September 2009 Issue

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PEDIGREES AND GENETICS: HOW ARE THEY RELATED?

Goat registries exist to record the pedigrees of individual animals. Information such as sire, dam, date of birth, sex, breed, number in litter, horned or polled, domestic or imported breeding, identification method (tattooing, ear tags), and natural or birth through artificial insemination provide valuable information on the specific goat. Registration also includes the breeder information, including name and location.

Now let's talk about what registration does not provide.

Registration does not identify the quality of the goat.

Let me repeat: registration has zero to do with whether the goat is good or lousy. Unfortunately, too many producers think it does and buy based upon pedigree. I don't know if this is because they are misinformed or because they are looking for a quick easy way to identify a quality goat. I suspect it is a little of both.

Why does pedigree not identify quality animals? First of all, genetics is a crap shoot. The best doe and the best buck can breed one year, producing terrific offspring, yet breed the next year and produce culls. The single fact that the goats are a year older has an impact on quality of offspring. Number of kids in the litter has a bearing on how those kids grow out. Triplets take longer to grow than do singles. There is much more to finding a quality goat than age, litter size, and pedigree.

Not only does the way that genetics works affect the quality of offspring, but also circumstances on your property differ from year to year, month to month, and pasture to pasture. No two days are ever alike. Nature is a moving target, always challenging us to try to catch up. And all of these changes affect the goats living there.

Too much or too little rain affects plant and grass growth, in turn impacting what is available on the land for goats to eat. The producer can supplemently feed goats, but they are always going to go for new tender vegetation and grasses if such appear and the goats can access them. Cold, heat, drought, rain, snow, ice, hail, wind -- all of these natural weather conditions affect goats that live, breed, and raise kids outside in the elements. Hay quality varies from year to year. Processed grains (sacked feed) and loose minerals, although manufactured to exacting specifications, always have some small differences in them from batch to batch. Changes in feed take time for the goats to adjust.

There are many things over which the producer has no control and for which he has to make adjustments -- sometimes as frequently as weekly or daily. Flies and other insects and animals bring diseases onto the property and to the goats. The appearance of predators, although they may be kept at bay, stresses the goats. The introduction of new goats into the herd brings more stress; the pecking order resolution starts all over, changing the status of goats in the herd which in turn affects what each goat is able to eat. New livestock guardian animals are another stressor. Simply moving them from pasture to pasture can stress them. Goats stress easily and do not move well. Anytime the producer moves a goat, prior thought must be given to how to do this with the least amount of stress on the animal.

The producer must learn how to evaluate breeding goats based upon body conformation and productivity and trace this back to dam/sire and even to granddam/grandsire. The producer must learn to cull heavily in every generation. The producer must learn that he cannot look at a kid or coming yearling and determine that this will be a quality goat except in very rare circumstances and after he (the producer) has lots of conformation evaluation experience under his belt. Kids are cute and sometimes colorful. That's all that can be said about kids. Anyone who says that a certain kid will grow out well because he is a grand-son of a well-known goat is simply trying to sell a goat, because there is no way the seller can guarantee that statement.

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.

JeffersLivestock.com

NEEDLES

  • Use 22 gauge x 3/4 needles for most injections.
  • Use 18 gauge x 1 inch needles to inject thick medications like oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml (LA200), penicillin, Nuflor, Excenel RTU.
  • Use 25 gauge x 5/8 inch needles to inject "thin" medications into kids and to inject Formalin into CL abscesses.
  • Use poly hub (not aluminum hub) needles if you are sterilizing and reusing needles.
  • Jeffers carries all of these items. Sometimes you have to buy syringe/needle combinations to get proper needle sizes.

I've been raising meat-goat breeding stock since 1990. After 20 years, I occasionally can look at a young kid and tell that he or she is going to grow out to be a terrific breeding animal. Color is irrelevant. Body conformation is of paramount importance, and body conformation develops and matures as the goat grows. I pay attention to sire and dam and evaluate consistency of good traits, but this is only a small part of the selection process. Once a visibly good goat is selected, then evaluation based upon tolerance for wormloads, ability to hold its place within the herd's pecking order, and a host of other factors are continually evaluated. This information is simply impossible to know until the goat begins to approach yearling status. Culls must and do go to slaughter. Culling must be done out of every kidding.

The work and time involved in accomplishing all of the above should tell a goat buyer than any goat being offered for a couple of hundred dollars isn't worth having. The old saying that you get what you pay for is valid here.

Without knowing all of the information cited in this article, buying based solely upon pedigree means nothing. Buying based solely upon pedigree is a foolish and faulty way to buy.

You cannot back-door your way into quality genetics.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
ONION CREEK RANCH 9-7-09

BendingTree Ranch TexMaster Goats

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

btr@cyberback.com
www.bendingtreeranch.com

Bending Tree Ranch is located near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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TexMaster buck available for sale:

Bending Tree Ranch Hank, dob 3-5-08

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Just pulled from breeding pen and all dressed up in his working clothes. Hank is ready to go to work improving your herd adding hardiness to his offspring as well as MEAT.

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Hank is the son of:
Bending Tree Ranch Trapper and Onion Creek Ranch Hazel

 

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