This is the kitten that Jasmine tried to anilate yesterday and you can see it favors it's back right leg.
We had to track down the kittens as they were tucked away in the neighbor's feed shed. I just hope these kittens live. This one looks as if it has been injured too somehow and one black kitten is missing. Hm.. is that a boy I'm looking at? Perfect shot but I need to zoom in a little.
This is the shed belonging to a fellow Nubian breeder and owner of the buck my does are bred to. We had a long conversation this week about herd goals for the next two years. She admits that her emotions too often interfer with her overall desire to increase the level of quality of animals she raises. She loves long ears, (not frosted), and dark, fairly solid colored coats. We laugh that she has to take me next time she picks out goats to buy for her turn around in does is high and her frustration level great at times for easy milkers don't often come her way. I find it is best to raise them.
She has MS which limits her abilities and it was this factor that in part prompted me to initiate the conversation on what my goals were for my goats and helped her to uncloud her own. I understand some her limitations with her health and also that the goats are good therapy. I've limitations of my own that have prompted some deep thinking about my own needs, desires, and limitations. It helped me to come up with this list.
1. How many does can we comfortably milk each day? Maybe I should rephrase that. How many does can I comfortably milk each day because Kirk isn't going to be milking except on rare occasions.
2. How much milk can we use without it being wasted?
We can't afford to just feed goats that aren't producing milk so that means either the milk gets drank, made into cheese etc. with a little waste going into the garden for fertilizer or we have bums or pigs. Feed costs are too high to make bums economical right now in our situation but we might get another yak in the form of a bum next year to raise for meat or to add to our breeding program. First we have to explore how well the two we have are working for us. The yak would have to be a bum that we added because we need to gentle it for handling purposes. We don't have large equipment like squeeze chutes.
The answer to the above question changes a bit each year as my health is a factor, time, and our finances. This year the answer is one three year old milking doe, one yearling milking doe, and two kids to keep.
4. How many new milkers do we want to have to fuss with to teach milking manners? You know, the same conversation you have with the same doe for two to three months.
"Now get on the milking stand the same way you did yesterday." "How did you do that", you ask? "Without my help would be best."
"No, don't squat or squeeze your legs together. I can't get the bucket under you."
"Young lady, jumping up and down wasn't cool yesterday and it isn't cool today either."
"Now behave." Sound familiar?
Yes, two new milkers would be my limit only if I have one or two already trained to go and jump on the milk stand when I ask and stand perfectly still to be milked to give me a reminder of how it will one day be.
5.What would I rate in order of importance, milk production, structural body conformation or personality. I include in personality - ease of milking - plays well with others ( in other words doesn't beat the tar out of the other does and their kids), good mother, quiet, laid back. And just for you Michelle - ear length, and color?
For me it is milk production, then personality, and conformation last. Surprise you? Well, milk production is the why we have the goats in the first place and personality next because we have to deal with an individual 365 days a year and milk her eight to nine months of the year, twice a day. If she's a pain, then I've a miserable time twice a day. It isn't worth it no matter how pretty she is for she will pass on this horrible personality to her offspring and as fast as goats multiply, I'll soon be thinking I'm living in Hell.
6. What conformation style do we want stocky or dairy and what do we want to improve most in our animals?
I like the dairy look, not the stocky style because if I want stocky, I'd buy Boer goats. As for improvement, I'd like a slightly higher and wider escutcheon and more angle in the back legs.
6. How do we plan on meeting our breeding goals? Do we need to AI or buy a buck to meet these goals?
We are thinking of using the Kastamir buck again on Contessa and Chicory and AI (artificial insemination) on Cheyenne and Florence because we would have a larger selection to choose from and high quality choices. The biggest plus being, no buck to smell, feed, house, and clean up after. Now this is said without checking yet on how the statistics of a doe taking with AI methods. We have the tank so it is the rest of the equipment we need and I've no idea what we need and what the cost is.
6. How many goats can I keep up with trimming hooves, worming and cleaning their sheds and pens, not to mention hauling hay for and grain?
7. Most importantly, how many can I afford, considering their total cost of purchase if I'm buying and upkeep?
8. How soon do I want to meet my goals? Which means should I and can I buy the quality I want right off the bat or do I need to breed upwards to reach that goal? I bought the best we could afford and I need to breed upwards but my core herd is still pretty nice to start with.
9. Probably the most important question of all. Do I mainly have goats for pets or to raise quality Dairy Goats for production and sale?
As I've thought long and hard upon these questions it has made me realize there are does that I love that I will have to part with eventually. We had to do this when we raised 4-H and FFA sheep. It isn't easy and so this is probably the toughest decision of whether or not you can say goodbye. We didn't do so for years keeping our does for years and we were blessed that some slap in our face necessary reason always came up that helped us make the decision to say goodbye. The last reason we said goodbye was our two older Saanens would not settle when bred despite nutrition changes tried.
So if you, like us, are thinking you want to become serious about raising dairy goats and don't have all the money in the world. First think long and hard asking yourself these questions and others that these spur. Raising goats for sale isn't necessarily easy when you are dealing with such wonderful personalities and you want to keep almost all of them.
If you want having a pet that produces milk is your goal, then that's fine too. Just make a decision one way or another. You can mix the two a little but in the end you've got to get off the fence whether you've got to sell some of your pet goat's babies because there are too many or you have to sell because the parents aren't the quality that the offspring are. In the end, we all have to part with the ones we love.