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!