Friday, December 22, 2006

Sophie's Choice

Although I have never read the William Styron novel or seen the movie starring the incomparable Meryl Streep, I know the basic premise of Sophie's choice (or at least I think I know): a mother can only save 1 of her 2 children - how does she choose?

Well, I know find myself faced with a similar dilemna.

Consensus is that little Ann-Margaret is pregnant. We aren't sure - after all, we never caught Elvis and Ann-Margaret in flagrante delecto. But there was a period where he was obsessively grooming her and following her around the pasture (much to her displeasure) and my mother-in-law commented that Ann-Margaret was looking a little wide. I think she always looks a little wide so I am not convinced. But we should know something in the next few weeks - a dead giveaway will be if her nipples drop.

Assuming Ann-Margaret is pregnant, it raises some serious questions in terms of how to let the goats interact going forward. Marty and I have not exercised any discipline with these goats - they have been free to roam whenever, whereever and with whomever. In fact, every time we've tried to separate Ann-Margaret and Elvis, they have both been devastated.

But once we have babies it all changes. First and foremost, you want to avoid in-breeding . And apparently Elvis can be a serious threat to the kids - to the point where he may try to kill them because he feels threatened.

According to my father-in-law, who successfully raised over a dozen goats, we have several options.

1) After the babies are born, get rid of Elvis and bring in a new billy goat who is unrelated for future breeding. This is apparently a standard course of action for serious breeders. To me, getting rid of Elvis is like breaking up a family. I just can't do it.

2) The other option is to section off the pasture in paddocks and keep Elvis separate from the rest of the herd. He and Ann-Maragret can interact, but we have to keep him away from the babies once they get old enough - especially during mating season. We may be Southerners now, but that don't mean we want them inbred goats.

No matter what, we have to keep Elvis away from the babies in the early days. Apparently, he may either intentionally or unintentionally attack/injure/kill them because he feels threatened - or because he doesn't know what he is doing. I don't know what we'll do there - I can't imagine keeping him locked in the stall.

The thruth is, I hope Ann-Margaret has just put on some holiday poundage (like the rest of us) and is not pregnant because having to choose between Elvis and the babies - well that's just a choice I am not ready to make.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


mkarp said...

What age can a buck breed?

Believe it or not, a little buck can, and will, breed a female at 2 months of age, this includes his mother and 2 month old sister!

If you plan to use a buckling for breeding, we recommend that you wait until he is at least 7 months old to make sure he is fertile and healthy enough to accomplish his task.

At what age should I remove the buckling from the does?

You should remove bucks from all does at two months of age (unless you want everyone to get pregnant in a totally disorganized manner).

Bite the bullet. Separate them.