Tag Archives: goat genetics

New kids on the block

Our last chiva (goat) finally gave birth this week, and it is with pride that I announce our new kids’ arrivals. We have all sorts of genetic diversity this year. Jason Boer is the daddy to all, but the mommies are rather distinct, giving us a good mix. As a result, we have kids with little bitty ears, some with long ears and others with long, floppy ears. We have kids with campanitas (skin tags under the chin that look like bells) and kids without. We have white, brown, black and a variety of color combinations of the three. We have twins and singletons.

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Los bandidos short ears, Carl and Mel.

In all, 14 kids were born during a month-long birthing extravaganza. The first chiva, Caramela, had twins. She was nearly a week ahead of the other goats because Joey had knocked her over when he was misbehaving, and the fall brought on an early labor. Both male kids, Carl and Mel, were fine, just a little small. We call them los bandidos (the bandits) collectively since we can’t tell the two apart.

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Junior

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Jason Boer

Shortie had an enormous male kid that is the spitting image of dear old dad, only with more brown. We’ve named him Junior. Moya (Blackie) had a huge female kid that is just like Jason Boer but in black and white, like a cow. We’ve named her Bessie.

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Front to back–Bessie, Junior, Clyde, No name royalty, Spot

Queenie presented us with twins, a boy with campanitas and a girl without. No surprise there. Queenie is pretty predictable with her twin births. The boy seems to have something wrong with his front leg. It appears to be slightly longer than the other one, so he walks and jumps and runs with a limp. It hasn’t had much effect on his mobility though and certainly not his sunny disposition. We have yet to come up with fitting royal names for these two. We’ve already used Duke/Duchess, Lord/Lady, Prince/Princess, King/Queen combinations. Any suggestions?

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Coon

Princess had some difficulty. This is her second baby, so we thought she would have less problems however, her baby boy’s head was too large to exit the birth canal unassisted. He’s got a striped tail like a raccoon, so he’s called Coon. He really is monstrous in size.

Princess’s daughter, Princesita surprised us by being pregnant as well. Well, like mother like daughter I suppose. Princess had Princesita when she was less than a year old, so Princesita started in early too. Her little guy, Whitey, is on the small side and tires easily, but otherwise healthy. Junior has taken the role of trainer upon himself and hustles Whitey around the corral to build up his strength and endurance.

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Bunny

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Brownie

La hija de Queenie (Queenie’s Daughter, she never did get a proper name) had a fluffy little girl Bunny. Brownie cloned herself and birthed Brownie 2. She’s become best buddies with Bunny.

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Venada had twins, a boy and a girl. The boy has campanitas and girl doesn’t. These are the second set of los bandidos, Bonnie and Clyde. They are darker brown with floppy ears and like to play Olé with Bunny’s mom. She doesn’t want her daughter playing with the roughnecks and chases them away. Los bandidos think it’s great fun!

Nanny goat was the last to have her babies. She also had twins, a boy and a girl, Spot and Mancha. Mancha was positioned foot first, so delivery was assisted. Good thing my husband was home to lend a hand. They are bigger than all the other kids, but seem a little slow on the uptake, being so much younger.

Right now, when the parents are taken to pasture, the babies stay in the corral. It gives the moms a well-deserved break and allows them to eat without trying to keep track of offspring. The kids love “recess” time and play tag, hide and seek, butt heads, Ring around the Rosie and even tap-dance on an old chest lid. Of course, they all start to holler when the milk trucks come home.

With so many new residents, my husband had to make a new feeding trough. The new trough has become quite the place for our new kids to show their WWF Wrestling skills!

We did get way more machos (boys) than hembras (girls) in this batch. All 5 girls will be kept without question. The 9 boys will be traded or sold as they get bigger. My husband wants to hang on to Junior, Coon, and Spot–but I don’t see how that will be possible. One macho per herd is plenty. Guess we’ll just see what happens.

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Goat Genetics

mama and baby goat

Tweedledee and Harry. No horns, no campanitas, white, big ears.

One of the most interesting features for us in raising goats is learning about genetics without hours in the classroom studying the theory. As goat gestation is five months, we have at least one, probably 2, chances to see the results of genetic matings each year.

We aren’t looking for thoroughbreds or rare breeds, but we are interested in healthy, productive goats, maybe with a few extra colors or characteristics thrown in to give each goat distinction.

The majority of the goats in our area are white with long ears. While there is nothing wrong with white, it is a little boring. We have been hard pressed to find a little natural variation with which to infuse our stock.

Vaca the goat

Vaca the goat, pinta, horned but no campanitas

A few months ago we came across a small black and white pinta (black and white) that we paid a little more for and subsequently named Vaca (Cow). Much to our surprise, she was pregnant. However, we weren’t sure if the father was Chivo Pestoso (Stinky Goat) our macho or the macho from the herd she had been with, that seriously resembled Mr. Snuffleufagus, huge, shaggy and brown. We tried counting the months, but without knowing the exact time she became pregnant, we couldn’t say for sure.

Firoles

Large, hairy, pinto, no campanitas, no horns, big ears.

Nothing to be done but wait. So we did. And out popped Firolais one bright morning. He didn’t look like Chivo Pestoso. He didn’t look like Mr. Snuffleufagus. He didn’t even look like Vaca. He looked exactly like our puppy Hershey! Talk about genetic anomalies! We determined that he had to be Mr. Snuffleugagus’ son based on his ears. His ears were not like Vaca’s or Chivo Pestoso’s ears. He also has longer than average hair and seems to be developing into quite a big guy, while his mother is rather on the small side.

One male goat is enough manliness for our small herd. Males have a strong odor emanating from the base of their horns that they add fresh pee cologne to when a lady goat is in heat through the impressive feat of urinating on their own faces. So believe me, one macho is quite enough. We had been using a rent-a-stud service, but the arranging, transporting and servicing fees made it more practical to keep one of our own machos as the herd stud muffin. Last year, Queenie gave us twin boys from which to choose.

stinky chivo

Stinky Chivo, little ears, horns, campanitas, not white and a twin son from a mother who was herself a twin and a father who was one of 4!

My husband kept Chivo Pestoso instead of his twin brother, based on the size of his ears. Chivo Pestoso has itty bitty ears, even smaller than his mother’s ears. The twin had ears that were the same size as Queenie’s. All our adult female goats are currently expecting, and the now teenage Chivo Pestoso is the father. It will be interesting to see if little ears is a dominant or recessive trait. Personally, I think it is an unattractive characteristic. Furthermore, it has become evident that Chivo Pestoso has some hearing issues. All the goats come running when we shake corn in a tin can. All but Chivo Pestoso that is. He continues munching away, oblivious to the stampede for corn and often gets left behind. Finding himself alone, he panics and begins his high-pitched bleating. But, as he doesn’t hear so well he can’t hear the rest of the goats when they answer, and he wanders about lost until we go and fetch him in.

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Little ears and campanitas!

Chivo Pestoso, Queenie, Tinkerbell, and Caramela have campanitas, small balls of hanging skin on the neck resembling “bells” hence the name, which is another trait my husband prefers. This particular characteristic is cosmetic, nothing more. It doesn’t appear to be tied to twinning, fertility or milk production, which are traits I am more interested in.

Caramela

Caramela, big ears, campanitas, not white and horns

Horns, however, are not just for looks. In goat reproduction, it’s important that the macho has horns. A macho without horns has a 50 percent chance of his daughters being sterile. So any male kid without horns is sold. Males that grow horns are watched to see if they are a potential replacement for Chivo Pestoso. My husband can usually tell if the kid will have horns or not shortly after birth, but it takes me a few days to determine whether the hair swirls will remain swirls or grow horns. As not all of our nanny goats have horns, it is important that the male does to avoid that chance of infertility.

goat family

Frank and Jesse, little ears, campanitas, pintos, twin sons of Duchess, a twin, and Stinky Chivo, a twin, and looks like both will have horns

Twinning is another genetic factor we consider when buying, keeping or selling our goats. Queenie has produced two sets of twins in 2 years and was herself a twin. She’s a keeper. Tweedledee has delivered twins 2 out of 3 births; we don’t know if she was a twin or not. Duchess was a twin, but her last two births were single offspring. However, yesterday, she presented us with twin boy kids (pinto with little ears and horns). Vaca had a single birth, but as her offspring is not related to any of our goats, the jury is still out on whether he will stay or go. We try to avoid too much inbreeding. Tinkerbell, Cookie (otherwise known as Shortie), Diabla and Caramela are new purchases and have yet to have babies. Venada (Deer), the daughter of Queene, is the current favorite, being a lovely brown color, having horns and campanitas and being a twin. She just turned seven months old, so not ready for baby making yet, but we can’t wait to see what she produces.

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Caramela, Diabla, and Cookie

Milk production is another significant factor when culling the herd. Tweedledee, though not always a twin producer, always has more than enough milk for our evening hot chocolate. Queenie, being small and the mother of twins doesn’t produce much extra milk, but has sufficient for her offspring. Duchess and Vaca have barely enough milk for their offspring and are on the watch list. To be fair, Vaca’s baby is enormous, and Duchess is an excellent mother, so no action has been taken as of yet, but when the time comes, they are near the top of the list.

My husband, as the main milker, has a preference in udders. Some teats are long and hang low. This type of udder is harder to milk, seems subject to more infections and often gets tangled or cut when out foraging. Other teats are shorter and found under a rounder udder and the goat booby preference around here. My husband insists that this trait is determined through the male. I can’t say whether I completely believe that or not. His theory, and one I’ve heard from several other locals is the hang and shape of the testicles has a bearing on the type of udder any daughter born will have.

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Venada–Long ears, twin, campanitas, not white and unique personality

Personality also plays a role in whether a goat is kept or not. It may be more of nature vs. nurture though rather than true genetics. For instance, Queenie lets us know the minute food supplies are dwindling, even if she is still has a bite in her mouth. Her daughter Venada is just as assiduous in keeping us informed. Tweedledee, although a good breeder and milk producer, doesn’t have the “spark” that Queenie and her offspring have. Her twin boys, although both having keepable (i.e. good color, campanitas, and horns) characteristics, were not considered as potential macho replacements because they too lacked the “intelligence” we were looking for. The verdict is still out on Duchess’ little boys. A week or so watching them play a rousing game of bump heads or king of the rock will tell.

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