Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Preparing Your Does For Breeding

For many goat owners, fall is breeding season - a busy and exciting time around the farm!
If you are planning on breeding your does any time soon, they should be in top form. This means making sure they are in good weight (see previous article on body scoring your goats), free of heavy parasite loads and ready to start making strong, healthy babies. Below are some other things that should be considered before breeding...

Healthy goats start with healthy feet. Your goats should be on a regular trimming schedule, and making sure feet are regularly trimmed during pregnancy is more important than at any other time. Because Kinders often have multiple kids, they carry a large amount of weight throughout pregnancy. Leaving hooves untrimmed during this time can cause irreversible problems. Hooves often grow faster during pregnancy, so closely inspect your goats' feet every week.

Goats should always have access to free choice minerals, but some areas are so deficient in certain minerals that they can not be completely replaced by free choice minerals. In those areas, extra supplements need to be given during pregnancy to avoid health problems with does and newborn kids. If you are not sure whether or not your area is deficient in anything, ask your local veterinarian.

Finally, stand back and look at your goats. Consider how they look and act - do you have nagging concerns about any of them? Does something seem a little bit off in a certain doe? Now is the time to treat any issues you think might be present, rather than risking the possibility that they worsen or become untreatable while your doe is pregnant. Cutting corners on herd health can cause major problems with your does, their births and their kids.

Preparing your goats for breeding season is easy, and the benefits are huge. By covering these few basic items, you will ensure a happier, healthier breeding season for your entire herd, and more time to enjoy those sweet little kids when they finally show up!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Would You Like to Sell Kinder® Products?

Do you have a great product idea that will highlight your Kinders? We love to spread the word about Kinder goats, and hope you will, too! Products with our sweet goats and the Kinder name on them promote our breed while making you money. They are conversation starters, too!

The name Kinder is a registered trademark. Because of this, there are certain rules and regulations that the association and anyone using the name in commerce must follow. If you are considering selling products with the Kinder name on them, here is what you need to know:

If you are interested in using the name on goods and products, you must first obtain a license from the KGBA. In the license grant procedure, you must complete a form with your contact details, and a description of the intended use of the Kinder trademark. All items bearing the Kinder name must also bear the trademark (circle r) symbol.
The fee for applying for a license is $25, and covers a portion of the cost incurred in processing the application. It may take a month or more for your application to be evaluated, and applications may be rejected for any reason (you may, however, reapply as often as you like). If your application is accepted, you will be granted a license to sell your product, with the provision that you agree to pay the KGBA a 5% royalty on the product you are selling. Applications for licenses can be found in the "forms" section of our website.

By imposing these simple rules, we aim to protect the Kinder name from misuse, and create a level playing field for everyone interested in using it in the marketplace.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kinder Goat as a Meat Goat

Kinder buck 5 monthsKinder meat carcass

There has been much more written regarding the milking ability of the Kinder goat than that of its ability to produce a good meat carcass. The Kinder goat is a very good meat animal as well as a milking animal. This makes it a dual purpose goat just as it is advertised to be.

Kinder goats will breed every month of the year sometimes being referred to as, “aseasonal breeders”. The Kinder is also known for their multiple births so these two factors can provide lots of meat for the freezer or added income from the sale of the animals to the meat markets or both. Always remember that those Kinder does will at the same time be providing milk and milk products for the table.

Unfortunately there have been no official studies done on Kinder goats as a meat animal. There are only the statements of breeders as to quantity and quality of the Kinder meat carcass. Breeders report that on average a Kinder kid will weigh between four to five pounds in a triplet or greater birth. It is reported that their average weight of gain each month is from seven to nine pounds in the first eight months of life. This of course depends greatly on the type of care received.

A few years ago at Lincoln University’s, Carver Farm, in Jefferson City, MO at a Goat Day put on by the Missouri Goat Producers there was an evaluation and judging of different breed carcass and the Kinder goat was part of this program. The two Kinder goat carcasses pictured are the first place winners. These carcasses are from a triplet birth. The animals were five months old; one weighed 16 pounds and the other 18 pounds dressed out as shown. The other picture is the other goat of the triplet set shown on foot at five months of age.

Those older does and bucks can also be utilized for their meat. Below are the figures that this writer has recorded of the meat production of some older does and one wether. These were does that could not be kept for one reason or another for breeding. These are the on foot weights, hanging weights and then the pounds of burger from each. 120# live weight; 59# hanging weight; 33# burger 140# live weight; 71# hanging weight; 41# burger 134# live weight; 62# hanging weight this was an old doe. 61 ½# live weight; 30# hanging weight this was a wether. There was over 50# of burger from these two animals.

As you can see the Kinder goat is truly a meat animal as well as a dairy animal. Best of both worlds!

Friday, September 7, 2012

How to Raise Butterfat in Your Milk

Butterfat is increased by increasing the number, and protecting the conditions which are beneficial to cellulose digesting, acetate producing,bacteria in the rumen.

Don't over feed supplement.
Supplement should not exceed 50% of the diet. In their effort to make more milk, producers will often overfeed supplement. This reduces butterfat, especially when the supplement to forage ratio approaches2:1. Concentrates are too quickly digested and with the correspondent drop in the need for saliva production, you get a drop in rumen pH, which is harmful to the microbes that produce butterfat.

Feed roughage before you feed grain in the morning.
Again, having hay in the rumen first will slow down digestion, ensure adequate saliva production and keep the rumen pH at a favorable level for acetate-producing microbes.

Take the total amount of supplement the goats need to eat during a day, and feed it in several small meals instead of giving it in only two larger meals at milking time..
Again, this optimizes the conditions beneficial to microbes. It takes time to feed more often, so producers will have to decide how badly they want higher butterfat.

Provide good ventilation, plentiful water and multiple smaller meals when it is hot outside. Goats eat less when it is hot, so you will often see a drop in butterfat in the summer due to a drop in intake of feed.. Anything you can do to help them eat more will increase butterfat. Increased intake increases the heat of digestion in the rumen, and that in turn increases acetate production and raises the level of butterfat.

Feed good quality forage. If you have only poor quality forage, add buffer to the diet.
Low-roughage fiber intake lowers butterfat. Supplement the diet with buffer at a rate of 4% of the amount of supplement fed per day to increase butterfat production when feeding poor quality forages. (Note:many goats do not like buffer in their feed, and will completely refuse to eat the ration with it in there, but will take it readily when it is offered free-choice in the barn or lot.

Feed larger quantities of dried brewer's grain.
Research show that distillers grains contain yeast by-products that stimulate rumen cellulose digestion, which results in acetate formation, thereby increasing butterfat.

Breed for high butterfat as well as high milk production.
When selecting breeding stock, if you select for high milk production alone, don't pay attention to butterfat levels, you will gradually see decreased butterfat from one generation to the next..

(Smith, 485)

Link: Variations in Milk Fat Composition: Why do my milk processorand DHIA tests not always agree?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Choosing a Buck

by Sue Huston

There are those that say a buck is 50% of the herd, but there are others that believe that the buck gives more than 50%. Either way that buck should be chosen with great care.

To begin, look at his dam to see what her general conformation is and especially look at her udder. Does she have a good udder attachment? Is her rear udder held high keeping the udder out of harms way? Does her fore udder blend smoothly from the udder to the belly? Does she milk well and does she milk easily.

When choosing a buck look at his general conformation that he is level across the top and that he does not have a sloping rump. The Kinder goat is a dual purpose goat so the buck needs to carry fleshing in this front end, neck and shoulder area. Take a good look at the rear of the animal. His hind legs need to be spaced far apart with good angulation to those hind legs. That scrotal attachment needs to be high and tight, the scrotal should be even and not loop sided.

The feet and legs of the buck should be strong making sure that he is not weak in his pasterns. The toes should be close together so as not to toe out. If buying a mature buck make sure he is not over the breed standard which is 28 inches. You do not want a buck with very long legs like those of the dairy animals but you want an animal that has shorter legs that will give you the dual purpose Kinder.

Remember that there are very few male Kinder that should be used as a herd sire. Take time and look closely at the buck that you are going to buy to improve your  herd. Buy the best that you can afford and buy from a reputable breeder.

(Watch for upcoming articles that discuss and illustrate each of the conformational qualities discussed in this article!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Toxoplasmosis - A Silent Killer

What is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a disease generally associated with cats, but often affects other animals and humans as well. Cats first get the disease by eating infected rodents, and pass the disease through their feces for a few weeks following infestation. Because they usually become immune after being exposed once or twice, younger cats are at much greater risk of spreading the disease than older cats are. 
In healthy adults, toxoplasmosis is usually harmless, usually causing mild flu-like symptoms at most, and often causing no symptoms at all. In pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, it is much more dangerous, sometimes causing meningitis, neurological problems, abortions, and even death. Understanding the disease and avoiding things that put you at high risk of contracting it are the best way to protect yourself and those you love.

Can I Catch It?

Yes. One third to one half of the world's human population is estimated to carry a toxoplasmosis infection. 
Most people that contract toxoplasmosis do so in one of two ways:
1. Handling earth (gardening or in the sandbox) that has been infected by a cats feces and simply touching their mouth. The spores can live in the ground for up to a year.
2. Eating or drinking raw or undercooked milk or meat of an animal that has been infected by the disease.
While everyone is probably equally at risk for the first possibility here, this one is easily avoided through hand washing. The second line of risk factors is one that we, as goat owners, must pay special attention to. Knowing the risks it poses, and that our goats could be carriers, is something that should always be carefully considered when preparing food and milk for others.

How can my goats get Toxoplasmosis?

Goats can contract Toxoplasmosis by ingesting food or water contaminated by cat feces. It can live for years within a goat's brain, muscles, liver, or other vital organs, without affecting the goat at all, and sometimes even creates immunity to future infections.  

How can I tell if my goats have it?

Because the main signs of Toxoplasmosis are abortions, weak kids, stillbirths, birth defects, and mummification of fetuses in pregnant does, people don't know that their goats are infected until one of these things occur. Even then, there are many possible causes, and testing can be costly and inconclusive. Test results can be positive for years after exposure, even when they no longer pose a risk to their kids or their owners. 

What should I do if I think my goat is infected?

Blood testing for goats, cats, sheep, and cattle is available. Unfortunately, these tests don't always give a clear a complete picture of what is causing problems within a herd.
While some people choose to test after a single doe aborts, others choose never to test. If there are signs that your herd may be infected, feeding decoquinate or monensin throughout pregnancy may reduce the abortion rate in a herd with a history of toxoplasmosis. Sulfonamides and clindamycin are used to treat toxoplasmosis in goats. 

How can I protect myself and my goats?

There is no vaccine available in the United States. Control of toxoplasmosis is based on management practices. Like humans, cats rarely have symptoms when first infected, so most people do not know if their cat has been infected. The infection will go away on its own; therefore it does not help to have your cat or your cat's feces tested for toxoplasmosis. The best way to protect your herd is to keep your cat population healthy and manageable, to maintain a clean feeding are for your goats, and to discard any feed or water that may have been compromised in any way.

Nothing can guarantee that your goats will always be healthy and disease-free, but careful, conscientious herd management can go a long way in avoiding very costly and detrimental diseases like Toxoplasmosis. Learning how to recognize common diseases, and more importantly how to avoid them, is a great step in building a stronger, healthy herd, that will reward you with milk and meat for many years to come. As they say - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!