Fall goat maintenance and breeding preparation

Fall goat maintenance involves the usual hoof trimming and worming but also evaluating condition, coat and conjunctival pallor to see whose in good shape for the long winter and for breeding.  The goats all look really good- some are fat.  Mr. Mahogany above particularly looks good.  He’s very muscled with nice coat and size.  He also has a great temperament which helps.

Now is the time of year to make breeding decisions.  These decisions are based on avoiding genetic defects and birthing complications as well as producing the characteristics you want.  So I choose healthy animals with good conformation and birthing history and no known genetics defects.  Then I have to decide what else I am breeding for with regards to colors and patterns as well as conformation (and in the case of sheep horns, in the case of goats polled).  I also have to look at inbreeding issues.  This year I am trying to pay more attention to what will sell- given our tough economic times.  I also have to consider what genetics I want to keep (and am in danger of losing with the older animals).  So look at the hungry (and fat) goats below and think about breeding potential.  

The black goat on the left is not flashy, but she has gorgeous blues eyes.  So am thinking about breeding her to my flashy red black and white spotted buckling.  He’s only a year old but since Saphie is a little on the short side I think he’ll be able to breed her.  The black and white goat next to her is related to two of my bucks so I have to use Mr. Mahogany with her for that reason.  They both carry spots so produce nice kids.  He’s polled so statistically half of his kids should be too.  The little red goat next is one year old and only 42 pounds so I am thinking about waiting another year to breed her.  I would love to breed her now though, but she’s also related to two of my bucks so will have to be bred to Mr. in the future.  The next goat is a pygmy.  She has produced gorgeous kids in the past- cross bred with my Nigerian buck, but cross breeds are not as desirable as registered purebreds so I will hold off.  The next goat is a great doe but is going to be 13 this next spring so is too old to keep breeding.  The spotted doe on top is related to two of my bucks so will also be bred to Mr. to bring out her spots.  A goat who did not come for the hay party is Cally- she’s 9.5 years old so this is her last year breeding.  She’s a tan and black buckskin so would combine well with my red and brown buckskin- he will also help to elongate her body a little.  So this gives you an idea of the thought processes that go into breeding decisions.

 At this point for the sheep I am trying to limit my breeding this year.  I think I will breed Sheila again to Jocko to produce her gorgeous dense crimpy fleece in modified colors.  She’s going to be 10 next year so this is my last chance to preserve her genes in my flock.  I am going back and forth regarding breeding Monette again.  She is a double-coated grey ewe who carries spots.  I would like to preserve her (and her mother’s) genetics because I love their personalities and their fleeces- soft and wonderful to spin.  But she produced one cryptorchid ram in the past so don’t want that in the future. If I do breed her, I’d like to use Lewis to try to produce spots. People seem to like the light grey lambs as well as spots.  I am thinking I will breed Mona again to Lewis to try to make some more HST lambs.  They are gorgeous and desirable for selling.  This does involve inbreeding though so I have to be aware of producing unwanted genetic recessive defects.  I am considering breeding Jenny again, my grey katmoget ewe.  Her and Jocko have produced some gorgeous lambs in the past with fleece to die for, katmoget markings and one was also mioget to boot.  I wish I had kept that lamb!  So if I can produce another I will keep her.  I am thinking about breeding Wink our mioget double coated ewe with Jocko again.  Jocko is getting up there (8 now) and I would really like to get a replacement mioget ram.  My best chance is with Wink but would prefer Jocko’s fleece type to Winks for a breeding ram. So I am not sure I want to take the chance.  Finally I am thinking about breeding Daphnie again- our fawn horned ewe that carries spots.  I am going back and forth about using Lewis to bring out her spots or Jocko to bring out the fleece quality.  It seems like the lighter colors are more desirable to people but spots are a real selling point too.  I have scratched Lizzie and Heidi off the breeding list (for now anyway) because although they are gorgeous ewes who produce great lambs- the brown lambs don’t seem to be selling.  I’ve also decided not to breed Sadie one last time.  I already have her genetics in Miss Lizzie and don’t need more moorit right now.  So she can go into retirement.  I also go back and forth about using Wilma instead of Wink.  Wilma’s fleece and color are nicer but she also produced one cryptorchid lamb so Wink is probably the better choice.  So if I stick to this plan there’s 6 ewes to breed- I was hoping for 5 so need to keep looking at my decisions.

I also have to get facilities ready.  I’ll need three pens for the goats and three fields without shared fencelines for the sheep.  I am considering butchering the other three rams we have, but if I don’t I will need a pen to keep them in so they aren’t on a fenceline with the other rams (and thus destroy it).  So in preparation for all this breeding next month I replaced the tarp on the ram shelter.  I cut it from a heavy duty truck tarp that Tom found along side the road.  It looks like it will hold up nicely- hopefully through several winters.
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