Buying a Doe

About four years ago we decided to build a herd of full South African goats, but we also decided to keep some percentages and the good full bloods as long as they gave us good kids. Selling primarily off the internet, we have always priced our animals on the for sale page to make it easier when someone calls to buy.

About a year ago, we had a buyer show up wanting to buy some bucks. I sold him the one he was looking for; he also purchased another one; but he asked about the price if Hercules. After a few minutes, I priced Hercules. The buyer decided the price was a little high, but told me at least three times, including when he picked up the other two bucks, that he should go ahead and buy Hercules. We stuck that price on Hercules’ head. We also decided we needed to price each of our animals, so each animal was assigned a sell price. The prices were adjusted over time according to quality, genetics, percentage, and replacement cost. Well when you price goats and someone says I’ll take them, you end up with less goats and cash in the bank.

During May and June, 2005, we sold almost all of our goats. We went from almost 90 goats to 20. We kept our Venus and her babies, a couple of Kattie's kids, a couple future herd sires, our old herd sire's (Hercules) dam (Brandy), and our brush goat Dora.

The funds from selling the majority of our herd gave us the chance to sit back and decide just what we wanted to buy for replacements. What do you look for when buying a doe?

While we raise primarily breeding stock, we determined that we do need some percentage does to produce percentage kids to show, for meat, and some wethers for the 4-H folk. We want to improve our herd with some genes we have not had before - something that will give the kids early growth, and produce beautiful, functional does.

We want big health does … not fat, but with body condition scores of 5 and 6 (on a 9-point scale).

We want correctly balanced does - not too big, not too small, not too heavy and not too light, in the front and in the rump.

We want animals with feet and legs that make it easy to for them to walk around; and we want a mouth full of teeth, correctly positioned, so they can feed themselves for a long time. They must be able to get to browse and eat plus have the ability to convert the feeds they eat into protein and grow rapidly.

A does has two things that she must be able to do. She must be able to eat and support her own nutritional requirements as well as the requirements of nursing kids. Next she must have a teat structure that will allow easy access to newborn kids - not to large (fish or swelled).

As a side note, we want bucks who breeds year 'round and who are light on their front feet to not hurt a yearling doe during breeding. His sperm must be adequate to provide impregnation. And he must be gentle, easily handled, and add to the does' ability to produce fast growing kids by putting meat on the ground.

Now for the big question!! Just where do you find these animals?

Our old herd, although we loved each and every animal, did not all individually meet the above requirements. Over the years we had does that had a hard time taking care of their kids, does that were difficult to get to conceive, fish teats, over bites and under bites, and goats that had difficulty maintaining a good body condition. With each year our herd improved. Still, we want our replacements to be better.

We cannot / will not get the animals we are looking for from a sale barn or from most farms around us. Oh, there are great animals around here; but brood does who meet our requirements are normally price prohibitive and still not the does we are looking for. These are the animals that the owners want to keep. Private treaty sales are ideal if you can find the animals you are looking for and they are not priced out of your price range.

Private Treaty

A breeder / friend in our area decided to sell off most of her stock. We went to visit and after examining a lot of her full SA does, we decided on Partner, an elegant does, but yet strong, and met all of our requirements. Plus, she was bred to a buck that also met our requirements. And the price was not outrageous. We also purchased three bred percentage does (Aurora, Doria, and Xactly) from this breeder - and another three percentage does (Lilac, Yuppie, and Zippy) from a friend in South Alabama.) Private treaty is our number one recommendation for a buyer to purchase quality stock.

Productions Sales

Another place to purchase quality stock (sometimes) is at production sales. If you get the opportunity to examine the animals and want to pay top dollar, you will see some great animals at some of these sales. One sale that come to mind: Showstopper (Edwards and Ryals). This is the best of the best sale we have attended -130 or so animals that look great and sell for high prices. But it is the old marketing comment: "You get what you pay for." From a Showstopper sale, you get some of the best proven genetics available anywhere in the U.S. There are other production sales: some are selling select animals and some are selling animals that are not necessarily culls but are below the breeder's top animals. And some production sales do contain the owners' culls. "Let the buyer beware," again a marketing cliché.

Now you ask yourself just what are you looking for when you examine an animal at one of these production sales?

1. A good mouth. No over bite, no under bite, and healthy teeth. The animal has got to be able to feed itself.

2. A good teat structure. She must be able to nurse her kids and pass on a good clean teats to her progenies to continue the herd growth.

3. A wide horn set at the base of the horns. Bucks, when they fight (and they will), can castrate another buck with their horns or have a leg caught between an opponents horn and be broken when the horns are too narrow. The same goes for does, as sweet as they are - they will fight and can get a leg hung in a narrow horn spread or castrate your prize buck while ‘playing’ during breeding.

4. A long loin, to pass it to the kids from a buck, and a large barrel for capacity to carry kids for the doe.

5. A wide front chest. If the front end is wide, the back will be too.

6. Good legs and feet which will support the animal as the move around for many years. Don’t forgot, goats are browse animals. They normally graze high, standing on their back feet to reach high in the brush or trees to get the best leaves. Does also need strong legs to hold up the buck during breeding. Bucks need strong legs to be able to hold his own weight during breeding and not put too much weight on the doe..

7. A wide and strong rump. This is the "meat" of the animal!

We heard of a production sale at Murfreesboro, TN. Of the four breeders selling, we knew three of them and had seen their animals in the ring. We arrived at the sales about an hour before the start to get a good look at the does. We were looking for 18 month old to 2 year old bred does. Having kidded before was a positive; we could see how her body had recovered from the kidding. After examining the registration papers to determine if the genetics of the does were what we had in mind, I got in the pen with several does we liked and examined them carefully. We identified the does we were interested in and marked our program accordingly. While walking around, we spotted a 2 year old doe and I fell in love. She met the physical requirements and was beautiful. We decided she would go home with us; however, she was to be sold last in the sale and we were not sure about how that would affect the price.

As the sale proceded, the prices were not as high as we though they might be. A doe came into the ring we had looked at (but hadn't identified as one we "had to have") but we decided to bid on her. When the bidding stopped, I showed them my bid card and we had a full SA doe, Melissa.

Several animals came into the ring and left. I bid on several, but knew I needed to save money for the doe we had decided we really wanted. A long, elegant doe came into the ring. The owner said that he had used her in a flush. Pat asked how many times she had been flushed, and this question seemed to catch the bidders and sales folk off guard. The answer was once. I opened the bidding and after a few additional bids, Bonnie was ours. We had two does for the truck and one more we intended to buy.

I bid on a couple of other does, but didn’t really like the doe for the price they sold for. Finally the does we named Honor came into the ring and with a couple of bids, she joined our herd. We had three new does for the trip home.

When we got home, we moved them into our isolation pen for the next three weeks - after we vaccinated them, wormed them, and dipped their feet in a Clorox and water mixture. The rebuilding of our herd is well under way!

Maria Browning, Vice President of the Tennessee Goat Producers Association organized the 2005 TGPA "Herd-Builder" Goat Consignment Sale: Lewisburg, TN to be held on August 7, 2005. Maria called lots of folk in an attempt to get some of the best stock available to be sold there. Had it not been for our 'big" sale, we would have put some goats in the sale, but .....

Some of the breeders presenting goats were: Glen and Vivian Ervin, Myrna Dutcher, Pit and Linda Kemmer, Lowel and Linda Walker, Angela and Flecia Beasley, Robin Cotton, and Bob and Rita Russo. Tennessee State University offered some of their 2005 crossbred doe crop. .

We arrived at the sale about 2 hours before the start and almost immediate we spotted a doe from the Ervin farm, a beauty. Then we found Little Mountian Farms (the Walkers) offerings. Pat fell in love with two of their doelings. We marked the program with the goats we liked and did more visiting with friends and acquaintances while making our way around the pens.

I then took the program where, before we left home, we had marked "possibles." I entered each pen and took a good look at each does on the "possibles" list. Upon close examination I spotted one doe that had soremouth (which eliminated all animals from that farm -for us - to bid on), and teat structures which were not acceptable to us. These were crossed from our "possibles" list for me to bid on. We then went back and looked at each doe identified for bidding and set our upper bid limits. We were ready for the bidding to start.

The first doe we decided we wanted was a doeling from Little Mountain. Li'l Mtn Charm rode home with us.

We had identified several Erwin does, but they sold for more than our bid limit.

Li'l Mtn Charm's twin sister came into the ring, and Li'l Mtn Destiny joined her sister at CCF.

Li'l Mtn Destiny & Li'l Mtn Charm

I bid on a couple of other does; sometimes I felt I was just running up the prices, but when the bidding went above our limits, I was out.

The first doe I had spotted that I wanted, an Erwin Farms doe, was a big beautiful doe. There was a mix up in the order, and her pen mate came into the ring in the spot when she was due. The announcer and Pit Kemmer talked about her while the crew was bringing her up to the ring, then the bidding started. I opened for $200 and the pricing rapidly went up from there to her sale price. Pat pulled my arm down, and I missed getting her. She would have been the most expensive goat we had ever purchased. The Griffiths wanted her more than we did. She was the top seller for the sale.

This is a sale that had quality goats - Boer, dairy, kiko, spanish and a Tennessee Fainter. Our friend James Nave pick up a quality buckling for a very good price. I think he was probably the buy of the day. (Fortunately we didn't have to go home with James and explain how we talked him into buying another buck!)

Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

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