|Tulip laboring in the kid box.|
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Kinder Goat Week.........Day Twa.....
Yesterday we learned all about how to pick out a good lookin' goat. Today I'll blather on about kidding, milk production, and how we raise kids here at Goodwife Farm.
First off, once again I have to say, this is just how we do things. It's not a hard and fast rule and I don't condemn other folks for doin' things different. Please afford me the same respect ;0)
'Round here I prefer hand breeding. That means I like to bring the buck to the doe when she's in heat, let them do their thang, then put the buck back in solitary and wait to see if she comes back in heat in 21 days. If she' doesn't, she's probably bred (but not certainly) and you know to start looking for kids in 145 days. If she does come back in heat, then do it all again. Some of you may remember that this year, I pasture breed because I don't have a wether to house with Tommy and I don't want him by himself. Even though I pasture bred this year, I still know the exact dates my girls got bred because I pay attention to these sorts of things. I know my girls and I know when they are in heat. I'd be a total nut case if I wasn't sure when to expect babies!
Around day 143 I start locking the expectant mother in here at night.........
This is the kidding stall and it has it's own hay rack, water bucket and kid box.
My kidding season is usually in January and February so the kidding box keeps babies toasty warm. It is a plywood box stuffed with straw and has a heat lamp in the corner. The heat lamp is securely fastened through a hole in the top and can't be knocked down. The kids very quickly figure out that it's warm and snug in the box and they can usually be found snuggled up in a pile in the corner. The box is big enough for Momma to get in with them, and when it's really cold, Tulip is smart enough to kid right in the box! This kidding season I'm expecting kids in mid May and early June so locking them in here won't be as much of an issue. I will just make sure to lock them in the main part of the barn, away from Champ, lest he should accidentally step on a new baby or a laboring Momma!
You can expect kids anywhere from 142 days on. Goats can and will surprise you and have their kids on their own timetable!
Here is a video of Star birthing her kids last year.......
After the kids are on the ground I hold them and snuggle them and love on them. I make sure they get a good slug of colostrum before going in the house and I also like to rub them dry a little bit, but I mostly like to just let Momma and baby get to know each other. I try not to interfere unless I have to. I have had to pull kids, but I like to let the doe do most of the work. I do like to be present at each birth and have a lot of sleepless nights between day 145 and the grand day! Now here comes the controversial part..........I don't iodine navels and I don't vaccinate kids. There I said it. I've never done this and we never did this when I was growing up. When a range cow calves, or a deer has a fawn they don't get iodined navels. I've not had any problems doing things this way. That's not to say I may not have difficulties at some point and if it becomes an issue I will of course react accordingly! Cleanliness and avoiding over-crowding goes a long way to eliminating health problems in any animal herd.
Sometimes (especially if you have triplets or more) you may have some really scrunched up lookin' babies and some funky lookin' legs.
One of Tulip's triplets two years ago had a leg that swung like a clock pendulum. I thought it was broken, but I just kept an eye on it and within a few days it was as strong as could be. I've also had kids born who walked on their "knuckles" for a few days. I leave them alone and see if they straighten out. They almost always do! (I've yet to have one that doesn't, but that's not to say it can't happen). I believe that less is more in raising critters and feel that God knew what He was doing when He created the goat and I interfere as little as possible.
This brings me to my next point...........I dam raise my kids. I don't condemn how other folks do it, that is their business. For me, taking the kids from the doe goes against my principals. Yes I've had people tell me I'm stupid for feeling that way, and that's ok too, but for me, I just can't do it. My goats love their babies.......
Truly love them. They recognize their babies even when they are adults and they never stop loving them. I just can't stand the thought of taking them away. They carried those babies for 5 months, went through the labor to get them here, lovingly cleaned them off and softly called to them, proclaiming their love and teaching the baby to recognize their voice. After watching that time and again, I couldn't bear to take the kids away from Momma. They only HAVE to nurse for 8 weeks. I can do with less milk for 8 weeks, and besides, the way I see it, that milk is for baby goats, and I'm just sharing it with them!
As soon as the kids are about 3-4 weeks old, I lock them up in one of the stalls at night. They all get locked in there together with water, hay and a smidgen of grain. Momma stays out in the main part of the barn. Then in the morning (roughly 12 hours from when I did evening chores) I got down and milk Momma. For the first week I'm milking, I don't milk her out all the way. Then I let her off the stand, and let those babies out. They will go nuts, as if they are starved and can't stand it. They will beeline for Momma and probably lift her off the ground nursing with such gusto! They will stay together all day, until evening chores, once again roughly 12 hours (or so) after morning milking. Then they get locked up separate once again and I repeat the process. After about a week of that, you can go ahead and milk the doe out completely during the morning milking. It is also interesting to note that the kids very quickly figure this system out and will usually be nursing the doe dry when you go down to do evening chores. This is how I've always milked and I've never had a problem. At 8 weeks I wean the buck kids and leave the doe kids on the Momma. This way I can continue milking only once a day. However if you have a really heavy producer, you may have to milk twice a day even if you leave one kid on. Tulip is this way and I imagine Star will be too her second freshening.
Tulip was nursing triplets last year and with milking her once a day was giving me over 3 lbs at that one milking. That's pretty darned good for a Kinder! Upon weaning two of her bucklings and wethering one of them so he could stay on her, I had to milk her twice a day. She was just too full. At that time she was giving me over 6 lbs a day, milking twice and with a kid still on her. Another interesting thing is that Tulip never weaned Star, she was still nursing when the next crop of kids were born, however she weaned the wether at around 12 weeks of age. She tends to let her doelings nurse much longer than her bucklings.
I don't do anything special to our milk before drinking it or using it for yogurt. You can click on the Goat Milking 101 button to see how I do things in that regard. I just milk Tulip first (cuz she's boss goat), then pour her milk into a 1 gallon glass jar with a bail handle and put a lid on it. Then I take my pail over and milk Star, and then put the lid on my pail and take the milk to the house. Then I strain it into quart mason jars and put it in a clean ice cream bucket. Then I put ice and water in the bucket and let the milk sit until it's well chilled. This doesn't take long, but I usually leave them in there for about 30 minutes or so, then take them out and put a date on them and put 'em in the fridge. I can't vouch for milk from other breeds, but the milk from my Kinder's is rich, creamy and delicious. You truly cannot tell the difference between it and whole milk from the grocery store. I've blind taste tested several folks (including myself) and they've never been able to pick out the goat milk. As a matter of fact, the last time I did it to myself, I picked the store milk as the goat milk! I love converting doubters. It's so very funny, the first thing they do is smell it and say "It doesn't SMELL like a goat....." I just laugh and tell them to taste it.
I do keep my buck in a separate building from my does when they are in milk, but he runs the same pastures as them, just at different times.
Our next installment will cover fencing, feeding, housing, hoof trimming, and deworming, so please tune in!