The first time I bred the does in my goat research project, people kept asking, “How will you know they’re pregnant?” My answer: “If they have a baby, they were pregnant.” I was asked this question so often I decided this must be important information to have. So the next year I bought a marking harness for our buck. Then I’d at least know which does had been bred.
Harness in hand, my assistant and I chased down the buck. While one of us sat on him, the other tried to buckle it on him. Handling a buck goat is one of my least favorite things. To make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex, they pee in their mouths and then lick the urine all over their necks and shoulders. So, after rolling around on the ground with our buck, you can imagine what all three of us smelled like.
We had no instructions, so we did our best, shoving the marking crayon into its holder, and then jumping back as he tore off around the pen.
Within minutes we realized that we’d put it on upside down. So we chased him down again, and as he kicked and fought, we took it off, and put it back on again the right way.
We figured out our next mistake after we let the does in with the buck. You can buy warm weather crayons and cold weather crayons. We’d chosen cold weather because we thought breeding season would be cold. But that day it was very warm, so the crayon had already started melting the minute we put it on the buck. With the first breeding, it covered both participants. Then all the other does came over to rub on the first one. In just 5 minutes we had 35 green does and one green buck..
Whenever mishaps like this happened as part of my goat research project, we added them to our list of “Things Farmers Never Tell You.” I figured that all farmers must know how to put on a marking harness, how to choose the right crayon temperature, how to set up an electric fence, how to train their livestock to the fence, and then how to manage their grazing for maximum profit and success. I thought there were no instructions because farmers and ranchers grew up knowing all this, and so newbies like us were just going to have to learn the hard way.
Fifteen years and loads of ag conferences later, I realized that lots of other folks, including experienced farmers and ranchers, were suffering from “Things-Farmers-Never-Tell-You.” I also realized there was a lot of information out there that needed translating into steps we could all use to be more successful. And that’s when On Pasture was born. Like our tagline says, we translate research and experience into practices graziers can use NOW” and that’s made us the most read grazing resource around.
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P.S. I couldn’t find any instructions or video for putting a harness on a goat. Maybe that’s because they smell so bad. But here’s how to do it on a sheep. (Yes, Bill Fosher, I KNOW I should have worked with sheep! :-))