August 31, 2011

One more reason to love AI

There are so many reason to love AI – artificial insemination. Last night I was reminded of one of my top reasons – you can actually do something when your doe is in heat

Like so many goat breeders, our life outside of dairy goats is insane. We try to plan and sync does who need to be taken off the property to get bred to come into heat at a time when we are available. This is truly so we can take animals where we want them and use bucks we choose. We only have 3 bucks on the property and only 2 of the breeds we own could be bred to these 2 bucks for purebred kids. At the bare minimum we if we see them in heat we at least mark it so that we can make plans for 3 weeks later. This is maddening though if you want early kids. Sometimes does only cycle once in September or they cycle so late that “three weeks later” is no longer possible for senior kids. There is nothing more frustrating than having a doe in a strong, standing heat and not being able to do anything about it because you have class or something else keeping you from dropping everything and breeding her.

That was the case last night. Yodel was in a strong heat and willing to stand for a buck. So far we have had no showable doe kids from Yodel – so crossing her was not really an option this early in the year. Instead we thought we would breed her to Flash- our new young Togg buck (that is why he is there after all). Well, being an April kid he was very excited and had no idea what to do. I’m sure that if a doe kid we didn’t want bred was in heat around him he would figure it out…but since we wanted him to breed a doe – no such luck. The idea was there, the action wasn’t. Now what are you going to do? You can’t drive her anywhere this late, your Togg buck won’t do anything – saving the day once again is the magic of AI.

It was literally as simple as we looked at our semen list, picked out a buck to use and decided to give it a go. Inseminate her and hope it works. Now reality is she may not settle. In fact there is a high possibly she will have to be re-bred in 3 weeks. However she most certainly would have to be rebred if we did nothing.

We’ll know in in 3 weeks if it takes but even if it doesn’t – at least I don’t go to bed figuring I wasted the chance to breed a doe in heat. If for no other reason – this has to be one of the greatest reasons to start seriously looking at AI for a herd. No one can keep all the bucks they need for a small herd – this makes it possible to actually breed does the way you want to.

August 23, 2011

North Valley Summer Show

North Valley DGA, known for their May show up in Red Bluff, decided to do something different this summer and put on a mid August show for Sr does only.

I will admit that I dragged my feet a little on one more show. After a show nearly every weekend I wanted a break. But being the good sport I am (read humor here) I agreed to give it a try. Boy was I glad we did.

First let me say that normally that area in mid-summer is HOT but it was actually not to bad. We choose to get up early Saturday morning and drive up then instead of spending the night up there. Just like I sleep better in my own bed, I think the does do better when they can sleep in their own pasture and relax. It makes for an early morning, but as long as you have udders clipped and goats ready to go - it actually isn't that bad.

We only took our Togg milkers. Lanney came too just to be sure we had the numbers, but we did not end up needing her so she was not shown. The show was divided up in a 4-ring circus style so that 4 breeds show at once. This is great because you get a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time, however if you bring more than one breed it is very difficult. With the exception of Thistle, who is not a strong saanen competitor, the Toggs are our only older does. Yearlings have a really hard time winning in a big show. Judges feedback is important, but for this show we were packing light and trying to do it easy by just bringing one breed.

All three of our does placed really well. Yodel placed 2nd in 3 rings (standing right behind the champion twice), Xymphony placed first in every ring, and Keegan was second in all 4 rings. The best part was both Xymphony and Keegan earned a Reserve Grand Champion award!! A big reward in the competitive Togg area.

Overall I came home with a very positive feeling. Not only are the Toggs headed in the right area, we are starting to be known among the larger breeders. People are beginning to see us as comrades and there is nothing more exciting than seeing your hard work start to pay off.

Only a few more shows to go this season and we finish with the big hurrah of putting on our own show - it will be crazy!