Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On mama goats...

Okay. I am officially tired of waiting for goats to kid out. We have a few that we expected to kid out yet that haven't, but even worse are the ones we bought bred that we KNOW are going to kid out... sometime. We have the date range of when they were exposed, but watching these obviously pregnant does expand and make udders is just excruciating. I suppose when someone gets to the point they have hundreds of goats there's not so much anticipation, but when a small operation like ours picks specific does for what they may bring to the herd, it is a different story. We have been spending our time and money "chasing" good solid does and we've had some great purchases and, admittedly, some not so great ones. We learn each year which does give us what we want and which don't. We have to wait a couple seasons on the first time mamas because, as we expected, the kids born to the first timers don't seem to have the same type of gains as the seasoned mamas. Part of me wants to keep only the best of the best as they stand right now, but another part of me wants to be sure I don't sell the one that will be even better next year.

It may be that the "perfect" mama goat is different for every producer. It may vary by what kind of terrain that producer has to deal with, what predators are in the area, and what goals they have for their goats. In our opinion, and for our circumstances, the best mamas have their kids up extremely quickly to get colostrum. We kid in the winter, so this is necessary for basic survival, because even with our little kidding sheds bedded with straw, heat loss can be rapid and deadly. Some mamas hide their kids, but we prefer the does that either stick close to their kids or even better, teach their kids to stick close to them. We of course want the kids to get plenty of colostrum for a healthy immunity and then plenty of milk for growth. We want a mama goat that at the very least looks sternly at us when we go near her kids because stray dogs are as much of a threat for our goats as anything and a dog may turn tail when charged by an angry doe with a formidable set of horns. Not every producer wants or needs these particular maternal traits, but they are part of how we select who to keep breeding in our herd. We've had no bad Kiko mothers, but some are closer to our particular ideal than others. What we still have to learn is how much to expect from a first timer when compared to a seasoned mama.
So far, the only first time mama I would label as "perfect" was 34, a white with brown PB doe by AFK Caesar. She had her twins up and nursing right away, stuck to them like glue and taught them to stick tight with her, and she provided them with ample milk that they grew like gangbusters. I kept 34's daughter Ginger (by Boomer), shown here behind her, and while she is a little shorter in height than her contemporaries, she is a solid bodied, very healthy doe with consistently good Famacha scores (even better than her mother's), and with good muscling all over. People like a big doe, but realistically big can mean big bodied or just long legged, and long legs don't mean more meat. I really hope she caught when exposed and I am hoping she is as good a first time mama as 34.

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