I don’t really want to repeat myself, but I’m going to risk it here. I just saw a post for them umpteenth time looking for a “Blue eyed, tricolor, polled buck with ADGA registration.” While that person may find the buck she’s looking for, and she may have a herd in front of her that meets her goals, how does it help the breed?
Each of us who breeds Nigerian dwarf dairy goats have a responsibility beyond our pocketbooks and happy places. Our work will either build, or subtract, from the strength and perfection of the breed. The goal of the breeders of this goat has always been to develop a “down sized” milker that presents a miniature version of a dairy goat. That is not a statue of a goat, but a living, breathing, functioning dairy goat.
While management is important in a herd, in my opinion, the goal should be about herd health, not owner ease. Yes, I want my goats to be healthy and able to produce on less than optimal feed, because like many others, my pockets are not endless. But learning to disbud was part of my learning curve, good and bad, not eliminating a trait from the breed. Horns serve a purpose for goats, and yes they are a pain, literally. But a goat is worth more than show time in the ring. I strive to disbud my animals, even my bucks, but I have come to accept that testosterone will always win. I am not willing to risk the health of my boys in order to make sure that they never grow scurs.
I learned from a great goat man how to disbud, but I don’t like to be the “bad guy.” So when I was given the chance to pawn that off on someone else who offered to do the nasty work, I let him. That choice resulted in a dead kid, No Horns, but dead kid. That person misrepresented his abilities, and my willingness to avoid the unpleasantry of a disbudding, cost that kid a lot of pain for many hours because the man who did the job wouldn’t not fess up that he didn’t know what he was doing.
After that catastrophe I let vets do my disbudding, only to watch my bucklings sit in a box for 2o minutes while the vet tried to minimize pain, but increased his stress levels intensely, only to have the worst scurs I’ve ever seen, result. I’ve had bucks “dehorned” by vets, only to have them lose the tops of their heads, heal up, and grow horns back. So now I do my own disbudding and accept that there are bucks that are just so virile they are going to have scurs.
Why don’t I and the vet, use anesthesia during disbudding? Because for me, every shot is a chance for an adverse reaction. Because I want to know right away if there’s a problem and that’s shown by their coordination, their reaction to pain, their willingness to get back to their mother. If I had reacted more quickly when that little wether didn’t bounce back to his mother. If had called a vet instead of “an experienced goat man.” If I had just trusted myself, he would not have gone untreated for 10 hours. I could have given him a cold compress, Banamine, even aspirin, instead of what I did, which was trust a liar when he said “some goats are just wimps.” With anesthetic I wouldn’t have known about the brain burn, and he probably would have died anyway. I was new, back then, and I’ve learned a LOT, but there’s always more to learn.
My feeling is that the bucks are not here for showing off in a ring. They are here to make babies. I don’t mind showing bucks, but I expect a judge to accept a scur, unless it is life threatening. Why? Because I want strong virile bucks where the focus on was the milk, not the head. I don’t milk the head. I don’t birth horns. I can deal with the horns/scurs if I have to, as long as I have healthy, milking generations of a line, to build a breed.
I don’t care about eye color either, because I don’t milk eyes. I also don’t milk color. This goat breed is a breed of livestock, with a purpose, to make milk and babies. I collect figurines of goats, in my house, but I don’t collect live goats in my house. I think people who are going to breed goats need to decide whether they want to collect figurines or animals. If they want me to help, or to buy from them, they had better be producing healthy, milking animals. I don’t need “china” animals in my barn. I need strong ones.
If we focus on exterior qualities of our animals, the remaining gene pool will be geared town those “pretty things,” in cushy “goat houses,” sweaters, and jumping on everyone and everything. If we focus on the production, conformation, personality and health of our animals then we will be building a strong breed for the future. It’s going to be rough enough with climate shifting all the time. We need resilient animals, not pampered ones to survive. Let’s keep our gene pool diverse, within the herdbook, not focused on the image of the goat, but on their function. Please think about that when you’re choosing your breeding stock. Do you want breakable or strong? Real or aspiring?
By the way, the buck pictured here is Hames & Axle’s YR Atlas, who combines the genes of Rosasharn, Gay-Mor, Jobi and Leighstar lines, one of the few animals that brings these diverse lines together. He is a cornerstone for this herd, scurs and all. Here is one of his daughters. He’s serving us well. Thank you boy!