By Terry Hankins
I purchased my first goats (Nubians) in 1985 to clear blackberries bushes off a small farm in north Alabama but it wasn’t until a decade later that I took a real interest in these animals. Meat goats first caught my interest when I was an agribusiness columnist for the daily newspaper in Jackson, Miss. An article that I wrote in 1995 on a new meat goat co-op created an unusual amount of interest. I figured there might be something to this new meat goat industry.
One thing led to another and I left the newspaper business and became a magazine publisher/goat rancher, a job I’ve enjoyed since 1996. Like many folks I jumped on the Boer bandwagon early on. But it took me only one kidding season to realize I had to do something drastically different.
In the summer of 1996 at the American Boer Goat Association National Show in Tyler, Texas, I met Jacques Valley of Athens, Texas, who had a display set up promoting his Kiko goats.
Jacques and his wife, Therese, were among the first serious producers and promoters of this New Zealand import. Later I also met Steve and Sylvia Tomlinson of Caston Creek Ranch in Oklahoma; Frank and Mary Dyson of Sunset Place Kikos in Robinson, Texas; and Dr. An Peischel of Goats Unlimited, which was located in northern California at the time.
The more that I talked to these producers, the more interested I became in Kikos, especially after I lost 24 Boer percentage kids and 10 does to parasites in one spring. So I began seeking more information on this new wonder goat.
In July 1997, I visited Frank and Mary Dyson at their farm just outside of Waco, home of the famous bucks Money Maker and Generator. My cousin, Joe Luther, and I went together and bought our first 100% New Zealand Kiko buck from the Dysons, a 1-year-old son of Moneymaker, for $1,000. We turned our new buck, Sunboy 111 (nicknamed King Tut) in with a herd of black Spanish nannies. We didn't see much action during breeding season, but come the spring of 1998, we had little white kids running everywhere.
Joe and I didn't know what to expect. We went to the pasture with our towels and Nutri-Drench, items we had needed the year before when small, weak half-Boer kids started dropping out of two dozen Nubian mothers. This year was different. We couldn't catch the kids to give them the Nutri-Drench, so we finally decided they didn't really need it. We didn't find any weak, wet kids, so we just sat back and enjoyed watching the healthy Kiko kids play.
Those first kids grew up with a bare minimum of attention, medication, deworming or feed. We didn't lose a single kid that spring. They grazed all summer and we put out rolls of hay in the winter. There was no such thing as a sack of goat feed in Mississippi at that time, so we put out a few molasses tubs and range cubes made for cattle.
Although I was still raising Boer goats, it was becoming apparent that with my work and travel schedule, Kikos were going to fit better in my ranching situation. So I started taking steps to increase my Kiko herd and moving from an unregistered meat goat operation to a registered breeding stock enterprise. I went to the friends I had made in the Kiko business to purchase my foundation animals. From Jacques & Teri I added two 100% New Zealand Klondike daughters (JTV Queen and JTV Nina). From the Tomlinsons at Caston Creek I purchased three New Zealand does: a Money Maker daughter (Sunkist 113, a flushmate of King Tut), her doe kid out of JTV Hercules (CCR Anastasia), and a Goatex Generator daughter (CCR Sara 812).
For my purebred herd (94-99%), I purchased a purebred Money Maker son (CCR Xcelerator) from the Tomlinsons, three does from Dr. An and two from Jo Ann and Brinson Taylor of Valdosta, Ga.
These ten purebred and New Zealand Kiko does were so long-lived and prolific that every buck and doe on my farm for the next decade descended from them. One of the Klondike daughters, JTV Queen, had a set of twins on her 9th birthday. Xcelerator lived to be 11. Rusty is 13 and enjoying his retirement.
In 1999 we purchased AAS Goldmine II. We added Southwest Cisco in 2001.
The crossing of these genetics - Money Maker, Klondike, Goldmine and Southwest Cisco - gave us the foundation on which we are still building today. Money Maker gave us the meatiness, Klondike the frame, Goldmine the width and depth and Southwest Cisco the extreme hardiness and parasite tolerance.
Some of our best-known offspring came from these genetics, including:
* ECR Rusty (Southwest Cisco x JTV Nina)
* ECR M2 (Goldmine II x CCR Sara 812)
* ECR M4 (Goldmine II x JTV Queen)
* ECR Gloria (Goldmine II x Sunkist 113)
* ECR Black Gold (quadruplet brother of Gloria)
* ECR Samurai Jack (Southwest Cisco x Sunkist 113)
Within the last 10 years, we have sought to bring in more outside bucks to cross with our foundation does. In 2005 we invited Bill and Brenda Moore of BBM Kikos to bring their Money Maker son, Sunboy Stanton 149, better known as "Nick", to our embryo flush to cross with JTV Queen and ECR Gloria. These matings produced numerous "keepers", including Queen's ECR Hanky Panky.
The "Nick" x Gloria kids turned out to be some of the best Kikos we had ever produced. Kids from this mating were featured in our first production sale, held in Bowling Green, Ky., in August 2006. The nine highest-selling Kikos in the sale all were flushmates out of the Nick x Gloria mating. Kids and grandkids from this pairing are found on many prominent Kiko ranches and have performed well in several buck performance tests.
In 2007 we again went to Bill and Brenda Moore to borrow another buck, SKY S408 Sports Kat, an extremely meaty Kiko buck. In 2008, out of the doelings I chose as additions to my own herd, 75 percent of them were Sports Kat daughters.
In 2008 our breeding program took a totally unexpected turn. Chris Luton of Boulder Hill Farm in Stendal, Ind., announced he was dispersing his herd because of health reasons. Chris had bought out Jacques and Teri Valley when they retired and had spent eight years developing his own herd. Chris had a reputation for producing big, framy bucks that were popular throughout the Midwest. I acquired six bucks that represented different bloodlines he had been developing. In one purchase, Egypt Creek Ranch had acquired some of the best bucks in the country that also were outcrosses to most of my does.
In 2009 when Bill and Brenda Moore announced their retirement from the goat business, I moved our remaining partnership does from Georgia to Mississippi. I still maintain the BBM herd and prefix here at Egypt Creek.
As Egypt Creek Ranch begins its 20th year in the Kiko business, we hold true to the values we developed two decades ago: invest in good stock, raise Kikos that others are proud to own, keep overhead costs to a minimum and above all else let your goats be goats.