Colorists


There is a very disturbing trend going around the ND world these days. It's been there for twenty years, but the breed wasn't as popular, so it wasn't such an issue as I feel it is now. It's "colorists." These are people who promote, or purchase a goat based upon its color, or the color if its eyes, or even if it's polled or not. Polled is really a whole different issue because I hate disbudding too, but to me it's "the cost of doing business."

When West African Dwarf goats were brought to this country, this is what they looked like. (courtesy of Wikipedia current photos). They came in all kinds of colors. Early ones that I've seen from the early imports were more like pygmy coloration, black with white patches. They may have had blue eyes in some cases, though I can't find the exact origin of that trait. But they weren't selected for the development of the breed, because of their color. They were chosen because of the dairy qualities, length and style of bone, suppleness of skin, feminine qualities that denote dairy goat. This is what the breed was chosen and developed for. But the current trend of seeking out quality of stock based upon moonspots, blue eyes, polled, these are all phenotypes, physical traits that are a genetic crapshoots.

Breeding goats is always a crapshoot, but there are certain genotypes that can be nurtured and developed to better the breed. These are traits such as tighter toes and shoulders, higher, tighter attachment in the udder, all of which contribute to a long term healthier animal that will pay for itself better. But a moonspotted animal make throw color, or it may not. There is such a thing as a white animal that carries moonspots, but never shows them, because white can cover anything. There are also "moonspotted" animals on black kids, so that the spots are never seen. But the value of the goat, besides its companionship, is in its milk, its offspring, and possibly in its meat if you're so inclined. When people focus on the esthetics of an animal, they are diminishing its potential. But when they focus on color primarily, they risk the future of a breed.

There are animals out there which are lovely, in solid colors. I admit, I love moonspots, but I don't want them in my herd if they came from animals that are from consistently overheight animals, or poor milkers, or are "hard keepers." I'd rather work with my lovely conventionally colored goats that are healthy and productive. Personally, I love wattles, but I 'm not willing to risk the traits that I've developed in our herd, by bringing in an animal because it has wattles.

We all get frustrated with racists, saying to ourselves often, "What difference does it make what color they are?" How is that different in goats? People are entitled to their choices, but please don't try to undo all the world done by breeders for nearly 50 years by giving more attention to color than to health, productivity and personality. These are traits that add value to an animal, not the color carried on a hair shaft. Stepping off my soap box now, the woodstove is calling.


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The little farm that does....