Social distancing may require new breeding strategies

The Corona Virus has brought about changes that many did not predict. Some believe society is not taking it as serious as it should while others believe the word pandemic is being used too liberally. We can all agree that we have to manage around how society reacts to the Corona Virus.

Throughout history those that have endured the longest, achieved the greatest and advanced the most were those that were in- telligent, rational and strong. Let us handle our breeding decisions in the same manner. Let us continue to be intelligent, rational and strong.

Due to the Corona Virus many goat sales have either been can- celled or postponed, forcing some to take a new/different approach in purchasing their breeding stock. There are avenues available to detour around any roadblocks that the Corona Virus has created.

If you decide not to attend a sale that is still being held you can try several different ap- proaches. More and more sales are either being held online or are broadcast online. That in- cludes internet bidding in conjunction with conventional ringside bidding. I have securely purchased livestock from South Dakota and Wyoming with live online bidding and have bid several times on sales as far east as West Virginia. If you haven’t bid via the internet, now may be a good time for more considera- tion.

If you do not personally attend a sale you

may be able to bid over the phone or have someone proxy bid for you. In either case you will want to visit with the sales management prior to the sale. Not all sales have the same requirements, protocols or preferences.

There are many honest, professional people that will handle your bidding according to your instructions. The key is leaving clear, simple instructions that are easy to follow. If you are bidding via a cell phone make sure you have plenty of available battery life for the sale and you are in a good reception area. It is also advisable to call the physical location of the sale beforehand to make sure it has suf- ficient cell phone service, too.

What if you decide not to purchase any goats to add to your breeding program? What are your options? There are “frozen op- tions” and using your own goats.

Frozen options are semen and/or embryos. These may present opportunities to introduce some different genetic influences into your current herd. Several AI technicians (transcervical and laparoscopic) will travel to a person’s farm (as an added expense) to either AI or put embryos into your recipient females.

The easiest option to not introduce any outside animals to your breeding program is to use the same buck/s and does as you did last time. One reason you may not want to do that would be if you only have one herdsire and you have some of his daughters that you want

28 Goat Rancher | May 2020 BY DWIGHT ELMORE ©2020

to get bred for the first time. Many will prefer not to make parent- offspring matings.

What if you decide you want to use one of your young buck- lings as a possible herdsire when he is mature enough to handle the job? How do you go about selecting one of your own bucks as a herd- sire prospect? Look at what your herd needs to advance closer to your herd goals.

Do you want to add more growth, more parasite resistance or possibly just improve what you generally consider the lower end of your doe herd? Selecting one of your own bucklings that has ex- pressed strong growth is pretty easy to determine. If you need more parasite resistance, then analyzing Fecal Egg Counts or taking FA- MACHA scores may be valuable information.

Due to the Corona Virus many goat sales have either been cancelled or postponed, forcing some to take a new/different approach in purchasing their breeding stock.

Maybe you’ve been dissatisfied with the teat/udder quality of some of your does. You may want to consider one of the solid sons of your does that has really favorable teat and udder quality to use on your does that need im- provement in that area. That “favorable doe” has already proven that she performs well in your specific environment and management. Otherwise she wouldn’t be one of your favor- able does.

If you want to raise the general level of the lower end of your doe herd then one of the better methods would be selecting a solid son from one of the favorable does in your herd. Those does will be the ones that you would

prefer your other does to be more like.

Should you not be able to select a solid son from one of your more favorable does then this may be a real honest indicator that your herd needs even more attention to its genetic direction than was pre- viously given. Sometimes the hard truths that we realize on our own have the greatest and most lasting impact. Perhaps the real benefit of this will help us genuinely understand the areas that we must prior- itize, even if we have to wait until next year to make the matings we want the most.

What if you decide to use a buckling that is more closely related to your other does than you feel comfortable? If you’ve ever been curious and required a nudge to try linebreeding this may be your opportunity. Maybe you will find that it is not as mystical and treach- erous as some make it out. If you don’t care for the results, then re- sign this year as experimental.

Sometimes there are strange events that put us in a position to try things that we otherwise wouldn’t try. Perhaps this is one of those times. Nonetheless, continue to be intelligent, rational and strong in your breeding decisions.

(Dwight Elmore and his wife, Liz, operate Stone Goat Ranch near Ellsworth, Kan. He can be reached at

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