A switch in breeds – in more ways than one

With the dairy goats – production used to be a key factor in whether they stayed on the farm or not. We’ve had a good many Alpines, both French and American and Saanens over the past years. The problem with Alpines are their temperaments – they fight and carry on and can be a PITA. Saanens are better tempered and do give a good bit of milk but we haven’t had terribly good luck with them. The line that we’ve had here since we moved to Vale came from a dairy line – we bought two of them, a mother and daughter and they gave a lot of milk. The daughter milked herself to skin and bones – no matter how much food she got or how often she was wormed, she looked like crap. The mother held her weight pretty well but the year we got her she had kidding issues and became very ill. The next spring she kidded again and then got sick and we lost her despite having a vet to help us with her. No idea what happened to her, she kidded, seemed fine and then a day or two later became ill and died. The daughter kidded and milked fine last year. She had a doe and a buck. We kept the doe and she kidded this year with a doe and a buck. The mother was bred, I saw her bred, but to date she hasn’t kidded yet. The vet did an ultrasound on her a few months ago and said she was pregnant but who knows. There’s a problem with keeping pregnant goats with milking goats because you need to feed the milking goats a good bit of feed to keep them in condition and in good milk but you don’t want to feed a pregnant goat that much.

Recently, we bought some Oberhasli goats from a local woman who was looking for a change in life. First we bought two older does, then we bought two more younger ones, a mother and daughter, who are both really nice. Then we bought her two bucks, a pregnant doe and yesterday I brought home her last doe. All have kids on them (except the one who is still pregnant and I’m sure she’s pregnant). Except for the doe I bought yesterday, all of the kids will go back to the woman if they don’t sell by late summer breeding time (that was the arrangement we made with her).

While I’m sure there are some who do give a lot of milk, in general, the Oberhasli does not give as much milk as the Saanens or Alpines, they are smaller goats and seem very thrifty and hardy. I want a goat that’s going to stay fat as a tick while they’re in milk and it seems the Oberhaslis do that, or at least the ones I have do. As with any dairy animal – you can breed for production and of course you can keep alfalfa hay in front of them and feed high protein feed but I’ve never pushed for production through feed. It’s too hard to find alfalfa that is not from genetically modified seed.

The Saanens went to a farm not too far from here to someone who wants to get into milking.

So except for an Oberhasli/Saanen X doeling who may or may not stay, all the goats here are brown and black (Oberhaslis only come in a bay color or solid black).

This isn’t the only breed change that’s happened here. As you may know if you’ve been reading this journal, I’ve had issues getting another Border Collie to fill in here on the farm since we lost Gel. I decided that maybe a Border Collie just wasn’t going to fill the bill as an all-around farm dog. Many, many years ago now (maybe in 2005 or 2006) I had an Australian Shepherd. He came from good working lines. Unfortunately, that ended up a fiasco – I was sold a puppy with known temperament issues out of a female who was supposed to have been spayed due to genetic defects. The puppy went back to the breeder, unfortunately I didn’t get my money back. Not long after I returned that puppy I got Gel. I put an Australian Shepherd Club (ASCA) champion herding title (WTCH) on Gel because of that puppy whom I bought to do that with.

Like with the Border Collies, perhaps more so, the Australian Shepherds come from two different lines – those who have been bred for generations to work livestock and those who are bred for their looks to show in breed shows. There are still a number of breeders preserving those working lines. Australian Shepherds are used extensively on large cattle operations out west.

I put a lot of feelers out looking for a young dog or older puppy from those lines in my price range and not too far away. I found one, a seven month old red-bicolor male out on the eastern coast of North Carolina. I talked extensively to the woman who has him, the breeder of his parents and the woman who owns both parents. It seemed like he’d work out for what I needed – there were some concerns but I felt he’d be worth a try.

The day before I was supposed to meet the woman to get this dog, I got a Facebook message from a woman also in North Carolina who had a puppy from working lines that she decided wasn’t the right fit for her at this point in her life. The puppy had a lot of drive and she (the woman) had two older dogs (both females) who were not doing well with the puppy. When I spoke to her and asked about her pedigree I was elated to see that she was from lines I knew from back when I was trialing Gel. I spoke at length to the woman who has the puppy – she bought her to do dog sports with – and the breeder and decided that this puppy would be a better fit for us.

She’s delightful – a lot of work – a ton of work – but I don’t know how many times both Wally and I have said that we wished that we had this or that dog when they were puppies because perhaps they’d be different. Rex was one of those dogs. I got a video of Rex working ducks yesterday – I think he’s going to be great at his new job as a goose dog.

How this puppy, whose name is Evie, will work out I don’t know. She’s only been here since Saturday. This week has been a week of just barely keeping my head above water between work and the farm.¬†Evie needs daily work and it’s a bit hard to commit the time to do it but it needs to be done.

Until later …