|For What It's Worth|
|Pricing for goat brood stock requires careful consideration|
Buying a goat as a replacement brood animal should be looked upon as an investment rather than an acquisition. This article offers some suggestions that may serve you during the shopping process. A while back during a conversation on buying goats, I heard the expression "Can’t Eat the Paperwork." It took me a minute to figure out what the person was talking about, but then I recalled the earlier part of the conversation. What brought about this statement was a conversation regarding registered goats, the occasional over-valued goat and how all goats have the potential to become meat animals. We were talking about the prices people ask for goats versus the quality of each animal. After years of observing the goat industry, it continues to amaze me how meat goat prices can range from less than $100 per animal to show-quality bloodlines in the thousands of dollars. There has even been an occasional goat sold for 20 or 30 thousand dollars (that’s right, $20,000 to $30,000 plus for one goat). The rhetorical question is "does a 10 thousand dollar goat taste any better than a one hundred dollar goat?" Keep in mind this article will be talking about brood stock or herd sires.
Which brings me to my first point, genetics can be fickle. I have seen people put value in a specific herd/farm name or a specific herd sire because of their success in the show circuit without taking the time to evaluate the quality of offspring or siblings. Sometimes genetics on
(1) Never buy sight-unseen because of the sales pitch, no matter how good it sounds.
(2) Ask the seller to show you some of siblings, relatives or offspring (if the animal is a known producer), that will allow you to evaluate the "gene pool."
(3) Take a look at the registration papers of the animal or its parents; see if you recognize names on the pedigree or if any of the ancestors are ennobled.
(4) Ask questions till you feel comfortable making a decision to buy or not to buy.
(5) Go with your "gut feeling"! Often our first impression holds true. When we over analyze, a decision may get distorted.
(6) There are no guarantees because a premium price is paid for an animal. "Let the buyer beware" as the old saying goes.
However, if you are at a sale barn and planning to buy a goat, your options may be somewhat limited. You may not be able to talk with the seller, look at the registration papers or have the opportunity to mull over a purchase. You pretty much have to go with your gut feeling and go quickly before someone else snatches up the perceived bargain.
The good news is there are some bargains to be had at a sale barn. When at a production sale or sale barn, you generally do have time to shop around, evaluate the animals for sale and talk with the sellers. Also, at a production sale you may have access to a sales catalog with the pedigrees and other information. Sometimes much of the details are posted on a website specific to the sale. All this allows for a more informed decision.
Probably the most important investment to consider is buying a herd sire because he can easily be 50 percent of your herd genetics. Deciding on a buck can be the most important decision on the future genetics of your herd. A single doe will provide offspring and if she and/or the kids do not meet your expectations they can easily be culled. But, a buck will likely be used to service many does and there are no "do-overs" after kidding time. So, be more selective about your herd sire.
Something else to do in many of these situations is take a friend along for an objective opinion. A friend is likely to be unbiased, look out for your best interest and point out things you might overlook during a shopping frenzy. For the price of lunch or dinner, you get some good company and input from a trusted friend. When shopping for replacement animals, look for those that meet confirmation and can be expected to bring improvements to the offspring of animals already on your farm. After all, this is a long-term investment that can affect the quality of your herd for years to come, or it can set your herd back!
Robert Spencer is a contributing writer from Florence.