Friday, October 1, 2010

Goat breeding fun and frustration

Clare, a la mancha, and her baby, the only first generation
mini mancha born at Antiquity Oaks so far.

You probably don't know this, but I've been trying to create my own line of mini manchas (a miniature la mancha) for three years. I have two la mancha does, and I've been trying to breed them to my Nigerian bucks. It has not been working, which is why you haven't heard anything. Clare did get pregnant and have a single buckling two years ago, but that doesn't count for much. Although the la manchas are very friendly, they don't like me messing with them when they're in heat, and the ND bucks need a little help mounting a doe that's so big. I've heard of other breeders providing a hay pallet or milk stand or some other thing for a buck to stand on, and they back up the doe to the buck.

Wednesday was a very exciting day. Viola was bred by Mardi with no help from me at all. It took him about 15 minutes, and he started doubting himself and mounting her sideways, since the usual way wasn't working for him. But he eventually got in the right place and had enough spring in his back feet to get him up high enough to do the deed. Woo hoo!

I should have known that it was just too much to expect to have Clare bred today. She was obviously in heat. A wether was mounting her, and she was just standing there, so we brought her into the barn to be with Draco, who was in a ten-by-ten stall. Poor boy started out with such enthusiasm, blubbering and peeing all over his beard, but he just could not get the required altitude to be successful, so I brought in the footrest of an Adirondack chair. I figured he could go up only as high as he needed to, in order to breed Clare. Nope, didn't work. The footrest flipped over. It was also too high. I realized he only needed an inch or two, so I found a two-inch thick shelf and put it in the middle of the stall. Being made of plywood, it was too slippery, so I got a hay pallet. Clare wouldn't stand still, and I tried to back her up to Draco, but she was not cooperating. I spent 15 minutes trying to get her to stand in just the right place, so Draco could stand on the hay pallet and breed her.

I was standing in the corner of the barn in frustration, wondering what to do next, when Draco walked up to me and started blubbering. "Yeah, right, mister," I said with a chuckle. "Don't look at me that way. I'm not your girlfriend." He whipped his head around to his back end and peed on his beard, then he looked me in the eyes and curled his upper lip. I laughed. "No way!" He rubbed his head on my leg. "Ugh! Now, I'm really gonna stink!" Mike walked up about that time.

"I think Draco is a little confused here about who he's supposed to be breeding!" I said to Mike. Draco was completely ignoring Clare at this point. He only had eyes for me -- quite literally. I've never had a goat maintain eye contact for so long. Mike laughed. I asked, "Aren't you a little concerned about his attitude?" The buck was again rubbing his head against my leg. If I were a lady goat, I would have been quite enamored.

"Leave," was Mike's answer.

"But then we'll never get Claire bred."

After discussing it for a few minutes, we decided to take Clare with us and get another buck. Draco had clearly given up on her.

So, we decided to get Pegasus, who is a shorter buck, but we hoped we could hold her in front of the hay pallet just long enough for Pegasus to do the deed. It really only takes a second for goats -- no kidding. We tried for another 15 minutes to get Clare to stand in just the right place, so Pegasus could breed her, but we never saw it happen. In frustration, we left the two of them together for the rest of the day, which amounted to another six hours. I have no idea if she was ever bred. I'll mark the calendar and keep an eye on her in three weeks, and if she doesn't come into heat, maybe I'll try that blood test that they now have available for goats to determine if they're pregnant. I'd love to raise my own line of mini manchas, but this is getting a little ridiculous. Maybe I should just buy doelings and sell them after their first freshening? A seven-month-old la mancha is just the right size for a ND buck.

The good news about breeding, however, is that five Nigerian does have been bred in the last two days. So, if you need to find me the last week of February, I'll be in the kidding barn.


pedalpower said...

You'd think a doe in heat might just lay down to make the deed easier! I remember once long ago, I looked out the window to see that a Great Dane bitch had come into our yard and lain down...and our miniature poodle was getting the deed done. Yikes. I never did hear if it took...if there were any little danedoodles!

LindaG said...

Well good luck! :)

SkippyMom said...

Deborah has a boyfriend, Deborah has a boyfriend. [Yes I am 10 years old. I am fine with that]

Kidding, kidding. [hey and a pun too. ;D]

Good luck with the breeding - it sounds frustrating but very rewarding in the end. Did you ever keep the first lil' guy and try breeding him to a la mancha female? I know nothing [as is evident] just curious how the crossbreeding can go.

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Pedalpower, would you come over and have a chat with the girls? That is a really good suggestion.

SkippyMom, LOL! And I castrated the first little guy because he had elf ears, which are a couple inches long. You're only supposed to keep them as bucks if they have gopher ears, which are less than an inch long. The no-ear thing is what makes a la mancha or mini mancha.


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