February 2016 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


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I don't like having bottle babies. It is neither cost- nor time-effective to have bottle babies. They never completely behave as goats and usually wind up on the bottom of the pecking order in the herd. I much prefer to hold the dam to let them nurse for several days until the doe accepts them or foster them onto another doe with similar-aged kids than bottle feeding for three months. The most dangerous goat on your place will be the bottle baby buck that is now grown. He will hurt every person on your ranch -- usually unintentionally -- because he thinks he is still a baby "person." However, there are instances in which the choice is either bottling newborns or letting them die. Deliberately letting newborn kids die is not acceptable.

Below is a formula for calculating the amount should be feeding so that you don't over-feed a newborn to approximately two to three week old bottle baby. Use this formula when the young kid is consuming only milk. When it starts eating solid food, the amounts don't have to be so precise. Suckling is a very satisfying experience. Newborns and very young kids will nurse until they overeat on milk and die. Floppy Kid Syndrome is a very real possibility.

Weigh the newborn. Convert its weight into ounces. Calculate 10% to 12% of total bodyweight in ounces, divide that number by four feedings, and feed that amount over a 24 hour period. Example: An eight-pound kid's weight converted to ounces is 128 ounces. 8 x 16 oz = 128 oz. Multiple 128 oz by 12% = 15.4 ounces. Round to the nearest whole ounce - in this case 15 oz. Divide 15 oz by 4 feedings = 3.75 oz per feeding. Recognize that this amount varies by sex and number of kids in the litter. Feed 4 times a day for the first week, reducing the 3 times a day during Week 2, and settle on 2 times per day when the kid is three weeks until weaning at three months of age. The amount of milk required increases as the kid gains weight. This formula is critical during the first two or three weeks of the kid's life to prevent it from developed Floppy Kid Syndrome (overeating on milk).

Check the kid for a full tummy by placing it on the ground on its feet, supporting its own weight. Don't try to evaluate stomach fullness when holding the kid. It will always feel more full than when supporting its own weight. Stand over it, facing the same direction that the kid is facing. Place your fingers in front of the back legs on both sides of its tummy. The tummy should feel firm, not hard and not squishy. If the formula provided above doesn't accomplish this, adjust it upward a bit until you achieve the needs of that particular kid. This is not a written-in-stone rule; common sense must prevail.

The amount of milk needed changes as the kid grows. By two to three weeks of age, the kid is much more physically active and eating some solid food, so the chance of over-feeding on milk is lessened. But never let the kid drink all it wants. Milk is a vital part of the kid's nutrition program all the way up until weaning at three months of age. Do NOT wean at two months of age.

It is very easy to over-feed a newborn or very young kid. This is true if you use goat's milk, cow's milk, milk replacer, or any formulation of your own concoction. A kid will suckle until it dies. It doesn't know how much is too much milk. You have to control milk amounts, just like dams do. A kid has to have enough time between feedings to digest the milk in its stomach or undigested milk will accumulate and kill the kid. Overeating on milk is a painful death. I like Ultra-Bac 24 all-species milk replacer made by Milk Products Inc. It mixes smoothly and digests easily. Never use a milk replacer with soy in it. Don't use homemade concoctions that combine condensed milk, buttermilk, and cow's milk. Many goat kids have serious constipation and digestion issues after consuming such rich formulations.

The Articles page at my website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com has columns I've written on health problems of newborn and young kids, floppy kid syndrome (overeating on milk),weak kid syndrome (hypothermia and starvation), getting a kid on a bottle, and a host of other articles involving kidding problems. Take advantage of the information before kidding begins.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas 2/11/16


Did you know: If you are having trouble getting a kid on a bottle, wet the Prichard teat in water and then dip it in granulated sugar. Fill the bottle with milk or milk replacer and put the nipple in the kid's mouth.

In most cases, the kid will smack his lips together when he tastes the granulated sugar, simulating sucking, and will begun to suck the nipple on the bottle.

Consultation & Evaluation Services for Hire

I've decided to expand my business to include consultation & evaluation services for people who are either thinking about raising meat goats or are currently raising them and want to improve their operations

Please contact Suzanne W. Gasparotto at 324-344-5775 or email at onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com


Myotonic goats have an obscure origin. Sometime during the 1870's, they showed up in Tennessee. In the 1940's, a group of the larger Myotonic goats was imported from Tennessee to Texas by Boone Heep of Buda, Texas. After Mr. Heep's death, this property went through a series of owners during which time the goats were moved off the place. I bought that property in 1988, having no knowledge of the history of Myotonic goats. By sheer coincidence and quirk of fate, I began acquiring Myotonic goats, raising them, and improving the breed...... only later to learn that the original Texas herd of Myotonic goats resided at my very own ranch.

Myotonic goats are a distinctly landrace breed, which means that they have adapted to fit the local conditions in which they live. Having no dairy influence and being very muscular, they are 100% MEAT goats. Muscling is developed when the neuro-muscular condition known as myotonia causes their rear legs to stiffen and relax (like humans who lift weights) as they rise from a sitting position or are startled and begin to run. The degree of stiffness varies, with the meatier, more muscular animals displaying more stiffness. Myotonia occurs in the muscle fiber... not as a function of the central nervous system.... and causes no problem for the goats. In no way should myotonia be considered a defect in goats.

Though sure footed and adaptable to varying terrain, these goats are not fence climbers and are easy to keep fenced. Predator problems are no more serious with Myotonics than with any other breed of goats. All goats are sprinters -- not long-distance runners -- and cannot outrun predators. Guard dogs and good fencing are essential with every goat breed.

Myotonic goats have been improved by breeding larger, more heavily muscled fullblood myotonics to unrelated, larger, and heavily muscled myotonics at Onion Creek Ranch since 1990. In order to distinguish these improved myotonic goats, I have named and trademarked these larger, heavily muscled Myotonic goats as TENNESSEE MEAT GOATS™.

With increasing interest in Myotonics, people are beginning to make the same mistakes that have been the downfall of Boers in the USA: the "if it is bigger, it has to be better" approach to breeding. Unfortunately, some folks are crossing fullblood Myotonics with larger breeds such as Boers and continuing to call them fullblood Myotonics. I have heard of one producer who refuses to acknowledge that Myotonic is a breed and therefore calls any goat with some amount of myotonia in it a "Myotonic" goat. Such goats are goats that display myotonic influence -- NOT fullblood Myotonics.

If you as a producer decide to buy a Myotonic goat, first be sure that you know what a Myotonic goat really is and what it looks like. For example, fullblood Myotonic goats do not have loose skin and dewlaps like Boers. They have dished faces and short ears. Buy only from reputable established breeders with a history of properly representing the breed.

All fullblood Myotonic goats born of Onion Creek Ranch genetics are eligible to be considered for certification as Tennessee Meat Goats™. Onion Creek Ranch has been breeding fullblood Myotonics since 1990. Only heavily muscled, deep-bodied, fullblood Myotonics are bred to other unrelated heavily muscled, deep-bodied, fullblood Myotonics. No other breed has been used to accomplish this goal. Offspring that meet OCR criteria are designated as Tennessee Meat Goats™ around one year of age so that the goats have time to develop muscling and I am able to evaluate both their existing body conformation and their potential for further development. No other goat program influences this certification process.

In 2008, the TMG Prospect Program was introduced to permit producers to purchase Myotonic males at weaning that I believe have the potential to be certified as Tennessee Meat Goats™. Certification inspection will be done either in person or via video or still photographs at 18 months of age, allowing time for the goats to adapt to their new homes and to the new owner's management practices. TMG certification allows producers to register their OCR genetics in the Tennessee Meat Goat™ herdbook. Please contact Suzanne Gasparotto at 325-344-5775 or email onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com or Pat can be reached at 501-679-4936 or by emailing btrocr@cyberback.com


All fullblood Tennessee Meat Goats™ are Myotonic, but few Myotonics can qualify to be called Tennessee Meat Goats™.

Suzanne Gasparotto selected and trademarked the name Tennessee Meat Goat™ in the early 1990's to describe those goats of the Myotonic breed developed at Onion Creek Ranch that are both heavily muscled and large framed. To be a certified authentic fullblood Tennessee Meat Goat™, the goat must conform to the size and muscling criteria that she established, come from Onion Creek Ranch pedigreed lineage, and must be visually inspected and certified as Tennessee Meat Goats™ by a representative of Onion Creek Ranch.

Most Myotonic goats are small to medium-sized and seldom achieve more than 100 pounds mature weight. Some are muscled, but many of them are not. Many are pet-quality and not intended for meat production. In contrast, Tennessee Meat Goats™ are the result of selective breeding and heavy culling of large-framed, heavily-muscled fullblood Myotonic goats. Linebreeding is never utilized, because linebreeding results in the loss of both meat and hardiness. Only those animals who meet the criteria developed at Onion Creek Ranch will ever be called Tennessee Meat Goats™. Tennessee Meat Goats™ may be registered through Pedigree International in Humansville, Missouri. For additional information about Pedigree International, visit their website.

Onion Creek Ranch offers heavily-muscled, excellent conformation breeding stock goats for whom rapid weight gain is the norm at affordable prices. Our fullblood Tennessee Meat Goats™ have a substantial role to play in improving the American and international meat-goat industries.

Shipping is available at the buyer's expense. Air freight is seldom an option, but overland transport is offered by several livestock haulers, including Ron Keener of Austin, Texas. Ron makes multiple cross-country trips each year and may be contacted through his travel group Travel With Ron K on Yahoogroups for trip pricing and scheduling. Ron is an independent hauler who is not affiliated with Onion Creek Ranch. For information and pricing on Tennessee Meat Goats™, contact Suzanne W. Gasparotto at Onion Creek Ranch in Texas at 325-344-5775.


If it has MEAT on it, it has MYOTONIC in it.

Yearling or coming yearling bucks available.

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These and more available now
at Bending Tree Ranch.

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Pat Cotten 501-679-4936
Bending Tree Ranch
Damascus, Arkansas

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