Saturday, October 15, 2016

On Keeping a Buck

Whether you just want milk for your family, or you plan to breed and sell goats, there is one, sometimes inconvenient, sometimes stinky thing you need, a buck.  A dairy goat has to be bred and kid to give milk. To keep that milk flowing, she needs to kid every 1-2 years. 

Bucks can be overwhelming to people just starting out. I didn't keep one the first year I had goats. After driving around taking goats on dates that first year, I decided pretty quickly that I needed a buck.

Pick a buck who will help to make your goats the best they can be, not one simply because he has the parts. Want more milk? Look at his dam and granddams' production. Need to improve certain conformational traits? Look for lines who are strong in that area. Remember, it doesn't cost all that much to have a buckling transported to you from anywhere in the country!

Your buck has one main job, to breed your does, but he will also alert you to when your does are in heat. His aroma, to put it nicely, will bring your does into heat sooner in the fall than if you do not have a buck on your property. Not only that, it is far easier to just throw an amorous pair in a stall together than to have to load him or her up for a date. 

I am not in the business of leasing my bucks or studding them out for "driveway breedings". This is not because I am mean. I have spent hours researching each buck on our farm. They have been carefully selected to fill a need in our breeding program. We have spent thousands of dollars for them, their transportation here, and their feed and upkeep. We have spent thousands of dollars on their fencing and shelter. We spend hours mucking their stalls, trimming their hooves, bathing urine scalded legs, worming, vaccinating, clipping, feeding. We spend the fall tolerating the buck aroma wafting in our windows.

It is simply not worth the time or the risk to offer them for outside breeding.

I will occasionally let customers who buy does from me use my bucks the first fall. That allows them to get their feet wet into goats, discover what they should look for in a buck, and allow me to see some kids from that breeding, since I often have to sell goats I'd like to see kids from just to keep our numbers in line. 

If you plan to keep goats, please keep a buck. One easy plan for new goat breeders is to keep a buckling. Most bucklings will ready to breed your does by 5-6 month old. They are small still, so they are easier to control and aren't as smelly. Buy a nice one, and you should have no trouble selling him when you're done with him. Or you could always eat him when he goes out of rut!

Anyway you slice it, bucks are a necessity. You may just end up liking the stinky boys.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Take-aways From Buck Collections

And I'm not talking about the smell! I am always trying to learn from other goat people. Buck (semen) collection day has yielded a golden tidbit each of the last two years. I may may have to go next year even if I don't have a buck to collect just to listen.

Last year, I overheard that a good goat is 80% management, 20% genetics. I'm not sure it's that great a difference, but management is crucial. If the genetics isn't there, you're never going to make a decent goat into a great goat just by management. But you can certainly turn a great goat into something very bad with poor management.

By management, I mostly mean forage, feed, and parasite control. I have had the opportunity to compare siblings who were raised here versus some raised elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, I am not bashing the new owners, most of those goats looked fine. They just could be more.

Our goats ate well and looked good before I listened to this advice at buck collections. This year we decided to breakdown and just give them the best forages at all times. They go through a lot of peanut hay and alfalfa and have never looked more beautiful.

Another thing to keep in mind, kids are programmed to grow more rapidly than adults. If you aren't giving the kids all the food they need to maximize growth in those high-growth months, they cannot reach their full potential.  Don't forget regular coccidia management and worming. Kids can be carrying a case that is affecting growth without symptoms.

This year's take-away was "The difference between a good goat and a great goat is length". Obviously, that's a bit of a generalization but if you take two structurally sound animals and put them next to each other in the show ring, the long one seems to win most of the time.  I'm going to keep breeding my limousines!

Finally, this wasn't a take-away from collections, but something I learned this year after feeling rather kicked in the teeth by an "expert", trust yourself and your vision. Your vision for your herd may be different than that person's. You may prioritize different things. That's not wrong, just different. 

I have since had several judges validate my vision by placing our animals well at shows. I am angry with myself for allowing the expert to cause a hiccup in our plans that lead to some decisions we may not have made otherwise. I've learned my lesson.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Breeding Season 2016

I haven't found time to blog in the past year! I mostly just post updates on Facebook. It is so much easier to do off my phone. To get pics on here, I have to upload them on the Blogger app on the phone then get on the computer to write the post. It all takes a while.
Breeding season is almost wrapped up here. We have everyone but our March and April kids bred now. I'm not going to get much sleep the first two weeks of February. Most everyone is due then!

After a slow start and some rough looking baby stages, our junior herd sire has turned into quite the looker. I feel bad for ever being worried about him. About half the herd is bred to him and I am beyond exited to see what he does for our kids! You certainly can't ask for more in the genetics department; his dam appraised 94 EEEE and is a pushing 12 years old. His sire appraised  90VEE as a two year old and is half brother to the 2016 National Champion!

Our doelings are growing beautifully. We sent Tatiana and Evelyn to north Georgia to be bred to a couple of my friend's bucks. Katerina stayed here and was bred to Henning. She is HUGE and beautiful. She already has her dry leg. I'm excited to show her again come spring.

We are not taking reservations on Lamancha doelings this year. I am, however, keeping an interest list on milkers and doe kids. We are freshening thirteen and will not be keeping that many milkers next year! We have a few buck reservations available and are taking reservations on our Alpine's kids.