Let's start with a nice, soothing photo of my beloved Leia and her 2020 kid, Barbarella.
This is also a timely topic because the Nigerian goat community has had a owner/buyer population explosion over the last five years or so (I don't really keep track). By and large this has been a wonderful thing.
For example, it has significantly increased our voice in the standard-breed dominated American Dairy Goat Association. It's also been great for sales, something that I've certainly benefited from. Last, but certainly not least, I've met and become friends with some wonderful people.
However, as volume goes up, exposure to (ahem) less socially-skilled buyers also goes up.
This year the growth in that (less socially-skilled) population has been exponential for me since I am currently "fostering/managing" a subset of the internationally famous, ADGA Nationals-winning, Castle Rock herd. Don't get me wrong, I am truly blessed to be in a position to do this. Sarah and Andy are ahhhhhmazing people. But, in comparison to my tiny kidding season (4-5 does), their subset (14 does) produces a TON more volume of buyers. As noted above, as volume goes up, so does the variety of buyers (the bell curve being what it is). This year has given me a glimpse of what they have to deal with EVERY year, from the amazingly wonderful to the "how do you stay out of jail?"
So here we go . . .
1. Do your homework. This is for people who are already ADGA members. Know your herd and what it needs. Join ADGA and subscribe to the reports. Go on ADGA genetics and look up linear appraisal and milk production data. This is a data driven industry, use that data to your advantage when making decisions.
2. Before asking a question, check to see if the answer is on my website. I've spent literally hundreds of hours over the last eleven years developing my website. I don't mind answering questions, but if it's already on the website, I'm going to refer you there.
3. Be prepared for goat ownership before you buy. I get that you're excited. Yay you! But multiple times this year I have encountered people who are super excited about buying, go through the purchase process, make a deposit, and then are unable to take possession of the animal within a reasonable period of time. It's gotten so bad that I had to add a line to my terms and conditions indicating that I will not accept reservations or deposits UNTIL you are completely ready. This extends to facilities, family surgeries, vacations, transportation, etc. This sort of behavior makes me cancel sales.
4. Caveat Emptor! Herd health is a priority to me. If an animal is not ready to go to it's new home it stays here until it is ready. However, I've run into two very dramatic situations (one this year), where a buyer took an animal home, then claimed it had a serious illness. When the animal was returned to me, it turned out to be just fine. Perfectly healthy. If you are the sort to have buyer's remorse or are otherwise an anxious individual, pay the fee for a veterinary pre-purchase exam. You are solely responsible for your buying decisions. If you cannot afford a pre-purchase exam, you probably can't afford the goat long-term. If you decide to waive the exam, take the time to look over the goat very carefully before taking it home and be prepared to sign a health waiver.
5. Respond to communications in an accurate and timely manner. Normal time lags are fine. I don't mind sending a follow up, and I don't mind receiving a reminder if I don't respond to your message. But every now and then someone just disappears and does not respond mid-transaction. It's okay, I can take no for an answer if you've decided to move on.
6. Assume good intentions. Please don't take anything personally. Sigh. This happens pretty much every year. I make a mistake, someone takes it personally and claims I did it intentionally. Someone doesn't get the desired animal, they think I'm being unfair to them. No, I'm human, just like you are. Things happen, move on.
7. Know your budget, keep track of your commitments. Make only as many commitments, be they waitlists or reservations as you can afford to buy.
8. Realize the conformation and milk production are key. Don't obsess over color or polled. I get it. I like bling too. However, in general, know that this popular obsession is annoying to people who prioritize conformation and milk production. Be prepared to pay extra for it if you are dealing with me. Supply and demand.
9. Be professional. If you're disappointed, discuss it in a civil manner. Do not make personal attacks/accusations, do not try to play mom against dad, do not do end-runs. Do not threaten. It doesn't work and I will block you.
10. Friend me when we are friends. If you are active on Facebook and want to be friends, wait until after we've completed a transaction and have had some friendly interactions. This is business, that is pleasure. They don't mix well. Seriously, when I started out in goats, I accepted all the various friend requests and very quickly discovered that I had so many goat "friends" (who I had never actually met or interacted with outside of sales), that they flooded my news feed.
11. Read the terms and conditions and/or sales policies.
12. Be aware of transportation costs and availability before you make your purchase.
Goat friends, have I missed anything? PM me if there's something that needs to be added or clarified.
Marie-France Orillion, Ph.D.
Welcome to my blog! I am a retired researcher/university administrator. Since I'm a bit of a workaholic (my other addiction is sugar), I've embarked on a second career as an elementary school teacher. When I'm not working I enjoy playing with my goats and my gardens. This blog is a place where I reflect on what I've learned along the way.