The milking herd at breakfast. It’s time to prepare for breeding. It seems only a few weeks ago that they were pregnant - but they have had a long summer of good health and frequent check-ups, plenty to eat, excellent weather, and irrigated pasture. The second week of September, we will introduce the bucks again, with the first babies due in February.
The babies are slender young goats now, and most will be ready to breed in late fall.
Mark and Ben have been trimming hooves this week. If the goats were feral, they would wear down the unnecessary growth as they foraged over distance. We don’t have sufficient hard surface for that to happen on the farm.
Roberto and Mark collecting the three bucks from the pasture over the road where we keep the non-milking goats.
The bucks are returning to the "Buck Pen" where Rosie the donkey lives, so that the milkers and the males can smell each other through the fence for a month, stimulating hormones in preparation for breeding. Here the girls are following them, though perhaps just in curiosity. We expect plenty of tail-wagging and more vocalizations as the girls become interested.
Coltrane is a polled goat, born without horns. Goat horns contain large blood vessels, a plus in hot climates with little shade. Here, though, it’s rarely hot enough to trouble the goats, and horns are a liability in close quarters. Horned goats would snag themselves in fencing, or hurt each other and perhaps us and visitors too. However, polled goats have a drawback for us, in that the gene is associated with hermaphroditism. About one in eight births to a polled parent may be a sterile hermaphrodite, with both sex organs. You can’t milk those babies.
The bucks will feed inside the shelter, so that Rosie can’t eat all their food. Poor Rosie. She needs to lose weight. We’ll see whether she likes the male company.
Bruno and Billy Ray checking out the ladies.