Culling – the ‘sooner or later’ of showing goats
Sooner or later, one of the less talked about aspects of goat husbandry will rear its ugly head – the need to reduce your numbers by culling animals. Whatever prompts the decision, it is never easy to let your babies go. While often sales are prompted by the desire to improve your herd genetics or increase your production numbers, unless you have unlimited resources eventually you will be forced to part with animals you would otherwise retain. Having recently come through a major herd reduction at our farm, I’d like to share with you some important lessons I learned in the process.
Time and money are equally important aspects of the problem. If you retain a doeling to breed for show as a milker, you are going to carry that animal for a long time before you will know if the wait was worth the expense. If you are planning for future group events, we generally figure six years before these are even possible. This means you will be in the game for a long time. And then you have a Buck Year. No one wants to even speak of it until it has already happened, since mere speculation might tempt the fates.
All plans go out the window in a Buck Year. This year was a Buck Year with a ratio of 1 doe out of 4 kids. Responses from friends online aren’t quotable here. It seems to have been a regional pandemic judging from the online ads for bucks still available. We were lucky and have sold all of ours as young herd sires. Not all of these bucks will be so lucky. Wethers are adorable as we all know, but cost as much to feed as a productive member of the herd even though we have been able to grant leniency for affection in the past.
This brings me at last to showing. This is a blog about showing. Having done the math as described in ‘time and money’, and made oodles of decisions as to which shows, how far, which animals and so on, it has not escaped my attention you raise and show goats because you are passionate about it and not because you will ever make money doing it. If you show long and hard enough, however, you can develop a reputation for having desirable animals. We found this out through a recent forced herd reduction. More importantly, we learned how many good friends we have been fortunate to have made in our many years of showing. We chose to sell our animals to 4H and FFA families who will go on to show them, breed them and dream their own herd dreams. And I get to watch them all shine on. What could be better than that?
We will do one more this summer with Kima, a doe who earned a dry leg and BJIS when she at five months. She is that rare bird who loves to be groomed and falls asleep while you clip her. We’ll show one last time together where she won her first champion ribbon five years ago. Below is a picture of her two weeks ago after three years in lactation and still giving a half gallon at every milking. And we’ll see what the future brings.
JGP Butternut Farm
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