Friday, July 16, 2010

The fates of goats

The boys like to visit the goats with me and give them treats.  The goats are docile, and my boys are old enough for this not to be a problem.  No head-butting has taken place (against humans) yet.  As a matter of fact, I've never seen an angora head-butt a person.  They're pretty low-key critters.

The young ones will, however, jump up on you if they think you're holding out on them in the treat department.  It is much like when a large dog jumps up on you.  As adults the females only weigh about 75 lbs. They are friendly animals, but don't much enjoy being pet.  They like company, though, and will follow you around wherever you go, sniffing your fingers or nuzzling your pants pockets.

Full grown bucks are more aggressive, and weigh more.  They also have longer horns.  I would never let my kids in with an adult buck.  At this point I don't really intend on having a buck, as I'm not interested in increasing my flock and going into the goat-selling business.  It is profitable, but it's a pain in the neck.  Unless you want babies in the middle of winter, you have to keep your bucks separate from your does from August through October.  This means having another shelter building and electric fence to keep the amorous boys away from the girls while they are in cycle.

I have to decide, soon, what to do about my young bucklings.  My choices are: a) bring them to the sale barn and get about $30 a piece for them, knowing they will go to slaughter; b) keep them intact (non-castrated) and try to sell them as breeding stock; c) wether (castrate) them and try to sell them to people interested in growing their own mohair; or d) wether them and keep them in my own flock.  If I do decide to castrate them, it has to be done in the next month.  They become fertile at about four months old, and may try to breed my does (their moms).

I've pretty much ruled out (a), 'cuz I'm a big softie and $30 isn't enough to curb my softie tendencies.  (b) is also unlikely, because there are no breeders nearby who would want them, and they have a couple of faults that would count against them in their registry with CAGBA (Colored Angora Goat Breeders Assoc.).  Breeders want top-notch bucks.  The black one's mohair is nice, but not super.  It's also more wavy than spiral, which is preferred.  The brown one (picture above) has really nice mohair, but one of his ears is cocked to the side, which counts against him.  If he wasn't already related to my goats, I might be tempted (but only a little bit) to  keep him for my own breeding stock.  His coat is sooo pretty.

(c) is also unlikely, because like I said I'm not aware of any folks near me who are into angora goats.  I think I'll put an ad in the paper, just in case, and see what happens.  So, (d) is the most likely choice.  If I choose that route, I will have five goats in my flock which is really too many for the small pasture I currently have fenced.  That means building more fence, out into our alfalfa field.  Building fence is not a big deal, and probably a good idea regardless, especially since we may want to raise a steer (or gasp, a dairy cow!) of our own someday down the road.  (I say this because it would be my husband building the fence, not me.)

This is our doeling, such a lovely girl.  Lighter in color than her brother, but with beautiful mohair.  She would be an excellent candidate for breeding, as her confirmation is good and I can see no points against her.  I don't think the broken horn would count as a fault, since it is not genetic.  I could try to sell her--a breeder friend told me she would be worth $200-$300.

Just look at that face!  What a sweetie pie.

So, ultimately,  I have to decide if I want to keep my little flock at 2-3 or expand it to 5.  If I really put the effort into it, mohair can be a profitable enterprise.  I just need to decide if I want to put the effort into it.


Erin said...

That is quite a decision! I definitely agree that $30 is a complete waste of a life for a slaughtered animal. The mohair thing sound very interesting and rewarding, although it definitely sounds like a lot of added work! Do you have contacts that can steer you the right direction for selling the wool? Good Luck Jo, big decision! Do you have any 4-H'ers in your area that are into the wool/spinning fiber aspect of it? Might be a great project for them and learning the fiber part might be a learning experience for you!

Leigh said...

They are so cute! I have always thought that angora goats were one of the prettiest creatures on earth.

I think I'd do the same as you had castrate them. Then they could either be sold as fiber animals or kept for the same reason. I reckon it's something everyone who breeds goats has to decide. I plan to breed my Nubian doe this fall, and if she has a buck kid, will be facing the same decision without the benefit of the fiber option.

Mama Pea said...

Animals on the homestead seem to multiply without your even realizing it's happening. It seems as if babies (of whichever animal) born on the homestead are so hard to let go of. Especially since they are so darn cute! If you can have a plan in place before the baby comes, it sometimes makes it easier to make the wise decision. But it's not easy . . . and I know just the dilemma you're facing. Good luck!

Cute, cute pictures!

Erin said...

Jo, I thought of you when my new copy of Hobby Farms arrived today - there is an article about raising cashmere goats and it's pretty good (sometimes those articles are a bunch of fluff, no pun intended!). I know you have angora, but the info and fiber comparisons in it are pretty informative! Here's a link to the issue:

Karen said...

Big decision. I like the way you're leaning though. Maybe you could trade the lot of them in for a horse or two!!!