Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Breeding season in full swing on Egypt Creek

We began some limited breeding in August but this week we gathered up the main herds, sorted out the does and put them with bucks.

BHF's 3rd 'G' Traveler. He doesn't win any beauty contests,
but his offspring sure could — both boys and girls.

SRK Percival (TAY Onyx and ECR Rusty genetics).
Percival and these does are part of the Rittenhouse Kikos herd.

ECR Pharaoh
(ECR Rusty son with Onyx and Nick genetics on the bottom).

ECR Rusty's Rambo (Rusty x ECR Hanky Panky-Nick daughter).

ECR Spartacus (3rd G Traveler x BBM Vicky-Nick daughter)

ECR Xcalibur (double-bred Xcelerator) with our
high-percentage Kiko commercial does.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Multi-tasking on Saturday morning

This is the fourth and final pen of does we worked this weekend.
Over the past 2 days we have gone through every doe and buck on the ranch checking for parasites or any other problems. We also pulled out all the goats that we are consigning to the Cream of the Crop Kiko Production Sale next Saturday, Oct. 6, in Corydon, Ind. (For more information on the sale and the ECR consignments, click on the link at the top right of this page.)

Although it has been dry this summer, the goats have thrived. The adult does have regained body condition, and the February and March doelings look like yearlings almost. Out of the pen full of goats pictured above, only one needed deworming. 

We pulled these does out of the pasture; they are
consigned to the Cream of the Crop Sale.

Rudee Lee gets her nails done by Roland McAvoy
before she heads for her sale debut in Corydon, Ind.,
next weekend.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ECR Rusty's Rambo meets the women

ECR Rusty's Rambo (ECR Rusty x ECR Hanky Panky)
in with a group of does.
I got up early this morning and was able to catch Rambo before he and the other bucks took off for the pine forest for the day. He didn't like being dragged through the yard and to the next pasture, but as soon as he saw who was waiting for him, all four brakes unlocked! I put him into a pasture of about 20 head that I plan to sell bred. They are all nice does, so if they don't sell and I keep them, they'll be bred to one of the best bucks on the farm. There's still not a lot of activity here -- just too hot. But a cool front is headed this way, so a small change in the weather may spur some action. 

For pricing on these does, see the Goats for Sale-Does link 
in the top right corner of this page.
Rambo likes the look of this commercial Kiko doe.

Sorting and deciding who to sell

The goats pass a neighbor's home on Hankins Road on their way
to the barn. It's a quarter-mile from their pasture to the catch pens.
For several days this week I have gone through every pasture and looked at every goat, male and female, making that annual decision on who will stay and who will be sold. In an ideal world, I'd keep them all and just keep growing the herd. But in reality, there are feed bills and land notes coming due this winter and the goats are responsible for covering a lot of those expenses. So some goats have to be sold.

Some selections are easy, like in a goat show. The very best and the very worst are easy to spot. The worst — the ones with rough coats, the skinny ones, those that didn't raise kids this year — can go to the local sale barn (or in the freezer as ground goat meat). The very best stay here. At least most of them.

Some of the good ones go to the Cream of the Crop Sale, which Egypt Creek Ranch and Goat Hill Kikos have hosted since 2008. These is where the decisions get tougher. If they're good enough for the production sale, they're also good enough to keep. Sometimes it gets down to "one for me, one for the sale ..."

This year I will be taking 21 does and 3 bucks. I made my final decisions yesterday and hope to begin updating my For Sale pages soon. I have a good number of really nice Kiko percentage does that I have raised and purchased. I plan to offer some of these for sale off the farm also. 

I was extremely pleased with how well the does and doelings were looking. Everyone was healthy and meaty. The hot weather seems to have agreed with them. We are about 15 inches behind in rainfall, and in this area, that's a lot. The pastures are crispy on the hilltops and hillsides. I was surprised to find quite a bit of bermudagrass in the bottoms. The goats don't love it, but they eat it when there's nothing else. Also, with the drought, I've noticed a lot of leaves falling off the trees; that has helped the forage situation a good bit. 

The does in the bottom photo have been with their moms all year and have never had any supplementation. I'm putting four of those and four of the red doelings in the Cream of the Crop Sale. All of these doelings are on pasture. The ones I purchased from the Russells are on light supplementation because they were pulled off their moms and moved to a new environment. That "change of address syndrome" can be tough on kids so I try to keep their nutrition level up. 

Yesterday, however, most of the 35 doelings that I am supplementing didn't show up at feeding time. I jumped in the truck and found them around a drainage ditch enjoying some fresh grass. It was after 6 p.m. and they were content to continue their grazing. I blew my horn and headed them toward the barn. I knew that once it got dark, they would just bed down right there. There is no guard dog in the pasture, so I wanted them closer to the barn at bedtime. 

These are some of the percentage Kiko doelings that I
purchased from Lynn and Ware Russell of Camden, Ark. 
These ECR doelings have been with their moms on pasture since
they were born in February-March.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bucks delivered to Oklahoma forage test

After the incoming bucks were processed, they were put into a

holding pen before being moved into their grazing paddocks. 
Each buck was examined as it was unloaded. Each received 

CD&T vaccination, deworming, fecal test
and FAMACHA score.
On June 21 I delivered six bucks to the Kerr Center in Poteau, Okla., for the 2012 Oklahoma forage test.  There were a total of 57 bucks from 14 breeders in seven states consigned. States represented include  Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. Breeds included Boer, Kiko, Savanna and crosses.

The bucks will get a warm-up period until July 1 to get acclimated to the climate and the forage. The test period will be July 2-Sept. 19. The field day and awards ceremony will be Saturday, Sept. 22.

For more details on the test, visit

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kiko does that made an impact at ECR

Sunkist 113 in 2001 with her set of quads out of Goldmine II.

We talk a lot about our bucks but Egypt Creek Ranch has been fortunate enough to have some great foundation does. We started with Gloria's mother, Sunkist 113. She was a Moneymaker daughter and our first 100% New Zealand doe. The next New Zealand does we purchased were two Klondike daughters: JTV Queen and JTV Nina (Rusty's mom). We purchased these three does in 1999 and their genetics are still a big part of our breeding program today.

ECR Gloria and ECR Abigail (Sport Kat daughter)
(Both of these does are deceased)

JTV Queen, mother of ECR M4, Nicki and Hanky Panky. She's pictured here

pregnant at 8 years old. She died later after giving birth to twins.

Super Star Lineup (clockwise from far right): BBM Vicky T728,
ECR Hanky Panky, ECR Princess Nicki, BBM Vanna T718 and
BBM Nick's Gloria W952. Hanky Panky died from childbirth
complications in 2011, shortly after Maximus was born. 
When our friends Bill & Brenda Moore of BBM Kikos dispersed their herd several years ago, we brought our partnership does home to Mississippi. They include the BBM does listed here, plus Vanna's sister BBM Nicky, who had to be put down after a dog attack. This year Nick's Gloria (probably the youngest Nick x Gloria daughter alive) had twin does; Vicky had twin boys who are full brothers to our replacement buck Spartacus; and Vanna had a single doeling. 
Vanna (left) and Vicky. Both are Nick daughters. Vanna's mom is
TAY W26 and Vicky's mom is TAY W27. 
This year's crop of Nick granddaughters.

Egypt Creek bucks look good at recent photo shoot

I guess folks are starting to think about the fall breeding season already because I have gotten several calls about the bucks I have listed on my For Sale page on this blog. I've had Maximus and Saxon listed there for months with few calls, so I haven't bothered to update the photos. The ones I have there were taken last winter. Earlier this spring, no one looked too good with rough coats and thin bodies. I wasn't excited about taking any pictures then.

I had to confess to one caller Friday morning that I had not even seen my bucks in at least two weeks. I promised that I would try to get updated photos and post them. In the back of my mind I was hoping they were still alive — and healthy.

I was pleasantly surprised when I drove the mile down the blacktop road to their pasture and found them grazing and lounging near the road. I was even more surprised and impressed at how much weight they had put on in the last month. Everyone was slick and you could see the muscle tone as they walked by. These guys have had no supplementation since around February and no deworming in recent memory.

I also manage the Rittenhouse Kikos herd and have their bucks in with mine, so I have those bucks' photos posted here, too.

I managed to get good photos of everyone but "G" and "HP". They are definitely camera-shy. I took their photos anyway but I will try to do better next time. 

ECR Maximus — BHF's 3rd G Traveler x ECR Hanky Panky

SRK Iron Knight — BBM Hanky Panky's Y266 x GHK Iron Maiden
(Owned by Rittenhouse Kikos; Iron Maiden is an Ironhorse daughter)

BHF's 3rd G Traveler (We call him "G")

ECR Spartacus — "G" x BBM Vicky T728

Spartacus and Maximus — Their mothers are both Nick daughters.

ECR Ghost -- BHF Onyx's Shadow x ECR Abigail
(Abigail is Sports Kat x ECR Gloria)

ECR Saxon -- "G" x ECR Princess Nicki.
(Nicki is Nick x JTV Queen; she's a full sister to ECR Hanky Panky)

ECR Rusty's Rambo -- ECR Rusty x ECR Hanky Panky

BBM Hanky Panky's Y266 — TAY Onyx x ECR Hanky Panky
(Owned by Rittenhouse Kikos)

What to do with buckling crop -- Part 2

From my last post:

Let's assume the bucks that are destined for the slaughter house and not the breeding pen now average 45 pounds. I plan to market the bucks no earlier than November so they will be here another 6 months. If I let them forage all summer, if we get an occasional rain and if pasture nutrition remains moderate, I might see a .2 pound per day gain per head. Over the next 180 days the typical buck should gain 36 pounds for a total weight of 81 pounds — a good market weight. However, with some supplementation — .7 pounds a day of 16% feed — I might boost that to .3 pounds ADG for a total of 54 pounds of gain, or 99 pounds total weight, which may be too heavy and garner a discount from the slaughter buyers. I'll do some more ciphering and get back with you...

OK, here's what I came up with. I'm assuming a feed conversion rate of 6:1. In other words, it will take 6 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of weight gain. Feeding .7 lbs. a day per head will require 126 pounds of feed per head over the next 180 days. At 23.7¢ per pound for Purina's Noble Goat 16% feed, that adds up to $29.86 per goat for feed. If all my predictions are accurate (HA!HA!) and the bucks gain an extra 18 pounds each, at $2.50 a pound at the sale barn, I will earn an extra $36 a head. $36 extra profit minus $29.86 extra feed cost = $6.14 per head extra profit. If I get discounted and the goats only bring $2.00, I'll be in the hole if you consider any kinds of labors costs.

Bottom line: Feed them a little to keep them coming around the catch pen. Otherwise, let them be goats and make it on pasture. Regardless of what they weigh and what they bring at sale time, if you have no inputs, you're still ahead of the game.

With the high price of replacement does these days, commercial as well as registered stock breeders can produce cash flow by selling quality doelings. Most years I make what I need to run the farm by selling replacement does. Whatever I get for the slaughter goats and cull/old nannies in the winter is just gravy and comes just in time to pay the winter feed bills.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Decision time nears on what to do with buckling crop

Part of the Kiko buckling crop.
By lining the goats up like this I can make side-by-side comparisons
of body width and length as well as overall size in comparison to their cohorts.

Nomination time is nearing for the two buck performance tests in which I plan to participate this year. Kerr Center in Oklahoma needs to know by June 15 which bucks I am sending there, with delivery on June 21; I'm not sure if Western Illinois University has a nomination deadline but they must be delivered to the campus farm on June 30.

The bucks are currently on medium quality pasture and are being lightly supplemented with approximately .5 lbs. of 16% medicated pellets per day. I have not done weights to calculate average daily gain with this group; I have used the unscientific method of eyeballing the bucks on a regular basis. As I have said for years, the biggest kids in the pasture are the best gainers, whether they were born triplets or singles. This eyeball analysis won't work when evaluating the mother's production performance, but it is a method that has worked for me when selecting bucks for test.

This year, however, I have multiple decisions I must make regarding the bucks. I have to decide who goes to the forage test in Oklahoma, who goes to the full-feed test in Illinois and who I will keep at home to sell this summer. Then there are the categories of culls and keepers — these are usually easy to pick. 

At least 50% of the buck crop goes into the cull category in the first 6 months. You can watch them in the pasture, view them as they stand beside others in their contemporary group and instantly see who is not performing as they should. (You can look at the photo of the bucks at the trough and easily pick out at least 3 culls.)

And what to do with those culls? Well, these days they're worth a lot of money as slaughter goats if grown out and finished with a little extra feed. I and others have discussed this at length, and if meat goats are bringing $2.00-$2.50 a pound, a producer can afford to supplement. I tried putting a pencil to it this morning to see how much supplementation and for how long would be feasible. The big unknown factor is pasture quality. Winter grasses are drying up and summer grasses are medium quality at best since I refuse to fertilize (spending money on feed versus fertilizer is a tough call). For now I choose to spend on feed. But calculating anticipated average daily gain (with and without supplementation) for the next 6 months is — as Dr. Frank Pinkerton says — a wild ass guess.

Let's assume the bucks that are destined for the slaughter house and not the breeding pen now average 45 pounds. I plan to market the bucks no earlier than November so they will be here another 6 months. If I let them forage all summer, if we get an occasional rain and if pasture nutrition remains moderate, I might see a .2 pound per day gain per head. Over the next 180 days the typical buck should gain 36 pounds for a total weight of 81 pounds — a good market weight. 

However, with some supplementation — .7 pounds a day of 16% feed — I might boost that to .3 pounds ADG for a total of 54 pounds of gain, or 99 pounds total weight, which may be too heavy and garner a discount from the slaughter buyers. I'll do some more ciphering and get back with you...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Goats benefit from a little drought

This map shows drought conditions across the U.S. on May 22, 2012.
Conditions range from Abnormaly Dry (yellow) to 
Exceptional Drought (dark brown).
I just knew when I checked the U.S. Drought Monitor this morning that northwest Mississippi would be under a dark brown Exceptional Drought alert. I was surprised, however, that we are just Abnormally Dry. Our area is 12 inches behind in rainfall this year and my pastures are beginning to show it. Fortunately we had plenty of spring moisture and early warm weather, so our pastures were knee deep in grass by the end of March. With only about 100 head of goats on 175 acres, they have made only a slight dent in the forage.

The forage that is out there has a low moisture content, which makes for better grazing. As the grasses dry, the nutrient content condenses; in a normal year, our grass is probably 90 percent water. It's a lot harder for the goats to get the nutrition they need from such high-moisture grasses.

There was an article in this month's Stockman Grass Farmer about the benefit of feeding good hay to cattle while they are grazing on high-moisture pastures. It helps with nutrition and digestion. The same thing probably holds true for goats. Right now, however, I literally have "standing hay" in some areas. I guess it is good for the goats because they sure look good right now.

The dry weather also has helped with the fly problems. A month ago I had to keep fly traps out and spray occasionally around the lounging areas to control the flies. For the past week I have noticed that the flies are not nearly as bad. All the mud holes have dried up too, so that has helped with the mosquitoes.

When raising goats, some dry weather is beneficial. I just hope Mother Nature doesn't go to any extremes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coyotes take bite out of weaning ratio

These are some of the buck kids we weaned over the weekend. They are
10 weeks old and have had no supplementation — except plenty of
momma's milk. Unfortunately, coyotes took a lot of this kid crop.
Kidding season started out great at the last of February — lots of the commercial does having twins, all the moms were healthy and had plenty of milk. With just a few does having singles, I was shooting for a 175% kid crop. Then my big female dog had puppies, not in the pasture where the does and kids were, but under the barn near the Goat Rancher office. And that's where she stayed. That left one dog in the pasture to guard the goats.

It's my own fault that I let myself get down to two grown guardians. I've had as many as six Great Pyrenees guarding the various pastures. But as I let the goat herd get smaller, I also let my herd of dogs shrink. The number of goats may have been smaller, but the acreage they were roaming has grown, so I should have known a couple of dogs couldn't patrol 175 acres cut into numerous pastures.

By the time we weaned the little boys last weekend, the weaning average had dropped to 80%. In other words, coyotes had taken nearly half the kid crop. That also included at least three New Zealand Kiko bucklings and one NZ doeling. Conservatively, that was a $2,000 predation loss. Including a number of commercial kids adds another couple thousand dollars. In hindsight, I could have purchased and fed several more guardian dogs for what I lost in goats this year. I can promise these losses won't happen again.

I have my two grown dogs, one pup from last year, a male and female I recently purchased and four new puppies. That gives me a total of nine guardians. That should be enough!
Our young female Great Pyrenees had four nice
puppies. Bad thing is she had them during kidding

Another leisurely roundup

Munching on berry vines.
It's a good thing that I have some hardy goats, otherwise I'd be in trouble (or out of the goat business).  A busy spring has kept me on the road and in the office more than usual. That means less time in the pasture taking care of the goats. My little commercial herd had not been rounded up in about 6 weeks. The 2 1/2-month-old kids had never been eartagged or had any vaccinations. Click here to read more about our vaccination regimen.
Last Saturday the herd happened to be near a gate by the driveway so I opened it up and let them drift out. The roadside had grown up this spring with dewberry vines, weeds, johnson grass and saplings. The goats enjoyed all of it. 
I was pleased with the overall condition of the goats — mommas and babies. The does have had no supplement. With plenty of grass and weeds in the pasture, the does are in great body condition and the kids are all healthy.
The does and kids ease down the road toward the barn.

10-week-old kids enjoy sweetgum leaves.

The goats arrive in the yard adjoining the barn. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Downed tree brings bounty from above

We were in the office working yesterday morning when we heard this loud crash outside. At the same time, I heard the guard dog puppies squeal. A big sugar berry tree had blown over just down hill from the Goat Rancher office (which is located in the old farm house here on the ranch). The tree didn't hit anything; the puppies had just been startled and were hiding underneath the barn.

It wasn't until late yesterday afternoon when the goats began coming in from the pasture that they found the feast of leaves waiting for them. Everyone gorged themselves. I was afraid someone might get sick, but this morning there seem to be no ill effects. Just lots of happy goats who didn't bother to go out to graze. They're hanging out around the tree grabbing a leafy snack whenever they get the urge.
After feasting on the tree yesterday afternoon and this morning,
the goats have decided to just camp out here for awhile.

A ditch had washed out around the base of the tree loosening
the roots. The strong winds yesterday gave it a final push.

See the black & white doe in the tree? You can tell where the 
goats cleaned the leaves as high as they could reach from the
ground. Now they are starting to work their way up the branches.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Creating 'Kiko Composites'

We call this guy Peg Leg because of his red left front leg.
This young buck was sired by a 100% New Zealand buck but, as you can tell by his coloring, his dam had some Boer influence. He could be described as a Kiko-Boer cross of unknown percentage, but I prefer to call him a Kiko Composite. It sounds intriguing, experimental and even secretive....

If all goes well, he and several other Kiko Composites, along with some Kiko fullbloods, will be going to the Kerr Center Oklahoma buck forage test this summer. The buck pictured above was born on pasture and he and his mom are thriving on fresh grass. If he proves to be parasite resistant and can gain weight quickly on forage, I'll know that the secret formula from which he was created has potential for  producing a profitable terminal animal.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our barn isn't fancy, but it's functional

This 48-ft.-wide shed has been patched many times over the years.
When I talk about our "barn", I use the term loosely. It's actually a shed — an old hay shed that my dad built in the 1960s to use for hay storage on our farm, which was a cattle operation before the goats came along. Over the years most of the roof has been replaced, a few partitions have been installed and I've added a few kidding pen gates. It's relatively dry (yes, there are still a few leaks) and some of the wood is rotten, but it faces south so it offers reasonable shelter when it gets cold and wet. It's not large enough to house the entire herd, but it works well when we're sorting or doctoring on goats. 
Catch pens and the working system are located in front of the shed.

Out "barn" isn't fancy but it does offer a dry place out of the wind.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

CCR Xcelerator — a legend — dead at 13

It was a sad day on Egypt Creek Ranch yesterday. We found Xcelerator dead in his pasture. It looks like he just fell over. The old boy had lived a good life and leaves a lasting legacy in the Kiko world.

CCR Xcelerator was born at Caston Creek Ranch near Poteau, Okla., on February 24, 1999. He was a son of Moneymaker. His mother was a Goats Unlimited doe, a daughter of 14/89, one of the first Kiko bucks brought into the United States by Dr. An Peischel.

I purchased Xcelerator in November 1999 from Steve and Sylvia Tomlinson while visiting their Caston Creek Ranch. I had gone there to purchase does, but this chunky little buck caught my attention, so I brought him home, too. In the early days of the Kiko industry, there was no distinction between purebreds and 100 percent New Zealands. They were all the same to most of us early breeders. So we just bred best to best, which resulted in Xcelerator (97%) being bred to many 100% does.

Not only was Xcelerator quick growing and muscular, he passed these traits to his offspring. One cross with a Goldmine II daughter produced the winner of the 2007 Oklahoma Buck Forage Test, ECR Meat Eater.  An Xcelerator son was the top-gaining Kiko at the 2004 Langston buck test and a grandson was the No. 1 gaining buck at the 2009 Maryland buck test.

Others liked his genetics, too, and proved it by consistently paying top dollar for his sons. ECR Ivanhoe was the high-selling purebred buck at the 2007 ECR production sale and ECR Sinbad was the high-selling purebred buck in the 2008 sale. 

In addition to his production traits, Xcelerator was "pretty" with his long curling horns and bright, white sleek coat in summertime. His photo has been used in books and magazines to illustrate the Kiko breed. Of course he is incorporated into our ranch logo and his likeness appears on Kiko-related apparel.

Xcelerator retired from active duty when he was 8-years-old. He spent his remaining years in his own private pasture and shed and enjoyed 3 pounds of expensive senior horse feed each day. He died fat, happy and contented.

Xcelerator's likeness embroidered on
a denim shirt.

Xcelerator's head is part of the

Egypt Creek Ranch logo.
Xcelerator with one of his best sons, ECR Ivanhoe.
ECR Meat Eater, the Xcelerator son that won
the 2007 Oklahoma Buck Forage test.
Even his daughters were big and muscular.
An Xcelerator grandson, ECR Xcaliber, busy at work
on Egypt Creek Ranch in the Fall of 2011. We have
Xcelerator great-grandkids on the ground now.