Please note my new Height Quarantee -- ANY buck or doe purchased with the Blythmoor farm name that goes over the height standard for Nigerians, will be replaced. This is a new policy, and I am still working on details.
In posting animals on my web page I will include the most current height information. My pedigrees will, where-ever possible, include height on animals in the pedigree (and I have had some OH back there) -- noting that this information is not always available as we get further back in the pedigree.
WHY AM I DOING THIS? (Caution, strong opinions below)
This has been a bone of contention in the breed. Some people want to raise the standard and some don't. In any case, as responsible breeders, we must breed to the standard and not just do whatever we want to do. If we can't breed to the standard, then we shouldn't be breeding. The hallmark of the Nigerian Dwarf breed is it's size. As soon as we back off on that, we will start losing our identity. I was surprised, disappointed, and worried at the number of young over-sized bucks at some recent shows, and decided to put my money where my mouth is.
When researching your purchases, look at LA scores on the ADGA genetics site. They will usually be coded as OH. An LA score of 37-38 on a buck, and about 32 on a doe is Overheight. So if you see a score approaching that, explore it further. Personally, if they are under, they are under and I just make a note of it. The line has to be drawn somewhere.
There are always reasons given --" he'd be in standard but he's very dairy so his withers are high". And excuses -- he's a very good buck so I'll use him anyhow on smaller does.
I have in the past said, "people need to make their own breeding decisions", and now I'm backing off on that. If you ask me whether you should keep or use and OH buck, my answer will be an unqualified "NO".
-- Using an OH buck on small does just doesn't work. I know of small bucks that have produced OH because they were bred to huge does. You don't get an average, you get big and small -- and you are still adding those tall genetics to the gene pool. You are not just adding them to your farm (which will push you into a corner, or push you into making great big excuses), you are adding them to the breed as a whole.
-- But he's an excellent animal and it would be a shame to remove him from the gene pool. NOPE. First of all, he's not excellent, he's too big and that's not just a serious fault, it's a DQ. If he had one testicle, you wouldn't question not using him. We have a LARGE gene pool and there are LOTS of excellent bucks and does that are not over height. I will postulate that we could remove every single overheight animal from the gene pool, and not seriously impact the quality of our Nigerians. Some farms might be seriously impacted, but the breed would be better off without them.
Sometimes we get surprised because an animal does not reach full height potential until he's maybe 2 years old. BUT,
-- If you know the genetic background of your animal, you know that there is some potential (or not) for excessive size. So, WAIT. Don't use that particular animal until he's a little bit older.
-- If you have a 2 year old that barely makes it under the wicket - STOP. Don't use that animal. If you want to hang on to him to see if he stops growing, that's fine, but let's keep those genetics out until we're sure.
-- What's done is done and we all get surprises, but there's no reason to continue making that mistake once we know the animal is over size.
The argument has been made that OH is in the breed and it's just natural and we should just breed them any size we want. That's an excuse. As long as we make excuses and freely use overheight animals, we will continue to change the gene pool and it will become increasingly difficult to breed within the standard. That is what I found so distressing about the recent showing of so many OH bucks. How long before we can't get the right size anymore? Some breedings programs are already in trouble, and I hate to see newcomers fall into that trap of "but he's nice so I can use him" -- and then have the whole foundation of their herd based on an animal that is essentially WRONG. .
With a miniature breed, it can be a struggle to keep size down. If we give up on that struggle, then we will no longer have a miniature breed.
If you want to breed big, then please go into breeding mini's (crossed with standard breeds) or just buy a standard breed.