Sunday, August 30, 2015

Breeding Season is Upon Us

Somehow this time of year is almost as exciting as kidding. 

I went to visit my friends at Simply Dutch Farm last week. This is Aries. We will be breeding Scilla to him again. Having friends right up the road with this awesome Alpine buck makes it so much easier to keep my silly Alpine!
I weigh taped all the girls to give them their BoSe shots and copper boluses. My baby girls are growing well!

Ysabel is 105 lbs, Posey 80, Olivia 72, Ilona 70, and Tansy 75. The goal is minimum 80 pounds at 7-8 months. Since they are  only 5 and 6 months old, I think we'll have no problem.  We've managed to grow them pretty big this year.
I needed the pen where I had the little girls housed for the dry yearlings and Whiskey Baron. I'm hoping for February 1 kids, so the little girls got moved back with the milkers. 
These innocent faces decided they still want to nurse so I rigged a temporary "baby goat jail".
Next year, most of the kids will be bottle raised. I've been hesitant to do that, but this is too much a pain in the rear. Any kid where I plan to keep both dam and doeling is going on a bottle!

Thursday, the boys and I put up some panels for another pen for the little girls. Then yesterday, Jeff cut a door through the barn into the kidding stall for them. We built the kidding stall last winter and really had no use for it, except for another place to put does who were due anytime. It was pretty dark and didn't have access to the outside at all. This will make it much more functional.

I am boarding a few does for breeding this year. The extra space will be really helpful.
Now we watch and wait for them to go into heat!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sticker Shock

Every so often, I will come across someone interested in a dairy goat. These people sometimes want to come out and see my herd, spend precious hours chatting, then they ask my prices. When I tell them, I get a reaction like I must be out of my everlovin' mind to think a goat could be worth three, four, five hundred dollars. 

Occasionally, I will get a story about what a great "deal" someone got on goats on Craigslist or at the auction. I'll admit, sometimes there are great deals to be had out there. But I am not a sale barn. 

I'm writing this today, because I heard through the grapevine that I was accused of being rude by one such person. I remember the visit well, and I was certainly not rude.
So why are my goats priced so much when you can get a nanny at the auction for $100? 

First off, all my goats are registered and from registered stock. My does and bucks have cost me $350-700. It then costs me about $8 a goat to register the kids. 

My goats are disease tested (with negative results). I test at least biannually for CAE and do random samples for CL and Johnes. We have never had a positive result, nor a case of any of the big bad diseases on the farm. This costs me about $125 a year. 

They are kept up to date on vaccinations, Selenium, and Copper boluses. This is another $40 or so a year. 

Then there's worming and coccidia prevention. That runs another $150 a year.
Let's put in another $200 a year for vet expenses. This year it was a bit more with Trixie's pregnancy toxemia ($50), a kid with a broken leg ($200), and Alice's mystery illness ($300).

We participate in linear appraisals. A judge comes to our farm and rates all the girls on their body conformation and gives them a score from 0-94. It's like a grade in school, but the highest you can get is a 94 since nobody's perfect. My goats scored an average of 86. This means you can expect long, productive lives from them. This cost $140 and a great deal of time grooming them to be ready and setting up extra pens to act as a host herd.

We also participate in DHI (dairy herd improvement). Each goat has her milked weighed and sampled and sent off to the lab at Langston University each month. There it is tested for somatic cell count, butterfat, and protein. If they reach a standard set by the American Dairy Goat Association, they are awarded a star * for production. Every milker I have earned her star last year. I have one new milker this year- she has a few months left to earn hers. This runs me about $45 a year to sign up for the program and another $25 a month for the sampling and postage.

When you add all this up, my goats are probably a bit under-priced, but then I haven't been breeding as long as some people. A goat from me will be healthy, of good conformation for a long and productive life, and she's going to milk for you.

If that's not what you're looking for, there's always the sale barn. You may get lucky.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Things seem to be headed in the right direction for us this summer. Whiskey Baron, the buck I brought in from New Jersey to be Bubba's buddy, has really surprised me. First I got notice that he is one of 15 lamancha bucks accepted into ADGA's Young Sire Development Program this year. Then I learned that his dam popped up as number one Lamancha on the Elite Doe list. 

Boy, oh boy am I excited for his kids!

As if that's not exciting enough, I put a deposit on a 2016 buck from a herd I really admire in Washington State. I just heard from them and I get first choice from my top choice does! I really hope my top pick has a boy! I am on cloud nine thinking about it. More info on that later- I don't want to jinx anything. 

Many of the girls born here in 2016 will be staying here. I will be selling a couple of milkers come spring.

Bubba and Whiskey. My plan is for these two and the Washington buck to be here long term. We will be doing a bit of line breeding in the next several years now that we have some truly excellent genetics to play around with.
Bubba showing off. I don't give him enough credit. He is really growing up as nicely as Whiskey Baron. I will be breeding him to Herd Queen and my personal favorite, Kat.