Our herd is 100% G6S Normal now...But it didn't start out that way.
(This was written in 2013)
When we went from having home milkers to having a commercial cheese dairy, it suddenly dawned on me what a big responsibility it can be to breed goats. Good conformation and high production are important for our operation, but health tops my list every time. Sick goats aren’t as productive and take up way too much time. Then another breeder called me up to tell me that she had just spent almost $1000 in tests on her herd as she tried to track down what was wrong with one of her does. To me the doe’s symptoms sounded like classic G6S Affected symptoms. Unfortunately the doe had been destroyed by then so it was too late to test. That’s when I decided that G6S was an important health AND economic consideration.
As the cost to test our entire herd was pretty high, I decided to just test all of our bucks. Four out of five tested as carriers! The carriers were wethered. Thank goodness for Reuel Rhesa’s JJ Rio Grande who had been flown down from Sandy Riehle’s place in WA earlier that year. He was the only G6S Normal boy (and is still the shining star of my buck herd). Debbie Emholtz of Jacob’s Pride, bless her heart, also came to my rescue and lent me a lovely G6S normal buck to use. Another friend lent me a very nice (very expensive) fella from a nationally known herd, but he turned out to be a Carrier. We used him on two does – all his kids tested as Carriers.
Since there had been so many carriers in my buck population, I was quite worried about the does. Most of the bucks were youngsters that I had kept or purchased due to my growing commercial herd needs and hadn’t used yet, but I was still worried. So I took the plunge and tested everyone. I was very relieved that only three of the does tested as carriers. This all happened in 2005 – can you imagine what a herd full of G6S affected animals I could have now in 2013? It cost over $2000 to get the herd tested but I am SO thankful that I tested that year. By now I would be losing a lot more money than that due to dying kids, not to mention the heartbreak. It still took me until 2009 to finally have a fully G6S Normal herd since my Carrier does were quality enough to continue working with.
Some people have been wondering how prevalent G6S is. Whether the statistical “averages” are 1% or 99% for me it just doesn’t matter. I had a G6S time bomb in my herd and I’m glad that it got defused. I don’t look at testing as an expense – it truly is an investment. G6S is a genetic problem, so now that we know our herd is 100% free of this defect, we'll never have to test again since a G6S Normal doe bred to a G6S Normal buck can only produce G6S Normal offspring.
This is the story of what happened here at Black Mesa Ranch. We take the health of our herd very seriously and in return the goats reward us with high production and beautiful babies.