Monday, March 15, 2010

A Year in the Life of a Gothberg Goat

Here's an overview of how we raise goats here, on our farm, using methods that work for us. It is only "one of many" ways to do things. You should do what works best for you and your herd. The most important thing is to have happy, healthy animals. happy herdsmen and herdswomen, and have FUN!

Birth

Our kidding pens are a spacious 6 ft. x 12 ft. The doe is moved to the kidding pen at the time of her due date, or with signs of impending labor. Ideally, each birth is attended but not assisted unless needed. Most of our does deliver by themselves. As the kid is born they are towel dried and licked dry by Mom. We also use a hair dryer if it really cold in the barn. Umbilical (navel) cords are dipped in iodine to prevent infection. Mom's teats are squirted to be sure they are open and kids are up to nurse colostrum within minutes usually. We assist as needed. All kids get full and adequate colostrum within 2 hours.


Birth-3 Days
During this time does and kids are left together 24 hrs/day to nurse and bond freely. Mom is milked out as needed (some of ours have way more milk than their babies can consume).


At about day 3, Moms generally get "Cabin Fever" and are ready for the next phase.





3 Days-2 Weeks

The kids are moved to a group kid pen in the same barn. Mom's go back in with their herd group. Then 4 times/day, does and kids are reconnected for nursing. They spend some time exploring the barn aisle together and are then put back into their respective pens until the next feeding. Note: Disbudding and castration takes place within this first week of life.


2 Weeks-2 Months

The kids "move up" to the nursery barn. This is a series of pens constructed in the old milking parlor that came with the property. Kids are then put on the bottle 2-3 times/day as needed. Once they are strong on the bottle (2-3 days) they progress to "the bucket". This is a 10 nipple caprine feeder that works great. They can have all they want. I'd like to add they are all offered fresh hay from day 1, and water from about week 1. At about 3 weeks we begin to introduce a small amount of grain (Gothberg Goat from Conway Feed, Conway WA). They begin getting controlled access to the outside for play and pasture. We have to keep a careful watch here for predator birds-eagles and ravens. During this time, the kids are being sold and movuing to their new homes too.


2 Months-8/9 Months

Now they are growing, eating, playing, and generally being goats. For this period they are back into the main barn. This tends to be our keeper group. They are fed hay, fresh water, pasture (24/7) and some grain. All of our does are fed pea hay and alfalfa and all have 24/7 pasture access.


8/9 Months-12/13 Months
During this time they are bred (as size, age, and condition warrant). Our general rule of thumb for breeding is minimum 8 months, and 80 pounds (which they always exceed). Now they begin to grow their pregnancies.

13 Months

Ideal time (for us) for them to have thier first kids and thus begins the cycle again.







This is of course a much simplified version, more of an overview. We love the new kids. They are fun and entertaining. Fortunately, we have very few problems or complications.

With 50-60 new kids a year, we obvioulsly cannot keep them all. Contact Rhonda if interested in any!

8 comments:

  1. I love the pictures and the goats in them.

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  2. That is very interesting. How does the kids do with switching to bottle after nursing on mom? Do you have to do anything to get them started?

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  3. It is usually not too difficult. I have pretty aggressive eaters here. Now and then there is a "harder" one, but they all get it pretty quick. Really, for me, just 1-2 days. As soon as I can get them to stand and take the bottle, usu. 2 at a time, they go right to the bucket. This is a little more work than just taking them at birth, but I feel the health benefits to doe and kid have made it worth it to me. I don't do anything too special at first, just sit them on my lap and offer the bottle. I may have to open their mouth and put it in at first. I know it sounds kind of wacky, and I prefaced this post with "what works for me".

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  4. Thank you. I have another question if you don't mind. Do the does 'get over' the kids pretty quick this way? I am asking these things because I dam raise, but have been considering bottle feeding so I can move the kids out quickly. The kids are adorable and I thoroughly enjoy them, but still I want milk, not necessarily kids...

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  5. Of course there is a period of adjustment. But in 1 day, if you bring their kids back, they butt them and don't know who they are. The kids do just fine. I find if kids are left on a doe more than 2 weeks they are too rough on the udder-a primary concern for me. The added benefit is bottle raised kids are much more tame and human oriented. This translates well to the milk stand for me. No situation is perfect. I do value the maternal traits we have not bred out of our dairy does. I think they are important also.

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  6. Thanks again... I have to differ with you on the kids being more tame when bottle fed. Mine are extremely friendly, but I spend time with them from the beginning. I can imagine, however, if there are a LOT of kids then that could be a problem...

    I may try bottle feeding, but not yet - I am bottle feeding a kid right now and it is rather fun, but a pain all at the same time, so I will have to think on it some more. Thanks very much for your input!

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  7. I spend time w/mine too, but probably not like with just a few goats, though you don't say how many. Bottle feeding is labor intensive, that's why I get them on the caprine bucket ASAP! I have/and will try any number of methods to get kids adequately fed and growing! And of course, kid sales always help a lot by reducing the demand. I need maximum milk for cheese.

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  8. Oh ya, I can imagine! I only have two does and one doeling at the moment and am working on milking through so only will have one or two does kid a year. Not many... but that is even more reason to bottle feed in some ways... I'm still considering it.

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