Welcome to Northeast Ohio Kikos!
We moved out to the country in 2014 knowing we wanted a self sustaining homesteading farm. We started with apple trees, blueberry bushes, goats, sheep, chickens, and cows. After a couple years, we decided to focus on Kiko goats because they were low maintenance and enjoyable to work with.
We began to purchase high quality Kikos from historical proven bloodlines and top national breeders. Our desired confirmation was great udders, good feet, and a history/pedigree of great motherly instincts.
We are focused on performance testing for unbiased data and to help make improvements in our herd. Our doe herd is from performance tested stock or has had offspring that has been performance tested. Ideally, we want big frame does with broad chests, thick backend, and good length with great feet and udders. They have to be good mothers and be low maintenance. We expect a weaning weight of 50 plus lbs for bucks and 38 lbs for doelings (based on twins). We want fast growing kids that are market ready at weaning with a finishing weight between 65-85 lbs by 6 months.
What we look for and continuously strive for is to improve at the the performance tests. We want them big going in and coming out. We want fast growth.....We want low fecal egg count as parasite resistance is a must. We want size with resistance.
We have clay soil and deal with muddy conditions for 7-8 month of the year. To combat this, we have stone with ag fabric underneath in our three courtyards. Our goats rotationally graze with hay supplement in the month of November to May. We provide grain to does while flushing and during the months of October through April to make sure they are getting enough protein with hay meeting most of their nutritional needs. We vary the grain from a half a pound to a pound and a half per doe depending on quality of hay and body condition. We buy grain in bulk and use a custom mix from a local feed store.
Kidding and Barns
We kid primarily in January and February with the occasional March kid. Our weather can vary between -30 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit with 2-3 feet of snow leaving the area cold and muddy. We kid in the barn because if the kids are born outside they will freeze and die since the mother will not be able to dry them off quick enough. Some does still try to have them outside in which we then transport the kids to the barn and help dry them off. Our barn is an open, deep mulch style with layered dirt, Ag lime, and a foot of straw. We don't use kidding stalls, heat lamps, or boxes. When we switched to winter kidding, our cases of coccidia reduced dramatically to the point we rarely have a case. We stopped creep feeding because it was too much hassle and we saw the same gains by just letting them eat with their mothers.
We use second cutting orchard grass mix round bales that are covered and away from where the goats typically sleep. Our round bale feeders are from Ketchum for the does and a fiberglass type for the bucks. The bucks hit to hard and bend the metal of the Ketchum. We use shelter logic 12x12 dome covers to protect the hay from the elements. The round bales have to stay dry in order for the feeder to work correctly especially in colder temperatures. We offer free choice minerals. As stated above, we use a custom feed from Farmers Equity in Loudonville, OH.
Genetics are never a guaranteed success only a high probability so we cull herd emphasizing the traits that we feel are important for Kikos. Does have a 2 year evaluation process to see if they stay as foundation stock. The first year is proper body structure, weaning weight, growth with no parasite issues excluding coccidia. The second year is mothering ability, number of kids, the kids weaning weights, and no structural defects. In addition, the ability to recover body condition and good teat health with appropriate shrinking of udders. We also expect little to no parasite issues. If we have to worm more than 1 time a year, we will cull them. The majority of our herd has not had to be worm for years. I trim feet 3 times a year and if I have to consistently trim a doe more than that then she is culled. We are currently breeding for a broad chest thick leg muscling and fast growth with good size at weening. This process has been challenging IMO with Kiko's the bigger genetics tend to have udder and parasite issues comparatively. The great parasite resistance genetics tend to be small and wean small. We have to be very picky on the bucks and does we bring in so that we keep improving. This is why we buy from performance tested stock its unbiased information so we can ensure the breeder aligns with what we are trying to breed.
Opinions and Advice
In my opinion, not all Kikos are the same. Some breeders sell everything they can and others cull hard and sell quality stock. Genetics are potential not a guarantee same goes for lineage and registrations. For us, performance trumps potential. When someone says they have never had to trim feet or never wormed, take it with a grain of salt. My opinion on closed, clean, or tested herds is this: flies and wildlife transmit CL so there is really no way to have a clean herd because you will always be exposed due to the environment. We vaccinate for CL instead of hoping no CL infected fly lands on our "closed herd" that just got blood tested. Growth is genetics and nutrition. If you are not getting the growth rates, you want, improve your ADG genetics and/or evaluate your nutritional program. Kikos are meat goats the goal is to get them to market weight with good muscling by 3-6 months. Little skinny goats do not sell well at the market.