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!
I have one doe that is a wonderful mother except for one small behavior….right after she gets the kids cleaned off she starts pawing a hole as if she’s suddenly experienced a desperate need to visit China. Typically the kids are still tottering around on unsteady feet, wanting to nurse, unsure how legs work to lay down, etc. She’s knocked them over at times, pawed sawdust onto them and once they’ve finally settled down to sleep she’s at times half buried them in bedding. My response has been checking on the kids every 20 minutes or sleeping in the stall the first night. This time I thought I’d be strategic and give her a lot less bedding and clean up any wet bedding in case it was an instinctual urge to “get rid of the birth evidence” to avoid attracting predators. That might have helped some but it wasn’t enough so I resorted to my next idea which was using the bottom half of a large transport crate with the opening against a wall, bedding it down, and using it as a playpen for the babies. I went back and got them out to nurse a couple of times and by the next day she was done with the idea of being a tourist in China and I was able to safely remove the crate. Peace reigned once again!
By Kathrin Bateman
Purchasing goats is the exciting culmination of time and communication. Most buyers are familiar with typical pre-purchase considerations such as genetics, conformation, disease status and general health, and of course, location and price. Here are few additional things to consider before purchasing.
Changing locales and eventual introduction into a new herd is stressful and a drastic change in climate can increase stress. Goat breeds originated, with a some exceptions, in arid deserts or mountains. While goats can thrive in various climates, adjustment can take time. Genetic adaptation takes generations.
Excessive moisture, especially humidity, is not the ideal goat environment. Humid heat especially can cause heat stress in an animal unused to those conditions. Goats moving from dry, cool areas to humid, warm areas might initially benefit from additional cooling methods such as implementation of barn fans or buckets of cold water to lie against.
A goat sometimes has sparse or non-existent cashmere undercoat, making it particularly susceptible to the cold – this goat might be fine in the southern states but need extra attention if moved to an area with serious winters. Goats with inadequate cashmere coats might need extra calories, a safe heat source, or a blanket or coat.
The difference between a buyer’s climate and the seller’s climate probably won’t be such a serious consideration as to dissuade the buyer, but might tell the buyer to be extra-vigilant about the goat’s health until it grows accustomed to its new home.
General Management Practices
Goats are successfully raised across a wide spectrum of management styles; management varies greatly from producer to producer, from micro-managed operations to “survival of the fittest.” Most farms are somewhere in between the two extremes. It is wise to evaluate the general management practices of a producer compared to your own before purchasing, especially considering diet.
Generally speaking, it is easier for a goat to transition from a less-intensively managed operation than a very management-intense operation. For example, goats accustomed to free-choice alfalfa and large grain rations might lose condition when brought into a farm that primarily utilizes forage.
Conversely, goats unaccustomed to rich legumes or grain rations will need to be introduced to their new diet gradually. A sudden increase in these supplementations can lead to many health problems – slow changes are the key.
A goat used to walking a few steps to a buffet might lose condition when introduced to a farm where it is expected to traverse large areas or rough terrain. Goats in good body condition used to ranging might become over-conditioned when moved to a farm that utilizes dry-lotting and 24-7 availability of high-quality hay like alfalfa.
Most changes in condition because of a change in diet won’t be long-lasting, but the buyer should understand the goat’s current management to better care for the animal at its new farm.
The most important consideration often over-looked is parasite management. When you buy the goat, you buy the worms, so the adage goes. If the new animal has internal parasites, especially Barber Pole worms, and is not dewormed prior to introduction into your herd, that animal will be shedding eggs in your pasture. Those eggs will hatch into larvae for your herd to pick up. Those larvae will mature and mate with worms already in your animals, passing on their genetic material.
It is possible to prevent initial egg shedding by deworming the animal with an effective product or products that show a 100% reduction rate in the fecal egg counts. However, if you do not test the effectiveness of the treatment, or have no effective treatment, there is a very good chance a few worms will survive.
The impact of these surviving worms may or may not be serious, depending on a few things. If there is not a good kill rate, of course, the number of surviving worms will increase, as will their impact on your herd.
Ask the breeder what dewormer he or she uses.
By understanding anthelmentics classes, you can hypothesize if the goat is harboring parasites that will either be resistant or susceptible to the class of dewormer effective on your farm.
For example, in terms of strongyle treatment, the imidazothiazole Levamisol (one brand name is Prohibit®), is considered the most-effective class and the benzimidozoles or “white dewormers” the least effective. If the farm you are purchasing from already uses levamisol while you typically and effectively use the albendazole (which is a benzimidozole) Valbazen®, it is almost certain that the parasites in your new animal will be resistant to Valbazen®.
If you typically and effectively use ivermectin 1% and the seller typically uses moxidectin, it is possible that these parasites will not be effectively killed with ivermectin, even though both moxidectin and ivermectin are in the macrocyclic lactone class. Moxidectin is more potent.
For a great overview of classes, read “Choosing the Right Drug for Worm Control” by Lisa Williamson DVM, MS, DACVIM. The full text is available at the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control website.
There are a few studies indicating that, for a short time, it is possible that bringing in susceptible parasites (i.e. the seller successfully deworms with a white dewormer while you use ivermectin) will dilute resistant parasite populations. Of course, this depends on several factors, and has only been successfully implemented in more intensively-managed grazing operations. The effects of this dilution were generally short-lived – a study where resistance was measured over 3 years later showed anthelmentic failure again – but the subject is still being researched. For more information, check out “Replacement of Resistant Worms with Susceptible Worms – Can We Do It, and Is It Sustainable?” by Melissa George, BS, MS at WormBoss.com.
Ask for deworming records and methods.
- How often has the herd been dewormed?
- How often has the individual goat you are considering purchasing required treatment?
Some farms accept a higher number of treatments year; others are quite strict and cull animals that need repeated treatments, especially in comparison to herdmates. A few do not tolerate an animal that needs dewormed, period.
To slow anthelmentic resistance, a general rule of thumb is animals should not need dewormed more than three times a year.
If the breeder chemically deworms on a schedule, seriously consider passing on that animal. This outdated practice is proven to very strongly select for resistant parasites and is one of the causes of complete anthelmentics failure in some farms – this means the parasites are resistant to every class of dewormer – and useless classes in others.
Remember that the best method for deworming is not to deworm on a schedule but by need. Does the seller deworm the entire herd or select only the animals that need treatment based on fecals, FAMACHA, and condition and thereby slow resistance and increase refugia?
For more information on dewormers and deworming practices, please refer to the blog posts “The Barber Pole Worm” and “Are You Deworming Your Goats Correctly?”
Ask about resistance and resilience of the sire and dam.
Studies have proven both resistance and resilience to parasite infections is moderately heritable. Breeding animals that require more-than-average treatments can negatively impact the herd’s genetics. Culling those less-hardy animals and breeding stock that requires fewer dewormings than the herd average can positively influence subsequent generations. It takes time, but it is a worthwhile effort to breed for animals that are more naturally tolerant or resistant to parasite burdens.
Will the new animal’s genes, in relation to parasite resistance or resilience, positively or negatively affect your herd?
Consider these few additional things before purchasing to better acclimate your new goat, improve or maintain the parasite resistant or resilient genes in your herd, or avoid purchasing an influx of tough-to-treat parasites.
By Kendra Shatswell
1) What are your particular breeding goals for your herd, beyond a healthy herd that reflects the Kinder Breed Standard?
My purpose for breeding the Kinder goat was to breed a goat of good conformation and good udders and udder attachments that would also produce a good meat carcass.
2) What do you see as the general pros and cons of linebreeding?
I do not see any negatives. Linebreeding and inbreeding are the same with all animals, BUT there is one big difference with breeding Kinders. Here you are outcrossing two different breeds. When breeding a Pygmy and Nubian, you are breeding 50/50, and that will never change no matter the number of breedings, so how are you going to find any consistency here? It is simply the matter of trying to fool mother nature, of finding the good traits and determining where these good traits come from, then repeating the genetics of that goat over and over again in your lines. Looking for those good Nubian lines will probably be much easier than looking for good lines of the Pygmy. My first breeding for Kinders was strictly a shot in the dark, so to speak, because I did not know the genetics of that first Pygmy, but later I did much research and knew that I needed to go with a Pygmy that came from good milking lines and a breeder that was interested in good udders or a breeder that was interested in show wins. I did both! Alice Hall’s Pygmy lines were the ones that I searched for in my second Pygmy buck. I tried to use as many of the Gasconade Nubian lines that I could find because they are the more meaty of the Nubians. Harvey suggested this in his first evaluation here. Evaluations, this practice is the key to good breeding.
3) Please offer an example of a linebreeding you have chosen to do.
I will show E Lee for my example.
4) What was your reasoning behind this particular match?
Wanting to keep the Ruppel genetics strong in my lines. She evaluated as excellent! She had a good udder and milked well and her body conformation was very good. Her teat size made her easy to milk, which is very important in a Kinder. Concord also evaluated as excellent.
5) How did the offspring turn out? Did you get what you wanted?
Yes! I can see her all down the lines. Concord is her sire and her grandsire, and he comes from milking lines, and these lines have continued in my herd.
6) What traits will lead you to decide to cull an animal, and how does linebreeding affect your willingness to cull?
You must cull no matter the breeding – linebreeding, inbreeding or crossbreeding. No one is going to breed perfect animals, so those less perfect need to be culled, and this is where evaluations really are important. All breeders are barn blind, thinking all their animals are just wonderful. This is where an experienced person that has been schooled along these lines is needed to help evaluate what is good and what is bad in each animal. There are lots of long-time breeders that can help guide us, but it takes that trained individual to really see those positives and negatives in our herd. Most judges are good evaluators, but most judges that we see today do not understand the dual-purpose animal. There are many breeders out there that only want to breed the animal that suits them and not the animal that fits our scorecard and breed standard, and there are many judges that do not understand our dual-purpose goat, either.
7) How do you personally balance linebreeding with outcrossing and at what point do you decide to outcross?
After I got started, I outcrossed only with animals that I knew what their good traits were.
8) If you are also buying or breeding first gens, what are your strategies for introducing terrific new genetics that don’t derail the traits you have linebred to achieve?
I have very seldom ever outcrossed. When I did, it was usually from my breeding, where I knew both the Pygmy side and Nubian side. I always look for some of my genetics in an animal that I am going to buy. Those genetics may be back four generations, but I almost always make sure some are there. This is what makes having our database showing each of our Kinder goats genetics so very important. We can see all their bloodlines for generations back. May I end by saying that these are only my thoughts and how I bred Kinders. I am not schooled in genetics; however, I think genetics would be most fascinating to learn. Harvey Considine’s evaluations and linebreeding were my main tools for breeding the Kinder goat.
By Sue Huston
Showing can be a really fun part of life with goats, and there are so many advantages, too! We get to meet and exchange ideas with other breeders. We get to see goats and compare. We get to draw attention to our goats and perhaps create a list of buyers who want our bloodlines. Shows can be a place to meet up and deliver to a new owner the goats they have bought. Showing can be a family activity and create connections with other families. For us Kinder breeders, showing is extra important because it helps to publicize a breed that many people haven’t yet seen.
With so many pluses it’s easy to see why showing is a good idea, but it’s also important to consider how to keep your herd free from the main diseases that goats can contract. Experienced breeders have developed a range of strategies to minimize the risk of bringing home a disease from a show.
1. Ask several questions of the show’s organizers before you decide to show at a particular show.
- Will there be a vet onsite who walks around and inspects the barn?
- Are goats required to have a health certificate or be inspected before entering the barn?
- Will the organizers turn away goats that appear to be ill?
2. If you are happy with the answers you get, and you are ready to sign on, ask for two more stalls than the number you need for your animals. The strategy is to have buffer stalls between your goats and the next farm’s goats. The two buffer stalls can be super helpful — use one of them for tack and one of them for feed. Having these buffer stalls will prevent your goats touching noses with goats in the next stall and hopefully prevent sneeze or cough blown pathogens from landing in your goat stalls. You can also bring small tarps to clip between pens to keep the goats in the next stall from sneezing on your feed or tack. Hay feeders can be attached to the back wall of each pen so that the goats tend to congregate away from fairgoers who may be strolling down the row of pens, patting goats in each pen. (You want to avoid as much as possibly the chance that someone will pat a sick goat and then pat your goats, exposing your group to illness.)
3. Once you arrive at the fair and before unloading your goats, walk through the barn looking for open sores, crusty eyes, bad coughs, emaciated goats, and diarrhea. Look also at barn cleanliness. If you see anything that creates concern, be prepared and willing to turn around and go home. Have a plan A and a plan B in place so that you’ve got an alternative in mind if you decide it’s best to not unload your goats for the show after all.
4. Before you unload your goats and take them to their pens, liberally spray the pens with a disinfectant that will kill paratuberculosis organisms that cause Johne’s Disease. Apply deep bedding, get your pens ready, and only then unload your goats.
5. If you want to minimize the chance of your goats picking up something while they are in the show ring, wipe their feet off before putting them back into their pen. Check your own boots for fecal matter as well and wash them before stepping back into your pens.
6. Now that you are settled in, you can enjoy the show. Show those goats! Meet people! Learn new skills! Get incredibly useful evaluations that you can use to improve your herd!
7. When the show is over and you bring your goats home, watch for sickness and then test a month later for CAE, CL, and Johne’s Disease. (This is easy. Just schedule your annual testing for a month or so after the show you are attending.) Some folks will quarantine show goats upon their return, but that measure may not be practical for many farms.
Though these steps may seem like a bit of fuss, by following them we can enjoy the show, network and learn, give our Kinders the recognition they deserve, and simultaneously drastically minimize the likelihood that we will bring something home from the show other than those prize ribbons, great memories, and new, fun face-to-face connections. On with the show!
By Kathrin Bateman
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 email@example.com
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.