|Posted on February 3, 2017 at 10:00 PM|
Herd Sires: 5 Tips for Choosing a Herdsire
With everyone starting or about to start their kiddings seasons we will soon be seeing many buck sales post and first fresener does. Some of us may be looking to purchase a kid already on the ground while others may be looking for that first freshener who is a hot topic to put a reservation on. Either way, here are a few tips to consider when purchasing a herd sire:
1. Know your herd. The first thing you should do before even start looking for does to put reservations on or purchase a buck from is your own herd. You should always have some idea of the strong and weak points of your herd. Just sitting down and reading the American Dairy Goat Association scorecard and looking at it compared to your goats can be extremely helpful. Just watching your animals move naturally at home where they’re at their best can be really eye opening. I like to spend maybe 5 or 10 minutes each morning - which usually ends up being more making me late - to just sit and watch them walk to the hay feeder or walk around the pen can help. Once you have an idea of the strong and weak points make a list of 2-3 things you want to improve on. For example, my list for my Nubian herd has been: extension of fore udder, high thurls and dairyness - more specifically angulation in rear leg and flatness and openness or ribs. Once you have more of an “established” herd or line where you can predict some traits and consistency of good and bad traits, you can begin to think about some things you may be able to give up a little bit on. For example, I am guessing I will be giving up a little in front toes pointing directly forward with a particular buck I’m using, but with multiple does appraising excellent and the rest appraising very good in feet and front legs I can give up a bit in those areas to gain a lot in the areas I need.
2. Setting high standards. I cannot begin to express over computer how important it is to have high standards when looking for a buck. Set high standards, then raise them again. There are thousands of bucks listed on social media every year, make sure they have performance program data, National Show records and are excelling in both. I always tell people, it’s much better to buy an excellent buck every few years than average bucks annually. Buy the best you can afford!
3. Do your research. Just because he has the performance program data does not mean he is a quality buck. Do your research! Is his mother and grandmother’s milk test records average or were they above the breed average or even elite or Top Ten numbers? How about the appraisal scores, consistently 90 or above final scores going back at least 2-3 generations? How about show records, not regular shows, but how did his relatives do at National Shows or breed club specialties where quality herds may travel farther to complete? Winning grand champions at a local club show or fair can be deceiving, it all depends on the quality of the competition. Sometimes you may also be looking for a particular animal or line in a pedigree. Personally, I have one buck I look for in the pedigree of every Saanen I buy or use, I know how it mixes and he is outstanding in just about every herd he was used in. I also look for a few particular herds, not as much individual animals, when I’m looking at Nubian bucks. Just remember, do you research and don’t settle! A buck has a big influence on your herd, especially when you may not have an established line yet.
4. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to send an email or call the breeder if you have questions before making a deposit. Most breeders want to make sure the animal will be a good fit in your herd just as much as you do. If you are interested in more pictures, information or even a personal opinion if you are too far to see the herd in person. This is especially important if you are going to spend as much as $800-1600 or more, plus shipping on a buck kid. Asking a more experienced goat friend to give their opinion on your herd’s strengths and weaknesses or if a doe may be a good match for your herd’s needs, this comes in handy if you tend to be barn blind or just to get another opinion.
5. Be confident in your choices. After you’ve spent months researching, waited to hear if the doe had your buck, maybe even waited years on roll over reservations make sure you’re happy and confident in your choices!