Tamarac vs. my fences

Every year, around this time, the Nigerian Dwarf girls come into season, and start wagging their tails at the fence, enticing the boys over like furry sirens with a flurry of hormones and seductive baas.

And every year, I stand back, confident that my new and improved fence will remain strong, keeping the boys from the girls.

And every year, I am WRONG.

So, once again, Tamarac spent a glorious hour with his entire harem of women before I noticed and dragged his blubbing, stinking, uncontrite ass back to his own pen.

The bigger issue is, what to do about it? This kind of thing happens all the time on farms across the country, heck, across the world, and there are several options to take.

The reality is that there were a couple does in the pen who are his own daughters, from the last couple years. While they were not in the bunch that was cycling, I have to consider the possibility that they were bred.

First of all, I take note of the date of the 'incident'. Nigerians generally cycle every 15-21 days, roughly, so I keep a look out for any who re-cycle in that time period. Keep an eye out for common symptoms of cycling.

If your does do not re-cycle within a reasonable period of time, it's fairly safe to assume that they are bred. After 30 days, it's possible to run a blood test through Biotracking to test for pregnancy.

If the result is a pregnancy, unless it is a risk of causing serious harm to your doe, such as she is bred to a far larger buck, or is a small breed bred to a Boer (they have notoriously large heads as kids and have been known to rupture the birth canal), most likely your best choice is to allow the pregnancy to continue. Allowing a potentially unsafe pregnancy to continue risks the chance of needing a c-section - be prepared to pay in the region of upwards of $400 for this, and then lose either mom or the kid(s), it's virtaully unheard of for everyone to survive - or risk death of mom and/or babies during labor.

To me, this outweighs the risks of the use of Lutalyse, a hormone used to abort an early-term pregnancy. Also known as Prostaglandin, it can also be used to induce labor and to synchronize cycling in a large herd. Lutalyse dose is generally 2cc given IM, one time, but you'll want to check this with your vet for most accurate, up-to-date information and doseages. It is a presscription medication, so you will need to get it from a veterinarian.

In my opinion, Lutalyse should be used as a last resort. While many people report using it for long periods of time for synchronising cycles, there is anecdotal evidence of longer term infertility.

There's only one doe I would lute for sure if she is bred, the rest I would leave to nature. If his daughters are bred, I would also most likely let them kid naturally. A line breeding is not the end of the world, and can produce what a breeder friend refers to as "trash or treasure".

Remember with a line breeding that you set the bad traits as well as the good, which is why such extremes of quality so often occur. An inexperienced breeder might not recognize these characteristics, so don't be shy or ashamed to ask for help.

If a line-bred kid does result, and you are an inexperienced breeder, perhaps enlist the help of a mentor to evaluate the kid and help you decide what course of action to take. Personally, I wouldn't keep a buck from a breeding like this, but under the right circumstances I would absolutely retain and register a doe.

Dairy Goat Journal has a great article online about line breeding: check it out here.

So for me, it's really a case of wait and see what happens over the next four weeks or so. It'll be a balance of pros and cons for me when I see who comes back into season.