Buck Dreams


I've been reading a lot about the search for the "unicorn buck," or the "dream buck," and I want to bang my head against the wall. The first things on the list is almost always blue eyes, polled and moon spots. Know what doesn't milk? blue eyes, moon spots and polled.

In the 1980's when the Nigerian dwarf was being developed the breeders struggled so hard to improve the breed from its wild, pygmy style ancestors. They crossbred with other dairy breeds, which brought us the abundant colors, but written clearly in the standard is the "any color is permitted." There was an early bias against "agouti," which is a pygmy color, but even that has been erased as the traits that mattered were dairy style, long flat bone pattern, solid udder attachments, good angulation, width in the fore, spring of rib and eventually, good milking ability. Those are what makes a valuable, healthy dairy animal. And that is what the Nigerian is supposed to be.

It is not supposed to be "My Pretty Pony" of the caprine set. Goats make great pets, and if that is what you want, then get yourself a loud, flashy wether, but don't judge your gene pool on the cute factor, or the rainbow, or even whether you have to disbud or not.

I have a whole passel of kids on my farm right now, all bred for temperament, browsing ability, healthy, conformational correctedness and in the case of the breeding stock, the ability to easily put milk in the bucket. We took pictures of our milkers tonight and I'm so pleased to see teats on my girls that are 2 and 3" long, not 1/2" finger breakers. Some of my girls are off-kilter right now because they're feeding triplets, but I don't have pendulous udders, or blown teats, or posty legs. My older girls are passing away lately, but at the ages of 10, 12, 14 and 15 years old. Most of them have never seen a vet beyond a herd check for a show season.

But can I sell them? Not at easily I used to be able to, because they aren't goats for a fantasy coloring book. They are goats for a lifetime of friendship, milk and joy. Their sons that get to carry on their genes do so because they have great length of body, brisket extension, width and spring of rib. Because their mothers milk up a storm, and because they are an

improvement over their parents in more than one way. It's not easy to get a buck approval out of Hames & Axle Farm. It's a badge of honor. So, when you're planning your breedings, and your purchases, please think of the practical goat. That's what keeps them alive, not their color patterns. My dream buck is any color, with thin, stretch skin, with sisters and mothers with socked on udders, great angulation, width in the barrel, wide behind, with dairy bones and if I'm really able to dream, wattles. But while wattles will always get my attention, they don't make up for unhealthy conformation, lack of milking or poor manners. Those are what keeps my goats happy and healthy, and me to. Hope someone out there agrees with me.

#goats #breeding #purchasing #herdsire

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