How to Have Homestead Goat Breeding Success
Before bringing home our first goats, our first livestock animals in fact, I had a few misconceptions about how keeping goats would go. Most of these revolved around breeding, and as breeding season for goats approaches again I hope to address some commonly overlooked things in this post.
Possibly the most important issue: genetics. I thought that the pedigrees of bucks generally translated to milking production and color variations in the kids. This is wrong right off the bat. Good genetics also influence the health of the kids from development in utero to parasite and disease resistance, proclivity towards mineral deficiencies, and general hardiness. We kept two does from a mediocre sire in our breeding rotation. One of them has produced two bucklings with a retained testicle, one of them has continued troubles bonding with and nursing her kids, and both have produced kids that seem to struggle with mineral deficiencies in a way that does not effect the rest of the herd.
Additionally, milking lines are not just important if you plan to have a dairy farm. A goat with good milking lines will produce more milk for her kids as well, making issues with nursing less likely. She’ll be easier to milk and the whole process around milk production becomes less stressful.
Colors also aren’t completely ‘silly’ or just for the show ring. If you hope to sell kids, being able to offer interesting markings or unique features can help. While good genetics and milking lines are more important than color combinations, a buck who throws moonspots or blue eyes should not be overlooked.
Yes, You Can Be No Cull (and have good genetics!)
We are a steadfastly no cull farm. This means we do not butcher or put down any goats unless it is the only humane option for a very old or very sick animal. No cull farms can get a bad reputation for depleting the genetics of a breed of goats, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
The only thing that will deplete genetics is actively breeding subpar stock. Maintaining good genetics in your herd simply means not breeding any stock with negative traits — for example, our two does that have produced difficult offspring are now no longer part of our breeding program.
Now it may sound like not breeding your ideal stock means you’ll have a constantly growing herd of non-breeding goats. But the key is to plan. Our herd can support several non-breeding goats because their primary purpose on our farm is to help clear brush — something wethers are just as good at as does! But, when we don’t want to keep extra kids, we make sure to have purchases lined up with people looking for companion goats, brush clearing goats, or therapy goats.
This planning starts with thinking about kidding season for the next year before the kids even hit the ground in the spring. We start advertising and putting the word out to get interested people in touch with us, and form a list. By fall, a few months before the buck arrives, we have a complete list and ask for deposits. When the buck does come, we breed approximately as many does as that list can support. Of course its an inexact science — a doe could drop quintuplets like Rogue this year, and you never know what your doelings to bucklings ratio will be. But by thinking about it and trying to plan for it, and erring on the side of less if anything, we make sure that all kids are spoken for before they are even born.
Interested in Hostile Valley Farm Kids?
We are still taking deposits on 2022 wethers and bucklings.
We have a wait list for 2022 doelings which would transfer to 2023 kids if none are available in 2022.
We have a shortlist of adult non-breeding goats we would consider selling to the right home.
Please contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details on any of the above opportunities.
Our buck for next season, Rock Bottom Farm Galileo, arrives in December for kids in May and June 2022. Part of our focus on excellent genetics and diversifying the genetics in our herd means we will be most interested in breeding Rogue and her two daughters, Layla and Janie, and retaining a doeling or two of theirs for future breeding.
We are very excited for the next spring, and can’t wait to share with you about the bouncing kids as soon as they arrive!