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  • Writer's pictureWholesome Hill Farms

A Goat Program

I know, it seems like I'm dragging it out but look, I'm processing it. While I'm working this huge herd. Every. Single. Day.

Its a big deal, it requires some processing. The part I'm stuck on right now is that I will have to move off my ranch afterwards. I'm wrestling with that in a whole different way.

So you have to know where I'm coming from, what my role is, to understand the actual why. This decision is about my personality more than any other single factor as to why. You folks that have known me a long time, you know I have a lot of energy. I am filled with joie de vivre. Grumbling friends say "You are wearing me out, Tab."

Do you remember the time that I landed my first magazine cover? Or the first large contract I closed with TMV? I was stupid elated, right? You probably thought, justifiably so, that I was exuberant about my little victory. Yeah sure, but that's not really it.

I need progress; a victory is a piece, a proof, of progress. I need to start with nothing and get to something. I need to see a difference with my own eyes. A difference between where I was and where I am. For me that is being alive.

When I lived in Arkansas, I went from having a handful of goats to having a program. Why? I had realized that if I paired them the way a concentrated cattle program goes about creating the animal they want, I could have that progress. I could start with goats nobody really thought much of and make them into somekinda something. Once I figured that out, it was Goat Program full on.

That is why I am a Breeder in goat world, not a Shower, not a Seller. Sure, I've shown some goats, and they usually do pretty good in the showring when I drag myself to a show. Of course I sell goats, but not like the Serious Sellers. I am a BREEDER. I am in it for the progress of improving the animal. My obsession is entirely with improving each and every generation. That "attaining progress" gives me boundless energy.

The boer goat is harder in some ways to get that progress and easier in others. But the reason it is hard is because there is NO data. You are literally flying blind. In cattle we have EPDs, the challenge there is sorting thru them, memorizing the bloodlines to know which lines carry which traits, experience to know which traits tend to come forward in which pairings without losing another trait. There is so much data, the hard part is sifting thru it -yet the right piece of software can help with that, with AI some of the work can be done as the technology can recognize patterns of the operators choices and "learn" to make suggestions. In Boer, you don't know anything. You have to have worked with the line. Working with it isn't enough, you need 2 other pieces: you have to form a conclusion about what the line does and how to utilize that. You must collect the data and you must have a sample size large enough to begin to suggest a pattern. That is how there became a large herd. To be honest, the herd isn't large enough to identify patterns off pairings alone - but measuring traits, helped suggest characteristics that just owning the goat would never have presented.

My enjoyment of statistics, accumulating data, and selecting pairing met with my desire to stay busy, see progress, and indulge an obsession.

The sad part to Boer is that there is an ability for data - yet no one has demanded it. There isn't even a physical evaluation with standardized features like there is in dairy goats with their Linear Appraisal. If I were to wish for one thing for the breed, it would be a uniform database so that the people who love Boer could use it and have consistent results.

So there, you understand why a goat program and feverish obsession.

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