Pictures of "Examples with Stories" for different Teat/Udder Structures
The following pictures are examples of teats and udders from our herd. This will describe what we believe are good and not so good structures. It also describes characteristics we watch for or cull out. We no longer try to follow the ABGA standards because they have become too "show" focused and little to no emphases on trying to breed for better "Meat Goats" with high productivity, long longevity, and require minimum management. We will breed for what we believe are the best characteristics for our vision of the premier meat goat in the US.
Single Teats per Side - This is very clean looking teats on a doe kidding for her first time. Many breeders like this because it is very clean and if they breed bucks with single teats to does with single teats, hopefully the offspring will also have single teats and avoid complications of other teats, blank teats, split teats or fishteats. Some research confirms the probability that the kids will also have single teats. Notice that the teats are at or above the hock. This gives newborn kids a better chance of finding the teats quicker. Notice in this example the teats are pointing almost directly to the ground. The larger the udder, the lower to the ground the teats will be and harder for the kids to find the teats. We code this type of teat structure as 1/1.
Udder with Single Teats -This was this doe's first time kidding and she had a small bag initially. This required us to supplement her twins with additional milk since she could not provide sufficient milk. This is not a single or two teat per side issue. This is just a genetic issue of how much milk a doe produces. Most of time the udder will get larger with each kidding. This will bring on an additional potential problem. If the udder gets too large, it will make it harder for the kids to find the teats quickly or at all. It is important that the teat and udder confirmation makes it as easy as possible for the kids to find a teat quickly and start getting colostrum. Once a doe kids, the antibodies in the colostrum continue to weaken and shortly they will not pass on the immunities that are needed to protect new kids until they develop their own immunities at around 3 months old.
Single Teats per Side -This is also a doe with single teats. The importance of this one is the doe is 9 years old. Notice the teats are still around the height of the hock so it is easier for the newborn kids to find. Another important fact is this doe just weaned triplets that she raised on her own with no problems. She has also produced doe kids the last two years that have identical teat structures. This shows excellent genetics for continuing to hold up well and also proving she passes the genetics along. We believe she will be able to breed for several more years. This is highly productive genetics to have in our herd and we have two of her daughters in our breeding program.
Udder with Single Teats - This is the udder of on the doe shown above. The importance here is how firmly attached her udder is for a 9 year old doe that has kidded many times. Again notice that the udder is holding the teats around the height of the hocks so the teats are easy for the kids to find. Another interesting fact about this doe is he produced identical does over two years when bred to the same buck. Yet earlier, when she was bred to a different buck, she produced different results. This is a clear sign to us that the buck can play a big part in what teat structures the kids have and we are big believers that we have to have bucks with good, clean teats.
Udder with Single Teats - This doe also has a single teat on the side shown. However, notice how low the teat is below the hock. Her bag was extremely large at this last kidding. Her bag got larger at each kidding. This year, the kids could not find the teats and it was impossible for us to help them nurse from the teats so low. Because the bag was so large, it was close to the ground and rubbed on her legs. The bag ended up getting infected and mastitis. She was retired and will no longer be bred. Also notice to shorter teats. This is a problem, especially when the bag is the biggest because it stretches the base of the teats and makes it impossible for the kids to suck from it.
A Single Teat with Nubs - This is basically an udder with one major teat but there is a short nub of a teat on either side of the major one. The nubs will not have an effect on the function of the major teat. In fact, the nubs may be functional. We will not know until she kids. Our concern with this doe is she had a doe kid last year with a split teat. However, she had triplets and the other two did not have any teat problems. There is a picture of the doe split teats and her brother's clean two teats per side. She is bred differently this year and we want to see what she produces. DNA samples of her, two of her kids and the sire have been sent to the university for study. We code this as 1/1 N. The "N" is a flag for us to watch what she produces so we can determine if she may produce unwanted teats with other bucks that we know have clean teats.
Two Teats per Side - This is a picture of a 5 year old doe that has just kidded. We love this type of teat structure. First, the teats are at or above the hock making it easy for new kids to find the teats fast. Second, one of the teats is higher than the other one. That is the teat the new kids will find first because they are always looking higher than any teats will ever be and as they come down they will find this one. Third, look how much separation there is between the teat on the left and the teat on the right. That means two kids can easily nurse from one side. Fourth, all four teats are functional. We want our does to be able to raise triplets on their own and she has done that. Another reason for two teats per side when you have three or four kids is the teats are less likely to be chewed up by the kids fighting for a teat. When a doe has triplets and only single teats, we have seen the teats get chewed up by the kids fighting for them and eventually the teats get so sore, the doe won't let them nurse and may likely get mastitis. We have seen this many times and have heard from other breeders that confirm the same findings. We code this 2/2 W. The "W" indicates there is good separation between the teats on the same side.
Udder with Two Teats per Side - Again this is a 5 year old doe that has kidded many times but her bag is still firmly attached with good amount of milk but has not allowed the teats to get below the hocks. Strong genetics for exactly what we look for in the teat/udder structure with our breeding does.
Finding the Higher Teat First - Thanks to Nan Walker for this picture. This is a newborn nursing from the upper teat. Notice the upper teat is around the same height as the hock and the lower teat is a good bit lower and pointing downward. The upper teat almost always points toward the front of the doe making it easer to find and it helps get the colostrum into the newborn much faster.
Triplets Nursing at the Same Time - In this picture, you can only see two kids nursing on the same side at the same time. However, there is another kid nursing on the other side. This means all three kids will get milk every time the mother allows them to nurse. When a doe with single teats has triplets, one will always be left out when the mother has them nurse. Eventually all kids will normally get milk but one will always be left out and the weaker one will normally miss more of the feedings and not grow as fast. Thanks to Nan Walker for the picture.
Two Teats per Side - A second example of good wide teats at different levels and at hock level. The difference in this doe is she is 9 years old and has several more years of being productive. We still have her dam and she is 11 years old. We decided to retire her mother but she could have easily been bred again. Plus check the color of the pigment on the bag and teats. Her mother came out of embryos directly from South Africa. We code this 2/2 W.
Two Teats per Side - This doe also has two teats per side and the teats are not below the hocks. The difference with this doe is there is not as much width between the teats on this side. There is on the other side. The means that two kids could nurse on this side but it would not be as easy. We code this 2/2. There is no "W" added to flag us that this is the "Ideal" structure but it is still very good.
Position and Angle are Everything - Here is a picture of two teats on one side. The one to the left is almost always the additional teat. If you remove that teat as if it had never been there, you are left with the one on the right that is positioned where a single teat would be on this doe. It is directly behind the leg and the angle is downward. This would make it very difficult for a newborn to find, especially quickly when time is important for the newborn to get the colostrum soon. Now look at the left one again and see how much easier it would be for a newborn to find it faster. Two functional teats on the same side always offers twice the choice of teats for the newborn to find. Thanks to Nan Walker for this picture.
Looks Like a Single Teat - Although this looks like a single teat, the teat actually has two orifices in one teat. Normally that is not a big deal to us because that just means there will be more milk delivered to sucking kids. However, in this situation, it is causing the teat to actually get larger or starting to become a bottle teat. When that starts to occur, each year the teat will be bigger around and harder for a newborn to get their mouth around it. This doe has never passed that trait on to her offspring but she will not be as productive as long as other does we have discussed. We code this 1/1 BT.
Split Teats - This is a picture of a young doe with split teats. The picture below is of this doe's full brother and he has two clean teats per side. This is one of the test cases we are working with a university to determine if any unique DNA can be found that relates to split teats. Why does one sibling have split teats and another has clean teats? We have sent these pictures to the university and have gathered hair samples for DNA testing. Samples were collected from the doe and buck kid, the dam and sire and the grand dam. The university already has DNA reports on the grand sire and great grand sire. If required we will send additional samples on half sisters of the dam that have good clean teats. We code this 2/2 S. The "S" is a flag warning us to check on future kids if we decide to keep the doe to see if this trait is being passed on or were we able to breed out the bad trait.