Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
It’s that time of year again! The very distinct smell of “eau du buck” is in the air at nearly every goat farm. Bet you think I’m going to tell you all about breeding your goats? Well, I am, but not in the traditional way. I’m also going to tell you a story or two about breeding that most folks don’t even realize!
When the bucks go into rut, everyone thinks “oh, I’ll just put the buck in with the doe’s, they will all get bred, and I’ll be all set”. It doesn’t always work like that! Did you know that some girls don’t like certain bucks and some bucks won’t have anything to do with some girls?
So here is my first story: a few years ago our dairy girls needed to be bred, however, we had already decided that we would use one of our meat bucks to breed them. The result would be some fast growing meat kids…gotta love that hybrid vigor (fast growth) caused by cross breeding!
The appropriate time rolled around and we brought one of our big meaty boys up to the dairy goat barn and wished him well. I might say right here, that he was one happy dude. Some of the girls? Not so much! After two breeding cycles we still had three girls that were still going into heat, but wouldn’t let this beautiful boy anywhere near them. Back to the boys barn he went. We figured we would just do some hand breeding (putting the selected buck and doe together in a pen with no interference) and brought those three girls down to another one of the boys when they were in standing heat. One girl, ended up bred, but the other two would absolutely, not have anything to do with any of our meat bucks! So, they got the year off which didn’t make either myself or my husband very happy.
Now another anecdote about some very fussy bucks; this incident took place around twenty years ago, but we are still laughing about it. We always share it at Goat School because it really is a funny story!
Back at this time, we were one of the few farms in Maine raising Angora goats. We lived on a well-traveled road so many folks got to see our magnificent buck “Hercules” and his two buddies a beautiful 18 month old named “James Bond” (what else would you name a handsome guy with an ear tag #007??) And last but not least, an adorable 6 month old buckling named “Harry”.
To continue the story, some folks from a few towns away contacted us about breeding their doe (this was back when diseases weren’t such a problem!) The doe, Diana, was an older girl who was the pet of their physically handicapped young daughter. They were afraid that this doe would eventually die of old age and there would be no goat to replace her. They had been by our farm several times and thought that our “big buck” would be perfect. We agreed and a time was set for Diana’s little encounter.
The day arrived and so didn’t Diana’s family. They pulled into the driveway with Diana in the back of a station wagon (remember those, folks?) They got out of their vehicle, came around to the rear, opened the door, and out stepped the ugliest goat I have ever seen!!!
Now let me explain something. I love goats, all goats, no matter what, and can usually find beauty in each and every one of them, so this poor girl really took me aback! She had one broken horn and the other one must have been damaged at a young age because it sort of hung down the side of her head. She had a wicked over bite, most of her once luxurious mohair was pretty much a mat of tangled, thin, nasty looking hair. And, she was sort of cross eyed which really gave her an odd look.
However, we moved Diana in with our girls and waited for her to go into heat. That took all of about six hours, and, she was in raging heat. So, as we normally did, we put her in an empty pen and proceeded to go and get the big, handsome, Hercules who was and had been in rut for a month or two. No problem, right? Well, Herc got into the pen with Diana, took one look at her, and backed into the corner!!! He would not take another step towards her. She got right in his face and was rubbing her head all over him and making herself available, but Hercules wasn’t having any of that. We could NOT get him to mount her.
What to do now? Out came Hercules, and in came James Bond. THE SAME THING HAPPENED! Even this young dude, who had been wooing the ladies through the fence and not so patiently waiting his turn, was turning down a sure thing!
Neither Ken, nor I could believe what was happening. What to do now? All we had left was our little guy, Harry. Diana was fairly “statuesque”; could Harry even reach her? We got James Bond out, and Ken went to get Harry. The only way Harry would be able to reach Diana was for Ken to hold him in place. You need to visualize this. It was hysterical! This was Harry’s first woman, and a cougar to beat it all! He was one happy little buckling and was more than thrilled to oblige.
Diana was bred. Whew! But, the moral of the story is still the same. Not all of the boys like all of the girls and vice versa!
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