Autry Farms - Lexington, Tn

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Although there are several bloodlines in the Spanish goat world, We try to stay with the larger meat type. Wienheimer, Kensing, Koy & Devil's River:

Weinheimer Ranch
The Weinheimer Ranch was founded in 1878. Roy Weinheimer, like many Texans of his time, raised Angora goats for mohair, and kept his Spanish goats for feeding the family. He brought Spanish goats onto the family-run Weinheimer Ranch in the 1950's, and was a very progressive Spanish goat breeder for that time—he started selectively breeding them right away. Weinheimer would add a billy here and there if he found a better one.
The herd was closed completely from the 1980's to 2004.
In 2004, the Weinheimers added some Kensing bloodline as an outcross. However, the original gene pool was not swamped by this, and the Weinheimer bloodline retains some unique Spanish genes.

Among the herd may be found a dozen or so 'blue' goats. For those of you who have never seen one, they are indeed blue. More blue than grey.

The Weinheimer goats tend to have horns that show less of a twist than most Spanish. Horns are part of their breeding selection criteria, and the Weinheimers prefer horns that are broad-based at the base and have less twist, sweeping back and flaring broadly. They find that such horns correlate with depth and volume of body.

The billies grow to be 230-250 lbs if their diets meet their nutritional requirements, but average under 200 lbs. in working conditions. At the Ranch, goats are raised on natural Texas forage. They occasionally receive supplemental feeding to ease handling, and this has helped to keep the goats very gentle.

Weinheimer deworms twice per year: right before the breeding season and when the kids are weaned.

Predatation determines whether or not the billies are kept with the nannies year round. On Weinheimer's 2,200 acres, some areas are safer than others, and goats are moved or separated in response to how coyotes are working the different pastures. Most births are twins, and the ranch usually has three kid crops every two years.
Weinheimer keeps about 10–33% of his bucks as breeders, and keeps however many nannies he needs to keep the herd numbers up, and sells the rest for meat.
The biggest toll on the herd is coyotes. Coyotes have, in the past, killed one third of the population of the herd. And recently, they did it again. Weinheimer has tried to work every anti-coyote angle possible: government trappers, dogs, bait capsules, donkeys (who killed some kids themselves so they were booted off the ranch), llamas, you name it. Weinheimer has killed approximately 100 coyotes in the past three years. And they're still just as thick. He recognizes that the problem isn't just the death-toll numbers, it's the toll on selective breeding. Weinheimer has seen coyotes kill one third of his nannies and 100% of his kid crop in a 3-week period. There are just too many coyotes for a well-managed ranch to handle.
The coyotes are not selective-Weinheimer believes that sometimes coyotes will get your healthiest nannies just for the thrill of the chase.

Weinheimer goats are primarily selected for conformation, volume, and maternal traits, such as reproductive abilities and well-attached, small udders with small teats. Weinheimer goats are very hardy, forage well, are parasite-resistant, and are excellent mothers. They have no hoof problems, and require little maintenance in their environment.

Named after Robert and Doris Kensing, Menard, Texas

Robert Kensing was an economist for the Texas A&M Extension Service. One day in 1972 an extension agent called him in about horticulture——a local hobby farmer in Menard, Texas was considering growing pecans. When Kensing left that farm, he brought away 15 does and one buck. They were Kensing’s first goats. The Kensings had just purchased property in Menard, and although they still lived 60 miles away, they put the goats on the new land. The goats could eat brush and required very little maintenance. The Spanish goats were a weekend hobby, but right from the start Kensing began selective breeding and culling. When Kensing retired in 1986, he moved to Menard, expanded the ranch, and devoted his time to breeding purebred Spanish goats.

Robert Kensing had grown up with Angora goats, which were a popular breed in Texas when mohair commanded a high price, so he had experience. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, Kensing’s family were some of many ranchers who raised sheep and Angora goats in Texas. They also kept Spanish goats. When the shearers came, the crew would camp out on the ranch. Most were Mexican, and were very happy to eat goat meat. The ranchers ate it, too. That’s what the Spanish goats were for—you needed a small animal that you could eat before the meat went bad, because in the Kensing’s area, farms didn’t have electricity until the late 1930’s. Lambs were more expensive than goats. Angora goats were more expensive than Spanish goats, because Angoras could be sold for both meat and hair. Spanish goats were just for meat, so those were the ones for eating. And the Spanish goats could just take care of themselves.

Around the time that Kensing moved to Menard, meat goat ranchers in Texas were getting excited about imported breeds, specifically Boer goats. Boers became fashionable and popular, and most breeders chose to breed their Spanish goats with Boers. Not Kensing. He knew that very often that first generation of crossbreeding is very impressive, but as time goes on the crossbreeds may not prove to be everything hoped. So he kept his Spanish goats purebred, and added good stock to his herd. The additions were bucks. Two big, beautiful bucks from a Sonora breeder (no longer in the business), and some bucks from Bill Brown (now deceased) in Menard. There were also some from San Angelo. Kensing would pay the price for excellent bucks—$300 in the 1980’s to bring bucks of excellent conformation into his herd.

The Kensings had a friend out west who needed bucks, and that type of demand helped shape their breeding strategies. The Kensings breed for kidding in January and wean the bucklings in April. The bucklings are then kept separate from the herd, and given feed daily to help them fill out and to keep them gentled. In September, bucks are leased out for breeding, and in December they return home, and are left to forage. Of these bucks, some are culled in January or February, but the best live on to breed again.

The Kensings?ranch features gently-rolling hills and great expanses of oak trees. Limestone rock in the hills has always kept the goats?hooves naturally trimmed. There are no natural water sources for the goats, so they drink from troughs. Temperatures often reach 105 or 110 degrees in the summertime, which the goats seem to enjoy. The average annual rainfall is 20 inches.

The Kensings goats forage on weeds, Live Oaks and Shin Oaks factor greatly into their diets, and Robert Kensing keeps an eye on the Shin Oaks to make sure that the goats do not eat them all down to the roots. Mesquite and Prickly Pear also grow in abundance. The goats avoid eating the latter, but they will sometimes tiptoe in to eat the Prickly Pear fruit. Kensing has worked hard to control the cacti and Mesquite on his ranch. There is rarely snow in wintertime in Menard, and during winter months there are still tall, dried grasses standing, so cut hay is never used. When the goats?feed is supplemented, Kensing uses 20% protein grain cubes and shell corn. The bucklings receive the supplemental feed, as do the does at kidding time. The amounts given depend on the quality of the natural forage available.

Weather plays a large role in the Kensings operation. Rain can bring worms, and Kensing can visually assess whether or not the goats need to be dewormed, primarily by looking at the pinks around their eyes. The forage is affected by the weather, too, which then in turn can affect the birth rate of the goats. Triplets are not unusual, but if the weather is tricky during the year and forage is poor, the goats mostly have twins.
If weather conditions through the growing season are normal, about 10% of the does will have triplets, most will have twins, and there will also be single births. The Kensings do not interfere at kidding time, and if a weak kid cannot make it through with normal care, it is left to its fate. Does are given shelter at kidding time, but usually take refuge in the shelter of the oaks.

The Kensing bucks weight in at 100 lbs when immature at eight months of age, and 175 lbs when full grown. The does weigh about 150 lbs at adulthood in good body condition.

Doris Kensing’s favorite Spanish goats were always the ones that were kind of different—the “furry" ones. These have a thicker cashmere undercoat which, Doris believes, protects the kids better from the elements. They have slightly different horns, and different, less gentle, temperaments than the rest. Their horns tend to grow more straight back than outwards, but there is only slight horn variation within their herd. The Kensings goats have small sideways ears. Cashmere is no longer tolerated.

The Kensings do not usually breed for color, but did have a client who preferred brown goats, believing that brown coats helped to camouflage the kids and keep them safer from predators. The Kensings obliged him, and ensured that their herd included mostly brown bucks to sell. Most of their goats are brown or dark tan with a black line down the back. Some are spotted.

Robert and Doris Kensing still raise purebred Spanish goats, but most of the herd is now in the hands of their nephew, David Whitworth, who is dedicated to continuing conservation of the Spanish breed.
Koy Ranch
In 1991, Zona Koy Hunt purchased 20 Spanish nannies. She grew her herd, adding a Spanish billy here and there to avoid inbreeding, and maintained a tight cull. Good breeding stock was rarely if ever sold, it was kept to increase the herd.

Before Mrs. Hunt passed away, she asked her family to watch over her black Spanish goats, and her daughter Koy and her husband Jim Adcock loyally continue to maintain and improve the herd, which had grown to approximately 400 goats by 2009.

Koy Ranch goats are bred for many attributes: conformation, mothering ability, tight udders, width of frame including width of horn placement, longevity, and color. Only black goats are kept: they were a favorite of Zona Koy Hunt and also of daughter Koy Adcock, who always enjoyed the dark colors found in many old-style Texas and New Mexico Spanish goats.

Koy Ranch rotates pastures, which range about 350–1,000 acres each. The goats are kept friendly with occasional very small amounts of corn: about a handful per goat per week is all it takes. They have well-water and salt blocks available, but apart from that they are on straight forage year-round. Forage on the Koy Ranch consists of a west-Texas medley of live oak and acorns, tough weeds and grasses, prickly-pear apples, etc.

Koy Ranch nannies kid unassisted at the rate of 28% singles, 70% twins, and 1.6% triplets. They are bred in October for March kidding in a 350-acre kidding pasture.
Nannies average about 100 lbs., and billies weigh approximately 200+ lbs.

The Adcocks cull heavily. Anything that is less than 'perfect' is sent to slaughter. The Adcocks are putting their efforts into keeping their herd of purebred black Spanish goats going strong for generations to come.

Story by Koy Adcock, 2009
Devil's River

“Uno" is a buck with a remarkable story. He belonged to a rancher who decided to raise Boer-cross goats, and was the one of the last purebred Spanish goats in the herd that got caught out. Uno was just a kid, and was scheduled to be eaten for dinner by his owner. That is, until Marvin Shurley saw him. Shurley was struck by the structural soundness of the little goat, and made a deal to buy him on the spot. Thus Uno found a reprieve from the BBQ pit and a new home on Shurley’s ranch in Sonora, Texas. Uno became the reference buck for what is now called the Devil’s River bloodline.

Shurley had raised Spanish goats for many years, running up to 2,000 head at one time, but got interested in Boers in the early 1990’s and crossed his Spanish goats with Boers. However, as the President for the American Meat Goat Association, Shurley is able to stay well-informed on the studies and trends of meat goats in the United States. And he had learned from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy that Spanish goats had been assigned as a conservation priority. He knew then that he’d like to put together a Spanish herd before the breed disappeared altogether.

So Shurley started with Uno, and set out to find some Spanish nannies. He found out that Eugene Bradshaw in El Dorado, Texas had put together a group of 900 Spanish nannies; Shurley chose what he considered to be the top 49 nannies out of the bunch and bought them. Since then he has added a performance-tested Sawyer billy to breed with Uno’s progeny, and to produce sires for use in his composite breeding program. He’s breeding both Spanish billies, Uno and Eddie, to Boer and Spanish nannies.

Shurley’s ranch has the same terrain as most hill-country goat ranches, with Live Oaks, Shin Oaks, and fairly dense brush. Apparently the brush is a deterrent for eagles, making landing and take-off too tricky for them. The ranch is devoid of coyotes, which have been virtually wiped out in the area by commercial ranchers' trapping efforts over the years. There are still predators though, mainly bobcats, raccoons, and foxes. Shurley does not use any livestock guardian animals, relying solely on traps and snares. In the past three years he’s caught 120 bobcats, 400 raccoons, and about 100 foxes, which not only benefits kid survival, but is also a fun and profitable hobby.

Shurley primarily chooses Spanish goats that are structurally sound. He likes large-framed and heavy-boned goats that show no signs of frailty. He prefers black coats, but does not breed for color. The goats are expected to be hardy—there is no deworming, and natural forage is only supplemented when necessary by 20% protein blocks.

Shurley would like to state that many of the long-time breeders of Spanish goats listed on this website served as an inspiration to him in his meat goat ventures over the years. And he wishes to say, “Thanks to all of you who stuck with Spanish goats.
History of Devil's Run herd by Marvin F. Shurley, February 2008. Shurley passed away in April, 2009.