Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are You Kidding Me?!

Yes, a pun was intended, probably the puniest I could think of.  Anyway, many thoughts of what the title of this blog should be, "How Not To Be A Goat Rancher" "Goats Gone Wild" "March Kidding in January" "Not So Perfect Kidding Storm" "Just When You Think You Have Your Goat Program Figured Out."

It all started on January 26, 2012...well, maybe a little bit before that... lets back up a little.  Before we headed out to the Dude Ranchers Convention in Cody, Wy we saw a few does that had bags that seemed more developed then they should have been for when their kidding dates were.  Occasionally the bucklings from that year will get one or two does bred, it's happened before, so we got them up and put them in a kidding pasture and didn't think much more about it.

We returned from Wy to find that none of the does we caught had kidded out but still looked "early".  No worries, no big deal right?  Then 1/26/12 rolled around.  We had some hikers come to the office at the ranch and say they saw a brand new baby goat and its mom waaaay up by the "goat cave".  Okay, we missed one... Barry and I head up that direction in the truck and sure enough there is a first time mother black purebred Kiko doe with a little black buckling.  Catching a goat out in the open on our 350 acres is a bit tricky at times. It takes the other goats and some corn to cause confusion in the new mother and over crowding so you can grab a leg or a horn.  It's not the easiest task but it works.

I grab my little bucket of corn (doesn't take much corn, especially in the winter) and start calling the goats down from the hillside.  They can't see me but are calling back so I decide I better hike up the hill so they don't head down to the arena/catch area.  When I hike up part of the way, to my surprise there is another first time mother, purebred Kiko doe and her buckling kid.   We catch the two new mom's and tie one of them in the back of the truck, put a baby in the bucket and one in the cab of the truck.  With Barry sitting on the tool box holding the second mom's horns to contain her, we head down to the kidding pasture at the ranch.

 We decided after that we should get the goats up again and look at bags one more time.  This is not a full proof way to see if a goat is close to kidding time but it helps.  Some does don't really show a bag until they kid... those are the sneaky ones.  

As I pulled goats out of the herd to put in kidding pastures I started to get a panicked feeling.  I kept finding goat after goat that was going to kid... it seemed more than 1/2 the herd was separated out.  What gave me the panicked feeling was the fact it is winter.  I sometimes will breed 5 - 10 registered goats for possible breeding bucks for people to purchase, I can handle that if the weather goes bad but more than 1/2 of our herd?!  YIKES!  Fortunately we have been blessed with very mild weather this year.  

The other part that kind of was bothersome... all that planned breeding.  We have three new bucks and we will have very few kids from them.  At this point all I can do is learn and laugh from this experience.

So what have I learned?
1.  Get those bucklings up no later than 3 months on the date.  We castrated all but six bucklings and those six bucklings had a lot of fun.  The bucklings were born April and May... I have never experienced such aggressive young bucklings.  I have never had young Spanish bucklings before and I have never had those bloodlines of young Kiko bucks, who I noticed their sires were very aggressive breeders (extra).

2. Just because it is HOT, like 108 degrees, does not mean that does will not come into heat and young bucklings won't breed.

3. Nursing does in HOT weather, young and old, do and will get pregnant.

Today is February 7, 2012 and we have 105 kids born with 4 that did not make it and one bottle kid.  The positive side to all of this is that we will have some really nice commercial doelings to offer for sale this year that will be ready to breed for spring kids for next year.  AND the weather couldn't have been better!
Live and learn, live and learn! 


  1. Holy goatherd, Batman. Do I smell goat curry cooking?

  2. Honestly... I truly believe these changing weather patterns are effecting everything... including the estrous and gestation cycles of all the animals. We've even noticed the sunsets moving further west and going down much later in the day, way to soon for the season.