Meet Steve, our milking line champion buck! Steve is one of three bucks we added to the herd this year for the purpose of breeding, though he has had a rather long and winding history with Stepladder.
He was born on March 18, 2016 at Alcea Rosea farm - a local dairy where Jack and Michelle purchased most of the goats in our herd including Steve’s grandmother and our herd matriarch, Almond (read about Almond here).
His original purchase was unplanned; Jack and Michelle had gone to Alcea Rosea in order to pick up a new doe, when they spotted a beautiful young buck that they just couldn’t leave behind. They promptly talked Bev, the owner of Alcea Rosea, into selling the young buckling to them and decided to name him Steve after Bev’s husband!
He grew rapidly and spent the first few years of his life at Stepladder siring dozens of new babies each year. Then, after keeping Steve on the ranch for three years, Jack and Michelle decided it was time to trade him to another local dairy in exchange for a new buck in order to diversify our gene pool and prevent inbreeding. So, for the last 2 years Steve has been off siring another ranch’s youth while we diversified our own herd’s gene pool with two new bucks. But then this year we were given some astounding information about Steve’s genetics that inspired us to bring him back onto the ranch for another breeding season!
This new information came about due to our recent partnership with Dairy Herd Improvement Association, which measures both the quantity and quality of the milk produced by each of our does. These measurements quickly uncovered the surprising fact that 4 of our 5 best milkers are Steve’s daughters and 8 of our 10 best milkers are closely related to him (his sisters and grand-niece)! With that knowledge revealed to us, we promptly decided to bring Steve back into the breeding herd for this year’s breeding cycle in order to bring some more of those magic genes into the herd. Of course, we can’t breed him with his close relations, so instead we plan on once again pairing him with the mothers of all of our best milkers to try to bring full-sisters of our best milkers into the herd!
(A collage of 8 of our 10 best milkers, all of whom happen to be Steve’s relations. From Left to right, top to bottom: Gabrielle, Paprika, Betty Lou, Mary Anne, Stephanie, Regina, Hollyhock, Cheerio)
Temperament-wise, Steve is a pretty easy going buck for most of the year and gets along well with his handlers and even the other bucks. But, as with all the bucks and even most of the does, his personality changes during the hormonally-charged Autumn breeding season. These hormones encourage him to fight non-stop with the other males, which is why we separate the males during breeding season and give them each their own bachelor pad in which they will live through the entirety of the 2 month long breeding season.
(Steve trying to charm the camera. Apparently in the goat world, sticking one’s tongue out is appealing…)
This extra-interesting time of year is fast approaching, so keep your eyes on our social media feed to see Steve flirting with the does in all his bearded billy goat glory!