Why Register a Dairy Goat

Why Register a Dairy Goat

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By David Abbott, ADGA

Registering a dairy goat involves time and expense. You may be one of the very few for whom money is no object. For the rest of us, we need to know why spending $6 to $59 to register each animal is worth it. Here are a few reasons this relatively small investment will pay off. 

Seven Reasons to Register 

Official Identification and Records 

A Certificate of Registration is like a birth certificate or vehicle title. All documentation from birth to end of life is tied to a goat’s Certificate of Registration and associated registration identification number. The registration certificate is the official document identifying who owns the goat, date of birth, the sire and dam, the breeder, the breed, a color description, the unique identifying tattoos, and where the tattoos are located. 

Instead of calling goat lineage a family tree, that diagram of ancestry is a “pedigree.” Registration is the start or continuation of a pedigree that a registry stores. Additional information, such as milk production records, trait evaluation scores, and awards, will also be part of that pedigree. 

A Certificate of Registration serves as a reference point for recording progeny and performance records. It can also be useful to prove ownership, particularly in the unfortunate situation where an animal is stolen. 

Disease Tracking and Travel Requirements 

Your goats will likely need identification that complies with federal and state regulations. It makes sense to get all the additional benefits of registration or recordation at the same time identification and tracking requirements are met. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) has required approved identification for goat transportation between states since 2002. That requirement is mandatory for all breeding goats and goats sold as pets to track disease that may enter the food chain. Many states have identical or additional requirements for transportation within the state or for transferring ownership.  

The recording of the animal’s primary identification in the form of tattoos and any secondary microchip Electronic Identification (EID) through registration meets the National Animal Identification Program requirements. This avoids using the USDA APHIS Veterinary Service Scrapie ear tags that may tear out and detract from a goat’s appearance. 

Statement of Conformation 

The Registration Certificate is a statement that an animal conforms to a specific breed. To register a dairy goat, the goat must meet the breed standards for its breed.  

While a Grade animal requires that an animal appears to conform to a certain breed, registration goes a step further and requires that ancestors must have conformed for at least three successive generations.  

Conforming for successive generations reduces the likelihood of having goat kids that do not conform and increases the likelihood of kids having their parents’ disposition and production traits. 

Breed Improvement 

A first-time goat owner may not give much consideration to improving a breed, but it is worth contemplation. Intentional, selective breeding is not just about being more productive but about the animal’s overall wellbeing. Desirable traits are selected for longevity and lower susceptibility to injury while being dairy efficient. 

Photos by David Abbott

Participating in a full-featured registry that offers the maintenance of performance records, a trait evaluation program, sire summaries, and genetic evaluations means you have more tools available when making breeding decisions. 

Increased Value 

Many who have researched dairy goats before buying are looking for goats that are documented to conform to a set of expectations.  Registration is the foundation of that credible documentation. 

The more impressive data associated with an individual goat, the higher demand. You only need to attend an auction for premium documented goats to realize just how profitable registration, performance records, and trait evaluation scores can be. 

Qualified to Show 

While you may not initially be interested in shows, registration makes an animal eligible to participate in registry sanctioned shows.  

It is one thing to have an opinion that your goats are amazing. Public scrutiny by other exhibitors and a thorough evaluation by a trained livestock judge provide independent credibility. Registries also record results from their sanctioned shows and assign titles to goats with a specific number of qualified placements. Rosettes and ribbons serve as visual validation of the quality of your animals to customers and investors. 

Winning tangible awards is not a requirement for having a valuable show experience. Shows also serve as a social, educational, and business network. Many dairy goat owners develop life-long friendships and business partnerships through the connections they make at dairy goat shows. 

Registration and Relationships 

Whether through shows, club meetings, or educational events, registries provide dairy goat community structure. At these events, you interact with people who speak your language, understand your challenges, and celebrate your achievements.  

People you meet through registry-related groups are who you turn to during emergencies, whether evacuating from a natural disaster or providing timely management advice. Many view their registry community as their family. 

When you initially considered registration as something to do for your goat, you may now be discovering registration is just as much about you and your dairy goat community as it is about your animals. 

Valuable Alternatives to Registration 

Even if your dairy goat does not meet the registration requirements, dairy goat breeds other than miniatures that conform to breed standards may be recorded based on appearance. The same application process used for registration is also used for recordation with an accompanying “Native on Appearance” statement. 

A current registry guidebook is necessary for all the related rules related to recording a Grade and breeding up a Recorded Grade animal to a registered herdbook. Recording your conforming goats as Grades and breeding up may be your first step toward eventually owning an entirely registered herd. 

Goats of any breed qualify for a Certificate of Identification, and obtaining one has advantages over no identification at all, specifically for meeting transportation requirements. 

David Abbott is Communications Specialist for the American Dairy Goat Association. ADGA.org.

Originally published in the May/June 2021 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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