I had given up on goat breeding. It was too much work/stress/hassle. And then, one knit night, I was speaking with a farmer friend I respect immensely. She told me they have been selling cows and horses their way. Not to people who would be unsafe (as much for the horse as for the person), not having made any alterations or adjustments to the animal that they feel aren't in the animals' best interests. In short, they don't do anything that to sell the animal that they wouldn't do to one they were keeping. She got me thinking - that and spring and missing babies hopping around.
She inspired me to continue on (with apologies to the Reluctant Goatherd).
I love my goats in spite of the sorrow the losses brought out of the last breeding. After a year of research consulting with vets across the province and beyond, and studying lineages, we think we've figured out the baby problem. If we're right, we should have a different experience next time. The only way to be sure if to breed them this year and see, which is a bit of a daunting way to go about it.
Through all of this soul searching, I've realized that I have some really strong values about how I raise my animals and I can't comfortably compromise those principles for sales.
One of those principles I hold dear is around the controversial issue of horns. Now, first of all, let me say I think we all need to do what we need to for our animals. As someone who has had horned animals up until my most recent goats, I've grown into my farminess with a horn related comfort. In fact, I think I'd go so far as to say I have a preference for horns. I've come to rely on them as a handle and for something to catch the goats in the headgate. I also like the fact that they can scratch their backs with them and hopefully, it helps give them a bit of extra protection in the event of predation. As I live in a cougar/wolf/coyote/etc area, any extra little bit of protection is a good thing. Yes, I have bent over and nearly poked myself - I think that says more about me and how mindfully I am dealing with my goats than it does about the horns because, ahem, I've done that with fruit trees and shrubs and fences too. I'm not cutting off every single thing that sticks out and could poke me but I am trying to pay better attention.
After a lot of research and soul searching, I've decided I will be selling horned goats, with a twist. If you want to have your babies disbudded, (and 4Hers have to) I have no problem with that. In order to hold a baby for anyone, I require a $100 non-refundable deposit. If you would like disbudding to happen, I will just add on a $25 fee which is far from the full cost of the disbudding. I actually stole the idea from a few breeders in the US who are doing the same thing, for the same reason. I think we all know there are some people who feel strongly about having disbudded animals, or they're showing and have no choice, so this was the best compromise I could come up with to accommodate all of those views.
Also - horned goats look just awesome. I love the primitiveness of them. Seriously - how can you look at this and not think "yes!"