Colouring in goats, it seems to me, doesn’t matter in the show ring, and it certainly doesn’t matter in the milking parlour. Do you find, though, that judges have colour preferences? Do customers? Do you?
In the Pygmy breed it does; only certain patterns are accepted. With Nigerians though, all colors are acceptable. Because of this, a judge cannot place a Nigerian higher or lower because of their coat color. I have noticed that most buyers seem to prefer crazy color patterns. I also like the flashier goats.
Two of my favorite color patterns are broken buckskin (like our own Pistachio Dream–see below) and moonspots (on our new buck, Apache). One thing that is very important, though, as a breeder, is to not allow pretty colors to cloud your judgement! We will not purchase or breed a goat just because they have a flashy coat. Confirmation comes first and pretty colors are the cherry on top.
I love the black and whites, as you know. Blue eyes are pretty, but not as important to me. I know a lot of people like them, and some breeders even charge more for them. I read one breeder, however, state that her experience was that blue-eyed goats don’t produce as much milk. How do you feel about blue-eyed goats?
I love the look of blue eyes, but again, I will not put blue eyes before conformation when breeding. They are just added bonuses. As far as milk production, eye color is not related. If a particular breeder notices decreased milk production in her blue-eyed does, it’s possible they were related and not from strong milk lines. If a breeder starts breeding for blue eyes over milk production, then it is possible to get a lot of blue-eyed goats that have weak milk lines, making it seem like blue-eyed does don’t produce as well.
Speaking of goats’ eyes…they’re amazing. As a hard core fan of science fiction, I think the squared, horizontal irises look alien. Any inside scoop on why they are how they are, and do they ever stop freaking you out?
Goats eyes are actually very unique! The rectangular pupil allows them to see at a 330-degree angle (humans see at about a 185-degree angle). The odd shape also improves a goat’s depth perception in their peripheral vision. This is necessary because goats are considered prey, and in a natural habitat, they would normally be trying to escape predators on uneven ground. I personally love the look of goat eyes because they are so unique have such an interesting function.
(The stunning photos above and below came from To Sing With Goats, a blog from an Oregon goat farmer. I hope she doesn’t mind my pinching it; it took my breath away and I simply couldn’t resist.)
Thus endeth Part the Fourth. Stay tuned for the fifth and final installment of our conversation, wherein things get wrapped up.