Traveling isn’t really my thing ?
So when I heard that the annual ADGA convention was coming to Arizona, I knew I should take advantage of it being so close. While I’ve own ADGA registered goats for 12 years now, I recently have begun to take part in their ADGA Plus program, like milk testing & linear appraisal. And since Crystal from Blue Cactus Dairy Goats has got me completely hooked on showing, I’m now definitely full into this “little goat hobby”.
The ADGA convention is open for all members to attend. You can sign up for workshops or just attend the daily classes. There are dinners, parties, & the much-anticipated spotlight sale at the end of the week. My goal was to stay as long as possible & soak up as much information as I could. While I consider myself very knowledgable on raising goats — I am always looking to learn any new information that may improve my herd management practices. I was most excited to meet other goat owners with ADGA plus herds. I have a few goat friends locally, but I wanted to see if I could make some friends who were as deep into this obsession as I currently am. And boy, did I!
The lineup of classes & workshops
Before I dive into my favorite lectures & what I learned, here’s the schedule of events for the entire convention.
My classes & workshops
- ORGANIZING AN ADGA SHOW by Bev Lonchar
This was an incredibly helpful & interactive lecture. Bev has been organizing local shows here in Arizona for years and was able to give us all good insight into how to successfully organize a show. She gave us all her tips & tricks, and at the end she divided us into groups and gave us different scenarios, then made us fill out the application forms ourselves. Overall it was really helpful & now that I have a good understanding of it, I’ll volunteer to help at the next show here so I can really learn in the field:) Hopefully in the future I can organize some shows myself because more shows in Arizona are always needed! (sorry, no notes for this one)
- SKIN PROBLEMS: PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT by Darryl Casterton, DVM
This one was a good overview of potential skin diseases — wether they be from parasites, fungus, bacteria, or viruses. The snowball effect of skin diseases can really wreak havoc on your herd and can contribute to stress, weight loss, anemia, and other problems with your goats. I really enjoyed how this was taught, and I learned a lot. We’ve never had any skin issues on our farm (other than urine scald on our bucks), but it’s good to know what to look for. (download my notes here)
- THE POWER OF HIGH-QUALITY FIBER IN PRODUCTION GOATS DIETS by Holly Burke of Standlee Premium Forage
Whenever a lecture is taught by a vendor, you always have to take it with a grain of salt. However, Holly did a good job of going over the different hay options and the pros/cons of each. Since my goats’ nutrition is the main focus of my herd management, I can’t say I learned anything new here, other than the idea that maybe I should add beet pulp to the buck’s diet during rut (breeding season) as they tend to eat less and expend more energy during that time. Funnily enough, I do actually already use Standlee timothy & teff pellets — which I really like (and my goats seem to like it, too) We also had a discussion in the class about the new “Lespedeza hay” and the pros/cons of feeding it. Apparently it is a natural antithelmintic (anti-parasite), but only when eaten fresh. When dried, the tannin levels reduce & it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Some breeders have tried to grow it themselves but have found it is tough to establish. Also some state departments deem it invasive, so there can be some setbacks when trying to grow it yourself. I’m not convinced it’s best for goats yet, but it is interesting. Overall I liked the class and it gave me a good overview of the different hay options available for goats. (sorry, no notes for this one)
- CAUSES, DIAGNOSIS, & TREATMENT OF MASTITIS by James Kennedy, DVM
I really enjoyed this class and I learned quite a few things I didn’t know about mastitis. Mastitis can be genetic, in that it is found in lines of heavy milkers, and those with weak ligaments or poor teat placement, but ultimately there can be many different strains of bacteria that can cause it. Mastitis can also be contagious, so it’s important to separate a doe from the herd if she has it. I also didn’t know that certain bacteria that causes mastitis can be contracted through the water supply. Also, a Staphylococcus aureus infection (the bacteria known for causing food poisoning) is the most harmful cause of mastitis, as it is 80% fatal. We also talked a lot about precocious udders and that it’s best to apply a teat dip but avoid milking out the doe because a precocious udder is usually caused by a hormonal imbalance and doesn’t have the same cycle as a normal doe (where they naturally produce less at the end of the season). Instead, in a precocious udder, if milked, will continue to produce more and more until mastitis develops and many end up requiring a full mastectomy. (download my notes here)
- BUCK HEALTH & PRODUCTIVITY by Dr. Roselle Busch, UC-Davis
This class was really fascinating, and I enjoyed diving into the world of buck care. There are so many things to know about these smelly creatures! We talked about body scoring and general yearly care, and then we dove into improving spermatogenesis (hint: giving flax seed oil 45-60 before breeding season has been proven to work) & preventing urolithiasis (all about the calcium to phosphorus balance – as we all know – but it’s also about not feeding too high of a protein diet, as it can cause pizzle rot as well as it alkalinizes the urine) Anyway, lots to learn here so I took some good notes for this. (download my notes here)
- DAIRY GOAT NUTRITION by Dr. Michael Schlegel
We started off by going over the digestive system of an intermediate ruminant (goats). Next we went over the macro & micronutrient requirements of goats, as well as mineral balancing. This was really informative and I enjoyed this class. We also learned how to read labels and how the industry is changing from displaying crude protein to now displaying metabolizable protein — which gives the breeder a much better picture of how much bioavailable protein is in the feed. (download my notes here)
- SELECTING & EVALUATING DAIRY GOATS by Tamara Taylor
Tamara made this such a fun & interactive class! My only complaint would be that some of the attendees spoke too much, but I guess that’s what happens when you pack 100+ breeders into a class, haha. Tamara stressed the importance of knowing what your ideal animal looks like and to focus on just 2-3 traits to improve before you move onto the next. She went over common phrases you hear in the show ring like “full in the crops” and “spring of fore rib”. My favorite part is when she showed us just the udder of a goat, then would show us more of it and in the final picture would be the full shot of that goat. It blew all our minds at how deceived we were just by seeing the udder and how important it is to really look at the whole animal and how important balance is. (download my notes here)
- MANAGING DOELINGS FOR SUCCESSFUL CONCEPTIONS & UNCOMPLICATED DELIVERIES by Samantha Cubbage, DVM
This was sort of an odd class and I think it came down to a miscommunication because Dr. Cubbage dove right into typical pregnancy concerns like toxemia and what a normal parturition looks like. A few of us asked if we were gonna cover specific management for doelings (all of us in the class thought this would be about how to make sure a first-timer is at the correct weight & age) but we never covered that. So in the end, still good info for beginners, but not exactly what I was anxious to learn & discuss. (download my notes here)
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS by Alan Tessneer, Stuhr Enterprises
Because this class was taught by a vendor, we didn’t go over all the supplements available to goats — just the two this company offered. However, it was very interesting and I really enjoyed it for how deep we went into the different studies & treatments for ketosis. I personally have never had ketosis in my herd, but something I learned in this class is that in a study of 49,000 pregnant goats, while 7% had clinical symptoms, 30% had sub-clinical ketosis, which is concerning. We talked about the effects of subclinical ketosis on a doe and how that can affect her milk production throughout the year. I found myself pretty convinced of using their Glucose booster as a preventative 30 days before kidding & 30 days after. Fun fact: it actually doesn’t have glucose in it (because if you try to treat/prevent with glucose, 88% of does will develop insulin resistance) but it does have a combination of glycerol, propylene glycol, calcium propionate, rumen-protected niacin, and cobalt, which helps a doe’s body get out of lipolysis. Anyway, I found it interesting, and I plan on trying it with my does to see if it helps them recover after kidding better, produce better, and get back to condition faster. (download my notes here)
- LINEAR APPRAISAL WORKSHOP
This was an all day workshop, and I seriously could not write notes fast enough! I learned so much my head is still swimming with info. I’ll definitely be writing more about this soon, but in the meantime, if you’re curious on how a goat’s body conformation is assessed (which is similar to LA), check out my post here.
Overall, I had a great experience (& no ADGA didn’t ask me to write this haha) I just thought it would be a good idea to put my experience & notes up for fellow goat breeders:) Oh that was one thing I really enjoyed — making new friends and meeting fellow goat owners from across the country! Plus I got to see my friend Crystal from Blue Cactus Dairy Goats, which is always fun!