August 9, 2022

Barnyard Babies: Goat Kids

They aren't babies anymore! 

L →R: Jack (12 wks old), Rain (8 mos old), Piedy (15 wks old),
and Ursa on the right, who was one of last year's keeper kids.

We had four kids born this spring, all of them little bucks. That was somewhat disappointing, except that I had people wanting bucks, so perhaps it was actually providential. Three of them have gone to their new homes, and the remaining buckling we've decided to keep, because he's the best buckling we've ever produced. He has qualities I want to pass keep in my little herd.

I don't consider myself a serious Kinder breeder, but I do enjoy choosing matches to work toward our breed standard. Kinder goats (in my not so humble opinion!) are the perfect homestead goat breed. They are midsize, dual-purpose, ample producers, and have the best personalities. Of all the goat breeds I've had over the years, I love my Kinders best.

Of course, nothing is predictable about genetics, so the results of my matches are never predictable! The idea is to pair the conformation weaknesses of one parent with strengths in the other. For example, a level topline (straight back) is a desirable trait. Sometimes, however, a goat may have longer back legs than front legs (hip high), or may have a weak chine (slightly swaybacked). So, I wouldn't pair two goats with the same weakness. I'd pair the swayback goat with one that has a straight back. Hopefully, the strengths are passed on for improvement in the offspring. 

Herd improvement is achieved by keeping the kids that best conform to the breed standard and not keeping those with the least desirable traits. Piedmont is one of the best kids we've produced so far.


He's muscular, well-proportioned, level, has excellent skeletal width in the shoulders and hips, isn't leggy, and has a decent brisket. 

Piedy on the left (almost 4 months), Jingo on the right (8 months).

Weaning is a sad day in a little buck's life, and Piedy wasn't happy about being moved to the boys' side. We put him with Jingo, last year's fall buckling and herd sire hopeful. Piedy and Jingo are half-brothers by the same sire. Their sire was sold and Jingo was meant to be his replacement. I like to keep three unrelated bucks, so that I don't have to breed daughters to their sires or grandsires, or sisters to their brothers. But I only need one buck of this genetic line, so I'll only keep one of them. Right now, I think Piedy is the more promising of the two.

Getting acquainted. Jonah and Magnus looking on.

The sparring only distracts Piedy for a little while. Then he remembers that where he really wants to be is back with his mom. Then he cries until he's hoarse. I go and comfort him a couple times a day. I always hope that helps the adjustment period, but I don't know. I'm not exactly what he wants! Such is growing up in the life of a little buck.


Michelle said...

Choices, choices! I only had one ram lamb out of four lambs this year and he is REALLY nice, but 1) he isn't the color/pattern desired by the person wanting a ram lamb from me and 2) he's related to all my breeding ewes but one. Hopefully someone will want him as a flock sire but if not, his fleece is so nice that I will wether him as a fiber pet. Unlike you, for years I have only kept one ram at a time, so the daughters and granddaughters of that ram have to be held for new blood to come in. Not ideal, but I don't have facilities to do things differently at this time.

Leigh said...

Michelle, the choices are ongoing! I really don't have room to keep this many bucks either, but Kinders are hard to find. I was probably the first Kinder breeder in my state, and had to import all of my goats from elsewhere. Now, most of the area goats came from mine! So getting fresh genes for the herd would entail road trips that we just aren't willing to take anymore.

Kate said...

Piedy and Jingo are both good looking goats! What is it about Piedy that makes you prefer him as herd sire?

daisy g said...

Life with goats must be a lot of fun. Work too, but they seem like they are always getting into something.

Enjoy your herd!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

That picture of him is stunning.

An interesting thing here at The Ranch (or at least the region thereof) is that clearing of underbrush by goat is now a fairly visible occurrence. I always enjoy seeing it; it is nice that it has become much more commonplace.

Nancy In Boise said...

What lovely goats! Fascinating info for those of us who would like to have goats but don't have the room sadly. Maybe someday when I retire! That's saddy misses his mama and cries until his voice is hoarse, poor baby, but I'm sure he'll adjust

Leigh said...

Katy, they are good looking! Kinders are a dual-purpose breed, so what we look for is both dairy character and meat character. Jingo has a stronger dairy character, while Piedy shows a better balance of the two. For example, Piedy has better skeletal width in his hips, shoulders, and chest. And he's more muscular. Scrotal attachments are important too. Looking at a goat from the back, the place where the udder or scrotum attaches is called the escutcheon. The best attachment looks like an upside-down U. Many goats look like an upside-down V, but the U shape is more open and allows more room for a nicely shaped udder. This is a consideration for a herd sire, because we want his daughters to have nice udders.

Daisy, I love my goats. I think the important thing with them is 1) good fencing, and 2) a good routine. All animals respond best to routine, and goats are no exception. As long as the routine suits their nature as goats, they'll agree to it and we have relative order in the barn. :)

TB, thank you! Goats are great brush control, and it's wonderful to see that more and more. The challenge is they need to be fenced or herded (which is pretty much a lost art nowadays). But brush is their first and favorite food, and they are happy to oblige in that department.

Nancy, weaning is the hardest time for a little buck. I like it when they are sold and can go straight from their mothers to their new homes. It takes about a week to adjust, sometimes a little more. He's doing better now.

Cederq said...

Handsome lad Leigh. I don't remember if I asked you about if you ever considered Boers? That is what I raised down in swamp LA along side a couple of Saanen nannies that always produced twins. I bred them to a Boer sire and had good results and conformation across both breed types.

Leigh said...

Kevin, I honestly never really considered Boers, although they seem to be very popular. I've mostly been interested in the dairy side of goat keeping. Then I learned about Kinders and have loved them best of all the breeds I've tried. They dress out at about 60% and many are gallon-a-day milkers, so they seem to be the best of both worlds. Being mid-size they don't require as much feed!

I think cross breeding really has its merits in terms of hybrid vigor. Kinders started as an accidental Nubian/Pygmy cross. The nice thing about that is, it's possible to start a whole new line with registered parents. Their first generation offspring are eligible for registry in the Kinder Goat Breeder Association books. That helps a lot with genetic diversity in the breed.

Annie in Ocala said...

Very nice! And I haven't seen kinders in my area either... Your are a pioneer and with good principles! My last keeper buckling I have bred to twice now and will be moving him on this fall. I have sacrificed correct for forage ability and resistance with this last cross. I have an older doe (spanish/nubianx)that has always stayed a good weight without much supplemental grain. And never any bpw issues with her. Rarely had to trim hooves, etc. She does have a lopsided udder and kidded singles and males most of the time. Well, a friend had a nice square boer/nub buck with similar history I used on her and kept her buckling. That buckling is coming 2yo this fall and he's bred everyone for 2 kiddings now... kept 2 doelings's from last Nov babes and am very pleased... so far. He has been shared and serviced probably 20+ does and has gone thru a couple disappointing gangily stages but then another growth spurt happens and I feel good about him again... I will add that these are more landrace than particular breeds. The breeds I mentioned are reference for type.
Onward we go working toward critters that can survive without copious amounts of bagged food!!!

Leigh said...

Annie, that is such an excellent goal. I tend to sell of goats that require a lot of grain to maintain their weight. Landraces are desirable! Seems like they all go through uncertain growth spurts. I find that bucks don't really come into their own until they are about 4.

Retired Knitter said...

I think they ALL look wonderful! Good thing I don’t have to choose.

PioneerPreppy said...

I think one of our goats is someone's attempt at a Kinder kinda cross breed. Or maybe an oops crossbreed not sure but she has that look. She came with her mother as just a little baby doe but she was the sweetest little girl. All our goats do now is hang out with me though mostly just lap dogs with horns to be honest. They are a little pissy cause I don't let them in the garden but soon enough they will be back to 100% lounging in chairs again.

Leigh said...

RT, choosing is always the hardest part!

PP, goats are very much like pet dogs! Ours love to be petted and scratched. And they love for me to take them on walks in the woods. They can be demanding though, especially for something they love to eat (like gardens!)

Goatldi said...

Piedy is a winner! And a keeper. He appears to be a cross between a Volkswagen Beatle and a sherman tank lol. Often times the ones that look like all the standard parts were put in an odd assortment like a teenage boy they wake up one day and come out to the kitchen and those size 16 feet don't look out of place. I am sure he will be giving you some consistent daughters that you can tell out of a barn "I know who your Daddy is!"

Longfellow did that for me but the proof was in the pudding as we say.
It will be fun to see it happen!

Leigh said...

Goatldi, indeed, the proof is in the kids they produce! They do change a lot as they grow up. Some kids I thought looked pretty good were nothing special when they became adults, while some we thought missed the mark became gorgeous Kinders. Trouble is, the decisions have to be made way before that!

Goatldi said...

Amen to that Leigh!

After almost 40 years more than once I’ve shaken my head after I’ve seen a doe mature at a show or just visiting the people who bought her to add to their home and I just shake my head and think what did I sell you for?

Leigh said...

Goatldi, if only we could see into the future! :)

Fundy Blue said...

Poor little, Piedy! Life can be tough. This is such an interesting post. Have a great weekend, Leigh!

Leigh said...

Fundy, life is tougher for the little boys :( The little girls get to stay with their moms! It's happier for everyone when they go straight to new homes at weaning time.