This year I had two does due to kid on the same day. I would prefer does kid as close together as possible. Although it makes it a busier, more hectic time, it gets it all done with, AND if you are raising bottle kids they have friends to be with. As usual, although I had a due date in mind, once we get within 7 days I start to make extra checks on the gals. Usually just morning and evening check unless something seems off. I mainly use ligaments as a guide to when a doe will kid. Once you know where ligaments are it is a sure fire way to pinpoint kidding. Does cannot be without ligaments for more than 24 hours. It's crucial to their structure.
During evening chores on April 24 I felt for Lucy's ligaments. They were there, but softer and more sunken than previously. Her udder also looked a bit larger. I figured she wouldn't kid overnight, but tomorrow could definitely be the day. Lucy goes last on the stanchion in the morning, but she was hesitant to jump up, and when she did there were no ligaments to be found. I always really feel thoroughly. Some goats are fatter and therefore are harder to feel the ligaments on. There was nothing, her udder was quite firm, so it was official! Babies are coming!
I have probably been too involved in kiddings previously. Well, it really depends on the goat. Last year Lucy seemed to want some distance, and ended up kidding without anyone present. That is not a problem unless you plan to pull a kid. This year I knew pulling a doeling was something I planned to do, but I also wanted to give her space. I made the difficult, executive decision to leave, go back home, and give her some time to progress. I planned to go back at about noon, which ended up being perfect. When I got back, she was alone in the barn while everyone was out in the field. She was laying down, making some noises, and was quite gooey. That's always an exciting moment because you know it's happening soon!
She got up when I got there and I opened the kidding pen to see if she would be happy there. She was absolutely thrilled, and went right in. She displayed a lot of classic kidding symptoms. Laying down, standing up, re-positioning, pawing and making a nest. All normal and classic. I sat with her some, but didn't want to make her feel off or uncomfortable. I had brought a book, and went to the stanchion and just read. Within an hour or an hour and a half, she started making the noises. If you've been around a laboring goat, you know what I'm talking about! The screaming, grunting, groaning means we're down to pushing kids out.
I went and sat with her. I use puppy pads to place kids on and help dry them off. They are disposable and fairly absorbent. I do not really assist with kidding at all unless there seems to be a problem. The big thing to note here, is once pushing starts, a kid should be pushed out within 30 minutes. Any longer than that and there is some type of problem. Thankfully the kid presented perfectly, and slid out quickly. Lucy started cleaning it up, and the second one was born within a minute or two. There were two surprises, one, it seems as though Buddy was the sire, and secondly, they were both bucklings! I had so, so hoped for a Lucy/Buddy doeling! Next year?
Just like last year, Lucy is a wonderful, tentative mom. Along with that, her udder is exceptional, her production is wonderful, and she has a lovely disposition (only slightly sassy!). She cleaned and dried the kids quickly. The only issue I had was she nipped the umbilical cord on one boy so short he started bleeding quite a bit. I re-dipped it in iodine quite a few times, and also had to use blood stop powder and vet wrap to give it enough compression for the bleeding to stop. Lucy and the boys, named Starsky and Hutch, are doing great. They are beautiful!
Wow. This hiatus was a LOT longer than I had intended. I really love writing, and especially blogging. The thought that my words may go out and find someone who needs to hear what I have to say, or just enjoys reading is amazing to me. The end of 2015 was a brilliant blaze of busy and a plan for better days in 2016. To get us reaquainted and catch you up on farm happenings, here’s a rundown on the last 5 months of 2016…
-The first week of August we drove and hour and a half to purchase a new herdsire. A beautiful moonspotted nubian buck. His name is Buddy, and he has been an adventure.
-We sold Roy and Roger, the nigerian dwarf bucks we had late September. We were going to butcher them, BUT they got so smelly we changed our minds. The gentleman who picked them up was getting them for meat I’m sure. He was extremely kind to them as he loaded them up, even giving one a kiss on the nose, that I knew their life would be ended with kindness.
-I tried out using an anti mating harness on Buddy, as I wanted to make sure we didn’t have kids born when it was really cold out.
-I basically gave up on the garden. The lower garden became a lost cause, though we did get a small potato harvest, a small pumpkin harvest, and a nice zucchini harvest. The larger upper garden was a pain to keep even slightly weed free, but we got a nice harvest of tomatoes, and a great harvest of peppers. I canned 22 pints of jalapenos! The back to eden garden got weedy, but not like the others. In the fall we started converting the large upper garden into a back to eden garden as well for 2016.
-I came to the conclusion that both our turkeys were hens, and found them a stunning black spanish tom.
-I also realized both our turkeys were in fact meat turkeys. Our gals are HUGE. I’m hoping to get the best of both years having heritage, meat breed mix poults to raise.
- we purchased half a cow and tried out a pork bundle from a local butcher.
-I am rendering my own lard.
-we butchered 50 chickens in one day.
-rearranged the goat barn, and added a hay bale wrapped with a cattle panel as a feeder and gave them a stock tank for water.
-in October I took the anti mating apron off Buddy to anticipate March kids.
-in November girls were still going into heat!!
-right before Thanksgiving we went and picked up ANOTHER buck, this one an ok looking lamancha, for hopefully late April, early May kiddings.
-as the last doe went into heat Buddy may have finally figured out how things work, but we won’t know until babies are due what we will get!
-right after we got Buddy the first of August, he caused some of the girls to go into heat sooner than usual. That’s what adding a smelly boy goat will do. Miri went into heat, but the apron saved her. And I suppose the apron would have worked to keep Ladot from getting pregnant too...except her dad/uncle both escaped. Yeap. How lovely. So she is due literally any day now. (in the coldest time of the year of course)
-right before selling Roy and Roger I made a big mistake. I opened their pen one day to take them on a walk with everyone else. No one was in heat, and they had been locked in a small paddock for weeks. When they finally caught up with us, I realized Lola apparently was in heat! I drug her back to the pen as quickly as possible, but I’ve not seen her go into heat. So, I assume she is bred, and due in February.
-as the temperatures got colder, and the goats roamed farther for food, they started visiting the neighboring cemetery. Until we can fix the fence there I didn’t allow them into the pasture. So they started escaping into the yard. I had to make emergency goat stops at the farm daily for a couple weeks until I fixed where they were getting out. They haven’t escaped in awhile, knock on wood.
-Lola, Lucy, Miri, Pixie, and Trixie keep getting their heads stuck in the cattle panel around the hay, so...we duct taped sticks to all of their heads. They look so silly, BUT no more stuck heads!
-Haha, just kidding, one of our big gals really tried, and managed to get her head stuck...so we had to cut her out.
-I learned goats are the bane of my existence.
I’m exhausted just rehashing all these details! I’m kind of glad 2015 is behind me, and I hope 2016 is full of lots of milk, and eggs, flashy doelings, well behaved goats, and no weeds in the garden!
How was your 2015? Any big plans for 2016?
Recently as I did chores with my niece she asked why I chose goats. I've been thinking about the question ever since. It seems as though the most common dairy animal is the cow. So then, Why goats? Why choose these super cute, but totally ornery livestock?
One of the most notable differences between goats and cows are their size. A dairy cow can weigh anywhere between 1,000 to 1,800 pounds. The largest dairy goat breed (Saanen) has an average weight of 150 pounds. As you can see that is a significantly smaller animal! This is something I was attracted to as I spend a lot of time alone with the goats. When it comes to giving oral medicines, worming, and kidding, I feel I am in a safer position than if I was doing those things with a cow. I've also had the misfortune of having a fat, sassy goat step on my foot...I was thankful in the moment I decided on goats! Because of a goats smaller size, it means they also eat less hay and need less space than the average dairy cow. In addition to that, goats browse more than they graze, so they are well suited to hill-y, brushy areas. They love eating things like poison ivy and brambles.
As goats are smaller they also give less milk. This can be a pro or a con depending on what your needs are. In my case, it's a pro as I'm just starting out and don't want to end up wasting milk. The other thing I love about goats milk are the health benefits. Goats milk is easier to digest due to smaller fat globules, and lower levels of lactose. This means it is easier to digest and some individuals who cannot tolerate cow's milk can tolerate goats milk.
To get milk you must breed your dairy animal. In general, cows have one calf, sometimes two. Goats usually carry twins or triplets, with quads and quints possible but less common. This can be beneficial in many different ways. You can use the doelings as future milkers or replacements. If they were registered, have good conformation and are good milkers (or good potential for milking) they can be worth a few hundred dollars. The boys, if suitable, can be sold as breeding bucks, or raise them up for slaughter. If you don't need more milkers, but would like to butcher the kids, you could breed your dairy does to a meat breed. The offspring would be meatier giving you higher yields.
Goats have personalities much different from cows. They are ornery, exuberant, curious, and stubborn. They are playful, energetic, and always a joy to watch. They wag their little tails when they are excited, will baa to you, and their bellies jiggle when they run. They remind me a lot of cats, they dislike water, can be fussy and finicky, are exceptionally cute. They have their downsides, but I can honestly say if I didn't have dairy goats I would still own a pet goat.
There are negatives to owning goats. They are escape artists, can have parasite problems, and have a love affair with food. Altogether though they have completely stolen my heart. They are kind of like the goldilocks in the diary world. Not too big, not too small, not too much milk, not to little. These guys are just riiiight.
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My name is Monica, I'm passionate about farming, food, and the humane treatment of livestock.