Again, the Gathering was not created as a sale that would gen- erate income for promoters but to provide a forum for buyers and sellers alike to meet the treasured Spanish goat breed and community. While bringing goats in off the range and putting them in tiny pins is challenging, we take measures to give the goats a break from all the hustle and bustle, so our excitement does not stress them into illness. We strive to create a balance between breeder interests and what is best for the breed.

The Spanish Goat DNA Registry was created to safeguard ge- netics through DNA Registration and documentation as well as par- ticipate in developing goat breed genetic markers. The registry was not set up for every Spanish goat sold to be registered — quit the contrary. The DNA Registered Spanish Goat counts for something. Does it mean that it is the best example of a Spanish goat? No, that is up to the buyer. But it does mean it is a Spanish goat. It means the SGR Certi- fied breeder has submitted 5 female and 1 male sample at a minimum to document their seedstock.

The breeder is paying attention to in- dividual goats, has made agreements to fol- low policies and procedures that were intended to be for the good of the breed. They are putting their money on the line to document their seedstock, but also give the buyer a little more confidence. Most im- portantly, the registry put Spanish goat DNA on file for future tracking and study as well as participation in the important study of developing genetic markers for the goat industry.

The Spanish Goat Conservation So- ciety was created as a startup, board-driven format for breeders that want an organiza- tion and want a management team that is addressing the needs of the breeders while at the same time safeguarding the genetics and ensuring the conservation of the breed. Again, these breeders are committed to maintaining a balance between breeder in- terests and what is best for the breed.

ticipate in an organization, registry, live auction, and the promotion of Spanish goats.

2) Creating policies, procedures, guidelines, standards, ethics and documents to explain clearly and to simply track the practices as stated above. 3) A strong group of breeders that are willing to put self-interest aside to do this arduous work, make the hard choices and demonstrate leadership and recognize the need for a breather.

4) Financial support from the community either in the form of Lifetime memberships to SGCS or actual donations to help cover the mounting financial load that is being car- ried to move the breed forward. 5) Some form of herd/nanny produc- tion tracking and buck gain testing to sup- port breed production claims. And finally, 6) Recognizing how early in the game this community is and the importance of moving slowly, giving the community time to grow, adjust and thrive while not weigh- ing it down with more than it can handle. Taking baby steps and adding the complex- ity and the additional endeavors as the community demonstrates the commitment to keep the breed growing and profitable. What is the future of Spanish goats? I cannot answer that. The future of Spanish goats is in the hands of the breeders — the buyers and sellers. As proud and excited as I am for the success of the 2020 Spanish Goat Gathering, it is not going to change the course I am on both as a breeder and promoter of Spanish goats.

Donna Askew has worked to bring credibility to the Spanish breed with DNA testing, registrations and pedigree tracking

As the Spanish goat breed becomes more visible and more breeders join our breeder list, we can no longer rely on a handshake among neighbors because we are doing the business of buying and selling across regions of the United States with transporters and wire transfers as the middlemen. Not to mention the complexity of a DNA Registry tracking bloodlines.

Semen is being collected and goats are being insured to protect

their investment. The demands for change and growth are coming from the “new” breeders who are bringing expectations with them — organization, registry and auctions. The large herds of commercial production stock and multi-tiered ranch and farm families are not the ones asking for these changes — these producers are being forced to stop and decide, “Do I want to be a part of this?”

In my opinion, what is required to move the Spanish goat com- munity and breed forward is as follows:

1) Building a structure that brings together the diverse com- munity of breeders with different goals, needs and willingness to par-

I will continue to do what I have al- ways done both with my herd and my pas- sion for the success of the breed. I will continue to promote the breed, all the bloodlines and the emerging and produc- tive Pure Spanish goat population. I will continue to be available for folks who reach out for support — to ensure a DNA Reg- istry and Gathering that is without re- proach.

There must be profit for the breed to sustain both as producers and as an organ-

ization. At Living Oak Farm, we work hard to build the absolute strongest genetics in our region. Strong Spanish goat genetics will not die on you. A living goat is the first criteria for a productive and profitable meat goat operation.

I pray that as the interest in and the profits to be made from the buying and selling of Spanish goats grow, that the passion for con- servation of their productivity continues to grow with it. I pray that breeders of Spanish goats keep a vigilant eye and work together to form this breed and community to be one that continues to thrive while it ensures a place in the livestock industry for the Spanish goat breed. See you on the other side! Peace.

(Donna Askew is a livestock producer at Living Oak Farm in Abbeville, S.C., and promoter of the Spanish Goat Gathering. She also is administrator of the Spanish Goat Association website and Facebook group as well as a board member of the Spanish Goat Con- servation Society and the Registrar of the Spanish Goat Registry.)

November 2020 | Goat Rancher 41

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