Category Archives: Goats

 

Seriously

This is Othello, he is not the brightest goat in the world, either he knocked over his manger, climbed in and got stuck, or he climbed in the manger which fell over with him inside. What you can’t see is the smell. Othello is a good tempered buck, but the nicest word to describe his smell would be rank, pungent wouldn’t quite do it justice.

He could have done this any day of the week, but no, this had to happen when we were on our way out the door to the girls’ 4-H presentations. We were all dressed up with someplace to go.

Rule #1 with goats: If they can do it, they will do it, and at the least convenient time

 

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How to know when your goat is about to kid.

This post has been written and waiting for pictures for quite a while. Goats are difficult to photograph, because they are always in your face.2013-April-014

The most obvious way is to keep track of the breeding date. The tricky part is when you have more than one breeding to track. For example, if you breed your goat around October 20 and she comes back into heat a couple weeks later you want to track both breedings, even if you are positive that she’ll be kidding according to the second breeding.

The surest way to tell is to watch the goat’s ligaments. If you are fortunate enough to have a goat-obsessed teenage daughter, she will watch the ligaments like a hawk for several weeks, the only drawback to this is she may drive you crazy by announcing that the goats are about to kid ‘any day now’ for at least three weeks.

When the doe’s tail goes over to the side we know that kidding is hours or minutes away.

When Tuppence was due to kid around March 12 (second breeding) we were a little surprised (annoyed) to see her tail over on the late, frigid evening of Feb. 22 (first breeding). I confess to denial- the whimpering “this can’t be happening on this freezing cold night in February”- type of denial.  We put the baby monitor in the barn and headed off for bed, or at least for a barn noises ‘sleepover’ in the girls room. We never even got to sleep before it was time to head back out again.

The baby was a decent sized boy, and he was the only baby in there, much to our surprise.

Tory

The baby came out frontward!!!

You have no idea how happy that makes me. Almost all of last year’s babies were backwards or worse. We made sure that they got more exercise this year.

Exercise is important for pregnant goats.

Tuppence tried to climb the wall and sit in my lap while she was in labor. Both of which  were new ones on me.

The baby was born just a couple minutes after midnight. Since it was her goat, Abigail got the honors of getting up to feed the baby again in 3 hours.

If they’re born earlier in the day and are healthy I usually let them go eight hours overnight, but we try to get several feedings around four-six hours apart until we’re positive that they’re eating well.

The next morning brought more excitement. By mid morning Missus G’s tail was over and her ligaments were gone. Thankfully we had a lot of bath towels this year. Missus G kidded about 12:00 noon, which was 12 hours after Tuppence kidded and 2 weeks earlier than anticipated. All of Missus G’s babies came out frontwards as well. One had a hoof back, but that was easily fixable. She had two does and a buck, which makes my ratios 50% this year.

Last year it felt like we waited and waited and waited; this year we didn’t wait at all, but, dang, was it cold.

Just a couple more goofy photos for you.boys-will-be-boys2013 April 033

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In which I become a tattoo artist.

Once upon my lengthy list of things that I have been absolutely dreading and procrastinating about has been TATTOO GOAT BABIES. First, my excuse was that I didn’t have tattoo pliers, but the tattoo pliers have been sitting in my laundry room for a couple months and the babies still lacked their tattoos. I awoke this morning with the determination that by the end of the day I would know more about tattooing goats than I knew at the moment, and the babies would have tattoos or something very like them on their floppy ears.

Yes, I am the woman who was unable to pierce her five year old daughter’s ear resulting Daddy being the one to punch the hole. This was rather ironic as he was less than ecstatic  about the prospect anyway. However, a man with four daughters picks his battles carefully.

With that background of my former squeamishness, you can possibly imagine my thrill at needing to punch this baby through some floppy goat ears.

First you clean their ears.

Then you ink them and punch them, or punch them and ink them, depending on whose directions you are reading. I did some both ways, we shall see if it makes a difference.

Your herd identification goes in the right ear, and the animal’s identification goes in the left ear. I hope it all came out right side up. I put it forward from the direction you’d be reading it if you flipped the ear up to read it standing in front of the goat.

They fussed about the initial piercing, then went back to happily munching their grain, making all my dread and panic attacks completely and totally wasted. I am not at all confident that this project went well, because it went too easily. (Note to self, new thing to worry about.) Everyone talks about how messy tattooing is, I assumed they meant blood and guts, but I think they meant the icky, sticky, get everywhere, cling to everything ink.

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How not to de-horn goats.

You are riding on the range. Suddenly, Bad Nosed Bill rides up behind you and asks, “Would you like me to shoot a hole in your head?” What do you say dear?

from What Do You Say Dear? by Sesyle Joslin

There is a reason the devil has horns in most popular depictions. Horns are scary. Goats also have horns. The remedy for this condition involves holding a tiny cute baby goat down and burning the heck out of the horn buds. And I, wimp of the year, klutz extraordinaire, didn’t quite get the heck burnt out of the horn buds I did.

The vet quoted me a reasonable price to sedate them and burn them. Ah ha! Problem solved, thought I. Down they will go to the vet, the vet will fix my stupid bumbling error, and it will be all better.

The vet gave them a sedative and they staggered and went down within minutes. Then she clipped off the existing horn so that we could get to the bud. This left a hole, as in two extra holes, in the heads of Tani and Othello. The holes are into the sinus cavity, perhaps no worse than having a couple extra nostrils, but it is a bit disconcerting. (Read Shannon was silently freaking out while gazing deeply into the brain of her goat.) The vet then held a burning hot iron onto the bud and burned it, careful not to leave the iron applied too long, again and again, until the job was done correctly. (Think smoke from burning hair, blood, and a screaming writhing baby goat held on the ground by two respectable middle-class women.)

This is the only picture available of this joyful experience. I wish you could really see down into the hole; it was quite fascinating.

The vet instructed me to pack the holes with gauze, and keep it fly sprayed. Don’t want any guests! Large animal vets earn every penny they make. This was my first experience with a large animal vet and I was very impressed with her. It must be an incredibly demanding life.

If you plug a goat head hole with gauze, the goat will probably knock it out.

If the goat knocks it gauze out, it will probably get hay in its head.

If it gets hay in its head you are going to need to take it out, for this you will need tweezers, and a big strong man to hold the goat down.

If you put a hole in a goats head maybe you should patch it. For this you will want super glue… and vet tape.

Life is full of new experiences. Try to avoid this one.

Lessons learned:

1.It may seem cruel to hold a baby goat down and burn the heck out of it, but it is nothing compared to what will happen if you have to do it again later.

2. If one is going to keep animals, one should procure a bottle of strong drink, regardless of religious background.

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Last of the babies

Libby kidded early on a Friday morning. Sound asleep was I with the baby monitor turned down to the sweet spot, not so loud that you can hear every sound that the critters in the barn are making but enough to hear any big noises. Suddenly I was awake, and could hear the goat pushing, it’s so funny how you can listen for a specific noise while you sleep. I threw on my grungy clothes and trotted swiftly out to find a baby in the floor already, and Libby laying in the middle of the floor on the edge of a little hill unable to push the next baby out, because she kept rolling backwards. She always sleeps in a particular corner, which had nice clean fresh straw, but she decides to have her babies in the middle of the floor on a hill. Goats are crazy. We moved her to the kidding pen and after she settled down, out popped another baby. We waited and waited, but no more babies came. It was a little hard to believe that there were only two mid-sized babies in that fat tummy. One was a boy, one was a girl.

Libby is milking quite well. Last year she was off to a slow start, but was very consistent in the amount.  She’s doubled what she did last year, and is milking off some of that excess that she built up. She’s been one cup short of a gallon a time or two and has settled into a pretty steady 14 cups a day. What she lacks in major quantity she makes up for by having rich creamy milk. I’ll probably be selling her so that I can keep one of my babies.

We’re flying through the milk at the moment with all of the babies to feed. I keep hoping to have a chance to make some cheese but every time I get enough milk hoarded up it disappears. My two legged kids felt rather milk deprived the last couple of months. They got milk picky and didn’t like the milk from the freezer, which tasted a little freezer burnt, and weren’t crazy about the few gallons of store milk I picked up to fill in, which tasted old, like plastic, and bleach. Milk tasting is quite a hobby around here. We put it into little cups and talk about sweetness and acidity and finish.

Right now it feels like we’re spending a lot of time feeding babies. We’ve split up into three teams and we each just take one feeding a day. Guess who gets the 5am feeding? Not that the 5am feeding actually every happens at 5am, but anytime before 6am is 5am when you’re not exactly a morning person.

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Mrs. G’s babies

It’s been a week since Mrs. G’s delivery. Partly it’s taken me that long to have time to sit down and write. Partly my brain feels numb from a lack of sleep.

Mrs. G went into labor Saturday morning. It was an incredibly slow labor, but as it didn’t seem to be too intense, I wasn’t super worried. The main concern we had was lack of Calcium/Phosphorus balance. As the goaty girls get alfalfa hay, the phosphorus is actually more of a concern for us. Because her labor was progressing so slowly, we went ahead and gave her a dose of CMPK, it’s not pleasant to give or receive, but as it can save lives the inconvenience seems worth the trouble if you have any concerns at all.

After Sophie’s delivery and pain, I was concerned that perhaps I could have just waited and the baby would have worked it out with less pain to the goat.
Therefore, I was determined to not have to go in and mess with Mrs. G. This was my first and primary mistake.

I let her labor for around five hours before she finally got to some closer together contractions. Then they stopped more or less. I decided to see if her cervix was open, and if it wasn’t, I knew that milking her would get some oxytocin going, which would move this show along. In addition to this her udder was painfully large, and it seemed best to give her what comfort I could. When I did a little check, her cervix didn’t seem to be completely open to me, but then as there is nobody to walk me through my guesses, it was just a guess. I milked a good seven cups of thick yellow colostrum off her and her contractions picked up immediately. Her pushes seemed harder than they should have needed to be.

A black bulge in a sack began to crown and emerge. Something was not right. The shape was wrong, she couldn’t quite make it. Gently I slipped my fingers in with it, and helped  ease her around it with her next horrible pushing spell. It was a sunny side up head with the neck folded back. When I touched the baby, it was obvious that it was dead, as soon as the neck unfolded, you could see that it was broken. With no hoof, and only the head sticking out, the rest of the baby didn’t want to come out.

Mrs. G was clearly in agonizing pain.

I was panicking, unsure of what to do, swearing and praying alternately. With each push my only choice was to keep easing the baby out, focusing on getting one shoulder out. When the one shoulder came out, the rest came out easily, and we could see we were on the home stretch.

My inexperienced opinion is that it was dead in utero, and was unable to be aligned correctly for delivery. The dead kid was a buckling, much to my relief. It felt as if it had been dead a while, but it wasn’t decomposing. I think this also could have delayed labor, as the other babies were large, with teeth.

Mrs. G then delivered two other kids, a buck and a doe, without any other problems. They are named Titania and Puck. Puck has little eyebrow markings over his eyes, that make him look as mischievous as his name sake. Titania is a beautiful doeling, I wish we could keep her, but the I’m hoping kid sales will buy hay this year.

Someday, every experience won’t be a learning experience, but for now this was. I should have gone in until I found a kid, if that first baby had been aligned correctly the whole experience would have been easier on the doe. Possibly the baby could have been saved.

First of all, I am writing down my plan for when I need to go in and find the kids.  Even so it is going to take some time to learn what is what when you can’t see it. I am going to find someone who knows what they are doing and get them to teach me how to feel for presentation properly on a goat.

Things do happen with goats, even to people who have been doing goats forever.

It’s not all white goat milk and clean straw.

The books don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control, sometimes we make mistakes learning things.

It’s going to take more time to learn the things I need to know.

Personally, I think I need more goats so I can learn them faster.

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