Reducing herd numbers

Discussion in 'Dairy Goat Info' started by old dominion, Dec 31, 2007.

  1. old dominion

    old dominion New Member

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    I didn't want to steal the "Goals" thread so I am going to fine tune on specific topic. How do you plan to reduce numbers? Culling is easy when obvious, but... How do you decide what to keep when you have several nice does, or brood does that always out produce themselves, and how do you determine your "magic" number.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Jolene
     
  2. Ravens Haven

    Ravens Haven New Member

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    Well for me it took a couple of years to fine tune what my "magic" number is..but after having 46 milking does at my barn I had to find a way so I decided how many I can comfortably show with only having to find one more handler and that number is 10 milking does usually gives me 2 in each class or sometimes 3 in each class depending on the show. But I keep 15 does because I too have brood does or retired "old" gals that have earned their keep throughout the year. I do keep only a small number of young stock normally 5 or less..but I keep them to see them freshen if they don't freshen well they leave if they do I look at some of the second fresheners to see if they have improved with the 2nd time or not, if not their gone, and sometimes it is personality, this is a big one..if we can't get along no matter how nice they leave. It is all about what you can comfortably handle, feed, and what you prefer in personality traits. There is no easy way to cull but it has to be done and I do it in the spring and summer and I am not nice about it...

    This is just how I do things here,
    Autumn
     

  3. I hate culling.
    I think about 12 does is perfect for us right now. That number fits our trailer and barn and the workload is not too overwhelming. It is hard to stay that small and we might not this year as we have plans of keeping a bunch of kids.
    Only freshening 11 and I have deposits on 2 milkers so do not expect to sell milkers beyond that.
    We sold a 2 yr old this past summer that was waaaay too nice to sell but wanted to get down a bit more.
    Becky
     
  4. Tracy in Idaho

    Tracy in Idaho New Member

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    You know, the only big disadvantage to improving your herd is that it gets harder and harder to cull as the kids keep getting better and better :/

    This year I let several doelings slide through to winter without getting them sold just because I didn't really get around to it -- I'm not going to do that anymore!

    I'm also done buying animals at this point. I may swap bucks here and there, but I have enough quality stock now to work with that I really don't need to. (remind me of this later, okay? :blush) I killed myself this year by buying 2 more yearlings -- which brought my yearling keeper numbers to 5 (arggg!)

    I think part of culling is realizing that at some point you are going to have to move out the older, finished girls to make room for the younger ones. What else can you do??? If you want to keep to a certain number, and want to develop younger does, the older have to go at some point. Now, we all know we have our favorites that won't leave at any price, but I guess you just have to work around those few, lol.

    I don't believe in keeping does just to round out a show string -- like to make fair classes and all. Winning $25 in a fair class doesn't come close to paying for the upkeep on a doe -- much less 2-3 to make a group class. Now I do keep in mind that I have X number of a particular age -- and maybe I need to cut that down to the 2-3 very best (like my 2 yr olds)

    It's a never ending problem at any rate, lol.

    Tracy
     
  5. Odeon

    Odeon New Member

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    I think one key to successful culling is to learn to be able to see structural correctness. It's amazing how many breeders don't understand correct structure and what an affect is has on the goat. If you understand how a correct animal should look and move, then it is easier to see it on your own goats.

    Also don't buy into the mentality that "this is so-and-so's only daughter, or this is a daughter of such and such, fameous, GCH++B". An incorrect goat is still incorrect regardless of who it was sired by.

    Also don't cull based on show wins.. I have seen MANY champion animals that I would never let reside in my herd. I cull based on structure and type.


    Ken in Idaho
     
  6. Karen Bailey

    Karen Bailey New Member

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    I cull based on milk production. I want to see my first freshening yearlings earn their Advanced Registry stars in the first 305 days of their first lactation, even if it's just butterfat, and then continue an extended lactation until the following fall. I expect to see higher production in the second lactation, current goal of over 2000 lb in the first 305 days, then again, an extended lactation, this time 2 1/2 years. To do this they have to have correct structure, like Ken said, and very good udder attachments.

    Karen
     
  7. SherrieC

    SherrieC New Member

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    I'm trying to build up a larger herd and I cull so heavily. lol. we have 19 goats total. I want a milker or kids helping milk so that we can do at least 14-20 does. but I cull for attitude, milk production, show quality. If you milk real well and have a decent disposition you MAY be safe until I have enough Show quality milkers. every year it seems I'm freshening out the same num of does this year it's 11 which is more than the usual 7. 5 of them are 1st fresheners, so udders need to pass approval, then there are two goats who are already on the cull as soon as milk needs are met list. Heaven help me though I'll keep every saanen doe kid they throw. and the three nubian doe kids I kept dry this year are the Nicest kids I've ever ever had, you know they won't have cull doelings next year.
     
  8. Narrow Chance

    Narrow Chance New Member

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    I hate the word 'cull'. I much prefer the word 'cut', since I feel that I have very little culls I get rid of.. but I am cutting some nice does to keep my numbers low.
    Had a potential buyer that told me he did not want my culls, he wanted one of my good does. (got to thinking what that word cull meant and I much prefer the word cut)
    This past spring was the first time I 'cut'. Before I was keeping cuts and had so many 'possible' good goats. I sort of could not see the forest for the trees.
    I finally decided that if I were to have great does, I have to get rid of the good does.
    It was hard.. but I cut my herd into half. I now have a managable number of really good does and two really great bucks.
    I know it will get harder every year.. but as I learn and gleem from other breeders, I know I'll feel confident in cutting those that should not be in my herd.

    As to your questions on what to keep... I take an overall look at udders. Which has the least desirable udder. get one or two that could be possible cuts, then look at general appearance. Do a comparison of all the desired features.
    Then.. when you have made your decision.. no matter if that goat has been here 9 or 10 years.. and no matter if she is the most loving when she is on the stand.. she goes.
    There are a number of reason I cut.. the main one being the overall health of my herd. I can't effectively manage over 20.. and I know it. I know as my health gets worse and as I get older.. I will have to have less numbers.

    Rett
     
  9. goatkid

    goatkid New Member

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    The first thing I look for when deciding who to cull and who to keep is correctness of udder. I get people looking for family milkers and those who have the least correct udder for show are the ones I sell. After that, I look at the whole goat and decide which are most correct in other areas. With doelings, deciding which to keep and which to sell is harder for me. I try and show most of them and see which ones consistantly do better in the show ring. I do have one doe I've been hanging onto simply for her milk production. Her conformation isn't bad, but she won't likely be a champion. She holds her place in my herd because she produces more milk than the other does. As feed costs go up, I wll need to be even more picky than I have been.
     
  10. NubianSoaps.com

    NubianSoaps.com New Member

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    Nothing improves your herd faster than selling your milkers and kids into new homes of folks who show and appraise and they do well with your stock.

    My milkers I cull are in two catagories, family milkers...... although I have a family milker who won her classes, all 4 rings she showed in, and have a family milker who was 3rd several times behind Shoofly and Birdy. And show prospects. I try to fit them into homes where they will do me proud being shown in someone elses home.

    Nothing beats having friends who use your stock, bucks and does to build their herd. It's a tiny world in goats, you don't go to many shows where everyone doesn't know exactly who you purchased your stock from, both good and bad.

    So my culls this year are going to be all doelings after I have picked my initial 6 or 8 (likely from the older does due in March). And 1st and 2nd fresheners (and one older who came from Ric, who although I milked at shows and at his house, I didn't milk them with my hands on the udder as to "how lovely I am keeping her". Culling until I get my numbers down, which will no dobut with really close points, be after appraisal. I am just soo hoping for an appraiser I want!

    Structural sales of infant kids, although I have screwed up a few times even for myself (my horrid front leg kid I loved until after appraisal), are sold without paperwork, or if they are sold with paperwork for bloodline are disclosed why I am selling them (not long enough, no spring of rib, don't like her rear angulation, too short of ears for me). Vicki
     
  11. Liberty Alpines

    Liberty Alpines New Member

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    Question: How do you sell off your goats? I have several goats I wouldn't mind selling, and will have even more next year, but I can't seem to find good homes for them! How/where do you advertise, etc.? I had a doe year last year and will soon be overrun, and I'm not even buying more goats!
     
  12. NubianSoaps.com

    NubianSoaps.com New Member

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    In sales your first question always is: And replace the word goats with milk, soap,worms or whatever you are selling.

    Who do you want to sell your goats to? I know that sounds silly, but if that type of person doesn't know you have goats, how are you going to sell them goats?

    Tell you what, Ellie Winslow on here has some excellent books and an email 'class' (hard to explain), that is wonderful to give you out of the box marketing ideas.

    I have had goats for 21 years, and an internet following, nothing beats good press.

    A breeders listing in UCN.
    A website for ease of sending folks to see your goats and your prices.
    Whole herd testing for CAE (CL if you are new).
    Registered stock.
    A bloodline that makes sense.
    Truck signs (get with Sondra) in fact I LOVE my back of the window lettering better, I get so many compliments on it!
    Does everyone know you have goats? Not just the local yokels you don't want to sell goats to? Vicki
     
  13. Feral Nature

    Feral Nature New Member

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    All of this makes good sense to me but i still have such feelings of attachment for my goats.

    Of course, I felt the same way sending commercial cattle to the auction too.

    Goats are just so darn intelligent. I have a very difficult time selling does and have backed out of quite a few sales just because it made me feel physically ill. Strangely, I can butcher more easily than sell some farm animals. perhaps it is the sense of loss of control once they leave the farm. Even if I feel I have too many to care for, at least I know what and where the deficit is.

    I soooo want to reduce numbers this spring and am so fearful of the agony that goes with it. I am getting too old to keep going at the pace I am going at and feed and gas prices make it imperative to "cut" my herd.

    I do this basically by myself, my DH helps on weekends. What numbers do you folks without armies of human-kid-helpers keep? I need to age gracefully here :D
     
  14. Karen Bailey

    Karen Bailey New Member

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    Diane,
    I do all of the goat stuff except building barns and fences here. I currently am down to 19 does and 3 bucks.
    Karen
     
  15. Patty13637

    Patty13637 New Member

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    Jolene ...you can always just send your culls to me :biggrin
     
  16. SherrieC

    SherrieC New Member

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    diane I currently do all goat chores myself, milking triming. I have 19 goats I'm between groups of children the nine and six year old are just learning. the older kids are 20-24
     
  17. NubianSoaps.com

    NubianSoaps.com New Member

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    I have always tried to keep less than 25 since my girls got lives :) Now I want to be less than 20 including bucks and doelings. It's one 50 pound bag of alfalfa pellets :) Vicki