As some of you may be aware, Facebook has started enforcing it's ban on animal sales. This has created a great deal of stress in the goat world because a huge number of us marketed our animals through our Facebook pages (personal and business) and through the Facebook groups. I had the honor of being interviewed by Goat Journal, so I thought I would share what I wrote here as well.
Congratulations! You made it through Linear Appraisal. That's a huge step towards herd improvement. However, to get the most impact out of the data, it helps to be able to interpret the numbers. In this blog I'm going to share a few things that I've learned through trial and error, button pushing, and conversations with colleagues. My first bit of feedback is to slow down and take a deep breath. LA is notoriously overwhelming. It's normal to have strong reactions afterwards. You've put a lot of money, time, and passion into this project. If you hadn't you wouldn't be participating in ADGA's performance programs. Now that you've taken that deep breath, let's do some reality checks using Leia as an example. BTW, Leia was indeed named in honor of Carrie Fisher.
A few thoughts about goat development, milk test, and buck management.
Linear appraisal is always a wonderful opportunity to learn about my herd. Last year (2018) marked my sixth year of participation in this program. I have truly been blessed to have one of the most distinguished and respected appraisers visit my herd three times over the past several years. Having someone evaluate my herd in 2018 who remembers my beginnings made this year extra special for me. Each year appraisal has concluded with a discussion of my goals for the herd and reflections on where I've been and recommended next moves for herd development. (pictured are my 2017 Manuka Honey daughters and Ronin)
The work of planning breedings can be greatly helped by creating priorities and using technology. As I shared in a previous post, one of my favorite pieces of technology is Kintraks. I'm a data junkie and I love pedigree analysis, so researching the genetics online is one of my favorite activities. If you don't like to research genetics, see if a friend will share their Kintraks database with you. However, GIGO applies, garbage in, garbage out.
One of my first priorities is health. Over the years I've purchased or adopted a variety of excessively inbred animals (dogs, cats, Nubians, Nigerians). One thing that they had in common were funky illnesses and weaknesses. Funky in the sense that you didn't see these problems in animals with low levels of inbreeding. Examples include eye problems, early onset of sterility, fertility problems in does, kidding difficulties, etc. Since I've started tracking these problems, I've set my preferences between 5-10% over ten generations. Why the range? Because it depends on the pedigrees of the individual goats. Some inbreeding is desirable to gain consistency, and once you factor in historic inbreeding (7th-10th generation) it is difficult to find a goat with a COI less than 2%. And, since some genetic lines of goats are already heavily inbred (as high as 64%), bringing the COI (inbreeding coefficient) down to an acceptable level can take multiple generations.
I am a notorious buck hoarder - who just experienced a painful reality check. Over the years I've collected a large herd of exceptional bucks. However, as I've become better at analyzing Nigerian genetics, I've become concerned about the prevalence of high inbreeding coefficients.
An inbreeding coefficient is complex statistical calculation (do not try this at home!) that tells you the degree of inbreeding in a particular animal's pedigree. High inbreeding coefficients are an area of concern because the negative effects of inbreeding in all animals begins at 5% and becomes serious at 10%. The short version is that highly inbred animals often lack vigor and may suffer from higher illness and mortality rates.
Periodically I am asked about worming goats. Do I worm my goats? What do you give? What is the dosage? Honestly, I prefer not to worm my goats unless it is necessary. Worms are getting increasingly resistant to treatment and I'm lucky (sort of) to be located in a very dry region of the country where worms aren't as much of a problem.
The way I manage the situation is to do periodic fecal tests. Since breeding season is approaching, it seemed like a good time. So, following my vet's recommendation, I had him run tests on samples from each of the paddocks that are in use (buck and doe paddocks). The results were encouraging.
There were no parasites in the buck pen and "rare" cocci in the doe pen. I consulted with my vet about the cocci, and he noted that it is normal for goat herds to have some residual levels on an ongoing basis. I'm responding to the situation by changing up my loose minerals in the doe paddock, giving them Sweetlix 16:8 MeatMaker R960 loose minerals, which are medicated to prevent coccidiosis.
Link to the product: www.sweetlix.com/products/C14A34/meat-maker-products.aspx
Marie-France Orillion, Ph.D.
Welcome to my blog! I am a retired researcher/university administrator. Since I'm a bit of a workaholic (my other addiction is sugar), I've embarked on a second career as an elementary school teacher. When I'm not working I enjoy playing with my goats and my gardens. This blog is a place where I reflect on what I've learned along the way.
Certificated Dairy Goat Producer
OWLHAVEN IS A CLOSED HERD