Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Breeding like...

...rabbits. That's how the phrase goes. But here at Kleinshire we are more concerned, at least at present, with breeding goats. It's actually not much harder to get goats to multiply than rabbits. In fact, we've found that oftentimes the hardest part of breeding goats, especially when the bucks are in rut, is actually preventing the breeding that you don't want to occur. This is especially the case with our main herd sire, Oreo, who is living up to his reputation--in the words of his former owner, he "gets the job done."

This is actually a picture from last August's breeding. This year we're hoping that Rocky successfully covered Caroline.

In his desperation to "get the job done," Oreo has recently taken to daring and dramatic escapes that would put the most famous of prison escapees to shame. He actually jump-started our breeding plan by jumping the fence a few weeks ago. Though we caught him within minutes, he was happily wooing Tam, whom we emphatically had decided not to breed to Oreo this time.

Oreo is an excellent sire, and for the most part we're happy to let him have his way with the does. He has an excellent pedigree, together with a large, strong build and, except when he is in rut, a calm, docile temperament. We retained a very nice doeling from the twins he threw for Caroline last winter, whom we've named Lucia. The triplets from Tam and the single he threw for Edel sold for nice prices as well. But we are also trying to be intentional and selective as we work to bring out the best traits in each goat.

We noticed, for example, that Oreo's slightly toed-out legs carried over into Lucia's own build. So, our plan this year calls for Caroline to breed with our other buck, Rocky. Another goat with an excellent pedigree, Rocky has a very desirable "dairy" build. Rosemary describes his legs as "square and clean." We're also hoping to get a few does from Caroline who have more supple udders. Although Caroline gives plenty of milk, the fibrousness of her udder makes her difficult to milk out completely.

So, after Oreo's leap of love caused us to leap into action ourselves, we put Caroline with Rocky. For her part, Tam showed ample signs of still being in heat. Nigerian Meadows generously offered us the services of a buck of theirs, Donkey. Tam already has a large, supple, well-attached udder, and we were hoping to complement these positive traits with Donkey's wide escutcheon. Donkey did attempt to cover Tam, but we'll just have to wait and see whether the kids are his or Oreo's.

As for Edel, our other Nigerian currently in milk, we left her to a very happy Oreo. Though she is also a nice-looking, registered Nigerian who gives plenty of milk, her appearance is a little on the stocky side, perhaps even a little like a pigmy goat. Hopefully Oreo's larger, powerful build carries over into Edel's kids. It certainly did last year when Edel's single buckling sold at a very nice price as a potential future herd sire. This buckling looked great when the purchasers brought him back this summer to be tattooed.

After we waited a few days to ensure that these pairings "took," we separated our young Saanen, Belle, and the other doelings who are too young to be bred and left the two bucks in the main pasture for awhile. Most likely Oreo also covered Dreamer, our new Alpine doe, at this time. Full-sized goats don't cycle every three weeks or so like Nigerians, but the presence of a buck can throw them into heat. Since Dreamer showed the characteristic signs, there's a good chance that she is all set as well. Her offspring will be "mini-Alpines" and will be an important component of our dairy herd as we look to begin selling milk in the spring.

And that's our breeding season in a nutshell. We'll be drawing blood soon, and maybe we'll be able to test for pregnancy at that time. It would be good to make sure everybody is all set. Since gestation is about five months long for goats, it could be a busy Christmas!

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