Friday, May 27, 2011

Roundup time again

Grandson Rylan (on 4-wheeler) keeps the stragglers moving 
while his friend Will keeps the middle moving. 
It's been nearly two months since the goats have had any feed out of a bucket so the old "rattle the bucket" trick didn't work at roundup time this month. First they wouldn't follow and, of course, it's always hard to drive them. It was especially difficult because the sides of the county road we drive them down to the corrals is covered with fresh johnsongrass and other goodies. Everyone had to stop along the way for a quick snack.

Finally, using 4-wheelers and on foot, we managed to get the goats penned up.
We had gotten a late start, so we didn't begin working goats until 2 p.m. First we pulled all the kids out and put them into a pen. Then we FAMACHA'd all the does with only about 5% needing deworming. Not bad since the majority were still nursing kids at this point.

After going through the does, we sorted out the buck kids for weaning. None of the bucklings needed deworming! 

A few of the late-born doe kids were still on the small side and had rough hair coats. We gave them a dose of Valbazen for possible tape worms and a delousing.
We finished about 4:30 p.m. and turned the doe kids back with their moms and penned them in a small pasture next to the barn. Today we'll be trimming hooves on the does. I've only seen one limper this spring, but hooves have not been trimmed since last summer sometime. Some of the hooves are looking a little ugly and overgrown, so while we have this cool, cloudy weather, we'll take care of that job.

The corrals are located behind this building where
the Goat Rancher office is located. The office really
is located in the middle of a goat farm.

The goats are funneled through the back yard into the corrals.

Penned up and ready for sorting — finally.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Goats for sale

These are some of our "Nick" daughters. They aren't for sale,
but I do have a few of their bucks kids available.
I am fortunate to have several daughters out of Sunboy Stanton 149, better known as "Nick". Although these are keeper does, I do sell their offspring on occasion. This year I have four bucks available out of these does. I will have more details available later, but you can get a glimpse of them by clicking on the GOATS FOR SALE tab at the top right of my blog. I hope to update and list more goats for sale in the next week or so.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moving to new pasture

The goat herd runs into a new pasture filled with fresh grass.

Over the weekend I noticed the goats had made a good dent in their paddock. All the does and kids are running together now, so they can consume a good bit of forage in a day's time. Also, the pasture that has been sitting idle had grass so tall, it was starting to fall over and get ruined.

So Sunday afternoon I opened the gates so the goats could wonder into a new paddock. They found the open gates pretty quickly so there was a flood of goats into the new pasture. As usual, however, small groups of goats got left behind. I had to get a feed bucket yesterday and walk through the paddocks until I finally got all the goats, mommas and babies, etc., all in one group.

I didn't check this morning, but I hope they are still all together. 

There's a regular smorgasbord of grasses available.

This pasture has been idle for only about 30 days
but the grass is around a foot deep in most places.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sydell coming to West Monroe, La.

We use our Sydell working system several times each month.
Much of my goat equipment comes from Sydell. They advertised in the first Goat Rancher and have advertised consistently for the past 15 years. They have steadily worked with sheep and goat producers to develop new products or refine old standbys like working chutes and kidding pens. I love their feeders. They last forever.

My smartest purchase was our corral system. The older I get, the more labor-saving equipment I want. It may sound expensive at first, but once you use it and figure out the cost per year for the next 15-20 years, it seems like a bargain.

When I need new equipment, I always arrange it so that I can meet them at one of the National Boer goat shows where they will have their vendor booth. Sydell is located in South Dakota so if I can avoid paying shipping from there to Mississippi, I'll jump on that deal. What they do is take orders now and haul it with them to the show, where I can pick it up while I am there.

This year the American Boer Goat Association National Show will be in West Monroe, La., and Sydell will be there June 6-11. They leave South Dakota June 3, so contact them now (and no later than May 27) if you need something. They'll also meet you along the way if you live near their route from S.D. to Louisiana.

To place an order or get more information, call Kyle at 800-842-1369 or click on

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Utilizing data from buck tests

As I mentioned earlier, I don't use stats to determine which bucks go to a performance test. However, on the flip side, the data that I receive from the tests are critical to my future breeding plans. When picking bucks for a test, my first criteria is the sire of the bucklings. Then I pick out the biggest and best-structured bucklings to send to test. The goal of the test for me is to determine which herdsires I am using are producing the best kids -- as determined by average daily gain, overall health and parasite resistance.

If bucklings perform well, it gains them a seat as a potential future herdsire; it also helps me determine the future breeding plans for the sire. Last year at Oklahoma, several of my bucks finished near the bottom (remember at the time they were nominated for the test they were the best looking buck kids in the pasture!). These bucklings were out of a buck I had purchased that I thought would be a good outcross for my does. This test proved that would NOT be the case and the buck has since been disposed of, along with his male offspring. Surprisingly, many of the doe kids have performed well on-farm and are still under evaluation.

One of the bucks I selected for the Western Illinois University feed test was a totally different story. He was selected on looks but mainly on who his daddy was. I used an own son of TAY Onyx out of a "Nick" daughter. This buck's genetics worked. This sire is not that impressive to look at in the pasture. This is one of those cases where the pedigree did look better than the sire himself but the genetics proved themselves in the performance test.

His kid (100% New Zealand Kiko) finished #1 in average daily gain with an overall ADG of .71 pounds. At his 84-day weighing, he recorded an unheard of 1.35 adg. I, as well as one of the test organizers, questioned the accuracy of this reading because it was so high but the techs stood behind their scales and readings.

In the final rankings however, my buck dropped down to No. 5 when feed efficiency and the loin-eye measurements were calculated but I was pleased with my Kiko's performance. In fact, the top three bucks in average daily gain were Kikos in a large field of Boers. Other top Kikos came from my friends at Bear Creek Kikos and Adams Family Kikos, both in Illinois.

My top-gaining buck, ECR Dominic, was purchased at the 2010 Cream of the Crop Kiko Sale by Randy and Lolli Allen of Allen Farms in Dunlap, Tenn., near Chattanooga.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rain causes washout

The recent rains caused a cave-in along our perimeter fence. The washout left a hole several feet deep where goats could easily escape. It's not fancy but we used a couple T posts and some goat wire to build a V-shaped fence around the washout. I have several of these washouts along the creek on my western property line. Several years ago I had the soil conservation people come and do some work on a cost-share basis. It may be time to get them back out here again — if there is any EQIP money left in my county. If you are interested in seeking cost-share help for conservation efforts on your farm, visit your local Farm Service Agency office.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Buck-friendly mineral feeder

We have several bucks with wide horns and they can't get their heads inside our plastic Sydell mineral feeders. We installed these mineral feeders made of PVC pipe. 

Notice the long bolts we had to run through the pipe and through the post. That was the only way we could keep the bucks from knocking the feeders loose and destroying them.

Fox on the prowl

I was putting out mineral when I saw this fox in the next pasture. It seemed to be chasing bugs around in the grass (crickets or maybe frogs?). There were does and kids in  the pasture but they were several hundred feet away. The fox sat and watched the goats for a little while, but eventually wondered off in the opposite direction. There is no guard dog in this small pasture so that's probably why he was hanging out there.

Flood waters rising

Parking lot at Harrah's Casino in Tunica County, Miss.
Our farm is on the bluffs just above the Mississippi Delta and about 25 miles from the Mississippi River, so there is no danger of flooding here. But two miles due west it is a different story. Communities have been evacuated, fields are flooded and many roads are closed. The river is not at its highest yet. It's at 45 feet and is expected to crest at 48 feet on May 11, where it will remain for up to a week. Flood stage is 34 feet and may not be that low for nearly a month.

One of our biggest economic drivers around here are the nine casinos on the river. They have all been shut down due to the flood waters.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The value of performance testing bucks

I have been utilizing buck performance tests since 2004. There are several benefits to such tests:
  1. You can learn which genetics are working.
  2. You can learn which genetics are not working.
  3. If your genetics do well, it is a great marketing tool.
  4. It's fun if you are a competitive person. 
Organizers always stress it is not a contest — instead, it's educational and informative. But it's a contest, too, 'cause someone's got to win.

I plan to enter bucks in the same two performance tests as last year, a forage test in Oklahoma and a feed test in Illinois.

Each year, Kerr Center and OSU conduct the Oklahoma Forage-Based Buck TestNominations for the 2011 buck test are due June 24, 2011. Check-in: June 30, (Thursday) 1pm-5pm; warm-up: July 1- July 10; Test Period: July 11- Sept. 21; Field Day & Awards: Sept. 24. Contact Mary Penick at 918-647-9123 or e-mail

The Western Illinois University 2011 Midwest buck performance test will be held at the agricultural research facilities in Macomb, Ill., this summer. Buck delivery is set for Saturday morning,  July 16. The test comprises an adjustment period followed by four 21-day quarters for a total test duration of 90 days (ending October 14). For more information contact Paul Miller at
It costs around $100 a head to enter bucks in a test, plus the expense of transporting them.

So how do I select the bucks that will go on test? Some producers will tell you that they take birth weights, weaning weights, calculate average daily gain before and after weaning, triangulate with the dam's weight, etc., etc., and make their decisions based on the statistical evidentiary superiority of certain bucklings.

I don't do that. I go in the pasture and pick out the biggest buck kids out there. There are always a few that are a head higher than all the rest or twice as broad. It doesn't take calculus to figure out they are the superior animals. 

March-born ECR Rusty son.
I've had my sights on this kid from the day he was born. He has the most unique muscling on his rear leg for a purebred Kiko. He is a twin, running with his mother and sister on pasture and is still nursing. He and the buck pictured below are tentatively scheduled to go to the Oklahoma forage test.

March-born purebred Kiko buck out of
ECR Xtender, a son of CCR Xcelerator.
I plan to send several of my best 100% New Zealand Kikos to the WIU feed test. I haven't decided who's going yet so I don't have photos. The guys come off this test looking like a million dollars. Detractors will say that full feed and fat will cover up a lot of defects. I look at it the other way around: full feed can accelerate the good traits just as well. But just as on a bull test, don't take them straight out of the feed lot and throw them out in the pasture. Of course they will suffer. Ease them off the full-feed diet and slowly acclimate them back to the pasture. If you manage him right, the early growth on a feed test will give him a head start that can last a lifetime.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What makes a good doe?

Clue No. 1: A good, tight udder with lots of milk.
I just had to share this photo I took over the weekend. It's such a simple photo yet says so much. 

To me, milk in the udder is like money in the bank. This doe is raising twins on pasture with no supplement. So far this spring she has needed no deworming and no medication. Neither have her kids. She's out there making money for me while I sit here and play on the computer. What more could a producer want out of a commercial meat doe

Monday, May 2, 2011

Grass growing too fast?

The grass is getting deep in the area where
the goats wintered. This pasture has been idle for
just a few weeks and already is ready for grazing.
Pasture rotation plays a major role in our parasite control program. We try to keep goats off of a pasture as long as possible to break the life cycle of the haemonchus contortus, or barberpole worm, our worst parasite when it comes to raising goats.

On poor pasture or browse, I like to keep the goats off a pasture for at least 60 days. This year, however, with all the rain we have received, the grass is growing incredibly fast and will be well past its tenderest and most nutritional stage long before the parasite problem is solved.

The pasture pictured above has had the goats off for just over two weeks and look how the grass has grown -- nearly a foot deep in some places. It would be ideal to have a herd of cows to come in and eat down the grass while it is so lush. But I don't have any cows at the moment.

The pasture where the goats are now grazing is also lush with white clover and ryegrass. They are getting fast and making milk like crazy. Even the 2-month-old kids spend a lot of the day grazing. So, for now, they are staying where they're at.

The grass may not be the best when the goats finally rotate back around to this pasture, but there will be plenty of it left standing. And hopefully the worm population will be reduced.

I placed my Goat Rancher cap on the ground
to try and give an idea of how deep the grass is.

Time to work goats again

I was able to round up and pen up all the does and kids Friday evening so we could start going through them on Saturday morning. It was time for the kids' CD&T and pneumonia boosters. I also wanted to FAMACHA the dams. Some were borderline when we checked two weeks ago and nursing kids often pull down a doe's parasite resistance. During times of stress like lactating or extreme heat, it is a good idea to FAMACHA the herd every two weeks. 
Squeezing the goats into a small working area
is easier on the producer and on the goats.
Checking the eyelids of 100 or more goats every two to four weeks may sound like a lot of work, but it's pretty simple if you have the right working system. As I have mentioned before, we use a Sydell tub and working chute. We can squeeze 10-12 goats at a time in the chute, check their eyelids, treat them if needed and run them through. Then run in another group.

I have had producers tell, "Oh, that's too much trouble. I just worm the whole herd every month or two." That's the worst thing you can do. We deworm only those that need it. Some months, only one or two goats may need deworming. On Saturday, with a lot of lactating does plus the recent weather stress, we had to deworm more does than usual -- about 30 percent. 
I use this 30-ml Allflex syringe to administer
the injectable Cydectin at the rate of 2ml per 100 lbs.

There were a few half-Kiko yearlings that had good FAMACHA scores but still had rough coats. I gave them a dose of Valbazen in case they has tapeworms. We also treated everyone with pour-on delicer -- for lice and ticks. I normally use Synergized De-Lice, but my local feed store (Tri County Farm Services in Como, Miss. 662-526-9100) had only Synergizer Permethrin 1% made by Durvet, which seems to be the same thing.
We buy the gallon size of pour-on delicer and pour it into an empty dishwashing detergent
bottle. Apply down the head and back at the rate of 15 ml per 100 pounds. 
On the kids we use 5% Sevin dust instead of the pour-on delicer to control external parasites. We punch holes in the lid of an old peanut butter jar to make a handy duster.

The kids are two months old now and are starting to look good. We sorted them from the dams before we began working. We put the kids into a small catch pen where it is easy to catch them. There is no need to waste a lot of your time and energy chasing babies around a goat lot. Squeeze them up, grab them and give them their shots.
Kids in a small pen can easily be cornered and captured.
I like the 2 ml multi-shot syringes like the two
pictured here. They administer the exact vaccination
dosage. With a 100 ml bottle attached, you can treat 50
kids before reloading. I use the Excel 20-gauge, 3/4-inch needles.
The top syringe holds 30 ml and is used for Cydectin injections.
Use a magic marker to label the bottles
before you begin so you can keep your
shots straight. If you are taking the bottles
from the refrigerator, write on them quickly
before they start sweating; the ink won't stick then.

After their vaccinations and a good dusting for
lice, the kids are turned into a shaded "play area" until
their moms are finished with their business.