Monday, May 4, 2015

Linear Appraisals

Our first ever Linear Appraisal (LA) session was yesterday. I am so glad that we did it!

LA is a program offered by the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA). A judge comes to your farm and judges your herd based on about two dozen different traits such as stature, rump angle, shoulder assembly, and udder depth. They are then given an overall number score, like a grade in school, although the highest score a goat can receive is 94- because nobody is perfect.

My girls did me proud with scores ranging from 89 for some of my more senior does down to 81. The younger does tended to score a bit lower as they are not mature yet and have not reached their full stature, udder shape/size, and such yet.

The recurring theme of the session was "This is a really early slot in the spring. She'll look better in a few months." It takes a lot out of a goat to kid. Then she steadily increases her milk production over the next few months before it levels out and then starts to go back down in the fall. Peak production is about three months after kidding. Guess where we are now?

The does will gradually put on weight over the summer and improve her body condition in preparation for breeding in the fall. My girls are at the point where they are working their hearts out and have not had a chance to fully recover yet. That influenced their appraisals. I was told to "squawk" about it on the survey so we can get a different time in the future.

I learned so much and learned where are biggest weakness was as a herd. The good news is, our new buck Bubba, is very strong in that area, as were his dam, his sire's dam, and his grand-dams! That's a relief since I reserved him last fall before he was even born.

I plan to participate in LA every other year to see how we are doing as a herd and to continually improve my animals. Between this and DHI milk testing, it allows people who buy from me to really know what they are getting.

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