Welcome to our blog. Check back often for official news and announcements from the KGBA and articles on various topics of Kinder goat care, raising, breeding, showing and more!
When a Goat is Zinc Deficient
Kidding time is a wonderful time because it means new life on the farm! Who doesn’t enjoy watching these amazing creatures that can begin hopping and jigging within minutes of being born? It’s quite intriguing!
But what happens when, after days or weeks, mama begins showing signs of bodily stress? After all, she is giving all she’s got to producing amazing milk for those adorable kids. Sometimes trying to find what will help her can be daunting.
Let’s up her feed…that doesn’t work.
Let’s worm her…that doesn’t work.
Let’s try copper bolus…doesn’t work.
Well, how about selenium…nope.
What do you do when the most commonly mentioned stuff isn’t helping?
Well let’s consider our options. Upping the feed can get expensive. Worming over and over again creates resilient worms. Giving a stressed goat copper or selenium when those aren’t what is needed can be quite dangerous, because too much can lead to a potential overdose.
Let me introduce another player in the game of goat health: zinc. Such a tiny word and tiny mineral, but oh so important! Zinc deficiency, in my experience, shows up as very coarse hair, erratic shedding (even bald patches), and weight loss — symptoms are sometimes quite severe. Hoegger Farms uses the term “scruffy” to describe the appearance of a goat with zinc deficiency, and the word is quite fitting.
What causes zinc deficiency? There are a few possibilities.
First, an imbalance in the calcium to zinc intake ratio can result in a deficiency. If a goat is eating a diet or supplement high in calcium, that goat can become too low in zinc. Too much calcium blocks the efficient absorption of zinc. Or, alternatively, the goat’s diet may simply have too little zinc. Most US soils are zinc deficient to one degree or another, so zinc is an ingredient in a good goat mineral. Just decreasing the calcium intake may solve the issue, but sometimes going a step further really gets the ball rolling. I will tell you what we have chosen to do that has worked many times; but please note, I am not a professional. I am simply a goat mama who has learned what works for us through trial and error, talking to other goat owners, and my own research.
We decreased the alfalfa, since it is high in calcium. We then begin giving a human adult dose of zinc once a day. Typically, we can begin feeding our hungry mama more alfalfa after several days on zinc. Typically, within a month, we see a beautiful shiny coat and weight gain, but the transformation has happened as fast as two weeks. Goats in milk do require more food, so making sure does are getting enough is important. If that fails, give your scruffy doe’s calcium-to-zinc ratios some consideration. It’s cheap, safe, and simple.
Zinc deficiency can also crop up among other goats in your herd, including bucks. But the solutions are straightforward: check those feed ratios and supplement as required.
Healthy goats are happy goats, and happy goats make happy farms!
By Tamara Newton
Zinc deficiency (as well as copper toxicity) might also be caused by an imbalance in zinc to copper. A proposed ideal ratio is 4:1 zinc to copper.
Zinc deficiency symptoms include:
Dermatitis that is responsive to zinc supplementation.
Hair loss, especially on the back, legs, and face.
Small testes and reduced libido in bucks
Hoof deformities, especially flaking hooves
After working closely with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, extensive testing on forage, hay, water, and mineral, and necropsies, it was determined an imbalance of zinc to copper was causing both secondary zinc deficiencies and copper toxicity in her Nigerian Dwarf herd. The buck pictured is exhibiting dermatitis and hair loss from secondary zinc deficiency. More information can be found at the website and Facebook page for Red Horse Valley, LLC and in the paper “In Search of Balance: A Nigerian Dwarf Breeder’s Experience with Chronic Copper Accumulation” written by the breeder, Kathy Winters.
Recently, research has also indicated that goats can exhibit zinc deficiency caused by genetics alone and might need additional oral zinc supplementation. Zinc can be supplemented in the form of loose minerals, lozenges, or capsules.
By Kendra Shatswell
M.C. Smith and D.M. Sherman Goat Medicine, 2nd Ed
Zinc-responsive dermatosis in goats suggestive of hereditary malabsorption: two field cases. Krametter-Froetscher R, et al. Vet Dermatol. 2005.
Winters, K., 2019. In Search Of Balance: A Nigerian Dwarf Breeder’s Experience With Chronic Copper Accumulation.
As a KGBA board member, I sometimes have people ask me how they can help promote our breed. I’m so happy that people are excited about finding ways to make our Kinders shine!
Although the board is doing quite a few things to promote the breed, we can’t do it all!
A few board actions include:
- Offering evaluations to our members for herd improvement
- Offering online virtual shows
- Offering monetary incentives for champions at shows
- Free annual membership for dress out weights*
- Free annual memberships for milk test participants*
- Free show sanctions and ribbons to encourage increase in shows
- Maintaining a youth program with a doe/wether chain to encourage new youth to join the association
*must meet program requirements
Board members don’t stop at that! They are also doing the following things on a personal level:
- Lisa LaRose has attended every sanctioned show but one since she joined the board (and too many to count before that).
- John James has planned and held the largest sanctioned Kinder show for multiple years. He has also worked with local venues to spotlight our youth members and their Kinders.
- Ashley Kennedy has consistently kept her herd on milk test for years.
- Stephanie Lounsbury has arranged local meet ups with other Kinder owners and writes for the newsletter.
- Kathrin Bateman runs our newsletter committee.
- Sue Beck has had a booth at the Mother Earth News Fair, written articles for online publications, and became her local 4H goat leader.
- Stefanie Idzikowski became a milk tester and has travelled to shows to do One Day Milk Tests.
These are just a few examples of the ways that we are trying to make our association and the breed shine. What are you doing? We would love to hear about the many things that we know our members are doing to promote their goats!
We would love to spotlight you on the KGBA website and/or upcoming newsletters where your ideas could help others to come up with their own ways to promote Kinders within their communities. Details and photos can be sent to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
More commonly called “goat polio” or simply “thiamine deficiency,” polioencephalomalacia is a neurological disease characterized by brain swelling and tissue death – the word literally means “softening of the brain.” Ruminants harbor beneficial bacteria and protozoa that produce Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and Vitamin B1 (thiamine) under normal environmental conditions. If this production is interrupted, thiamine deficiency can occur. To put it simply, the rumen must be kept happy to produce thiamine; thiamine is necessary for proper nerve conduction, and neurological signs present when thiamine is lacking.
Pre-ruminant goat kids rely on dietary thiamine – goat milk and colostrum contains B vitamins. Low-quality colostrums or milk replacers or whole milk recipes lack the essential B vitamins for optimal kid health. Many factors can contribute to reduced or cessation of normal thiamine production in ruminants.
Dietary causes include too much grain and not enough roughage, consumption of moldy feedstuffs, diets high in sulfur, cobalt-deficient diets, or consuming certain toxic plants – such as bracken ferns.
Sudden changes in the diet, especially increased or excessive grain consumption, can decrease the PH in the rumen and disturb the thiamine production of the microorganisms there. Excessive grain rations or moldy feedstuffs can be problematic because each contains certain enzymes that produce thiaminases. Thiaminases inactivate or degrade thiamine molecules, leaving the goat thiamine-deficient. Bracken ferns – while toxicity symptoms vary widely based on dose, duration, and species of affected animals – contain thiaminases, and thiamine deficiency has been noted in sheep grazing on the plants in Australia.
Diets high in sulfur – foodstuffs or water or a combination of the two – can also lead to thiamine deficiency. According to “Digestive System and Nutrient Needs of Meat Goats” by Purdue Extension, “Sulfur produces thiamine-like compounds called analogs that decrease the absorption of thiamine in the rumen.” There are many possible sources of excessive sulfur, including: water sources, alfalfa, cruciferous plants, distillers grains, and corn, sugar beet, and sugar cane byproducts. According to Goat Medicine by Mary C. Smith and David M. Sherman, “Extrapolating from recommendations based on cattle and sheep, the maximum total dietary sulfur in high concentrate diets is 0.30% and 0.05% if the diet consists of at least 40% forage. Drinking water should contain less that 600mg/L sulfate/L for high concentrate diets, whereas 2,500 mg sulfate/L is acceptable with higher forage intake (NRC 2005.)” Generally speaking, sulfur should not exceed 0.3% total diet dry matter.
Cobalt-deficient diets are also precursors to goat polio. The trace mineral is essential for the microorganisms to manufacture and utilize Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential to maintain nervous system integrity and promote red blood cell synthesis. Certain areas in the U.S. are known to cobalt-deficient – a map can be found at http://www2.luresext.edu/goats/training/nutrition.html. Sandy soils and alkaline soils are more likely to be cobalt-deficient. Though not much research has been conducted on goats specifically, it has been established that goats require a very small amount of cobalt and are less sensitive to cobalt deficiencies than sheep. Sufficient daily cobalt intake is between 0.1ppm and 0.3ppm. Toxicity can occur at 10ppm.
Infectious and parasitic diseases increase thiamine requirements and can lead to goat polio if those requirements are not met. Since antibiotics do not distinguish between beneficial or harmful organisms, antibiotics can diminish the beneficial gut flora responsible for thiamine production.
Amprolium – the active ingredient in some coccidiostats such as CORID® – works by blocking thiamine uptake of certain coccidian protozoa that require more than the host. Misuse or long-term use can result in thiamine deficiency in the goat, especially if the goat experienced dietary thiamine deficiencies already.
Symptoms of Goat Polio
- Off feed/water
- Involuntary eye movements
- Temporary blindness
- Sudden death
Note: Stargazing is characterized by the goat’s head thrown backwards due to rigid neck muscles. Temporary blindness may last as long as 2-3 weeks. Diarrhea, while not a neurological symptom, can present because the rumen is not functioning properly.
Severe thiamine deficiency can possibly kill a goat in 24 hours to a few days if left untreated. Goats are more likely to die from poor rumen function or inability to eat. Correct treatment usually results in quick improvement. The only effective therapy is supplementing thiamine.
Very severe cases might require an intravenous treatment performed by a veterinarian. Fortified Vitamin B complex injections are more commonly used, and can be given subcutaneously or intramuscularly. The dosage will depend on the concentration of thiamine – for supplements containing 100mg of thiamine the common dosage is 1cc per 20lb. B Vitamins are water-soluble and excess is excreted through the urine.
Injections should be given every six hours as needed. Taper off treatments gradually, lengthening time between injections, to monitor for potential relapse. If the goat is truly experiencing goat polio, improvements can be seen in as little as minutes or hours. If no improvement is noticeable, consider consulting your vet about treating simultaneously for Listeriosis, which has very similar symptoms but is more common in adult animals. Read more about Listeriosis at Merck Veterinary Manual online.
By Kendra Shatswell
Article reviewed by Dr. Ken Brown DVM
“Animal Sciences Common Diseases and Health Problems in Sheep and Goats” – Purdue Extensions.
“Digestive System and Nutrient Needs of Meat Goats” – Purdue Extensions.
“Dietary Sulphur in Ruminant Diets” – Westway Feed Products
“Polioencephalomalacia (Goat Polio)” Alabama and Auburn Universities UNP-65 – Maria Leite-Browning, DVM, MS Extension Anima Scientist Alabama A&M University.
“Ramifications of Thiamine Deficiency” – Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, 2017.
Goat Medicine Mary C. Smith and David M. Sherman.
As of December, 2020, we have registered approximately 7290 Kinder kids! Of those, 731 were registered in 2020.
When Kinders are born and bred on our property, we become Kinder breeders. That project is exciting and endlessly interesting! Most of us keep in mind how breeding strategies can help us achieve our goals not only in our own herds but also on behalf of the Kinder breed as a whole. There is a place for different approaches at different times and even on the same farm.
Pygmy breeder Maxine Kinne reminds us of a vital point that holds regardless of the approach we choose, “A cardinal rule of selective breeding is that two goats with the same fault are never mated.” Instead, breed a goat that is weak in one area with another that is correct in that area. For instance, breed a doe with a weak chine to a buck with a level topline. Keep in mind a mental picture of the kind of Kinder you are breeding to achieve, adding animals to your herd that help you to achieve that goal.
As you work toward the herd you want to see, you have several options by way of breeding strategies and may well decide to utilize more than one strategy in your breeding program. What follows is a nontechnical discussion of these. In case you want to take a deeper dive into how genetics work, plunge into the list of helpful resources that follows this article.
Crossbreeding First Gens
Crossbreeding refers to mating goats from two different breeds, with each individual carefully selected with goals for the resulting offspring in mind. The Kinder gene pool is still small, which is why the work that a number of Kinder breeders are doing in breeding first generation kids is so important. Carefully chosen Pygmy bucks and Nubian does can lead to some very promising first generation kids that grow up to produce some very nice second generation kids. Yet there is still likely to be more variability among the kids who are born than there will be among Kinders that have been thoughtfully paired over several generations. Occasional lanky kids may hearken back to their Nubian parent or grandparent, for instance, while others inherit a smaller Pygmy-type udder with less capacity rather than their dam’s or grand dam’s capacious Nubian udder. That said, enlarging the Kinder gene pool is critical work done on behalf of the future success of the breed. Here you can find more information on breeding first generation kids.
Outcrossing is the term for breeding two animals (of the same breed) that do not share common ancestors for four or more generations back in their pedigrees. Because Kinders are a young breed, when we examine our Kinders’ pedigrees, we often find common ancestors, especially the farther back we look, because the gene pool was smaller. But for each generation we move backward, the amount of genetic material contributed by any one ancestor is halved. You, for example, have half your genetic material from each parent, 1/4 from each grandparent, 1/8 from each great grand parent, 1/16 from each great great grandparent, and so forth.
In an article originally published in Dairy Goat Journal, Alice Hall sums describes the outcomes of outcrossing:
If the breeder is working with heterozygous (relatively genetically diverse) parents, he might end up with any number of combinations in the kid. The results would be very unpredictable. This is what happens with outcrossing or cross-breeding. The kid would be a combination of all kinds of genes, only the dominant of which would show. The breeder would have no idea what recessive genes are masked in the genotype of the kid. A breeder can continue to keep the recessives masked and work with dominants as long as he continues to outcross, but he will continue to have unpredictable results unless he happens to hit on some lucky combinations of homozygous [relatively genetically similar] dominants.
Outcrossing, Maxine Kinne points out, works well when the dominant traits we see expressed in both parents are the desirable ones we are after. Outcrossing introduces more variability and less consistency but can be especially useful when linebreeding uncovers some undesirable recessive trait. For example, two very nice animals with straight hind legs are linebred and produce kids with cow hocks they do not grow out of. That is a breeding not to repeat because cow hocks are lurking in recessive genes of those parents. An outcrossing might mask that undesirable recessive trait. Outcrossing also aids in preventing or correcting inbreeding depression (a loss in vigor, fertility, or survivability) that can happen with linebreeding or inbreeding.
Haphazard outcrossing of a carefully developed line, on the other hand, can undo generations of progress; so it is important, when outcrossing, to ensure that the animals used for the outcrossing also exhibit most of the desirable traits breeders want to see in the offspring.
Linebreeding is key to bringing out desirable traits that tend to be recessive, like improved toplines and level rumps. The focus of linebreeding is to create a line of goats that has sufficient genetics in common to cement their desirable traits, so that these traits are more consistently reflected in offspring, generation after generation. In lines where this is skillfully done, we may recognize the line when we spot that goat we would love to add to our herd.
When they choose to linebreed, breeders may pair half siblings or cousins, aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, grandfather and granddaughter, or grandmother and grandson, with the clear understanding that promising offspring will be added to the Kinder world, while kids with faults, deformities, or health issues will be culled, as in destined for the freezer. Effective linebreeding depends on culling as a key strategy, with only its successes added to the Kinder gene pool.
Successful linebreeding is always based on an outstanding individual or individuals (not just average descendents of those outstanding individuals). As Maxine Kinne points out, “Linebreeding average animals is counterproductive, as you are certain to fix mediocrity firmly in your herd.”
Inbreeding is the most radical form of linebreeding. It can bring out recessive genes that are otherwise masked by the dominant ones that determine a goat’s physical appearance. Father/daughter, mother/son, or full siblings may be mated, but this should be done only with the understanding that inbreeding requires rigorous culling (meaning goats in the freezer). Breeder Alice Hall notes that the more successful close linebreedings are often those involving half siblings. The most risky are those involving full siblings.
Inbreeding is a daring experiment of sorts—recessive faults or even serious mutations or deformities may lurk as surely as desirable results do. On the other hand, remarkable individuals can also result, who leave their stamp on the breed. Whatever the results of the experiment, inbreeding reveals very useful information about what a physically outstanding individual really brings, good and/or bad, to the gene pool.
Strategies for Successful Linebreeding
Boar breeder Tom Boyer points out a number of ways that linebreeding efforts can go wrong (see his article referenced below). Here is an inverse of his list, indicating what you need to be willing to do in order to linebreed successfully:
- Have a firm grasp of the Kinder Breed Standard and the kind of animal you are aiming to produce (in the case of Kinders, think about both meat traits and good udders, milk production, length of lactations, overall hardiness, parasite resistance, easy of kidding, etc.).
- Keep detailed records that can help you make informed breeding decisions.
- Obtain superior does and especially outstanding sire(s), even if you have to travel or spend more up front to get them.
- Cull undesirable animals by stocking the freezer (and sell that reasonably nice doe you love if her daughter is better and you do not have room for both). (If you are selling animals, please make sure they go to good homes where they will be cared for properly.)
- Retain some of the very best kids for your breeding program rather than selling them all, so that you are improving your herd generation by generation.
Which breeding strategy you choose at any given point in your breeding program will depend on your goals in each instance, but Boyer notes that the trouble and expense you undertake to implement a successful linebreeding program can pay off richly in terms of the quality of your herd.
As you make breeding decisions, keep in mind what we know about dominant and recessive traits and those that are otherwise more or less heritable.
|Long ears||Short ears|
|Long hair||Short hair|
|Nervous behavior||Calm behavior|
|Normal reproductive system||Hermaphroditism (does)|
|Straight hocks||Cow hocks|
|More Heritable||Less Heritable|
|Steep rumps||Level rumps|
|Weak chine||Level topline|
|Short stature||Tall stature|
|Posty hind legs||Ideal hind legs|
Maxine Kinne has compiled a valuable chart on heritability percentages for a long list of traits at http://kinne.net/heritcht.htm.
For more information, especially on linebreeding and genetics, see resources below. We pair this general overview with two linebreeding Q&As and case studies, one with breeder Sue Huston and one with breeder Ashley Kennedy. We hope to follow up with another case study or two in our summer issue. There’s nothing like learning from the experience of others who are generous enough to share! Most important of all are the insights into how experienced and skillful breeders make breeding decisions.
- Boyer, Tom. “Linebreeding vs. Inbreeding” (http://www.chalkcreekboers.com/Linebreeding.html
- Getz, Will. “Genetic Improvement and Crossbreeding in Meat Goats
Lessons in Animal Breeding for Goats Bred and Raised for Meat” (http://www2.luresext.edu/goats/training/appendixI.html).
- Hall, Alice. “Linebreeding, Inbreeding… What’s the Difference?” (http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/378878/26602312/1444759258933/Alice+Hall+Linebreeding.pdf). Published by Dairy Goat Journal Online; previously published in Dairy Goat Guide, also found in Fundamentals of Improved Dairy Goat Management.
- Kinne, Maxine. “Genetics 101: To B or Not to BB” (http://www.kinne.net/2bornotb.htm).
- —— “The Heritability Percentage of a Number of Traits” (http://kinne.net/heritcht.htm).
- —— “Selective Breeding for Herd Improvement” (http://kinne.net/matesys.htm).
- Shoenian, Susan. “Genetics 101” (https://www.slideshare.net/SusanSchoenian/genetics-101-16142943).
By Elizabeth Sweet
Now that you have decided you want to show your Kinder goat in 4H or open shows, you will need to determine what kind of show or classes you want to enter. The two basic show classes are breed, or conformation class, and showmanship class. You may wonder what the difference is since both involve you and your goat in the show ring. The breed class involves the judging of your animal by comparing its physical appearance against the breed standard and the other goats in the show ring. In the showmanship class, the judge will be evaluating how you exhibit and display your goat as well as your knowledge of your goat project.
While these classes are separate at the goat show, the lessons learned from each type of show are interchangeable. A skilled showman will be able to minimize some physical flaws through careful set up of their animal in the breed ring. On the other hand, a goat that has outstanding physical characteristics and handles well will certainly benefit you in the showmanship ring.
As a 4H advisor, I teach and emphasize the importance of showmanship, especially knowledge of the project. As one writer notes, “Showmanship can’t be emphasized too strongly! It is often the difference between winning and losing” (Seven Lakes High School FFA Animal Project Guide). While it is a lot of fun to win, the lifelong friendships, the affection between you and your animal, and the skills you learn can last you a lifetime—that cannot be emphasized too strongly.
Preparation for the breed show ring is a lot like making a good steak. If you start with a good cut of steak, your chances of cooking a delicious steak are much better. So you want to start with a good animal, choose one that closely reflects the breed standard. Look for a breeder that likes working with youth since that breeder will be more likely to sell you some of their best stock and not a cull goat that they would not have kept for themselves. Pay close attention to what the breeder feeds, how they house their animals, and what kind of exercise the animals get. These factors, combined with good genetics, give you the best chance of raising a goat that correctly represents the Kinder goat breed in a conformation show. Kinder goats may be new to many youth shows, so it’s up to you as an exhibitor to show the best goats possible.
Showmanship is the one area of livestock showing over which the exhibitor has the most control. In showmanship you are judged on your abilities to control and present your goat to bring out its best characteristics. Advanced planning, practice, and hard work are the key to becoming a good show person. Goat showmanship not only generates enthusiasm in the show ring but also teaches many valuable lessons that can be used in day-to-day life. These lessons include responsibility, learning about work and determination to reach a goal, winning graciously, and losing with dignity. Showing your goat skillfully will take practice at home with your goat and having someone help you to act as a judge as if you were at a show.
By John James
Disclaimer: The opinions, views, and thoughts expressed by newsletter and blog contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the Kinder® Goat Breeders Association. Goat husbandry advice found in the newsletter and blog is not meant to substitute a valid veterinary relationship. Please request permission to share or reprint newsletter and blog posts.