Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Breeding polled & polled...the hermaphrodite question :)

So, our buckling is polled.  He is staying intact to breed for us.  He has been pastured with our first doe (3 y/o disbudded).  


We have been waiting for the next available doeling from our breeder and it turns out she's polled.  I have been reading up on the polled & polled phenomenon.  Now, we have recently made the decision that we are going to invest in a second buck next year so that we can breed back some of our daughters to the buck who didn't sire them. 


Based on the little bit of information I've been able to dig up, it seems that if we are sure to get a horned (or disbudded) buck to be our second buck then we could breed our polled doe to him, and wait for her to have a horned daughter to breed back to the polled buck.  In the mean time, we might wind up breeding her to the polled buck once or twice but it seems to me that the chance of hermaphrodites isn't high enough to worry about it.  


Is that good logic or am I being too lax?

Views: 2748

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

There was a very large study done with saanens in the 1960s that showed a 10% incidence of hermaphrodites when they bred heterozygous polled goats together (meaning the polled goats had only one polled gene). The funny thing is that if you breed polled-to-polled, you have a 25% change of a homozygous polled goat (one with two polled genes) that would only be able to throw polled. Some people are excited about this prospect, but some insist that a homozygous doe would be sterile. Others say that's not true. As far as I know there is no research that's shown this. There were homozygous bucks in the saanen study, so obviously they were virile. There is a Yahoo group devoted entirely to the polled genetics, if you really want to get into it, and I've attached some research papers, if you want to read them.

Deborah, thanks for the input.  


Here I thought we were doing ourselves a favor with the polled goats, not having the worry about disbudding lol.  


There were two doelings born to this doe, after reading all of this I would have opted for the horned one but she died on the first night and that leaves only the polled for us to add into our mini-herd.  


I guess I still feel like it would be okay to get this little doeling, do you agree?  Or let me rephrase- being that you have way more goats and experience than me, how do you handle polled?  Do you have them or not, do you breed them or not (to each other)?


If there is a 10% chance she has a hermaphrodite with my buck that is pretty low.  then were are simply faced with finding a pet home for the hermaphrodite.  Wonder how people would react?  

I have polled, but I have not yet purposely bred polled to polled. I say purposely because I bought a bred polled doe once, and I told the breeder that I wanted her bred to a buck that I did not know was polled. She had a perfectly normal doeling that was polled. She was sold, so I don't know if she was homozygous or not. The only problem with selling a hermaphrodite as a pet is that you don't always know it's a hermaphrodite when it's born. Some of them appear to be perfectly normal females on the outside. far as my selling my kids, if it were to be a hermaphrodite that looks like a doe: I'm not selling any kids with any kind of a guarantee of fertility, nor am I marketing them into the dairy category, they aren't even papered.  So, I suppose I think that if I sold what I assumed was a fertile doeling who was really a hermaphrodite, it wouldn't really matter unless they tried to breed her and were unable to, which I assume could possibly happen to any doe in a small percentage of cases.  So I guess I don't feel like it would matter, unless I kept her doe back to breed here and she was unable to conceive, in which case I suppose I would sell her as an adult as a pet, and if I had been unable to get her pregnant I would disclose that to a buyer.


I assume you don't purposefully breed polled to polled for this reason?  Or it just hasn't come up for you?

I've never had any polled goats that were unrelated, nor ones that I wanted to linebreed on. Perhaps a few generations down the road, I'll do it. Personally, I'd do it in the hope that I got a homozygous polled doe, so I'd keep any does from the breeding.

Homozygous polled doe meaning she would only have polled kids?


So, in your more experienced opinion you don't think it would be a  bad idea to breed this doe to this buck once or twice?  


Do I have it right that having one polled member of each breeding pair would make it more likely that we'll have more polled kids?  I think I have that right, and if so, then I'm glad...I don't particularly want horns or the experience of disbudding...

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

I've never had any polled goats that were unrelated, nor ones that I wanted to linebreed on. Perhaps a few generations down the road, I'll do it. Personally, I'd do it in the hope that I got a homozygous polled doe, so I'd keep any does from the breeding.

Homozygous means she has two polled genes, so she can only throw polled kids.

If you breed a polled goat to a horned goat, assuming the polled goat came from a horned/polled breeding, the odds of polled kids are 50/50.

I hate disbudding, which is why I have polled goats.

Deciding to breed polled to polled is such a personal decision. Some people swear they've had goats with sexual abnormalities when they've done it, so if you would be totally freaked out by that, don't do it. If you'd be okay with that risk, then go for it.

Well Deborah, as always I appreciate your thoughtful and knowledgeable input.  Having a hermaphrodite doesn't freak me out, one of the best school ponies I ever had the pleasure of working with was one, with all the external stuff!  She preferred to be called a 'she' :)


It isn't something I'd keep on the farm here, because due to our small acreage we just can't afford to keep animals around with no job...and we already brought home a wether against our better judgment who my daughter is attached to now.  But, he's still useful as a companion to our buck until we get around to having another buck.  It's not as if every kid would be abnormal, and the one out of five or ten years who was I could just sell as a pet, assuming the buyer wouldn't be freaked out by it...


We leaned towards polled goats for probably the same reason as you- although you didn't say why you hate disbudding.  I've watched it on Youtube and I'm just not sure I have the stomach to do it.  


Anyway.  I'll have to pass this by my husband and be sure HE can handle it :)  


As you can see by the years of the studies, they weren't done on Nigerian Dwarves. I have known of breeders who bred polled to polled with no problem. I have had a hermaphrodite or freemartin born out of a quintuplet kidding, and another (purported) out of triplets. No polled, all horned parents. So I don't think it's that big a deal; at least until there are studies showing a correlation.


Please let me join this discussion, since I have a polled buckling. He was born of a polled/horned breeding. So I assume that makes him a heterozygous  polled.  Since polled is dominant...oh, nevermind. I just answered my own question by doing a little Mendelian diagram of the genes. I was going to question Deborah's 50/50 comment but I should have known better! So his polled kids, if  bred to a heterozygous polled, would then be 25% homozygous  horned, 50% hetero- polled, and 25% homo- polled. Right? But you really wouldn't know which was heterozygous and which was homozygous for a few breedings on those goats. It is nice to aim for polled and I, too, dread the idea of disbudding. But in the final analysis it is *milk* I want from my goats. As my husband says to the trophy buck hunters, "You don't eat the horns!" Or in this case, you don't milk the horns! I belong to that yahoo group, Deborah, but haven't had time to read all the studies. It also seems to me, though, that most of the breeders who are actively working for polled have much larger herds than most of us on this list. So they hopefully have more diverse genetics. I would worry that in a small herd, if you played with it too much you'd end up with a polled goat with three legs and four eyes!
You got it, Jackie! And that's why I haven't done a polled-polled breeding -- all of my polled goats are related. So maybe a few years down the road, I'll breed second or third cousins.
Well, our polled buck is no relation at all to the new doeling.  We are going forward with her, so I imagine her first breeding will be to our polled buck.  I'll let you all know how it turns out, but she's only a week old so it will be a WHILE lol.

Reply to Discussion


Order this book on Kindle!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Need goat equipment?

Yogurt Maker

2-quart milk pail

Mineral feeder (put minerals in one side and baking soda in the other!)

© 2018   Created by Deborah Niemann-Boehle.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service