impressive. However, this optic does not mean that a producer has strong and adaptable genetics, nor does it ensure they bred and raised the goats or how they are managed.

When Spanish goats are fed out and endure no pressure/or stress, even the poorest genetics can look decent, produce kids and stay alive. However, take those same goats to another environment, wean them off feed, provide no shelter, have coyotes howling and guardians up all night running the fences and barking, pouring rain or cold winds, parasite loads in the forage and you will see goats los- ing condition, getting sick and even dying. It is important to know a producer’s goals as well as how they are managing their goats to know what you are buying into. Buyers must know the questions and the answers they seek, be willing to ask those questions and walk away if they do not get the answers they are looking for.

The challenge for any producer is to figure out where that line is that gives the goats just what they need to be in good body con- dition and ensure productivity but also handle enough stress so that a breeder can selectively breed and can cull out the weaker genetics without passing it on to buyers. This takes time and oftentimes a breeder just does not have that time, so the goats are fed well and ex- posed to little stress.

If a producer has purchased really strong genetics to begin with and sells all of the offspring at an early age and does not try to “build” a larger herd, then this type of operation can roll along profitably for several years without much mishap — the definition of a hobby breeder.

However, when a producer wants to build a herd, they quickly discover the challenges of producing strong and adaptable genetics takes real time and commitment to selectively breed and send to slaughter (not sell them to unsuspecting buyers) those genetics that do not stand up to the Spanish breed reputation and therefore, they may not have goats to sell for a few years. Most importantly, producing goats for “seedstock” is not nec- essarily the same as producing goats for commercial meat production, land management or as a hobby. Commercial meat production is a numbers game. Number of females producing this number of weaned kids at this weight for this set of cost criteria and this profit. Hobby production is basically buying the ideal number of good females and a herd sire, breeding them annually and selling offspring for 5 to 10 years. Seedstock production is a commitment that requires time to observe and track data; seeing results can take three to five years — ear tags, breeding data, weaning records, weight and/or gain testing, performance testing of females, body condition scores, parasite issues/management and fecal scores, at what age can a producer de-

Gold Certified Breeder Dayn Pullen of Noelke/Wilhelm Ranch in Texas running a foraged-based Kensing herd.

termine a male is worthy of being considered a herd sire and what was the criteria, and — equally — at what age and what criteria determines a suitable dam, are you inbreeding/line breeding or are you tracking breeding groups, how are parasite issues managed, vaccines, hoof is- sues and finally, what and how often do you supplement your herd? These are all topics that can be debated as the moon sets and rises, but the answer lies in the goals and commitment of the pro- ducer. There is not one set of answers that are right for every pro- ducer, but I would hope buyers are having these discussions before loading goats on a trailer.

Depending upon how far goats have traveled to a new location

and how different the environment and management style is will de- termine what amount of time they will need to adjust. Also, nutrition has a major role in the growth rate and productivity of an animal. An animal that has been raised on forage in one area does not


20 Goat Rancher | September 2020

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