Body condition score (BCS) should be monitored before breeding, after kidding and again before rebreeding. The higher the score (1- emaciated through 9-obese), the sooner the does will recycle and the breeding season will be shortened.

Does in a BCS of 6 before breeding will have kids with a higher birth weight and gain weight faster after parturition. If the does drop below a BCS 4, it requires both energy and protein supplementation to get them back to a BCS 6.

It takes about 2 to 3 months and that means losing out on a breeding season, de- pending on the breeding schedule. Therefore, maintain body condition as it saves money over the long haul.

Reproduction is also affected by the readiness of the bucks to breed. The does can be ‘flushed’ and ready to breed but if the bucks have not been hot synchronized, then it will lengthen the breeding season, or, there will be fewer does bred. Reproduction effi- ciency increases ease of kidding manage- ment.

Growth rate

Growth rate of the kids and weanoffs is a very important selection criteria. Weigh the kids at birth, at weaning (3 months), 8 months and again at 12-15 months of age. Birth weight is affected by nutrition the last tri- mester as 80% of the fetal growth takes place at this time.

The weaning weight is a measure of the

dam’s ability to mother and produce quality milk. At 8 months, the young goat has sur- vived the initial weaning stress, foraging for

itself and re-structuring of its social accept- ance within a mob. It is a better indication of an individual’s potential.

The 12-15 month weight gives you a good indication of mature weight as this weight is approximately 80 to 85% of the mature weight. This weight is a good indica- tion of genetic expression.

Selecting for growth rate is a long-term

genetic process. Carcass quality

One characteristic trait that keeps sur- facing in need of enhancement is carcass quality with predictable consistency. In other words, all carcasses at a designated weight, whether 45 or 75 pounds, be consistent in dressing percentage, cooler shrink weight, rib eye size, cutability, muscling, leg circumfer- ence and conformation score. Goat meat has always been a lean red (ethnic) meat dish. The goat is not genetically coded for a ‘fat’ finish and the ethnic (traditional) consumers do not like to eat fat.

Carcass merit is an easier trait to select for (moderately heritable) compared to repro- ductive traits (low heritability) but there are also differences within breed.

For identifying sires that produce off- spring expressing desirable carcass charac- teristics, use a single-sire mating breeding program. Increasing the percentage of lean has to be done early in life as muscle cell numbers are set pre-natal and muscle fiber bundles increase in size (length and width) from weaning to about 12 months of age. Nutrition plays a role in carcass quality as it affects the birth weight of the kids, the

health of the offspring, sparks the kid’s im- mune system, uniformity of weanoffs (pre- dictability), time to puberty and maintaining a high body condition score.

Stress has to be minimal as it increases the amount of energy expended, decreases water consumption, and intensifies hormonal effects. Deliver goats to the slaughter facility early in the morning and process immedi- ately to avoid pre- and post-slaughter stress, which affects the quality (tenderness, color) of the meat. To minimize stress, use livestock guardian dogs, modified behavioral manage- ment techniques, quiet working facilities and peaceful labor.

Breeding doe selection

Keep good records and use them for production management decision making. Also consider utilizing FAMACHA, fecal analysis and body condition scoring. Persistence and perseverance are nec- essary as human characteristic traits to stay goal oriented, and never falter nor allow neg- ative input to influence decisions. Set pro- duction goals that are attainable higher each year and cull ruthlessly.

Criteria for Kiko breeding stock re- placement selection begins with the eval- uation of environmental effects on production. Health status of the individual goat (and the goats within the mob) plays a major role in longevity, ability to maintain body condition score and build resilience/re- sistance to internal parasitism. Consider maintaining a closed herd and practice in- tense farm biosecurity.

The young doelings are initially se- lected at weaning (three months of age) for the possibility of being retained for the future breeding mob.

They must be a twin, average or above average birth weight and weaning weight, two teats (correct placement and size), a per- fect bite, functioning 3rd

eyelid, structurally

sound feet and legs and correct/consistent body conformation.

As the individuals approach eight 20 Goat Rancher | July 2020

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