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What type of goats, how many and why?

 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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I'll start, we have:

3 Kiko doelings born April 2012
1 Nubian Buckling born April 2012
2 dairy cross wethers born Oct 2012

They are for brush clearing and putting some meat in the freezer. We plan to breed the Nubian to the Kikos this year based on the weight of the Kikos. We may purchase additional does this year and possibly a Kiko buck. We have 40 acres, most of it to steep to mow, with lots of blackberries, brush and poison oak.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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We have five milk goats, no idea the breed, I just got them for 50 dollars each from a local. I have had them for more than six months, and they have done fine. One thing I have been learning is they prefer leaves over anything else, and I have lots of overgrown forest (outside of plantation). So, once a day I take a machete and cut down some scrub trees for them, which they enjoy. They come a running when they hear the machete!

One thing they love though is my moringa, so an easy treat is just walk through the moringa forest and chop a tops off.

Our advantage is growth of brush, etc 365 days a year. Oh, and they love vines!

They actually produce more milk on brush chopped this way, than on feed. A bit funny because the milker told me we needed to change pasture because the horses had eaten all the grass, I informed him that the goats don't eat the grass that much, just leaves, if they can get them.

 
Jessica Windle
Posts: 8
Location: Kimberley, BC Canada ZONE 3
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Nice, thanks for starting this thread Doug! We don't have any goats yet, but looking to get some this spring or next. Still haven't a clue what breed. Our interests are in this order:

1. Milk
2. Fibre
3. Personality - I'm an elementary school teacher with dreams of having an educational farm for kiddos.
4. Meat - Not necessary, we've got plenty, but worth considering at some point.

Where I live it CAN get real cold, but very rarely does it get below -20C. We get a LOT of snow but very little rain, its sunny more often than not.

I have about 1/4 acre I can pen off for them (thinking the electric fence method described on various other threads) and there is a good amount of alfalfa and clover in that section although I also have access to affordable hay.

We are just a family of two, but have several CSA type agreements with other families for our veggies, eggs, and meat rabbits, and I expect they'd be into this as well.

What do you think - what type, how many, and why?

Anyone had experience with Nigora goats? Haven't found many dual purpose (milk and fibre) out there, and am obviously concerned about hardiness.

Thanks for any suggestions!
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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One thing that I am learning about goats, though they will bark trees, it happens when they don't have readily available brush to nibble. They much prefer the stuff I cut down. And, they prefer young growth that comes up to newly chopped down stuff. So, they are good about clearing brush, to a point, but much better at keeping it from coming back, at least that is my experience.
 
Rachel Hoff
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We have:
2 old-style Pygmy does (mother & daughter)
2 Nigerian Dwarf does
1 Nigerian Dwarf wether

We are raising them for the 3 M's - milk, meat and manure. The two pygmies we've had for 4 years now (wow, time flies!) and the oldest Nigi doe we've had for a year and the other two are her kids. The wether we're planning on using to pull a cart and for hiking. He's still pretty young though, so he's not quite used to the whole idea of going for walks.
 
mud bailey
Posts: 12
Location: Southwest Virginia, Zone 6/7
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We have:

3 Nigerian Dwarf does
1 Nigora Doeling born Oct 2012
2 Nigerian Dwarf doelings born Nov 2012

We got them for milk. And we didn't get around to milking them until they pretty much didn't have any milk left. We did a lot of things wrong, but we are learning a lot.
A. Don't buy goats on craigslist from some backyarder that just has too many goats.
B. Don't have babies in the fall. We worry too much about the babies getting cold to separate them from the mommas. Plus, there's less to eat, so less milk.
C. Goats love honeysuckle! And we have A LOT
D. Getting animals before fencing is definitely putting the cart before the horse, but saying HELL YES to goats has been a lot of fun.
E. Goats are far more entertaining and full of personality then we ever expected. Before these ladies, all we had were chickens, and they just aren't this cool.

So long story short, we are looking to add to our herd this Spring. We want another milker, most likely of a different breed, or even a mix, preferably in milk or expecting. And also a fiber goat, as my mother is interested in spinning and weaving.
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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I second that "goats before fences" mistake. I had fences but not like what I have now. Goats WILL teach you about fences!

Bought goats from the wrong person too. Three goats are going to slaughter next week because of that mistake. Then I have to sterilize a goat shed when they are gone. Ask around, buy from a closed herd if possible. Talk to your vet.

Have fun, goats are a hoot!

 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
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Location: France
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Oh definitely on the fence bit. We thought we had good fences until the goats arrived!!! If there's a weak point they'll find it. Plus they stand on horizontals and break them off so we've tried to repair with verticals and then have put an electric wire just inside it to try to discourage climbing. But there only has to be a momentary blip in the current and the goats will know about it and escape to the sweet chestnut lane - hey, they're SO cute.

We have 9 French Alpines with 4 does pregnant I reckon. Kids due to start arriving in about 4 weeks. They are good milkers and good brush clearers. Don't know about meat as we haven't crossed that bridge yet as I love them so much - however we have 3 intact bucks and that's two too many.
 
A Philipsen
Posts: 58
Location: OR - Willamette Valley
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One purebred LaMancha buck and 4 mostly-Mancha does. We got them for brush-clearing, milk, and meat. I'm completely sold on their weird little faces and their personalities. They're quiet and snuggly, even though I don't do bottle babies, and aside from the one part-Nubian, they are drama free. The cheese is amazing - we eat what would be $10/lb cheese in the store, as much as we can stand. The whey goes to the pigs and chickens, the poo goes on the garden, bones to the dog, everybody gets something from the goats
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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Herd update:
Nubian buck went to slaughter. Decided to go a different route in breeding plans.
Picked up 13 dairy bucklings. I am bottle feeding them now. they will be wethered at two weeks. I will wean them in 8 weeks and raise them on browse for the meat market. They will probably take 9 or ten months to reach 90 to 110 lbs.
Goat dairies can be a great and cheap place to pick up bucklings to raise as wethers to eat brush and/or be eaten. 13 cost me 65 bucks.

 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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Location: zone 6b
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You really shouldn't wether them until they're 6 months old because otherwise they can have urinary problems.

We started out with 2 nubians we got from craigslist. One had myriad health problems and finally had to be put down. We butchered his body once he was humanely put down, for dog food and were surprised to get around 95lbs of meat and bones for the dogs! Now we have two bottle babies, also nubians. Nubians are so big they're easier to keep fenced in than the little ones that can squeeze through any gap.

Some say they can be noisy but so far that hasn't been our experience - the only time they make a peep is when the female was in heat.

They are really excellent at goat-packing - carry stuff when you go into the woods and stay right with you until you stop - then they go browse nearby while you work. Walking on stones in the woods has kept our goats' hooves trimmed for us so we've only needed to nip off the odd bit from time to time.

The two biggest problems with keeping goats other than fencing them in are trimming hooves and parasites. Around here lots of folks lose goats to sudden death when their parasite load gets too high. They resort to worming them monthly but that amount of dewormer takes its toll on their health and they can start to have problems with their kidneys, livers, immune systems, etc. I've read methods of using garlic, cayenne, and copper supplements to make them more parasite resistant but too soon to say whether they work yet. There's a test called FAMCHA that you can use to see if their worm load is getting too high - but you need to figure out how to look at the inside of their eyelids - mine don't hold still for that.
 
Rocco Hagar
Posts: 16
Location: Texas
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We have been raising goats for a few years and have experience with:
- Boer
- Nubian
- Myotonic (fainting goats)

We are currently shifting our small herd from mostly Boer and some Nubian to mostly the Myotonic breed. We now have several full blood Myotonic does, a full blood Myotonic buck and still have some Boer does to cross-breed with the Myotonic buck.

Why the shift to Myotonic goats?
First - the cross-breeding of a Myotonic buck to a Boer doe adds about 6 to 10% more muscle....and...
the full blood Myotonics are very hardy, easy to keep, funny as heck, more resistant to internal parasite problems, easier on fences, good mothers, can keep more goats per acre, less picky eaters, more efficient foragers...for a start.

We are also starting an up-breeding of a Myotonic blood line from our Boer does (only 50% crosses so far). We are attempting to add a little more length to the body size of the Myotonic lines that we have. It will take around 6 to 7 years to get back to a pure-bred Myotonic line....keeping the best cross-bred does and breeding them back to Myotonic bucks.

Fencing is a big issue with most goat operations. Myotonic goats can be contained very easy. One breeder that we purchased several goats from uses a single strand of electric wire across the front of his property...and said it was not even live! He had also cut some cattle feedlot panels in half length-wise (so only 2' tall) and built pens for young goats.

Once the kids are about 2 to 3 weeks of age the myotonia "kicks in" and the goats will readily stiffen (and/or faint) when startled, excited or otherwise get a need to move quickly. It can be quite hysterical to watch. At feeding time here we lock the goats out of the area where the troughs are so we can fill them. When we open the gate to let them in, some get so excited they can't move! They grunt and groan and try to move - poor things.

The Myotonic breed is still on the "recovering" list (up from "threatened") as listed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. As such, it can be somewhat hard to locate quality animals.
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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Renate, My vet recommends castrating at 2 or 3 weeks and that's what I've done. No problems so far. I band them. At six months it would be an operation, no?

Rocco, The best part of breeding.... when it doesn't work out IT'S DELICIOUS!
 
Mary Berry
Posts: 5
Location: Farmersville, Texas
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We have about 40 goats (mostly Angoras, but with a few Navajo and Nigoras mixed in), 40 sheep (mostly Shetlands, with a couple of Border Leicesters), and 24 Suri alpacas. I raise them for their fiber. We don't eat the goats or the sheep, although I have occasionally sold a lamb or two to other people for food and strangers constantly stop and ask whether I sell the goats for meat. Just can't do it. They're too darn cute!
 
Mary Berry
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Location: Farmersville, Texas
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Doug, since you're going to eat them anyway, I wouldn't worry about potential urinary problems. Urinary calculi develop when the goats are older. It is a horrible, painful, death for the goat, and there's nothing you can do about it but have them put down.

f you were raising boy goats for other reasons (like I do - for fiber), you would not want to wether them until there were at least 6 months old. This allows time for their urinary tract to develop more fully so that they can pass stones if they develop. Also, it's not a problem at all unless you feed grain to the wethers.

At 6 months old, the best way to wether them would be with a burdizzo. I've been able to band some of mine at 6 months, but it's painful for them.
 
Alice Kaspar
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The "don't wether" issue has been pretty much proven to be outdated. I wether before 12 weeks if I'm keeping a male goat long term as a companion. If they are going for meat, the folks around here want them as weanlings, so wethering isn't even an issue.
 
Mary Berry
Posts: 5
Location: Farmersville, Texas
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Alice, I beg to differ. It's a plain medical fact that a goat's urinary tract is not as developed at 2 weeks or 12 weeks as it is at 6 months. It's also known to be a strong probability that, if you feed grain, your goats are going to develop urinary calculi. It's also a plain medical fact that if they can't pass those stones, they will die a horrible painful death. My goats may live to be 13-15 years old, and while we don't feed the wethers as much grain as we feed the girls, I prefer not to borrow trouble. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
 
Alice Kaspar
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Urinary calculi are a diet problem not a growth problem.

Urinary Calculi

In goats, clinical obstruction of the urinary tract is most frequently seen in young, castrated males and the calculi are usually comprised of calcium phosphate salts. Castrated goats kept as pets and show bucks are at high risk for developing the condition due primarily to the feeding of excessive grain in the diet. If the diet contains too much phosphorous relative to calcium, supplemental calcium from feed grade limestone is required to maintain a calcium:phosphorous ratio of 2:1 to 4:1.

Source:
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/an_sci/extension/animal/meatgoat/MGNutr.htm

Urinary Calculi is almost always the result of improper feeding by the producer. A proper calcium to phosphorus ratio in feed, hay, and minerals is critical; this ratio should be 2-1/2 to 1. Although the disease is called Urinary Calculi, the real culprit is phosphorus -- specifically too much phosphorus in relation to the amount of calcium in the diet. Feeding too much grain concentrates and/or feeding grain concentrates with an improper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is a major cause of Urinary Calculi. Overfeeding or improper feeding of grain concentrates causes solid particles to develop in the urine; these solid particles block the flow of urine out of the goat's body, causing great pain, discomfort, and oftentimes death. Producers who have experienced urinary-tract stones themselves will understand the seriousness of and pain associated with this condition.

Source:
http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com/articles2/urinarycalculi06.html

The message is that if you feed your goat correctly, they won't get urinary calculi.
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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Thanks Alice. While I trust my vet, they do have to treat lots of different animals. It's nice to have confirmation. I've had stones myself and wouldn't wish that on an animal. My buddy has pack goats and took one of his goats to Univ. Ca. Davis where they operated for stones. They said the same thing re: calcium/phosphorus but mentioned to much alfalfa as another possible source of imbalance.
Since testicles are not part of the urinary tract, I don't see how it could impact the problem.
 
Lucy Guss
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1 LaMancha doe.
8 Nigerian Dwarf does.
4 Nigerian Dwarf wethers.

The dwarfs are sweetie pies and my buddies, and that is all I would get for personal purposes. If I were selling dairy, I would get something else. Instead or in addition.
 
Millie johnson
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We have a Nubian buck and a LaMancha/Nubian cross doe. Hoping to get two Nubian does this year. We are raising goats for the milk , to drink and cheesemaking. I just dried my doe up and hoping to see babies this spring !
 
Carolyn Pindzia
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We have 9 goats, 8 boer and 1 Kiko buck. In the spring, we comb out the downy undercoat(also known as cashmere) to spin.
We eat our extra boys, and wether them at 12 weeks, or if they become too amorous before then.
If they are to be sold as pets, we still band them at 12 weeks, with no problems.
UC in general is due to improper feeding, and heredity, or banding before 12 weeks.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Two does, one is purebred Oberhasli, the other is Oberhasli with one-quarter Alpine.

One purebred Oberhasli buck.

I have them primarily for milk, cheese, and kefir, but we also get a lot of manure and a little meat, if I don't sell all the kids. I can also use them for packing, but we don't go hiking much since I found out that my daughter has lupus. (She's mentally handicapped and doesn't communicate well, so it took a while to figure that out.)

I've also got a set of work/driving harness for the buck, but this buck's temperament isn't really conducive to using him like that (he is pushy and aggressive, much more so than any of the half dozen or so other bucks I've had).

Don't know if we are going to have any kids this year or not. The two does got too rough with each other and one lost her kids about a month early. Been watching the other one and am not sure she's pregnant. (With moving last year, I've been shifting pens around a lot, and wasn't at all sure that she was ever in with the buck at the right time -- was too busy moving and getting the house liveable to stand around watching. Hopefully this fall will be less stressful.)
 
Jorja Hernandez
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I though I'd posted in this one but guess not.

Two Boers (wether/doe siblings) because a neighbor wasn't taking care of them. They're pets but earning their keep by clearing brush, and producing fertilizer, compost and endless entertainment.
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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I remember your story! Post some new pics!
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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So I would guess that the myotonic goats wouldn't be the breed of choice in an area with high predation, eh? Or is that when you make sure you have a few dogs with the right temperament?

As to keeping the parasite count down, I have read on other threads in this forum that allowing them to browse on certain aromatic tree species, mainly cedars and cypresses, can pretty much eliminate any parasite problem. This might be overstatement due to enthusiasm, but these anecdotal cases point to a very permaculture solution to this problem.

I am living in Toronto right now, but am looking to pick up land about an hour away from work in the Kawartha Lakes area of Ontario. I want goats, and am looking to get at least the three M's from them (milk, meat, and manure), I want to be able to have them clear brush and/or keep it back, live mostly, if not completely, off forage, and if they could do some forage in the winter, I don't think I could want much else, except perhaps if there was some possibility of a fibre component as well (I know, I'm dreaming). What breed or breeds should I be looking at? I've heard good things about Toggenburgs, Kikos, and now Myotonic goats, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions as to approach.

I have also recently read on a thread in the cattle forum that raw milk has apparently been found to be a superior soil ammendment. I think it has something to do with providing a complete bacterial culture to soil that may have been damaged due either to chemical sterilization or overgrazing, probiotics for soil. The science behind it involved using a refractometer to measure what I think was supposed to be an indicator of the sugar content within the pasture grasses that were the subject of the test, the theory being that insects that feed on grasses usually avoid healthy grass high in sugar, as they do not metabolize sugar (they were discussing grasshoppers, specifically, I don't know if this would be true of other herb-ivores), and so only decimate nutritionally deficient plants. The refractometer, in any case, read 2 (I believe the scale was out of 10, but it may have been higher) before the innoculation, and 10 afterwards. They also found that the dilution was largely immaterial, as there was no quantitative or qualitative difference between plots watered with raw milk cut 1:10 with water and plots watered with straight raw milk. This means that if you divert a portion of your whey to the pasture that's hurting the most, you will see a quick return on investment.

Sorry, tangent. I'm done. Hope some of that is useful.

-CK
 
Diane Robertson
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1 Nigerian buck - registered, champion milk lines - for kids
2 Nigerian does - 1 registered, champion milk lines, one unregistered - milk and kids
2 Nigerian wethers - companions for the buck
1 Saanan doe - milker, non-registered.

These are to provide milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cream for our family. Extra kids are for the freezer. And because we love goats.

The droppings feed the worms. The worms feed the garden.

Skeeter
 
edwin lake
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Hello from western NC.

We have four Alpine goats. Our freshened doe is American Alpine, from a good dairy bloodline reported to produce 1 gallon of milk a day. She is an exceptional mother, watching her kids (going on two weeks now) and very attentive. Her herdmate helps with the kids sleeping with them when the kids take naps so Mom can browse around. The little goat family of ours is a facinating and extraordinarily cool unit.

We intend to wether the bucklings with a burdizzo around week four. Our source is http://fiascofarm.com/goats/buck-wether-info.htm#neutering.

If anyone is interested, FiasCo on urinary stones http://fiascofarm.com/goats/stones.htm.

We made a youtube at this link: YouTube Vid
 
Rocco Hagar
Posts: 16
Location: Texas
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Chris Kott wrote:So I would guess that the myotonic goats wouldn't be the breed of choice in an area with high predation, eh? Or is that when you make sure you have a few dogs with the right temperament?

As to keeping the parasite count down, I have read on other threads in this forum that allowing them to browse on certain aromatic tree species, mainly cedars and cypresses, can pretty much eliminate any parasite problem. This might be overstatement due to enthusiasm, but these anecdotal cases point to a very permaculture solution to this problem.
-CK


Chris,

I read somewhere that, in certain areas, Myotonic goats are kept with sheep. If predators threaten the herd, the Myotonic goat is sacrificed (because they freeze up) and the rest of the herd gets away....LOL....cruel, but oh well. But, here where I am in Texas, coyotes and other predators are plentiful, so most everyone has LGDs or, like myself, a guard donkey. We have a jenny that is great with the goats and have seen her chase dogs, feral cats, foxes and deer from the pasture behind the house.

Interestingly though, a Myotonic goat generally will only stiffen (aka, faint) once during an episode. So, if you are working the goats and want to catch one you had better do it quickly. Spook them and grab them. Otherwise they can run about as well an other breeds of goats.

Another fact that might interest you...we had several of our Myotonic goats put on quite a nice coat of cashmere for the winter. So, they would fit everything you want (meat, manure, fiber and brush control) except milk. They have plenty for their kids, but I doubt they'd make good milkers.

And, with this kidding season now over (for us) I am strongly considering getting rid of the rest of my Boers and Boer-Nubian crosses and adding more Myotonic goats. I really like their dispositions and they are very good at mothering. They even seem to "kid sit" each others kids at times.

Another Myotonic point in favor. They come in various sizes. If you have a smaller sized property you can get smaller body sized Myotonic goats. We have those that are of the "Texas line" and are larger framed bodies and can get close to the size of a Boer. But, there are other people I know that have the smaller "Tennessee line". They are smaller frame, but still very muscular (meaty).
 
Jay Grace
Posts: 229
Location: Nauvoo, AL
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Ive had/have all sorts of goats.

I love Kiko cross anything. They make for a much hardier goat, add size, and strength.

I had an alpine/Kiko cross buck a few years ago. I hand raised him and trained him to pull a wagon and carry a pack.
He had no need for a leash of any sorts. He would follow me everywhere and come when called. He could carry 35lbs with no sign of stress. ( though I only put 20lbs in his pack the majority of the time)
He was basically a dog that ate leaves.
Plus for him being trained to pull and pack I sold him for $300 instead of the usual $100-$150 that most uncut bucks go for.

Full blooded anything is less hardy than a cross.

 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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To that last I'll reply that such generalisations are only sometimes useful. I will grant that I have seen many cases of hybrid vigour where your observation is true, but I haven't observed it lasting past one generation without fresh blood.

Hybrid vigour is usually attributable to the fact that no genetic weaknesses are shared by the parents. So breeding two hybrids of different lines with similar characteristics will put you in the same boat as if you had started with a registered breed, and diversifying the genetics for the purpose of making stronger hybrids serves only to introduce characteristics you might not find useful.

-CK
 
Helen DePeyrecave
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Location: (Old) Hampshire, (Old) England, UK
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I'm new here (hello!) and fairly new to goat keeping.

I have 4 Boer x British Toggenbergs with their kids and one purebred BT due to kid next month.

The Boer crosses produce great meat kids and they are lovely milky mums I have been given my BT who is quite a mature lady and an experienced milker because I'm hoping to start milking in the autumn...best one of us knows what we're doing!

We don't have myotonic or kiko goats here in the UK so it is interesting to find out more about them.

Helen
 
Jorja Hernandez
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Doug Mac wrote:I remember your story! Post some new pics!


I swear I answered this earlier but the post disappeared! Maybe I didn't submit after preview, that would be typical for me. Anywho - the goaties are doing great! They're about 18 mos. old and both over 100 lbs. and as silly as ever, doing a fine job of brush control and general entertainment. Nancy on the left, Sid on the right:



They're a tremendous help with the earthworks too - NOT. Had to pen them up, they kept jumping into the loader bucket.

 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I'm pretty sold on the wisdom of cross breeding goats for desired characteristics from the people posting on this forum and from the goat keeper across the street from me. I'm wanting to start a small goat meat operation and I am pretty settled on a boer-kiko cross due to their performance in our part of the state and our relative conditions. So, I wanted to know the opinion of people here whether to use kiko nannies or boer nannies for that first generation to kid. Why choose kiko nannies or why choose boer nannies? What characteristics make one a better choice? My gut tells me to use kiko nannies due to their better tolerance to pests and crappy weather in the winter. But, do kikos make better moms or do boer nannies? Love some advice on this. I'm likely to select the boer-kiko cross kids to keep for the subsequent generations, but just wanted to know what others' experience has been in this kind of thing.
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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Thanks for the pics Jorja! Glad to hear they're doing fine and helping with the dirt work NOT!

We put a couple more of the dairy wethers in the freezer, so now I'm down to 3 Kiko does and 6 dairy boys (4 wethered and 2 bucks). I kept 2 as bucks and am going to see if I can make a little spare change with them freshening backyard milkers. I think one is a ?/La Mancha cross. Stout little guy, may breed him to the Kikos this fall. Everybody is doing a good job cleaning up blackberry, poison oak etc.
 
a wee bit from the empire
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