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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Keep or sell??

February 2014 is our second kidding season and the start of our third year raising goats. The initial motivation on this adventure was brush control for our pastures. Our farm really is a goat haven; 40 acres of blackberry brambles, buck brush, multi flora rose, oak saplings and woods with a generous portion of varying    weeds and a dollop of mixed grasses.

Goat-proof fencing is by far our biggest investment. We installed 48 inch graduated woven wire along with an offset electric strand about 12 inches from the ground. So far I think we have about 6 acres fenced, providing 3 separate paddocks. The plan for this year is to build some temporary electric paddocks and expand further on the property as well as continuing the woven wire permanent perimeter fence.  Here is another previous post on fencing:

I pulled a super rookie move our first summer and traded a steer for 7 goats. 5 were purebred Lamancha dairy goats, a Nubian and a Mini-mancha. I knew nothing about them, not even their age! What a silly thing for me to do! But we have been blessed with these girls; they have provided us with our foundation dams. We are crossing these dairy girls with hardy Kiko bucks. The Kiko is a feral meat breed imported from New Zealand.  We need brush eaters that don't cost a fortune to maintain and can reproduce easily. I cannot justify spending hundreds of dollars on a goat; they die too easily. Sad but true. 

On this day, we have 19 goats. And 18 baby goats so far. Unfortunately,keeping them all is not in the cards. We need to start culling; keeping only the very best to improve the traits we are seeking the most. Parasite resistance, strong feet with correct conformation and good mothers are the top three. Next comes behavior and personality. It is going to be very hard for me to do. The boys are all for sale- if they are not sold off farm, they will go to the sale barn in the fall. As for the girls, it's going to be much tougher to decide. So for right now, time will tell and how well they perform this spring/summer. I may let the purebred lamancha girls go... It will be hard though! However, moving in the direction of chunky, fast weight-gaining kids increases the chances of profit at the end of the year.