Our happy goats give healthy milk!
A year after purchasing goats has given us a breeding program and offspring! Kidding season was scary and fun, wrapped all into one package! Goats are not for the casual farmer and it has been a year of learning but more is yet to come!
It amazed me at how small and big they could look while pregnant and really not deliver what you thought they had growing inside.
The boys did their jobs well and were happy to comply with my requests. Spicey was hand bred to Puddin' so I knew the date of conception and the date she would be due to kid.
After the girls were bred to the boys in their respective pens and more than 21 days had passed when I knew they would not cycle back around then I allowed the boys to go out with the does in the big paddock. This worked well for the winter until I had to change feeding programs for the pregnant does.
As the pregnancies progressed the girls laid down a lot more. They still did not look huge and being bred to Nigerian Dwarf bucks I did not expect them to get as large as if they had been bred to their standard bucks. And also, a first freshener has tighter abdomen muscles so they won't look quite as big the first year so I was not too worried.
Sophia actually started looking pregnant about 2 months before her due date. I suspected she would give me 2 kids. She was bred to Java, though I really wanted to breed her to Spicey. He was not interested in her so I tried Java, who had no hang ups about it at all.
Is it rumen or is it kids...... time will tell. Pepper was bred to Java and had a May 8 due date. Ha!
An exciting addition to the play toys for the goats was a HUGE tractor tire for them to play on! This one will actually be in the front pasture and we have one a little smaller for the back paddock.
You can see how large it is with the Great Pyrenees/Anatolian beside it.
Let the weather get a bit bad and the goats are inside! They do not like rain or sleet or snow nor a wind that blows hard.
If you saw my first goat page you will have seen "Friend", the Guinea. That story has developed a lot and I have had such an interesting time watching this bird on my farm. If you follow my farm page on FaceBook you will have seen how much this Guinea has added to the daily farm fun.
Friend initially loved only Java but soon was good pals with Spicey, as well. He never did take to Bob, the wether.
The hay feeder works much better once attached inside the shed but some pigs..... uh, ..... goats can't wait to taste the goodness. I try to always feed an Orchard/Timothy mix since they also are offered the Chaffhaye as a big part of their diet.
Only a dairy goat person, or maybe any goat person, would understand the excitement of seeing an udder develop on a pregnant doe!
With impending births and needing a dry place to milk in the days afterwards I had to rethink my location for the girls. When a bartering deal fell through for my front pasture I just turned the end stall of my barn into a birthing stall and milk station. I already had it fenced off for a poultry grow out pen from the back paddock but I took the old fence down and put up new fence for the goats.
I left the girls out in the back paddock with the boys until almost a week before the first due date. The boys were pretty good with them and I was training the does to go into the kid pen to eat their meals, while the boys stayed in the back paddock wishing they got to feast like the preggos.
I was not worried about coyotes or foxes or any other predators with the goats. I have found the LGDs to be worth their weight in gold on the farm!
The day was quickly approaching for the first doe to kid. Sophia was first up and she looked the part. Her abdomen and udder had filled up nicely. In anticipation of the new arrivals I happened upon a great purchase of a fabulous scale. This would come in handy for weighing newborns and on up to 18 lbs and also weighing the milk.
Another thing on the list of getting ready for kidding was to shave the udder and rear end so there would not be a lot of mess to deal with afterwards or hair in the milk bucket.
Puddin' was due 3 days after Sophia, though she wasn't nearly as big.
Puddin' got her spa day, too.
Then all we had to do was wait for the miracles.
Sophia did not disappoint. Her due date came and she fallowed the rules. She had all the signs of early labor, she was restless, her ligamints were gone, her mucus plug fell out, she was pawing the ground and she was acting out of sorts. She was right on time for her kidding!
She started having contractions.
She went into the barn to give birth.
She asked that I please come be with her and close the door for her privacy. It was quite a quick birthing and I did not get any photos of the miracle. It was much quicker and quieter than I expected.
Within a few short minutes two beautiful kids were on the ground and she was licking them dry. I had thought I would need to help dry them but she was proficient and my research showed that the cleaning of the kids helped her heal faster and drop her milk better. I let her be a mom because I remember how special those first moments were after giving birth to my own daughter. It is the most natural thing in the world and I did not want to take that from her.
On March 24, Sophia gave me a doeling I named Misty and a buckling I named Meat. I, of course, thought they were perfect! Sophia is a standard Nubian but the kids are out of Java, a small Nigerian. The kids weighed around 7.5# each at birth. Not bad!
Next up was Puddin'. Her due day came and went.
And another day.
Then another day.
I was getting most anxious!
She seemed perfectly content.
Meanwhile I was enjoying watching Sophia's kids grow and play. Not much cuter than a bouncing baby goat with big ears!
And then finally! Pudding decided to get busy, 5 days late! I was very worried about some big kids at this point.
She was up and she was down and she was pushing and she complained and she screamed when she really had to push but still not as bad as I had seen on videos. She ground her teeth a bit and did the open mouth "It hurts" yawn but was actually very good.
Then Puddin' blessed me with a chocolate doeling that I named Tootsie Pop. I was waiting for another kid to come out but she only had this one 6.5# girl and I was fine with that!
And again, I let her be a mom and do her own thing. She knew exactly what to do on cleaning her up and passed her placenta quickly. Knowing the genetics and background of the parents I quickly saw that this doeling took after her great grandmother in color. I found that to be so interesting!
During the delivery we had a cat on standby. Not sure why she wanted to be right there but she was interested in the process.
Within a short while of being born Tootsie Pop was up and looking for colostrum. Puddin' was not nearly as pleased with the sensation. I was worried mothering had been bred out of her but she settled in to being a mom just fine.
Sophia never had any problems with mothering. She took to it great but she was dam raised herself so being part of a developing herd was not new to her.
Puddin' filled with milk very well after kidding and shows her beautiful little udder. It may look small but she produces a lovely quantity of milk every day.
And she really loves her baby girl. She thinks she is pretty and sweet and keeps up with her as much as she can.
Sophia pictured here at 18 days fresh, giving me 3# or more of milk with a 12 hour fill. I separate kids at night starting at 2 weeks old and collect the milk for our family use, then let the kids have the milk all day.
I worked as hard as I could to get the front paddock finished up to move the boys up front so the girls could go out in the back paddock with their kids during the day. Slow going when you work alone but almost time to move the boys up there to trim some weeds down for me.
As much as I love this little girl I believe my plans will not include her. She will be up for sale but until the time the right person comes along she will enjoy her life here on the farm with us. Tootsie Pops' parents are the Alpine doe Puddin' and Spicey, the Nigerian Dwarf buck. She is an F1 mini Alpine.
The Great Pyrenees/Anatolian puppy was very interested in the new kids. I had him in the pen inside the doe's kidding pen to get used to the kids and learn they were part of the farm.
The girls trained to the stanchion very easy with the promise of a taste of sweetfeed. I give very little in the way of sweet treats but they will do anything for a taste of the sweets.
And this is why we have dairy goats. Fresh, sweet, creamy milk! A real delight for us!
Goats love toys. Especially anything they can jump on and climb! Meat and Misty found this dogaloo to be fun to bounce off of, run in and out of and try to conquer getting on top.
Misty and her sire, Java. Misty is being retained for future breeding and more milk production. She will be bred back to another F1 mini Nubian.
The spring grass is good for growing kids. Puddin' and her daughter, Tootsie Pop, enjoy some nutritional grass while Pepper takes a load off. She is the next one due to kid and has looked pregnant for months. She even grew a scur on her head, which made us think she would have a boy tucked inside.
At a few days or less than a week old, the horns were taken down so they hopefully will not grow. I have had horned goats and they were not very pleasant for me. They were always stuck in the fence or catching them on something, including me. And getting them into a stanchion can be difficult. I prefer no horns so had these disbudded.
Goats love to be on or inside of something. I would put my dog crates inside the barn but know they may destroy them with all the jumping. However, the baskets are a joy for them so they jump in and out and often take naps inside them.
Wait! What is that peeking out from the stall behind Tootsie Pop!? That is a new face!
A new breeding buckling added to the farm. This boy is Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf cross and hopefully will be bred to Misty this fall. I named this handsome young fella, Dooley!
Dooley settled into our routine very well. He is a bottle baby, of course but thankfully we have giving does. The Nubians were very accepting of him but the Alpine took a bit longer to welcome him into the herd and there are still some days she finds fault with Dooley.
And still, we wait for the upcoming kidding date for Pepper! She is getting big and we have fingers crossed for a safe birth with two nice kids.
Friend, the Guinea, took up with Dooley for a while. This male bonding thing was getting weird around here. I tried to give Friend some Guinea girls to form his own flock but that did not go over well. However, spring fever hasn't quite hit yet and we are still hopeful that Friend will find his place in his own species. The goats like him well enough so it isn't a big problem but I worry what will happen when I move the bucks up to the front paddock.
Time was getting close for Pepper to kid. She was developing a nice udder so I went ahead and shaved her in preparation of her due date.
There is not enough I can say about the kindness of the Nubians. I can see why they are so very popular. This breed is giving and sweet. Pepper tolerated Tootsie Pop using her as a play toy, even while she was heavy with her own pregnancy. Day after day this kid jumped on this doe and she would occasionally get aggravated and snap at her but it would not be long before she was back on her.
I really think this boy will add a lot to my girls. He doesn't have registration papers but then again, I am not registering any of my offspring. I have "pedigrees" on my breeder goats but plan on a mostly closed herd and am tired of paying to register animals when it is all for my own benefit anyhow.
Oh no! A week early! Pepper gave birth to one doeling, weighing in at only 2#!!! Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of the farm and continuing saga with the goats. How did this tiny baby make it?
And what's this..... Friend is checking out one of the girls that I offered to him a few months back....