December 6, 2013

November 29, 2013

Picture day! :D

Today I decided to take my goats' photographs, and look how well they turned out:

The Great Maia
A  badly focused close-up of her nose. Stop smelling the camera, girl!

 Yes, sometimes my goats are more curious than photogenic. After trying for a long time to get them to sit in one place long enough for me to take a picture, I bribed them with alfalfa. Behold the result:

Hey! Come back here!

They bring it under the sleeping shelf to eat it. :-\ I put some more on top of the shelf, thinking that this might work better:

Ain't Roxy purdy?

This will have to do for today. Maybe they will be more cooperative some other day.

A long overdue post

Yes, I know that I haven't posted in a long time. And yes, I know that you have been waiting. I have been very busy… But I’m back and writing another post, so let’s get to the point!

First, I have several updates:

  1.  I sold Aphrodite. Hay prices were up and we had 8 goats on the farm (this includes Carina’s goats) – it was time to downsize a bit. She found a very good home and will be a pet for the rest of her days… Happy Aphrodite.
  2.  Roxy had her babies! Good news: on June 1st, she delivered all girls! Nice Rah…  Bad news: one of the three doelings was a stillborn, approximately 2 weeks dead. This made the birth complicated and a former goat-leader from my 4-H group had to come over and help her out. More good news: Roxy made it out alive and recovered quickly!
  3. Carina moved! Her family and their goats moved to a nice property with a big barn. We miss them but are happy for their good luck in buying such an awesome place!
  4. I’m breeding Roxy again, this time to a Nigerian Dwarf buck. LaMancha ones are scarce when you don’t want to drive over an hour, and I think that the tiny babies that she’ll have with the Nigerian will be easier for her to deliver… I don’t want to risk losing her again.
  5. And last, and probably least, I have changed the look of my blog. Take a look around! Tell me how you like it.
I hope that I can make several posts during this last month of the year and that they will somehow make up for the lack of posts in the last six months. So long... for now!

June 16, 2013

Preparing for babies: Getting your kidding kit.

I have finally got enough time to put together a post on getting together a kidding kit, but I know that for most people kidding season is already over. Oh well, it's better late than never! Anyway, here are some things that you'll want to get:

  • Towels - These are for drying off the babies when they come out. You'll need two per baby you're expecting, one for drying and one for wrapping her to keep her warm. You'll also want to bring a bag to take them back to the house in, they're going to get gross!
  • Flashlights - If your doe kids at night you will be grateful for a flashlight. Make sure you get two bright ones with fresh batteries to make sure that you aren't left in the dark.
  • Navel clamps or iodine - It is ultra important to make sure to dip or clamp the babies cord soon after birth, otherwise the kids umbilical cord might get infected. I prefer the clamps because they aren't as messy as iodine, they are reusable (make sure to sterilize them), and they're safer.
  • Baby nasal bulb - You have no excuse for being without this! They're cheap, easy to get, and are a must-have for sucking mucus out of a kids' nose and mouth.
  • Weak kid tube - This is for feeding kids that are too weak to drink milk. The soft tube goes directly into their stomach and thus allows you to feed them. This is not a crucial supply, but it might save your kid's life.
  • Baby Bottles - Even if you're not planing on bottle feeding, get some baby bottles just in case something happens to your doe or she rejects the kids. I really like Evenflo's classic glass 8 oz bottles, though you do have to cut a small x in the nipple so that the babies can get milk fast enough.
  • Disposable surgical gloves - These are very important to have just in case your doe has problems and somebody has to "go in". Just because people tell you that your doe probably won't have problems kidding anyway doesn't mean that you can skip these; be prepared or you'll be sorry.
  • J-Lube, OB Lube, Safe-Lube, or K-Y Jelly - This is another product that you'll need if your doe has problems kidding. A really good lubricant helps that hand slip into the doe and might be the only thing that will get the giant baby out of her. Some people say that you can use Vaseline or vegetable oil, but they simply don't work.
  • Syringes, needles and Penicillin or LA-200 - If a doe is assisted in labor she needs antibiotic shots for the next two weeks. I prefer LA-200 because you only need to give it every 70 hours, as opposed to Penicillin which is given twice a day.
  • Nutri-Drench - This is not an absolutely necessity, but I suggest getting it. It works like magic on weak kids, moms, and tired, pregnant does. When Roxy had a very difficult kidding this year a friend gave her a couple pumps of Nutri-Drench; it had her standing, eating, talking, and drinking again in only a couple of hours.
  • Calcium Drench - Again, unnecessary but a good preventative measure! Milk fever is caused by calcium deficiency. Calcium deficient does pull calcium out of their bones to put into the milk and can die from it. I didn't use any Calcium Drench this year, but I intend to get it next kidding season!

June 3, 2013

Roxy's Delivery - Part One

I admit it, a little fuller is an understatement
On Saturday June 1st, at 8:15 am, I was feeding the goats. I was, at the moment, feeding Roxy and she had just finished her grain. I was reaching for her collar to take her out of the milking stall, and thinking to myself about Roxy and what was going on inside of her.

Roxy was due June 4, but lots of goats had been kidding 4-7 days late this year - for some unknown reason. On the other hand, LaManchas are known for often kidding 3 days early. Taking those two facts into account, Roxy would probably kid on her due date. I'd already emailed Brittney (last year's 4-H goat leader) and asked if, in case of a difficult delivery, she could come over and "go into" Roxy and help out a bit. She'd said sure. My kidding kit was in the milking stall already - just in case she had the kids before the 4th, but so far she was showing none of the kidding signs. Or was she? Hadn't her udder looked a little fuller this morning? Hadn't her ligaments felt just a little softer? I bent down to check her udder.

Look at that giant belly!
Suddenly, she stopped pulling toward the grain bins, away from my grasp. She paused her breathing and gasped a little. Then she started going for the bins again. My heart jumped. Had that been contraction? I pulled her out of the stall and bent down to check her udder again. Definitely beginning to fill up.

After feeding the goats their hay, I walked back to the house to get a proper breakfast for myself, and I thought about everything. I do a lot of thinking. When Carina's dad came to milk Dicey and feed her babies, I thought, I would coolly tell him what I suspected. We'd then move Dicey's babies out of the kidding/baby pen, where they had been moved to from Carina's house a week ago, and put Roxy in. Then I would come back to the house and text Brittney, the 4-H  goat leader, Cassie, the owner of the buck Rah that Roxy was bred to, and call Carina, who was out of state visiting relatives and wouldn't be back until late Sunday night. Then I'd check on Roxy every hour or so and try to find more signs.

I finished my eggs and wondered about Roxy's babies. How many would she have? I thought three, as her belly was 17 inches wide, but she might have only two. Was today the day, really? Would the kids be boys or girls? Rah had sired mostly girls and, though I wanted girls, I didn't want to make the boys (if there were any) feel unwanted. Yes, even boys would be nice. Would the babies be white like their dad or be mostly black like Roxy? How about the ears? Would they be big or tiny like Roxy's?

Then I thought about You, reader. By the time you read the post I would write, those babies would be out and running around...

To be continued!

May 11, 2013

Goat Words

If you are going to be reading about goats, you should learn the lingo! Here are the meanings of the most common words used by goat owners:

Goat terms:

Buck/Billy - Mature male goat
Doe/Nanny - Mature female goat
Kid - Baby goat
Buckling - Young or baby male goat
Doeling - Young female goat
Yearling - A one year old goat
Wether - A male goat that has been "fixed" or castrated
Sire - A goat's father
Dam - A goat's mother
Freshener - Female goat that has given birth


Kidding Season - The time of the year that kids are born, usually from February to June
Kidding/Freshening - This is what it is called when a doe gives birth
Disbudding - The removal of horn buds on a kid
Lactation - The time during which a doe is producing milk

Parts of a goat:

Udder - The main part of a doe's mammary system. It is like a "bag" with two separate sides and two teats
Teat - The part of the udder that the milk is squeezed out of
Wattles - Small lobes of skin on a goats neck. If a goat has wattles there will usually have two, one on each side, but they can appear anywhere on a goats body.

Dicey's babies are here!

Yesterday at about 7:20 AM Dicey had twin girls! We almost missed it but, fortunately, Carina's dad came to check on Dicey at exactly the right time. I arrived at the barn just as Dicey was starting to push out her first baby; a beautiful black, brown and white girl with splendidly long ears!
Just Out
Hardly had we dried off Dicey's first baby when another one started to come. Within minutes, we were drying off a second girl with even flashier coloring then her sister! We let Dicey clean her and then we dried her and wrapped her in a towel to keep her warm.
The second baby is immediately wrapped in a towel
After delivering two babies, Dicey looked, and felt, really thin. She started delivering two placentas and we gave her molasses water, peanuts, and let her clean her babies.
Dicey is cleaning off her babies - with our help.
After we dipped the babies umbilical cords in iodine to prevent infection, Carina milked Dicey and fed the babies. Baby #1 had some trouble figuring out the bottle, but baby #2 caught on really quickly.
First Meal
While Carina's dad cleaned up the messy straw from the kidding pen and fed the goats, - who had been temporarily forgotten in the excitement of new babies - we got to hold the babies.
Nap time! Being born is tiring.
Soon after, Carina brought the babies home. They will stay there for almost two weeks and then the kidding pen will be converted into a baby pen so that they can live in the barn without the risk of being trampled on by the older goats.
I went over to get more acquainted with the little girls a few hours later; and guess what! They were already up and wobbling on those little legs!
Kids learn to walk just hours after birth
As you can see, Carina is keeping was keeping them in a laundry basket; but as soon as they learn to climb out they will have to be moved.
All cozy and ready for another nap

May 2, 2013

Let's dry her off!

To dry off a doe is to stop milking her. Ideally, a goat is dried off two or more months before she has babies. This is a good idea for several reasons:

  1. It gives the doe time to rest and recuperate before she has babies and has to go through another strenuous ten months of milking. It's really hard on a doe to have babies and produce large amounts of milk. She deserves a break!
  2. The major part of a kid's growing takes place in the last two months of pregnancy. If the doe is producing milk, her body will be so worked by trying to produce milk and grow babies that she or the babies might develop deficiencies resulting in sickness, miscarriage, or difficult kidding. Scary!
  3. It gives you time to rest. Don't you ever get tired of going out twice a day in rain, snow, fog, or whatever else, and afterwards having to go through the process of filtering, cooling, and storing the milk?
  4. If you don't dry your doe off, she might dry off by herself anyway, and then (horror of horrors!) you'll feel cheated!

Have I convinced you? If not, you are free to go elsewhere for advice. Since you are still reading this, I will assume that I have. So let us continue...
To dry off a doe (as aforesaid), you have to stop milking her. When a doe dries off in nature, it is because the baby gradually stops drinking her milk, then pressure in her udder tells her body to produce less of it. Anyway, here you have it:

How to dry off a milking doe

  • About two months before the date that you want your doe dried up by - the exact time depends on the doe - start milking her once a day. Here's how to go about it: milk her out entirely on the first morning, and then check on her in the evening to see how she is doing. If she is very full, milk her out half-way; otherwise you can leave the milking until morning. Repeat this process every day until she is comfortable (i.e. producing a little less milk and not filling up as tightly).
  • Now you can start milking her every other day. Begin on the first day by skipping the milking, or if she is still producing too much milk to do that, milk her out only half-way. On the second day, milk her out entirely and on the third repeat the process of the first day. Again, continue until she is comfortable with it.
  • At this time you may start milking her every third day. To do this, pretty much repeat the same thing that you did to start milking her every other day.
  • By this time, your doe is probably very much dried off, so much so that it would feel comfortable to stop milking her altogether. If that is the case, go ahead! If not, keep making the gap between milkings longer and longer. By the time you get to a week between milkings, your doe will probably stop producing milk and you will be able to stop milking her.
You might hear some people say to discontinue feeding a doe grain when you are drying your doe off. I disagree. Removing the grain will not stop milk production; it will only cause the doe problems from trying to make milk without the proper protein.

Also be aware that though she has stopped producing milk, her udder will not necessarily look empty. If she is not getting any fuller, but she is still at least partly full, it just means that she has not yet started absorbing the milk back into her body. Roxy has only a little more than a month until her babies come and she still looks half-full of milk!

February 21, 2013

Are mountain goats really goats?

The other day I saw a magazine in a gas station with a picture of a mountain goat on the front cover. I naturally wanted to know what they had to say about them, so I decided to take a peek. Just as I opened the magazine to the appropriate page, my mom called me to the car. Still, as I was closing the magazine, one sentence caught my eye: Mountain goats aren't really goats; they're a type of Antelope.

Now, that came as something of a surprise. It never had occurred to me that a mountain goat might be an antelope, not a goat! So I looked it up. Here's the information that I gathered:

Mountain goats are close relatives to goats, but they are more properly known as goat-antelopes (click here for a description of a goat-antelope.) The mountain goat belongs to the subfamily Caprinae along with 32 other species including goats, sheep, the chamois, and the musk ox. The mountain goat is not a member of Capra, the genus that includes the wild goat from which the domestic goat is derived, but he is the only species in the genus Oreamnos.

February 15, 2013

A Day In The Life with Dairy Goats

I found this 5 Part Video Series called A Day In The Life with Dairy Goats. I thought it quite entertaining and also learned how to make a natural udder wash. Hope you enjoy it too. Here you are:

February 1, 2013

Handy Goat Supplies

Here is a list of some supplies that I especially like. You can click on the picture or name of an item to go to the website that sells it.

Feeding and Cleaning:

Storage crate- When coupled with a bungee cord it makes an inexpensive hay feeder that can be attached to fences. It's handy when you just have a couple goats or if you need a portable feeder.
Rubber feed pan- I like to use this for feeding young kids grain. It's low enough to the ground for them to get to and wide enough to feed four or five at a time. The rubber is bendable, so it doesn't crack if a goat stands on it
6 quart mini feeder - This is easily hooked over the front bar of the milkstand to hold your doe's grain. You can get circular ones, which are narrower and deeper, but I prefer the rectangular ones.
Feed storage bin - Works very well for storing grain and chicken feed; it's easy to open and it seals tightly when closed. You can also use a garbage pail to store grain.
Gerber 9oz. baby bottles - Inexpensive and effective, these are what we used these for Dicey's triplets last year. Carina did have to replace the nipples after the kids bit through them, but they work amazingly well for the price.
Rake - Rakes are handy for raking up stray pieces of straw, hay and goat berries from the yard. I like ones with bendable metal tines best; they rake out the dips in the ground and last a lot longer then plastic ones.


Stainless steel pail - These come in a variety of sizes; you can get a Nigerian dwarf sized pail or one that you could milk your elephant into. I got mine from Hoegger Supply but you can also get it from Amazon. Kirkland Premium Baby Wipes - I like to get these for cleaning goats' udders before milking, and wiping my hands if they get dirty.

January 31, 2013

Feeding Pregnant Goats

Text is taken from Raising goats for Dummies. Read the full page here.

A pregnant doe doesn't have increased nutritional needs until the last two months of gestation, which is when the kids do 70 percent of their growing. But the doe does need additional water throughout pregnancy. A feeding program for pregnant goats is as follows:
  • Early pregnancy (first 3 months): Feed does to maintain their body condition or to improve their body condition if they are thin. You can meet their nutritional requirements with good hay or pasture, or some added grain for thin does. Unless they're lactating, does don't need grain in early pregnancy. Do not overfeed. Overfeeding can lead to complications such as hypocalcaemia and ketosis.
  • Throughout pregnancy: Monitor and compensate for pregnant does' increased water consumption. Pregnant goats can drink up to four gallons a day. Monitor body condition and adjust feed and water accordingly.
  • Late pregnancy (last two months): Does' nutritional requirements increase greatly during this time because the unborn kids are growing rapidly. Start grain gradually (just a handful a day) until your does are eating up to a half-pound of grain a day (depending on the goat size and breed) or half to two-thirds of their normal milking ration by the time they kid, in addition to hay. Gradually replace their hay with alfalfa so they get the proper balance of calcium and phosphorus. Continue to monitor their body condition and adjust feed accordingly; does carrying multiple kids need even more calories and nutrients.

Make sure not to overfeed grain during pregnancy to avoid the risk of having the kids grow so large that the doe has birthing difficulties. And very important is that your doe has access to a free-choice mineral mix or block. I like to also provide baking soda at all times as it helps balance a goats acidity level in their rumen. Anouther thing I like to give to my pregnant does is apple cider vinegar.

January 6, 2013

Roxy is now (hopefully) Pregnant

When I went to milk Roxy yesterday morning she was wagging her tail almost non-stop, which is one of the signs of heat. I gave Cassie a call and we were soon on our way over, Roxy in the back of our car. We were lucky, as she was in standing heat. All it took was to put them together for fifteen minutes, then we loaded Roxy back up in the car and went home again. Her due date is June 4.

January 3, 2013

Update on Roxy

On Tuesday we brought Roxy home. She was happy, but not bred. It seems that I somehow made a slight mistake in my timing for bringing her over; I missed the beginning of her heat and when we dropped her off she was beginning to go out of heat.

A good time to breed a doe is shortly after they go into heat. The best time is in the middle of their heat. Another good time is near the end of their heat, but some goats don't like to be. Roxy seams to be one of those. At the end of her heat, though she was wagging her tail violently, she would not let Rah touch her. When Cassie held her to see if she'd let Rah come near, Roxy broke away and ran to the other side of the pen. She didn't use her voice, but with her eyes she said: "How dare you!"

We'll try again soon, and probably to Roxy's joy. Roxy very much enjoyed herself there and she has a good reason. Cassie has a warm barn, really nice alfalfa-mix hay, and water heaters to keep the water warm. Even so, I can tell that Roxy is glad to be home. And I'm glad to have her back.