Monday, May 9, 2011

Tough choices

My mother always told me, "Never say never." And I try really, really hard to follow that advice, because when I say "never," it's almost as if I've just bought myself a ticket to do whatever I just said I would never do. And at some point, I'm pretty sure that I said (probably more than once) that I could never butcher a doe. But I find myself with a doe that seems to have little practical purpose in this world.

Viola the la mancha finally freshened for the first time a few months before her fourth birthday. She seemed to be a great mother initially, and she was producing more milk than her babies needed, so we were milking her almost daily without ever separating her from her kids. But then the problems started. After our first milk test, she got mastitis. It's understandable that she wouldn't want her kids to nurse because I'm sure it was painful, but even after she was over the mastitis, she would often refuse to let them nurse. She also has a bad habit of jumping fences, so she'd decide she wanted to be in another pasture and jump a fence -- not a problem that her kids couldn't come along, or so she thought.

After our second milk test, she had her second bout with mastitis, which had me thinking that I wouldn't breed her again if this was going to turn into a chronic thing. And now it seems that she has pretty much weaned her kids at just over two months of age. We're milking her twice a day, and she's usually filling up the bucket. We've never had an older doe freshen for the first time, so maybe she just doesn't like kids cramping her style? But we let moms raise their kids on this farm, and if she doesn't want to do that, she doesn't really fit here. However, if her history with mastitis, which pops up when she does NOT have kids on her 24 hours a day makes me think that she doesn't really fit on a farm where the kids are bottle fed and does are milked twice a day from the day they freshen.

And she didn't get pregnant until she was almost four years old. She is small for a la mancha because her dam was copper deficient when Viola was in utero and when she was nursing. In fact, Viola's mother died when she was only two months old, and I was afraid I might lose Viola, which is why I didn't even try to breed her to freshen as a yearling. She was just too small, even to be bred to a Nigerian buck. Now, however, I wouldn't want to sell her to a farm where she would be bred to anything other than a ND buck, because although she had no trouble giving birth to her babies, they were half Nigerian, so purebred la manchas could easily be two or three pounds heavier.

And it's kind of tough to sell a goat as a pet when she has a habit of jumping fences. I suppose if their fences were tall enough, she wouldn't be able to jump them. She is a crazy-friendly goat. But seriously who would want a goat like this?

Goat for sale -- didn't freshen until almost four years of age due to copper deficiency as a kid. Weaned her kids at two months. Had two cases of mastitis in the first two months after freshening. Loves to jump fences. Occassionally has a kicking fit on the milkstand.
Did I forget to mention her random fits on the milkstand? She usually loves to be milked and plows into the milking parlor ahead of every other goat, but every now and then, she throws a fit. And when a big goat throws a fit, it's not pretty. Other than the fact that she actually produces milk, she doesn't have much going for her. How can you sell a goat like this?

What do you do with a problem like Viola?


Jordana said...

I have to say I would cull her. Eating her would probably be best, hard as it is. I have a nice single buckling this spring with no other kids to go with it, and he will probably end up eaten simply because I can't keep extra's. What a hard decision you face after so many years of time and energy and love you have put into your girl!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Cull her and thank her for her contribution to your farm. Sometimes we honor our farm animals best by eating them. Goat sausage is good at any age.

Mama Pea said...

I couldn't have expressed my opinion any better than Donna did in her comment. Plus, I think you've come to exactly the same decision just by writing out your (as usual) very intelligent thoughts.

Chicken Momma said...

Having talked with many people who raise many breeds of goats, I seem have a slightly different opinion than the others on Viola.

It's not all together uncommon for first time fresheners to not be the best of mothers but then turn around and be great mothers and even foster mothers later. Sometimes they just don't get it the first time.

As for the mastitis I can't say I have much opinion on that since I haven't had an issue with my own goats. However, I have read advice to others on various message boards and email groups that sometimes mastitis can come on because a doe isn't letting down all of her milk. This is another thing that can be common among first fresheners.

I think I might try again if she is producing a good quantity of milk.

rachel whetzel said...

I have had to face a similar decision... I blogged about it here: and I can add to that now, that goat salami is really tasty.

goatlady said...

I say give her a 2nd chance, she might end up being the best goat you ever have.

Laura @ Rejoicing Evermore said...

I would also cull her. It's hard making the decision, but otherwise she is just eating up your time and resources, without giving enough back to you.

I may have to make that decision soon myself, and in my tiny herd of 5 does, it's especially hard. :(


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