Saturday, March 19, 2011

Goals and Decisions

I like lists.

I like to know exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, and when I should do it.

And so, as I have been brainstorming ideas, goals, decisions and whatnot for this farm these past couple of days, I have had a chance to go over some things again and make some changes.

Most of my idea/goals are still in rough draft form, so they shan't be shared publicly yet, but there is one goal in life that I DO know what I want, and where I want to go with it. And that is with my dairy goats.

Last year, I jotted down what I wanted to see in my growing herd of goats and it looked something like this:

Does should be very feminine, and graceful looking. No heaviness or coarseness in body type. First time milkers should give a minimum of 1/2 gallon a day, and would like to see senior milkers giving at least 1 gallon per day. I want goats that do well on a grass based diet, with only a tiny bit of grain (max. 1 lb. per day) and decent hay to supplement. All goats should be very hardy, with minimal health problems, and does should all have easy births.

 I feel like I am off to a good start with these goals, but lately I have been mulling over the thought of adding another breed into my herd. I love my flop-eared Nubians,  but I've also always liked the flashy French Alpines. So my thought lately has been to try getting a couple of doelings this summer, and see how they do. It will be interesting to see how they produce on the above diet (grass-based) as most Alpines have been bred to consume large amount of grain a day, and produce large amounts of milk in return. I just feel like I don't have very many breeding options with my Nubians, and it is really hard to find purebred doelings that have the genetic potential to give 1 gallon of milk a day, that are under the price of $500. Ouch. I've been mulling over the thought of selling Ivy after she freshens (gives birth) in April, but I'm not 100% positive on that decision yet. If I do sell her, than I will probably use that money to invest in some quality Alpines.

I've had a few Alpines in the past; my favorite was named Gretchen. That goat was the most sensible, patient creature, that it almost didn't seem possible. She never tried to escape, never hogged any food, never went down in milk production, was never temperamental, was easy to breed... Just an all around good goat. I have tried multiple times to re-find her, but have failed thus far. Maybe some day... But she was my first Alpine, and since then I have always had a sneaking fondness for the breed.

One other thought I have been toying with, is breeding Heidi with a Saanen buck this year; thus getting kids that would be 3/4 Saanen, and 1/4 La Mancha, but it depends on if she tests negative for CAE or not. Not sure what I'll do if she tests positive... I guess I'll get there when I get there! :)

So I guess my goals really haven't changed. It just feels that way, since I will be working with a new breed, and new bloodlines, I guess. But I'm excited. Excited to have more goats (one can never have too many), excited to have Alpines again, and excited to see how everything plays out in the end. Wish me luck!

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