First please notice we do not call these goats "percentage Boers" as
some do. This is to distinguish that this is a planned genetic breeding program, taken
from years of experience in the cattle business. We studied goats for several years before
deciding to switch to goats. We had purchased in 1990 a 98 acre ranch in the Shasta Valley
near Gazelle. We decided not to irrigate with the pumps on the ranch, and looked for
a product that we could produce on dryland feed. Cattle would not work on such a small
ranch, so we started with sheep. In a few years we were producing 130 pound lambs at
4 months of age and then the ewes were run on the dry feed for the rest of the year.
We know that this is very strong spring feed, but it is done by the middle of June with
just a small percentage of dryland alfalfa to keep the ewes going the rest of the summer.
This seemed to be the best way to utilize this feed, however the foxtails were bad on
eyes and fleeces.
In 1997 we prayed about a change in our flock, looking at meat goats.
That year we purchased several Nubian does of a meatier type. We also went to a Saanan
breeder and purchased a buck with the best milk lines we could afford, having size and
high milk numbers. We kept all the F2 generation for two years.We had a major setback
in 1999, with three of the does we had purchased testing positive for CAE. We had purchased
these goats from breeders who claimed to have CAE free herds. So we culled all these
goats and went on an aggressive CAE eradication program, raising all our doelings on
pasteurized milk and testing for CAE using the ELISA test and WADDL. We will not consider
ourselves a CAE free herd until all of our does test negative for four years. We realize
that there is NOT a national CAE free registry, so we will have our CAE test results
available for veiwing. In 2003 and 2004 all our does tested negative! We began selling
a few does and doelings in 2004.Here in the Shasta Valley it is unusal to freshen in
Dec. but we wanted to be done freshening by Apr 1 to make maximum use of this strong
spring feed. We have to have all our kids weaned by June 1st or thereabouts so that kids
are not in the pastures when the foxtail shatters. We wanted a finished product that
did not require feedlotting, but would go straight to slaughter. We knew it was possible
because of the sheep. We still feel that the goat producers will need to produce a larger
finished product to attract the retail market. The low weights current buyers are preffering
reflect the ethnic market, not a retail market. Our goal is to have 100+ pound wethers
ready for the market by the middle of June, and by the time the market changes (if it
changes) to reflect a retail market. Grocery stores can not sell such small chops or
chevon steaks. As the lamb market had to change, we think the goat market will to in
order to appeal to the American consumer.
|In 1999 we
purchased a registered fullblood buck and doe from Canada. The doe turned out to
be infertile and was culled, but the buck had exceptional temperment, size and bone
structure. We bred him to the Saanubians we had left after the CAE disaster. That
year we kept a halfblood Boer buckling an breed him to all the Saanubians to produce
a 25 % doe that we then bred back to the Boer buck, Buster. We then took all these
wethers to a special meat goat sale two hours from our ranch. All of the wethers
out of the 25% does had colored heads, The wethers out of the Saanubians were light
headed. ( 100% of Saanubians are white) but had the highest weights at 83 pounds
as triplets! The doelings from this are the 3/8ths 5/8ths does we were looking for.This
year we purchased the best and biggest boned Saanen buck I have ever seen, to breed
to the 50%+ Boer doelings. He has very high milk numbers, as well as noted in improving
udders. We also purchased 6 more Saanen/Boer doelings ( 25% Boer). This will give
us 10 25% does to breed to a Boer buck to produce the 3/8ths 5/8ths does that will
be the base of the Moneymakers. The Moneymakers will be bred to a Mac Goat buck we
purchased, and Buster will be bred back to a few selected does to produce the Moneymaker
foundation does. We are figuring to be able to produce enough Moneymakers to begin
selling in quantity to other producers in 2005.
|In 2003 our
first set of twins was born Jan 31st and our last set of twins born on April 15th.
We had 16 does freshen 29 kids raised to weaning. ( 181%). All our does had twins
or better, with two sets of triplets and one set of quads. We do not jug and do not
creep feed.On June 7th we took our wethers to the meat goat sale and weighed them.
Our lightest weight was 55 pounds, and our heaviest were 83 pounds. Our ave weights
were 77 pounds. This gives us an ave daily weight gain of .59pds/day. The adwg of
our Saanubians was .62. None of these figures in the shrinkage from a two hour transport.
We were surprised this year to have does cycling in July, right after weaning.
This is not normal for up here. We turned our bucks in to see what would happen, and
almost all of our doelings from our Moneymakers were bred by the end of the month,
as were our does! Our first kids were born in Nov and by Dec we have 44 kids on the
ground. Only 3 out of 18 of our moneymaker doelings did not breed up before they were
6 months old! All were weighing over 80 by 5 months and most over 100 pounds by 6 months,
and so far only one kid (a twin) has been lost during kidding. We do not assist in
kidding or jug. We have 20 doelings born so far, and will only be keeping the twins
or better. 4 of our does got bred back to a buck that jumped out within two weeks of
freshening, not a planned thing for sure, but shows we have very fertile stock! We
purchased 15 more 25% Boer/75% Saanen or registered Saanens in Jan of 2004 and are
looking for a meat type Nubian buck to make one more cross before settling in to breeding
to our new Boer buck. Our heaviest weights again this year are the triplets out of
our Saanubians! The interest in our doelings and older does has amazed us! Most have
been cattlemen looking to improve pasture without a lot of intense labor. Let the goats
do it! We will begin indexing on performance all our doelings, and they will be offered
as proven breeding stock.
We have seen there is a little confussion about our breeding program, as some are thinking it is just a crossed up breeding
program. This is a very specific program to begin a new breed for America, specific to our climates, consumers and production
using as little labor as possible. We do not use just any buck, but spend months and years looking for specific bucks within
the breeds we have chosen. Our Saanens and Nubians are registered stock from top production lines and many grandchampions
( although that is NOT a specific goal, but sound structure is necessary.)We purchased several reg Saanen does, all with
large bone, good feet and large frame. All of these does are from star milkers or even top ten producers. The Nubian buckling
we purchased is from top ten producers and permanent champion lines, with size, capacity and substance being uppermost in
choosing Trooper. We plan on AI-ing our top Saanubian does to a high adg Boer buck, and even are considering a Kiko buck
for experimentation. So, as you see there are several herds we are breeding, our reg Saanens to a reg Nubian, the F1 Saanubians
to a 50% Boer buck to produce the F2, and another purebred Boer buck for our F3 Moneymakers. We are after a specific end
product for our on-line store. We need wether goats that can be raised without hormones or chemicals, and still produce large
steaks, and good yields to be able to have a product for our unique American market.
In Nov of 2004 we opened our on-line store after two years of preparation
and getting all the forms and regulations completed. We felt we had a good product
that was worthy of presenting to the public and specifically the American consumer.
Our loin chops are so much larger than normally found, we differentiate by calling
them steaks. When placed side by side with sirloin tip beef steaks and boneless pork
chops, the "certified American Chevon" was pretty similar in size and weight.
We are still working to get our product to the consumer in peak flavor and freeze conditions,
but have most of our problems worked out at this time we think. If you are contemplating
purchasing goats from us or anyone else, we suggest you buy some product from each
producer, and test for yourself which you prefer to sell to your consumers! We are
at this time contemplating franchising out in about 5 years
Has it really been that long? Many people have been asking for an update on our goats. Well, we have been concentrating
on our store so much we have forgotten about updating our web site. I apologize.
This year our goats presented us with a 205% kid crop RAISED!
Only one doeling had a single, and only lost 5 kids all winter. WE have had a few "cropped" ears
from being frozen, we never jug our kids and we do not have a barn to put does
or kids in when the weather turns bad. Being at 2500 feet elevation, we get some
pretty good snows up here in the mountains, and our "girls" are not at all pampered.
We tried a couple of things differently this year in our effort
to become organic certified. We have been feeding hay from our neighbors, since
it is close and not sprayed. We purchased organic hay this year, and went onto
irrigated pasture in the fall after the hay was off. We lost one goat to grass
tetany, out of 80 does on that field not too bad I guess. We also only gave one
CD tet shot to the kids, and lost two kids to overeating. We were really expecting
to loose more, out of over 220 kids that is acceptable.
This fall we will vaccinate the DOES for cd tet, something we
have never done. New evidence shows this is more affective than vaccinating the
kids, and since we are striving for organic and as naturally raised as possible,
this makes since for us. If it works, we will require all of our Partnership for
Excellence goat be done the same way. We are selling many more whole cabritos,
harvested at between 2 and 5 weeks of age; and these we never vaccinate, for obvious
We are in the process of a grant writing bid for the Partnership
for Excellence program. This program will eventually be expanded coast to coast,
with franchises in the four corners of the US. We feel this will be the best way
to get goat meat in the retail stores. we have a cd of the partnership for Excellence
program, and I am trying to get it on our website. Check back for this at a later
We sold the pet food business this year. It was taking too much time away from our family and the ranch. Our records show
our increased husbandry has proved well worth the effort. Our does freshened at 220% live births on 75 does. We decided
to harvest one of each set of triplets as cabrito; to give the dams a chance to raise very nice twins and not tax them
The weather hasn't been too good this year. Light snows, and late rains have left
us with little native pastures at the ranch to rely on; so we have been looking
into some “goat brushing'. We took our goats to a neighbor's who had a terrible
star thistle problem, three days, problem solved! Now they are eating milk thistle,
annual rye grass, purple mustard and thriving. Hay prices, because of fuel prices
last year increased 400%, so we are looking into natural grasslands to take our
goats onto! We have been asked by some fire safe councils to “lend” our goats
out to control the brush that has come back on mechanically cleared sites. Our
new motto “Have Goats, Will Travel?” We are only interested in non-sprayed property.
Goats do not eat grass, but brush and weeds are their natural and preferred feed. “grass
fed goat meat” is a bit misleading. I do not know if there has been a study done
on the omega three fatty acids of natural brows, but I would be it is MUCH higher
than grass. We stay away from Manzanita, which has a high tannic acid content and
may taint the meat flavor.
We tested for Johne's disease this year and have 0% titers. This is becoming a
very large problem as well as CL in the US . CL does cause blemishes on the outer
layer of meat and skin. We have never had CL in our herd, and do not show ANY GOATS
as goat shows are the number 1 cause of spread of the disease. We test our goats,
and every year have tested CLEAN OF ANTIBIOTICS, SCRAPIES AND ANY OTHER USDA RELATED
MEAT PROBLEMS. We knew of course we would be clean for antibiotics as we use only
organic, NATURAL GOAT feeds. The spread of goat diseases in the US has exploded
due to the number of people getting into the goat business. This is why we have
closed our herd, and will be raising all our own bucks in years to come; using
Bob and I went to Laos last year to work with a team on a problem in the goat
herds. Over 50% of the goats in Laos were dying; and we went back and identified
Grass Tetany (magnesium deficiency) as the culprit. We would like to have time
to go back and bring some of our genetics there. Inbreeding is such a bad
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Bob and Dusty Copeland
Copeland Family Farms
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