Today was the start of the GCF 2008 goat breeding season. For those of you just joining the party, welcome. The program of players is on my web site.
Let me start by saying that I pasture breed rather than hand-breed. What that means is that I put the boys and girls together in specific groups and let them co-habitate for about six to eight weeks rather than put the one boy and one girl together in a small pen at specific times and monitor behavior/heat cycles, etc. to insure that I record exact breeding dates and can be certain that a doe was at least mounted correctly at a specific time.
Goat heat cycle is about three weeks.
Goat gestation period is about 150 days (5 months).
Today was a big remix. We corralled everyone into various places (with the exception of Lerris) and checked them for anemia. Anyone who needed it was given an oral dewormer. Despite my plans, we didn't have to trim anyone's toes. (Jared and Loki could definitely use a trim, but it's not so bad they can't wait.)
The details are just a lot of back-and-forth and a little bit of chasing around. The end results are:
Jared, Sancho, Sashimi, Jessie and Dahlia are up front-left.
Summer, Ria, Penny, and the kids are up front-right.
Loki, Lerris, Alys and Mona are in the back-left.
Cookie and Anna are in the back-back-right.
This leaves the back-front-right little section empty, and the dog relocated from there into her dog yard.
Reasons for the various distributions:
I like the kids that Sashimi and Jessie are getting with Jared, especially lately. I purchased Dahlia from Firethorn Farm to make more reverse badger babies. They are the most recessive of the recessive blacks, and I think it is a pretty pattern, too. It's obvious from Madison and Ria that Sashimi/Jared produces reverse badgers, so Dahlia is in there with the hope that she will do the same. I believe the chances are about 50/50 of getting a reverse badger baby out of Dahlia, or at least that's what Sashimi has demonstrated (Dru & Giselle vs. Madison & Ria).
Mona, Dahlia's twin sister, could possibly produce reverse badgers as well, but I'm not so obsessed with them that I have to put everyone in with Jared. (I bought Mona only because Gretta wouldn't sell Dahlia as a single kid.) For this year, Penny is not being bred and I don't want Alys in with Loki all by herself. That's a lot of bucky attitude, and being a single point of attention might give Alys a nervous breakdown. Besides which, I would like to see what Loki's got in him in the way of black genes. I know his maternal grandmother was black, but Loki's mom only ever threw white and faded red with Jared even while Loki's aunt Jessie threw four blacks in a row with Jared. Last year, Loki x Crystal produced a white and a pink-n-grey that faded out, so I'm suspicious that Loki could be passing black if given the right girl to do so. Regardless, I think that Mona has a stellar personality, and hope that kids from her and Loki will come out smart and friendly as well as with excellent confirmation and good fleeces.
I bought Alys from Spook Rock Farms to make some cute little redheads with Loki. Alys's full-blood little brothers were twins, one black and one red, so she might surprise us and produce a black with Loki too. I doubt it, but there is a slight possibility.
I bought Cookie last year with the express intention of putting him with Anna. I want to continue to improve on that fabulous fleece that Anna, Lerris and Kagan have, and Cookie comes from a good line of fine-fleeced dominant blacks over at Kid Hollow Farm. Cookie's kid fleece was purchased even before he was sheared, and his subsequent fleeces were pretty darn nice. Additionally, I like his horns. Anna has no horns. Dr. Sponenberg says that is a 50/50 split, genetically, on horns or not. Mac Gilliat of Texas (our VAGMA judge this past year) says that horns are usually passed by the buck, so a sire's horns should indicate the type of horns the kids will have. So either the Anna/Cookie kids will be hornless, or they should have fabulous Cookie-look-alike horns. Go team.
Going back to the horns issue... Loki's horns are a little narrow too. I'm hoping that Alys and Mona's horns are good enough to balance out Loki's issues. But since Mac said it's more a buck thing, I'm not so confident that they can improve Loki's narrowness. Ida and Julius both seem to have reasonably spaced horns so far, though Julius is so far behind in development that it will be more than a year before I know for sure how close they are going to grow.
So my first goal this year, is, of course, healthy kids. My second goal is for fabulous and fine fleeces. My third goal is to get way more color in the kids. This year I had 2 blacks (Giselle & Kagan), one faded red, and four whites. That's a horrible average for someone who is specifically breeding for color. Certainly having the 5:2 girls:boys didn't hurt, but I would have been happier if I'd had all boys and all colored.
Sashimi X Jared = 1 black
Jessie X Jared = 1 black (She alternates twin years, so next year should be a single boy. Yeah, statistics works that way, really. ::laugh::)
Dahlia X Jared = 1 black (As a maiden doe, I don't expect twins from her. I could be pleasantly surprised, though.)
Mona X Loki = 1 red (or black, or white, or green, or purple...)
Alys X Loki = 1 red
Anna X Cookie = 1 black
Every girl on this list besides Sashimi is a twin. Jessie has produced twins twice before, on a biannual basis. So while the expectation list has six kids on it, the maximum production could be eleven. This is one of the reasons I'm not breeding Penny this year - I have no need to be greedy. Six is plenty, anything more is bonus.
The largest number of kids that we've had is seven (twice). The likelihood of Jessie twinning this year is just as high as her not twinning, so seven is as good an expectation number as six. The likelihood of twins from any of the other girls is... unknown. They are all two years old, all in good condition, and none of them has undergone (or will undergo) any stress if I can help it. However, even twin-based girls have been known to single on their maiden pregnancy. Both Goldie and Jessie singled their first time as moms; Crystal twinned (not at our farm).