Our first goats were a ragtag bunch of pygmies, Boers and auction castoffs. At that time, I was merely interested in the property tax exemption for running a ‘ranch.’ Fast forward and today I am a registered breeder of Kikos, Boers and Genemasters. I knew I had to set some goals if I were going to make the business viable. Here’s what I came up with:
- Help develop goats for Central Texas that require fewer inputs. This meant dredging up my undergrad knowledge and also learning what’s new in animal genetics, medicines, and parasites. A better goat for Central Texas could be good news for cattle ranchers. Cattle producers can add goats to their rotational grazing operation without reducing the number of cattle. I aim to be their supplier. There is also an unlimited amount of yaupon brush and goats convert yaupon into money.
- Second income. So, at first, I was trying to not lose too much money. But really, that’s a poor business plan! I decided that I wanted to build my goat business so that after retirement from the university in a couple of years, I won’t need to take on paid employment.
- Stay active outdoors. I could easily stay inside for days, knitting and watching British mysteries. I was doing binge watching when we had VHS tapes! However, that’s a sure recipe for disaster when you have RA. Gotta keep moving, stretching, lifting, walking.
So, with goals set, my son and I jumped into the goat biz with both feet. We already had Ozymandias, Jimbo, a handful of Kiko, a few Boer and several commercial does. We bought 17 Kiko does and a Kiko buckling at breed auctions last year, so we pretty much doubled our herd. Then good fortune smiled on us from Goliad, Texas. A friend leant us a New Zealand buck and shared some valuable New Zealand semen. This provided an instant upgrade to our kid crop. We did our first embryo transfer and wound up with a bonanza of viable embryos. But we can’t keep ’em all…
If I am going to reach my first goal, I have to cull hard, especially on parasite resistance. I started by examining my commercial goats, which if bred to a registered buck, might produce a 50% kid. Might not, too. In the end, I decided to keep Big Momma (our Boer cross herd queen), her half Spanish daughter Melonee (who has great worm resistance), and Khaki (Spanish goat which survived a Great Dane attack). Dan has two: Curly and Lil Momma. All the rest have been sold. Melonee and Curls are lined up as embryo transfer recipients. On the registered stock, I am collecting data, all types of data. The quantifiable data like fecal egg counts (bought a microscope) and all types of weights, and the subjective information like maternal ability and aggressive foraging. Most of our does were first-timers this year, and none have shown any immediate cull factors. So they stay until I have more data.
Sorting out the kids was harder than I thought it would be. I can’t sell all of the doelings or I won’t know how they grow out, what worked, what didn’t, on my breeding. So, I have kept four doelings so far, and might keep another one or two. The second kidding group is only a month old, but I’m pretty sure I want to keep a couple of them as well. I also hope to take a couple to the MKGA sale in October. That will pay my expenses for the trip and send some Ozymandias goats into the world. Did I mention that he’s never been dewormed?