"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Breeding Goats is No Fun

I'm having the most difficulty finding a buck to breed my does. I never thought it would be this hard. Goat sex is a natural thing, right? There are a couple of problems: finding a suitable buck, and dealing with the owners. I want to breed my does to a Boer this year, a meat goat, because I don't want to keep any kids. My herd is big enough for now. My milkers are young and healthy, and I'll keep the same ones for a few years, I just want them freshened. So I might as well breed kids that will be good eating.

Boer bucks are fairly thin on the ground. There was Buddy the baby billy, who didn't know what to do with a doe. Technically, they still owe me a breeding; maybe he's learned a little something by now. I've spoken with a couple of other owners, who sound gung-ho on the phone but then fail to call me back. That's happened two or three times.

Then there's the issue of CAE. Caprine Arthritic....Encephalitis? Oh, I'd have to look it up. But it's a sexually transmitted virus that causes crippling arthritis. It is also transmitted through milk to kids, so if you have it in your herd, you can't let does raise their own kids, you have to bottle feed. Which, of course, also means you are committed to milking twice a day for the length of a ten month lactation. So quite apart from the issue of the goats' health, you can see why I don't want CAE in my herd. Goat owners are divided into two camps: those who don't test and don't care, and those who test obsessively and demand documentation in triplicate before they'll let their goats touch your goats with a ten foot pole. 

My goats are all either tested or from a closed herd, but I don't have documentation for all the goats on my farm, so that means I can't get breeding from an obsessive type. And I, while I don't want to be an obsessive type, kind of have to be if I don't want to be chained to the milking stand all next year. So I've been asking for test results on bucks (even offering to pay for them), and getting the brush off. Meat goat people don't bother testing because the kids are all doomed to be eaten long before CAE would become a problem for them, and nobody milks the dams. 

I did talk to a kid tonight (FFA) who has a Boer and is willing to get him tested if I pay half. But of course, my doe is in heat NOW, and test results don't come back for a few days, so we're looking at the next breeding cycle, in 18-23 days. 

Oh, and there's the issue of the electric fence. It doesn't work and we can't figure out why. Without a working electric fence, I doubt we can control who breeds with who when.