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!
The KGBA is thrilled to announce the reintroduction of a KGBA herd evaluation service for our members!
Many years ago, the KGBA was lucky enough to have renowned judge, author, and goat evaluator Harvey Considine agree to help us create an evaluation program for the Kinder breed. Harvey worked closely with KGBA members for many years, developing a Kinder scorecard used by Kinder goat breeders and as a guide for those judging Kinder goats in the show ring. The herd evaluations and scorecard were invaluable in improving Kinder goats as a breed, helping to judge them fairly in the show ring, and helping individuals choose and breed goats more responsibly.
Unfortunately, Harvey did all evaluations himself and the service was lost to us when he passed away. Over the last few years, the association has been working tirelessly to reintroduce the evaluation program, and we are excited to begin the year with two qualified evaluators ready to visit your farms!
In order to make evaluations more cost effective and therefore more attainable to our members, the association will be subsidizing the cost of travel for our evaluators, meaning that the cost to our members will only be $10 per goat with a 5 head minimum. Priority will be based in part on the number of goats signed up to be evaluated in each area, so consider working with others in surrounding areas to sign up for multiple farms or to plan a large group evaluation at a single location. Our evaluators will also happily do evaluations on site before, during, or after shows, so please contact us as soon as possible if you are planning on holding shows in the future. Traveling longer distances becomes much more valuable to many if they can bring their entire herds to a show, spend the morning showing, get their herd evaluated in the afternoon, and go home with ribbons, scorecards, and a plan for herd improvement!
I really hope that people take advantage of this opportunity. I knew that evaluations would be valuable, but had no idea just how beneficial they would be until I had my own goats evaluated and the scorecards spread out on my table. Looking at them, it made it easy to decide who to keep, who to cull, and who to breed to whom.
If you are interested, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will work with you to arrange a convenient time for evaluations. Contact us even if you only have two goats and don’t know anyone else nearby with Kinders; we will happily do whatever we can to help you get your goats evaluated. You never know… you may have Kinders or an evaluator living just down the road!
A 10-acre sweep of pasture for our goats to graze in — what could be wrong with this picture? We can just fence it and let our Kinders graze, right? When we moved onto our property in the warm, humid Southeast (a temperate rainforest) in 2013, we found that it’s not that simple.
Turns out, that’s not a good long-term plan. Goats actually prefer 60% browse from shrubs and trees. (They eat fallen leaves like potato chips.) We needed trees and bushes and bramble canes to satisfy our goats’ nutritional needs and preferences. After browse, they’d like to eat about 20% “weeds” and 20% grass. They benefit from herbs, brassicas, legumes and (nontoxic) weeds in their pasture. Our picturesque old cattle pasture does not look at all like the smorgasbord they are after.
Not only do we need to add variety to our sea of grass for nutritional reasons, we also need to manage the hazard of letting our Kinders graze in a climate that sees rainy springs and moderate-to-high annual rainfall. Wet grass in warm weather is the perfect environment for parasites that can afflict and even kill our goats. The worst culprit is the Barber Pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), a parasitic nematode that sucks blood out of the gastrointestinal track. The longer goats graze a particular section of pasture, the heavier the parasite load in that pasture becomes, until parasites become a serious management problem.
Here are the factors that contribute to parasite woes:
- Warm, wet weather
- Grass that’s less than four or five inches tall in favorite grazing spots (Larvae wiggle up wet blades of grass.)
- Too many goats concentrated in a space
- Goats left to graze in one area too long
- Parasite resistance to dewormers
Fortunately, there are ways to combat the parasites that dramatically reduce the need for chemical dewormers, and one of these is pasture management. If an area is small, one solution is to eliminate pasture altogether, keep goats in a dry lot, and bring them their food (hay and Chaffhaye, cut branches, garden crops raised for goats, grain mixtures formulated for goats, minerals). Make sure they don’t eat off the ground.
A key practice, if goats will be grazing, is to avoid overstocking. If your goal is a self-sustaining system, you’ll do better to keep only the number of goats you can feed from a parcel of land. The more crowded your goats are, the more trouble you will have with parasites, and the more you’ll have to buy to feed them.
Implementing rotational grazing helps immensely to combat parasite loads. You do not want your Kinders always grazing under their favorite maple or apple tree over in the south corner of the pasture, until the grass is only three or four inches tall there. Ideally you would have them grazing an area for just 4–5 days, but that’s hard to pull off. More practically speaking that time might extend to 2–3 weeks. You want them to move them along before most parasites have time to complete their life cycle. (The life cycle of the Barber Pole worm is 21–25 days. A larva deposited in pasture hatches in about 5 days.) And you want to move your goats before they eat all of their favorite things out of a pasture, leaving only the less desirable plants to grow in their place.
Once you’ve moved your goats to a new grazing area, you want to “clean” the pasture they have grazed. You have two allies on your side: time and other species that can consumer parasites without incurring harm. A pasture could sit for a year and still have some viable parasites, but not nearly as many as it had initially. Keeping goats off an area for 6–8 weeks helps considerably.
Utilizing Other Species
Chickens run with goats or after them will break up goat pellets, exposing eggs to the sun, and will consume some of the parasites. Our goats and chickens already hang out together. They aren’t susceptible to the same strains of Coccidia, though they are both susceptible to Cryptosporidiosis, which can be a problem for both chicks and kids. We’ll take the risk for the benefit. Our chickens sleep in a separate space, and we have a fun time devising ways to keep them out of the hay feeders, which apparently look more inviting to them than their nesting boxes do. The two species like being together.
Horses or other equine grazing an area after the goats do will eat larvae with the grass. Horses are not hosts for goat parasites, so they are essentially “cleaning up” after the goats, and vice versa.
Haying after goats leave an area helps, too, as the haying process mops up and kills most of the parasites. The short grass post-haying also exposes parasite larvae and eggs to hotter, drier conditions that can kill them. Haying, though, also pulls a lot of minerals and nutrients off the land—there’s that to consider. (We are faced with the task and expense of re-mineralizing after our own land was hayed for years.) We cut our pastures twice a season, for two reasons. First, our goats avoid very tall grass—they’ll stay in the barn and eat pricey hay instead. Also, by cutting our pasture, we are controlling horse nettle, a toxic plant. But we let the grass lie where it falls.
With parasite management in mind, we are planning a rotational grazing system with enough small paddocks that we can keep goats grazing in a single paddock for 2 weeks and then move them along, not to return to that paddock for 2–3 months.
Planning a System
We’re fencing a large section of our pasture with RedBrand sheep and goat fence. (Coyotes visit occasionally, and we don’t trust electric fences to be infallible.) We will initially rotate goats within that large section of pasture using movable electric fencing, but we will gradually make permanent paddocks. If we were still young and energetic and had lots of time, moving electric fence might be an ongoing option. But we are time-challenged and getting older, and we want to be goat keeping when we are 80. We are building infrastructure now while we can to make things easy for ourselves down the road.
Enhancing Browse and Pasture Species
We will create “fence pockets” along paddock fences and within paddocks using goat panels attached to posts at either end with carabiner clips. That’s where we will establish our brambles, shrubs and trees for goat browse. We will develop pastures that offer not only grass, but rye, turnips, chicory in cool seasons, and cowpeas, sorghum, soybeans in warm seasons. Sericea lespedeza and Birdsfoot trefoil (like chicory) are legumes that reduce parasite loads, but they are harder to establish, so we’ll consider small plots of those.
Cultivating Parasite-Resistant Goats, Not Resistant Parasites
Once a new pasture is fenced and ready, the temptation might be to worm everybody one last time and then move your Kinders onto clean pasture. Again, that turns out to be a bad idea. The only surviving parasites would be those resistant to the dewormer you used. You would be introducing only “Super Worm” breeding stock into your new goat pasture. You are better off deworming only those goats that have a parasite problem so that parasites that have developed resistance breed with those that haven’t. Your herd will probably carry a few parasites; the load needs to remain light.
Feeding your goats to keep them in good body condition, especially pregnant and lactating does, is vital to controlling parasite loads. The more kids a doe has, the more nutritional support she will require. A depleted goat is far more susceptible to parasites than a well-nourished one. Protein in the diet helps heal tissues damaged by parasites, and adequate copper and zinc help your Kinders to fight off parasites. Cottonseed meal as a supplement is also effective in reducing parasite loads by half or more.
If you have a goat that you are having to treat regularly for heavy parasite loads despite optimal nutrition (including adequate copper and zinc), that goat is simply more susceptible, and you should consider the option of culling that individual from your herd. Tracking fecals and using the FAMACHA method of assessing parasite loads, you’ll likely find that your herd reflects the general rule—20% to 33% of the goats have 80% of the parasite problems. You can, through culling, develop a herd that is reasonably parasite-resistant, so that good management practices such as good nutrition and pasture rotation minimize parasite issues.
To sum up, as parasites of one kind and another become resistant to one dewormer after another, your best defense for your beloved Kinder herd will not come in a bottle. Your battle plan will be threefold: (1) maximizing your herd’s health and resilience through good nutrition, (2) reducing pasture parasite loads through optimal grazing management, (3) culling selectively, if individual goats need treatment again and again. Here’s to your happy and healthy herd!
By Elizabeth Sweet
Recommended for Further Reading:
- “How to Grow Worms (Or Not),” by Steve Hart (http://www.wormx. info/growworms)
- “Goat Pasture and Browse: A Permaculture Approach to Raising Healthy, Productive Goats,” by Chris Ostrander (Google author and title for PDF download.)
- “Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Pasture Management,” by Linda Coffey and Margo Hale for ATTRA. (Google author and title for PDF download.)
- “Management of Barber Pole Worm in Sheep and Goats in the Southern U.S.,” by Joan Burke (https://attra. ncat.org/downloads/goat_barber_ pole.pdf)
- “Barber Pole Worm War,” by Jonathan Dohonich, DVM
- (http://www.rosehillvet.com/print_ version.php?articleid=68)
I think we all love to look at a Kinder that’s chunky with lots of width, but how do we tell how much of that width is structural and genetic and how much is related to the level of condition they are in? Understanding a bit more about this question can help us avoid buying a goat based on its width alone while ignoring conformation negatives. It will also help us not to pass over a goat that may not currently show a lot of width but has great conformation over all, meets the Kinder goat breed standard, and is likely, if body condition is improved, to develop that lovely chunk and width we’re looking for in a dual purpose goat.
Lately, I’ve seen a number of goats posted that seem to show a lot of width and folks comment that it’s “structural width,” but I beg to differ and here’s why. I have a lovely mother and daughter from a lovely line of Kinders. They both tend towards meatiness, hold their condition well except for a while when feeding large numbers of babies, and generally are lovely examples of dual-purpose goats. I’ve got photos that show front ends that you could drive a bulldozer through and photos that show the very same goats looking almost narrow. We’ve collected some photos showing the same goat showing vastly different amounts of width to illustrate this point.
Think about it a moment. Let’s think of humans, for example. Let’s imagine two young girls, both slender, who while growing to childbearing age eat differently and end up at different levels of body condition. We wouldn’t expect the one who weighs more to give birth to babies who carry genes for a wider bone structure, right? We wouldn’t expect her babies to be genetically/structurally wider just because the mother has consumed more calories than needed and is carrying extra weight on her frame, right? Now apply this principle to goats. That chunky two-month-old kid you’re considering is not more likely to produce babies of great width just because she’s a little butterball from getting more milk and grain than that other kid in the herd whose mother is feeding quads or producing less milk. In fact, her extra fat makes it more likely that you’ll miss seeing structural flaws if your eye is untrained. Just as we need to avoid “color blindness” (the propensity to be attracted to a goat’s color and not notice its structural flaws) when assessing goats, we also need to avoid “condition blindness” (the propensity to think that a fat little buckling is going to bring the genetics for width into our breeding program).
Extra body fat at any age will tend to smooth out how a goat looks and help hide some flaws. It can be a mistake to think that a herd of fat goats is closer to the dual-purpose body style we’re looking for in Kinders. A better way to judge where a goat is on the meat/dairy spectrum is looking at substance (thickness) of bone, whether leg bones and ribs are more flat (dairy) or more round (meat), and paying attention to proportions of body parts. Long necks and long legs tend to indicate a more dairy body type, while blockiness of body, meatiness of hind end, shorter neck, and thickness of bone indicate the meat end of the spectrum.
When we compare kids at different farms, it’s important to pay attention to how they are fed. Bottle-fed kids who are fed as much as they are interested in drinking will look fatter and wider than dam-raised kids who are often getting less milk. Remember, if a doe is capable of giving a gallon of milk a day and you take a half gallon at morning milking, that leaves only a half gallon to divide among her kids for the rest of the day. It’s no wonder that bottle fed babies sometimes grow faster and fatter than dam-raised babies do. Don’t think that the bottle-fed baby who shows that chunkiness now is necessarily more capable of bringing width to your breeding program than a dam-raised baby who perhaps isn’t as chunky now but might actually carry more genetic width to pass on to her/his offspring.
So how do we avoid misjudging width when buying a goat? Try looking at the parents, ask about feed amounts, look at older siblings, etc. Yes, there are some herds that have all ages in a higher level of condition than is optimally healthy, and their high condition can give the impression that these are meatier goats, but think it through and look at the body proportions, bone substance, etc. Expect herds that are on dry lots eating out of mangers all year to look different than goats that are walking out to pasture and back, avoiding bugs, and constantly on the move.
Maybe looking for width is something we do partly because it’s easier to assess than other aspects of correct conformation are; but if your goal is breed and herd improvement, it’s going to help more if you can assess all aspects of conformation rather than chunk factor alone. Yes, we want width, but extra condition can be mistaken for width, and mistaking extra body fat for meatiness and correct conformation won’t help us reach our goals for our herds.
By Kathrin Bateman
1) What are your particular breeding goals for your herd, beyond a healthy herd that reflects the Kinder Breed Standard?
For me, in addition to a correct animal that displays appropriate breed type, function is truly key. At the end of the day, I want my Kinders both to produce enough milk to be a competitive dairy animal for their size and to efficiently convert feed into a quickly developing and muscular carcass.
2) What do you see as the general pros and cons of linebreeding?
Linebreeding intensifies and solidifies traits. Its primary goal is to influence consistency. Unfortunately, this does not mean only positive traits, but negative ones as well. While breeding should always be done with careful thought and clear goals, linebreeding even more so. Ultimately it is a tool that should be wielded carefully, as it has the potential to improve or weaken the resulting offspring.
Please offer an example of a linebreeding you have chosen to do.
Still Meadow Diego. This 3.5 year-old buck is the result of a close linebreeding (sire bred to his own dam). [See pedigree.]
4) What was your reasoning behind this particular match?
After having Diego’s dam for many years and being familiar with her strengths and weaknesses, as well seeing a lot of positive qualities in her son Rusty’s offspring, I decided to experiment with breeding them together to solidify their numerous similar and ideal qualities. In general I prefer to be as familiar as possible with a goat and its lines before experimenting with heavy linebreeding.
5) How did the offspring turn out? Did you get what you wanted?
Arguably, Diego turned out very well. I’d like to see more levelness hip to pin and straighter front legs (he turns out), and he lost a bit of size compared to his immediate family, but otherwise I’m extremely pleased with him. As a sire he’s been very interesting. He nearly universally adds width throughout (including rump width), heaviness of bone, and muscling to his kids. But he doesn’t seem to affect much else. He has a pretty decent topline but didn’t seem to pass that on to any of his kids. Whatever the dam was like, the kids took after her. I noticed that tendency to a much lesser extreme in his sire (influencing levelness in toplines and rumps). Tightening those genetics definitely led to a more pronounced bend toward (not) affecting levelness. To be fair, Diego has not seemed to make any kid worse from my observation; he just lends no improvement whatsoever in that area.
6) What traits will lead you to decide to cull an animal, and how does line breeding affect your willingness to cull?
Any fault or extreme weakness in any area of conformation and type could be a reason to cull. I’m quicker to cull for poor udders and substandard milk production, as well as lacking muscularity and general meatiness. But it depends on each individual and whether that goat has enough positive qualities to be worth keeping in the Kinder gene pool.
7) How do you personally balance linebreeding with outcrossing and at what point do you decide to outcross?
I regularly outcross for various reasons (including maintaining genetic diversity). I tend to outcross when I’m trying to bring in traits I need to improve on, and I linebreed when I’m trying to cement in the qualities I like and want more consistency in.
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 chose to focus on a few select traits when picking Nubians and Pygmies for my first generation lines. I went with heavy-boned, well-muscled animals (particularly in the Nubians) that displayed a lot of capacity and matured early. I paired that with nice udders and heavy production while avoiding extreme faults such as overly steep rumps, overly weak chines, etc. My first gen kids so far have been displaying the best of these traits, with few and mild weaknesses throughout. I intend to use them to influence better udders and higher milk production in my existing lines, while complementing my general style (heavy, efficient meat traits).
By Elizabeth Sweet and Ashley Kennedy
Hopefully your does all kid easily and without any intervention. If they need help, follow-up care will depend on circumstances and the recommendations of your veterinarian. For now, let’s assume that everything went great, and you only needed to help a little or not at all.
During labor and directly after kids are born, I give my does warm water with a little molasses in it, followed by fresh hay and grain. When I am sure that there are no more kids waiting to be born, I encourage my doe to get up and eat. This helps to keep her rumen functioning, avoids her having legs fall asleep from being in an awkward position for too long, and allows kids access to the udder. I make sure all kids are nursing and able to find the teat on their own. If they aren’t, I help them until they get the hang of it.
About an hour later, after I’m sure all the kids have nursed well, I milk the doe out almost completely to make sure she’s not uncomfortable and to encourage more milk production and shrinking of her uterus. If you don’t milk your doe out, she can end up with mastitis or a blown teat if her kids all decide to nurse from the same side.
The first few times I milk a first freshener, I just tie her to the wall and milk straight onto the ground or a towel. That way she can jump around without tipping over a bucket and freaking herself out. I just let her jump around and kick all she wants. I stay calm and quiet and don’t take my hands off her teats until she settles down.
I continue to milk out once or twice a day until the babies start eating more; then I milk out once a day.
If I am worried about a doe’s ability to produce enough milk for her kids, I will sometimes milk her out only once, shortly after freshening, and then monitor closely and milk only if needed. In these cases, I still put her on the milk stand every 12 or 24 hours and squirt a little milk out to make sure it’s not bloody or stringy. I also check to make sure neither side is staying more full or getting hard and that teats aren’t getting raw. It’s also a good way to make sure that new moms are getting enough grain.
I deworm does on day 2 or 3, disbud and vaccinate babies at 10–14 days, and start pulling babies at night and milking the dam in the morning at 2–3 weeks. I try to gradually keep babies separated from dams for longer and longer after pulling them at night so that they are completely weaned by 10 weeks and ready to go to new homes. I treat kids with Baycox® (Toltrazuril) because coccidia is such a problem around here. I check random fecals for other parasites, but only treat as needed.
By Sue Beck
If everything went well, and I don’t need to treat with antibiotics or address the need for further vet assistance, I too give warm molasses water and make sure they have access to whatever food they like. The does clean their babies completely. Babies stick around until the delivery process is good and done.
I milk the doe out completely when the kids are clean. I get my does used to being milked sooner than later. Nursing kids and being milked are completely different, so getting used to one process will not get them used to the other. And even if the kids are taking all of a doe’s milk, I would still suggest getting a doe on the stanchion and playing with her udder. First fresheners can have quite the learning curve when it comes to being milked. You’re better off starting sooner rather than later.
As soon as a doe kids, you don’t have to get her on the stand, start touching her udder while you assist the kids in nursing. Then afterwards continue to handle her, either milking once per day to relieve excess pressure, or just taking a few squirts to get her used to it. You may need to tie her or get her on the stanchion if she really fights it.
I bring the babies in the house, but it’s important they be out of sight and hearing of momma, otherwise it’s mean. Most of my does have never raised their own babies. I would imagine trying to start pulling kids from a doe that has raised her own every year would be quite upsetting. Because the majority of my herd are bottle babies I raised myself, the does actually don’t seem to care that much when the kids leave. They’re more worried about my leaving them. They would bond with their kids just fine, but they almost immediately transfer that bond to me. The few dam-raised does I have in my herd had a little more adjustment. But they, too, end up bonding with me more.
Back in the house, I get the kids to latch onto the nipple (some are easier to train than others) and try to get at least a couple ounces of colostrum into each one. I then go back to check on my doe, and I keep watch every couple hours to make sure she’s doing OK and passes her placenta normally.
After that things are pretty easy. I milk a minimum of twice daily, but often more frequently right after kidding to encourage milk production. I don’t always deworm after kidding, but I do as necessary. Kids are put onto a bottle-feeding schedule, introduced to hay pretty quickly, and eventually to grain when they’re several weeks old. I disbud at or after two weeks old, and deworm shortly before weaning, since many as leaving for new homes at that point.
By Ashley Kennedy
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
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.