I’ve been thinking a lot about how I manage my herd as it grows to its “full size.” As some may know, my herd is still in its growth stage since I've been building it from within. In this planning process I’m being mindful of working with the seasonality of our region, managed grazing practices, and use of our facilities.
My plan going forward after this kidding season will be to split our herd into two groups and move into a breeding cycle where our herd is kidding three times a year, about four months apart. This doesn’t mean we’re doing back-to-back breeding, but it means that each group will kid every other kidding season. Each doe will have the opportunity to breed every nine months, allowing for time for gestation, nursing, and recovery.
Why am I moving to this system:
From an economic perspective, this farm is also a business. It requires income to continue and serve our customers. Over the span of time, we should be able to produce the same number of kids as if our herd size was 25-30% larger. This means fewer breeding does to feed and manage, with more offspring to either add to our herd as replacement stock or to sell. As a family farm, it also helps keep my workload more manageable.
What I will be working on figuring out:
What I know I’ll need to do:
Lastly, a big shout out to Sandy Brock, of Sheepishly Me, a sheep farmer in Canada. Her approach to managing breeding and lambing for her flock provided me inspiration to think about how I could adapt practices to my goat herd and our grazing system.
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Last week this time I was halfway home from a three-day road trip with a long-time friend from college. While we went by several large cities (Madison, Chicago and Indianapolis) and took in regional chain restaurant cuisine like Steak & Shake, Chick-fal-a and Cracker Barrel, it wasn’t the typical road trip. We drove to southern Indiana, just north of Louisville, to pick up two new breeding bucks for the farm.
Why did I drive 600+ miles just for new goats? I’ve been growing my herd of Boer-Kiko cross meat goats and am wanting to continue to build the herd’s genetics for thriving on a pasture/brush/forage-based diet. While meat goats are growing in popularity in Wisconsin, there are not as many herds that raised predominantly on pasture, nor are there many Kiko herds. The bucks, from McGuire Family Farms, have a lot of potential for continuing to growing our herd in the direction that I’ve been taking it: raising hearty meat goats on pasture. These bucks’ background includes coming from a herd that is
In comparison, these two new bucks are larger than our current crop of kids, born roughly about the same time. I’m looking forward to seeing how my herd will continue to grow with these new genetics. I’ll plan to use these new bucklings to breed our yearling does that were born last spring.
With the addition of these bucks we will be retiring several of our current breeding bucks, both Boer and Boer-Kiko cross. If you might be interested in these bucks please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, I also want to thank Anna, Jr and Joan McGuire for their hospitality for also taking the time to show us around their farm, pastures and sharing their rotational grazing and goat management practices. You can learn more about their farm by visiting their website and following them on Facebook.
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats on pasture.
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Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.