Thursday, May 30, 2013

Udderly Confused At First

I spend a great deal of time fussing over decisions of what goats to keep and what ones to get rid of. Then I started breaking each one down. Their faults and their good points. I decided what was most important to me. I learned that I'm so... into udders. Half of the points for linear appraisal is for udder. To me that is mainly what a goat is all about, the udder or they wouldn't be called a DAIRY goat.
So at this time of year when I'm looking at who to keep and who goes down the road. The udder is the thing I'm looking at most carefully. This is Megan's. Discard the cow hocked look because she isn't that cow hocked but always stands goofy on the milking stand. The escutcheon could use a better arch. This one comes to a peek a little but for capacity this is pretty awesome especially since she is two and this is a picture of her udder at three weeks freshening with her nursing twins.
The udder isn't perfect but far above average I'd say. I'd like to see it collapse down to nothing when empty but it doesn't but the daughter I kept of hers does. I still get a 1/2 a gallon of milk a day besides Megan nursing twins so I can't wait to see what she produces when they are weaned. Her ears could be longer but what really do ears do for a milk goat? Lamanchas don't have any. And her nose is too small. Her hocks could have a little more angle and her back should be flatter though it isn't bad. She has a nice long rump and is a very big girl for two. She has a very classy smooth appearance. Her dairy character is developing nicely. Something she didn't have a lot of as a yearling. Over all, I like this doe.   
 I need to get rid of a doe and so I've started to break down each goat's faults and strengths. In doing so I've begun looking back at old photos. I've decided next winter I really need to put them in folders for each goat. That way I can see how the goat changes and develops. Maybe it would also help me to see what each buck I use does for my herd also. This is Megan's udder at one years old for a comparison to the two year photo. I know that Megan got her nose from her mother, not her grandmother and so it must of been the buck that did this dirty trick. Chicory's daughter, Daisy has a nice nose.  

The udder on the left is Megan's right after she freshened for the first time last year.  The one above is at three months. The one on the right is her daughter Mercedes just a few weeks after she freshened. It is an improvement on mother. This girl looks a lot like mom and her son is probably the best buck born this year. That makes me super happy because this is Chicory's great granddaughter. I can't wait to have her linear appraised and compare her score to her great grandmother's and mother's scores. It will tell me just where I'm moving forward and where I might of lost ground.

As for Daisy here. Her udder looks a great deal like her mother, Chicory.
Her medial attachment was wonderful. That is the line up the middle.  This is Chicory. See why I'm thinking this photo taking is a handy tool? I can look back at each doe and their ancestors and see just what has changed and what is passed on. Yes indeed, I'm gong to start making lists of traits for each doe. I have records of their births. How many kids they had and of what sex plus if I had to pull the kids or was it natural. I'm also keeping record as to the time of birth because normally they will kid within three hours of the time they kidded the first time. I then know whether they kid normally on the 150th day or sooner and approximately what time. Since I put the doe in with the buck when she comes into heat and don't leave him in the pen for days like many do, I know pretty close when my does will kid and don't spend night after night having to check them.

I've made a choice as to what doe to get rid of. The shocker is how much she developed cow hocks from a kid to this year. I would not of dreamed it. I'd like to tell the person who will be receiving her first before I blab all about it on here but some of you will probably figure it out. That will give me three does and a maybe four if I keep the little brown doe just born. She is so tiny I don't really know what she looks like.  And I've decided on only keeping two of the seven bucks intact. The rest will be banded. But first will check with an interested party to see which buck they might want of the whole group. Will I sell these two or keep them, I haven't decided yet.

The biggies in my book when deciding on whether to keep a goat or not is:
Udder shape and capacity ( I have dairy goats for the milk) Taste goes without question because we use it.

Structurally sound  or correct (That doesn't mean perfect but no large faults.) Extra points go to a doe who doesn't pass on her faults. If she consistently has kids better than she is and they are uniform to each other then she scores big.

Body capacity (If she isn't big enough, she can't sustain a large udder)

Has multiple births by two years old as mutiple births equates to more milk. Plus she doesn't require help with birthing. (Chicory was the exception because it wasn't genetic and all her doe kids have kids on their own.)

Personality (This is huge as I have to milk the doe twice a day and who wants to deal with a headache that often?)

In personality mothering ability is included. Megan is a bit of a pain at first when she kids but each year she is getting better and her other qualities make up for it. Her daughter didn't do so well this year but part of that was my fault so I'll give her another chance since she had the nicest kid and has a kick butt udder. She is a dream to milk too so she remains. 

Personality also includes how well they get along with other goats. I have NO BIDDYS in my herd. Cranks go down the road in a hurry because I want to be able to put more than one mom and her babies together in the same pen and shed. Crankiness is genetic and taught to the offspring so they get a double whammy. We once had a doe break ribs on a doeling of another goat. Yes, she hit the road. 

I had a women complain once that the goat she bought from me was too nice and ended up much skinnier than the rest of her goats because she wouldn't fight at the hay feeder. I say, weed out the the old biddies and replace them with sweet mild mannered ones. They just aren't worth it. There are lots of nice does that give lots of milk and you will thank yourself 365 days of the year. 

As for bucks, well I just don't know what you keep. I'm going on linage, what their mom and dad looked like, and if they are an improvement presently. I'm never sure how they will develop as I would have never though one of the goats I got last year would develop such cow hocks.

It is why I do linear appraisal. I learn a tremendous amount each year. I've only been doing it one year and watched the year before. I'm sold though. I will be doing it as a learning experience from now on.

As much as I've learned from this experience I'd highly suggest you undergo this same journey. Learn what is most important to you in a dairy goat. Break each goat down structurally and by personality. A wise Linear Appraisal judge told me that you can have one pet goat. The rest have to pay their way. That means being cut throat he said if you want to improve your herd. I agree. I don't have the money to pay for goats not performing. That is just a hard fact of life.

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