Select a herd sire with the utmost care and attention
With all the new producers getting into the meat goat industry there are many questions being asked as to what breed of goats they should consider buying. There are many breeds and it really falls back on the producer to select what fits their individual taste in size, temperament, type, color, horned, polled, etc. A person would also be wise to investigate the local markets to see what sells for a premium in their area as this varies greatly across the U.S. due mainly to local ethnic influences.
Once a person has decided which type and breed of goat fits their individual needs as determined by independent research, then comes the time to purchase or trade for animals. At this time, if the potential producer is inexperienced in livestock, they would do well to enlist the aid of a knowledgeable "goat person" to aid them in selection. Be sure to let them know exactly what you want. Should you be able to find these exact animals, be prepared to pay a fair to premium price to fill your pens with your special goats.
Now that we've addressed some preliminary considerations to getting into goats, I'll get into the main purpose of this article. This is to admonish the newcomer to select their herd sire with the utmost care and attention. The reason for this is the fact that no other goat that you purchase will have as great an influence on your future in the industry as will the buck you purchase to service your does.
The producer knows what breed they want by now and so we go into selection. A very good suggestion at this time would be for the buyer to attend some breeding goat shows (if possible) which are being held for the specific breed that they are interested in. This is important because some of the finest representatives of any breed will always be present at theses events. Also this can give a person an idea as to what direction and phenotype (visual appearance) to breed towards should they be interested in the show segment of the meat goat, dairy goat, or fiber goat industry. Also at these shows they should have the opportunity to meet persons who are currently engaged in breeding the specific animals they are interested in. Industry publications are also an excellent source for names, addresses, and phone numbers of individual producers. After awhile the newcomer will begin to recognize names of some of the premier producers for the breed that they are interested in.
Now we contact the breeder whose animals best represent what we are looking for. Most of them will be happy to tell you what they have for sale, and the approximate prices for their animals. Having now gotten this far it is now time to make an appointment with the owner to view them. Please do this as far in advance as possible as most breeders are extremely busy people and will need some time to make sure their goats are available for viewing. You can't just drive up unannounced at many places and expect them to drop what they have going at that time; some may, but many won't.
Through your research you had already narrowed down your selections, but please remember not to be pressured into buying an animal not up to your standards. If you don't see what you want, thank them for their time and extend your search. No conscientious breeder will take offense if you are polite and explain your position. I wish to again remind you of your position; you are searching for the most important component of your future breeding program.
When you discover an animal you're interested in, attempt to find out all you can about him. Such as his birth rank; was he a single, twin, or triplet, or possibly a quadruplet. What was his birth weight? What was the animals average daily gain, weaning weight, and if an older animal, mature weight? If his sire and dam are on the premises ask to see them. If he is an older buck check to see if there are any of his offspring where you can see them.
While this article doesn't cover every aspect , I hope that it sheds some light on the buck selection process for our novice goat producer.
Mr. Shurley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in Meat Goat News, a RRL Publication, in the March 1999 issue.
Reprinted with permission of the author.