Developing the ideal meat goat: one man’s vision

By Donna VanTreese Shelby

When Dale Coody laid eyes for the first time on a Savanna goat at Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla., in 2002, he was awe-struck by the animal. “They had one Savanna buck, and it was owned by someone else,” he said during a recent interview at his ranch near Lawton/Fort Sill, Okla. That incident sent Coody on a search. He said he obtained a list of Savanna owners from Pedigree International, but learned that, at that time, just one person owned most all the bucks, which were farmed out to other goat ranchers for a percentage of the kids. Then he spoke to the well-known goat specialist, Dr. Frank Pinkerton, who told him of someone in Texas who had Savannas. Coody said absolutely no one would sell any females, but he did contact the lead from Pinkerton and was finally able to purchase two bucks. He stayed in touch with the seller, who would eventually change his plans. After about six months he sold Coody the rest of his Savanna herd, which included nine females and two more bucks. The import papers showed they were all from a group of original imports, so Coody said he know they were pure. During this time Coody was still contacting as many breeders from the P.I. list as he could find. “I drove 3,200 miles and looked at every Savanna anyone would let me look at, “he said, adding that there were several who would not allow him to see their goats or visit their place at all. But he eventually was able to buy two more Savannas, one in North Carolina and one Virginia. Coody today has breeding stock numbering approximately 25 fullblood does, seven fullblood bucks and about 100 percentage does. So, now that he’s obtained these apples of his eye, just why does he like them and what are his plans? One Reason he likes Savannas is the muscle they show, not to mention their hardiness. And the Savanna is certainly an attractive breed with tis white hair and black skin, another distinction made to order for climates where never-ending sunshine can burn pink skin. “I would put the Savanna with any of them (i.e., other goat breeds),” he said, describing their tolerance to worm loads and resistance to hoof problems. He added that the Savanna also seems to do well foraging. “I’m doing a two-fold operation.” Coody said he is working with both the fullblood Savannas and the fullblood Kikos with hopes for the future creation of an entirely new composite breed, the Sako (rhymes with play dough). “I think it’s going to be the answer to the commercial goat raiser’s dilemma,” he said, providing for commercial producers a goat with the stamina and mothering skills of the Kiko and the muscling of the Savanna. The primary complaint Coody has about the Kiko is its lack of muscle. He believes the Kiko developers made a mistake by bringing dairy goats into the picture and breeding “no muscle” to “no muscle.” “But there’s no question that the Kiko is the best mother.” He said Boers, with which he also has had ample expeience, are simply not good mothers. And while the Savanna is better than the Boer, the Savanna is still not quite to the level of a Kiko in that important trait. “I’m just convinced that the Kiko-Savanna combination is going to be an awesome goat,” he said, obviously enthused about the prospect.