Spanish goat’s efficiency ranks high on this Montana ranch

Praising what Spanish goats can do for us here at Smoke Ridge and also what they can do for other meat goat breeders has long been one of my favorite things to do, so when the annual Spanish-focus issue came up, life was about as good as it could get! As a homozygous (both parents are genetically Dutch) very at- tracted to efficiency person, something that I learned decades ago about meat goats is still firmly stuck in my head and heart. Not just the facts that the goats are usually adorable and very smart or that they will happily lay on the guardian dog’s fluffy tail for comfort dur- ing a cold Montana winter day, but the fact that per 100 pounds of bodyweight, Spanish does will give birth to — and raise to weaning — kids representing a higher percent of their bodyweight than other breeds will.

No, not more pounds of kids, but a higher percent of the dam’s

own liveweight. That means three 100-pound Spanish does would raise more pounds of kids than two 150-pound goats that are not Spa- nish.

Did I manage to state that clearly, without any judgmental atti- tude creeping in? I really tried, as that’s not my opinion, it’s a scien- tifically proven fact identified by one of the academic leaders in our industry. He has shared with me that he has been vehemently argued with about his findings, until people clearly grasp the difference be-


tween weight per kid and total weaning weight as a percent of the dam’s own bodyweight. A friend recommended that I try to explain it by comparing the comfort of a big luxury car — that may only have moderate fuel-ef- ficiency — versus the probable higher gas mileage achievable by a smaller economy model.

I can hear a few of you saying that the economy car is not nearly as roomy and comfortable as the big car, and you are absolutely cor- rect. If one has the wherewithal, that person can choose to spend more money and travel very comfortably in a bigger car. If one has to or chooses to watch their expenditures very carefully, they may opt to drive a small car and only be able to stretch their legs and arms out after their trip is finished!

What you want to get from your meat goat enterprise, whether you manage two goats or 20,000, should control all of the decisions you make about your goats. If you want to focus on the profit that you can earn from raising or brokering meat goats as food animals, you will learn how much you can get out before you have to increase inputs to keep the enterprise profitable and animals operating a peak efficiency.

If you want to focus on the fun that the goats can have, build them a jungle gym and share videos of the goats playing, or invite

28 Goat Rancher | September 2021

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