November 2018 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.

ADAPTABILITY
Its  Importance  in  the Life  of  the  Goat

The first thing that a goat loses when it is  raised under managed conditions (penned or pastured) is  its ability to adapt to a new environment.

The  importance of adaptability in the life of a goat is something that breeders  must understand, yet few ever  think about it.    A goat's ability to survive  depends upon  having  keen senses to avoid predators and  horns with which to try to defend itself. All goats, regardless of breed, are sprinters --    not long-distance runners --  so  the species   is unable to outrun predators.  To  maintain an active and healthy immune system, the goat must be able to continually travel over  sizeable  amounts of  acreage to avoid internal parasites that suck blood, cause anemia, and kill the animal.  Think of a goat  as a deer in terms of how it lives, forages,  and survives.

Clean living conditions reduce the frequency of illness  and lots of uncrowded space  permits the animal to maintain visual contact with its surroundings to avoid injury and death, as well as  avoid contact with stomach worms present in areas of heavy fecal deposits and  wet conditions.     WET  equals  WORMS.   Pregnant does  must  have space  to give birth, bond with and feed and move    their newborns to safety quickly to insure survival. The weak die and the healthy live to raise another generation of hardy goats. Survival of the fittest keeps the gene pool strong.

Confining the goat to pens or small pastures takes all of these natural instincts   away from it.   It becomes dependent upon you for protection against parasites, diseases, and predators. Everything  the goat eats is no longer its own decision but rather whatever you provide.   Horns are both a defense mechanism and radiators to expel body heat.  Disbudding is unnecessary  and dangerous, and de-horning is simply cruel. (See my  article entitled Disbudding and De-Horning Goats on the Articles page at http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.) Raising kids on a bottle overly domesticates them.    Occasionally this must be done to save valuable genetics but should not become a regular practice.

Breeders like me  who work to improve the meat traits of my  goats tread a fine line between achieving  my   goals and creating dependent  goats ("on welfare").     Expensive animals make this more difficult, since people  are  inclined to confine and protect valuable purchases.

There are compromises that you have  make to achieve these  goals, but each decision should be weighed against the greater benefit to the species, i.e. maintaining the goat's  adaptability to its natural surroundings. These traits may not be necessary to the goat's survival in your breeding operation but they might become very important in another location. For example:    If a goat that is born and raised in Texas is sold to someone in Minnesota or the United Arab Emirates, its  ability  to  adapt is going to be very important for its survival  in such different environments.

For all these reasons, I want to convince you  to learn more about goat nutrition, health, and management so that you  can keep interference in the life of the goat to a minimal level and still achieve your goals.

The first thing that the  goat loses when it is penned and domesticated is its adaptability.    Like bottle babies who grow up to have their own kids and don't know how to care for them because their dams didn't  feed  them, regaining that instinct is  difficult.

Give your goats the gift of  just enough involvement in their lives to accomplish your  goals without taking their natural abilities (instincts) away from them.   Adaptability is quick to be lost and slow to return.   In the interim,  goats die.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas   11-1-18

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Tennessee Meat Goats™ and TexMasters™ are the cream of the meat goat industry. Contact us for availability, ages and pricing by calling 512-265-2090 or emailing onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com

 

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