No kidding around – goat expert offers breeding advice

Have some very good fencing, a pregnant-looking animal often isn’t, and have a chat with your vet

No kidding around – goat expert offers breeding advice
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Everyone wants their goats to kid, but there are a few things they can do to ensure that breeding is done well, says a leading North American goat expert.

Mary Smith. photo: Alexis Kienlen

“A female goat likes a choice,” Mary Smith said at the recent Alberta Goat Breeders Association conference. “Does do have preferences in which bucks they will want to breed.”

Veterinarians should do breeding soundness exams, get a semen sample, and observe the buck in action, she said.

“If he’s got the semen, but doesn’t know where to put it, it doesn’t help a lot,” said Smith.

Attendees were given in-depth breeding advice from the professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, including how to measure and evaluate testicles. Turns out the male reproductive glands change in size over the course of the year (they’re biggest in October and smallest in February) and you want to ensure there are two (having one testicle is a hereditary trait).

Smith also had pointers for determining whether a doe is in heat — this can include using a hermaphrodite goat or rubbing the buck’s horns where the scent glands are and putting the rag in a jar (any doe in heat will be very interested in the rag).

Keeping bucks and nanny goats in adjacent pens isn’t a good idea unless you have a very robust fence as bucks are very determined when females are in heat.

“Get the bucks away from the does by three months,” said Smith, noting females are generally fertile at five months — something that often surprises owners of pet goats.

On the other hand, a seemingly pregnant goat may not actually be with kid.

“Pet goats and goats that are not allowed to get bred when they come into heat commonly get a false pregnancy,” said Smith. “With a false pregnancy, progesterone is elevated and the goat thinks it is pregnant.”

Fluid will accumulate in the uterus, and the animal will look pregnant, but an ultrasound or blood test will determine the true state of affairs.

Vaccination protocols for pregnancy are very regional and producers should seek veterinary advice on what to vaccinate for.

“You should suspect an infectious abortion if more than two per cent of your goats abort,” said Smith.

There are many infectious causes of abortions in goats, including Q-fever, listeria, and Cache Valley virus. All of these diseases are zoonotic, and can be passed to humans so producers should take proper precautions and use gloves and even a face mask if appropriate.

A University of Saskatchewan PhD chemistry student has devised a new and more energy efficient way to separate water from ethanol.

Leila Dehabadi is using starch-based materials such as corn, and can extract the water without using additional energy to isolate the ethanol, which could reduce the cost of biofuels.

“Compared to distillation, this new approach based on green chemistry and engineering will be a significant saving to biofuel and alcohol production in Saskatchewan and globally by changing the way water is separated from ethanol mixtures,” said Lee Wilson, U of S chemistry professor and Dehabadi’s supervisor.

In traditional distillation methods, fermented plants create a mixture of water and ethanol which is then heated to separate out the ethanol. However, some water remains, Dehabadi said.

She solved this problem by using non-toxic starch-based materials that do not require energy to remove water. Her results show the new technology is 40 times more effective than materials previously studied and achieves an efficiency comparable to traditional distillation.

Dehabadi has modified different types of starch (corn) and cellulose (plants) to create materials with varying chemical compositions and textural properties.

During trials, she found that her materials act like “selective sponges,” and remove water better than cellulose-based ones.

When immersed in a mixture of water and ethanol, her new materials suck up 80 times more water than ethanol.

“You can repeat the process in a ‘loop’ to get more ethanol,” said Wilson.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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