). You will be able to see goats from all over the state, breeders too, all in one place. The one thing you have to find out is what weekend the goats will be there. Too many times I get the call that they were at the fair where were the goats? Likely gone already. Usually the goat shows only last a few days thru out the fair. So keep an eye out for when. ADGA also has up a list of all fairs, goat shows, regional get togethers and so forth.

If  you don't know what you are doing  you will likely get in way over your head. Auctions are for those that know what they are doing. Know what sickly goats look like. Know diseases and so forth. DO YOU? if you don't, then stay away. You will not get lucky and get that one in a million. You will get a headache. Worse a diseased, sickly, in 6 months dead goat.

10. Know the Goat's History.
Works with the above. Auctions usually don't handle registrations or ask for them even if they are. Don't buy an unknown goat from an unknown breeder, that can't answer simple questions on lactation. breeding. kids. birthing. age etc. If they don't know or don't answer. Walk away.

If you find a goat to buy,  find out as much about it as you can. Where did it come from? Did this breeder buy it, or breed it? Is it registered? How long has it been there?  Knowing about it's history is important. For me, Pedigree (registration papers) is paramount in a purchase of any dairy goat. Many say they don't care if the goat is registered. YOU WILL. Others say I don't care if my dog was papered. Are you going to breed your dog and milk it every year? NO. 

When it comes time to sell the kids. You get more for a papered goat. You will be able to hand over the papers and perpetuate lineage with a history. You want to know the history of the goat you bought. If nothing more then to tell your friends... If you want to breed the goat don't you want to know if you're inbreeding to the buck too closely? How will you know if you don't have them registered? I came from the horse world. Same theories apply. No papers. Then don't breed.

But I just want a pet...  Sooner or later you might have to sell this pet. Then what? You will be more inclined to find it a good or even great home, if it has its pedigree.

11. Diseases.
What are the serious goat diseases you should (i say "must") stay away from? Another reason to know history. Know the breeder. Trust that they are reputable.  

Caseaous Lymphadenitis. Most call it CL. Terrible and can stay in the soil for months, some say years. You bring ONE goat onto your property with it. And it can infect YOU and all the goats on your property. Rare, but possible. As well it can cross contaminate the cows, and horses. Possibly pigs.  

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis. CAE another disease you don't want to have to deal with. Big breeders have figured out how to manage it. Do you?  If not stay away. I think the only way to eradicate it is to not perpetuate it. Breeders that maintain strict standards know how to deal with it. Let them. But you. Me. The smaller breeders? no. Ask for CAE prevention status or better ask if they TEST for CAE status every year.

Johnes another disease that is linked to Crohn's disease in humans. Cows and goats (some studies say doesn't pass with goats)  pass it on to humans in their milk. Sadly, not many breeders test for this.

These are the BIG 3. There are others.  This all goes back to history. Know the goats history.

12. Keep Records.
One of the more frustrating things about looking around for goats is be organized in note taking. This goes for anything you are purchasing. Trailers, etc. Sometimes it all starts to meld together and then it just gets confusing.

13. Pricing.
Oh boy! This one is the hardest to answer. Yes you can find that $75 goat. but personally? I don't recommend it. Unless its a wether (castrated male pet goat).  I think the least a dairy goat should sell for is $150 for a kid. $200 for proven lines. $300-400 if they hit the show ring AND are show worthy with dams and sires behind them.  I think a family milker is worth that. This doesn't even mention the Show goats. $400-600 range. The most? the sky is the limit. A national show goat breeding went for $4500 last year. :) wowser. But here is the kicker. Its all relative. And It's all about that goat. Is the udder off? Do the kids hit the ground easily. Does she milk 11lbs. but is ugly as sin. IS she a stellar show goat, but crotchety as hell. Is she an easy keeper? Once you know what to ask and know what it is your looking for and you find her, the price is right for YOU. Don't expect. Don't Assume all goats cost the same. But do expect to pay $200-300 for one dairy goat and a companion for her.

When searching usually the biggest and best breeders sell for the most. But this is where farm visits and keeping in touch come into play. And asking real questions can work in your favor. When that kind of breeder thinks you are going to be a good steward, are in it for the long haul, you never know what can happen to pricing.

14. Keep up to date.
Once you buy your goat now what? Even before you purchase you should at least go to one or two seminars. Go to the farm visits. Go to shows.  Keep in touch with your breeder or mentor.
At least once a year. Let them know you are still around. Still looking or finally found.

I'm sure this list is unfinished. But hopefully, this can answer some questions when you are starting out looking for a dairy goat.

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