The Heat Is On - Our First Breeding Season Begins

Gozer, putting the moves on TijerasA few months ago, Scrapple and I had a little kitchen table meeting to strategize our first breeding season. We decided that we would aim to kid at the beginning of April. By that time the grass is growing and the sun is warm but the insects aren't yet out in full force. Goats have a 5 month gestation period so this meant we would breed at the end of October/beginning of November. 

While it was pretty easy to write "Breed Goats" into a calendar reminder, it didn't take long for the reality of how clueless we were about the actual logistics to set in. 

We knew that we wanted to choose who bred with who, and who was not going to be bred (Willow) so this ruled out just "running" the bucks with the does for a month (which is a great way to do things if your herd is set up for it). We would need to wait for the signs of heat or estrus in the doe. Then we would need to put the doe with one of the bucks in an area away from the herd. We would need to make sure that he actually did the deed, several times, and then wait to see if the doe came into heat again later in the season. If not, the breeding will have been successful. 

With no experience breeding any animals (not even pet hamsters!) we were a little boggled. We hit the books, expecting some clarity only to emerge thoroughly perplexed. Experienced goat owners talk of identifying a goat in heat by her waving tail and "winking" vagina. What!?!

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When Old Texts Go Bad. The Cow: Dairy Husbandry and Cattle Breeding

The Cow: Dairy Husbandry and Cattle Breeding by M.M. Milburn

I mentioned previously that I've been reading a lot of old farming books. This past weekend I came across an example of "old texts gone bad", as I like to say. These are instances where clearly the author's day and age got the better of his beliefs. I always wonder what madness we believe in today that will be ridiculed in the future, but for now I'll just do my best to avoid the madness of years gone by.

In this particular instance I was reading "The Cow: Dairy Husbandry and Cattle Breeding" by M.M. Milburn. The book was printed in 1852 and is available for free courtesy of Open Library or Google Books online. There's lots of old texts available for free on the internet, you just have to track them down. Usually, they're more helpful than more recently published books. However, Milburn went off on a tangent about 50 pages in that really makes me wonder just how much of his other information I should trust.

It starts when he writes "Some very grave facts have been arranged and classified to show that when a pure-bred animal has once been impregnated by one of another, such impreganted animal is thereby for ever afterwards a cross, and may be expected to produce a cross-bred, and no more pure-bred young."

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