Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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ADAPTABILITY: THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN RAISING GOATS

The first thing that a goat loses when it is domesticated is its adaptability; the last thing a goat regains when returning to its feral state is its ability to adapt to its surroundings and survive.

Adaptability and its importance in the life of a goat is something that every producer must understand, yet few breeders do. A goat's ability to live and survive in its natural surroundings depends upon many things. The goat needs its keen senses to avoid predators and its horns with which to defend itself. Being a sprinter rather than a long-distance runner, the goat is unlikely to outrun its enemies. It needs to maintain an active and healthy immune system. This requires continual movement over pastures to avoid parasites. Living and sleeping in unconfined and uncrowded conditions reduces the possibility of illness and injury and allows the goat to maintain visual surveillance of everything around it. Pregnant does living in pastoral surroundings learn to give birth, clean, 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 goats to pens or small pastures takes all of these instinctual capabilities away from the goat. It becomes dependent upon the producer for protection against parasites, diseases, and predators. Everything the goat eats is no longer its own decision but rather whatever is provided by the breeder. Disbudding is unnecessary in most cases, and de-horning is simply cruel. (See the author's article entitled Disbudding and De-Horning Goats on the Articles page at http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.) Raising kids on a bottle overly domesticates them, but in a concentrated breeding operation, this sometimes must be done to save valuable genetics.

Producers such as this author who work to improve the meat traits of their goats tread a fine line between trying to achieve their goals and making the goats completely dependent. Expensive animals make this all the more difficult, since producers are naturally inclined to confine and protect "high-dollar" animals.

There are compromises that the producer has to make to achieve his goals, but each decision should be weighed against the greater benefit to the species. . . . which is maintaining its 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 the producer is raising breeding stock, the goat may be sold to a breeder who runs his herd in the mountains of Utah. In such surroundings, its instincts will be necessary for the goat's survival.

For all these reasons, this writer is determined to convince producers to learn more about goat nutrition, health, and management so that they can keep interference in the life of the goat to a minimal level and still achieve their goals.

The first paragraph of this article is worth repeating: The first thing that a goat loses when it is penned and domesticated is its adaptability; the last thing that a goat regains when returning to its natural state is its ability to adapt to its surroundings and survive.

Give your goats the best gift of all . . . . just enough involvement in their lives to accomplish your goals without taking their natural abilities away from them.

Meat Goat Mania
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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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