Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Photo Day!

Birdie, our herd queen, had twins last night.  Gorgeous!  It was a seemly successful mother-son breeding.  Unfortunately they are bucks - bucks 7 and 8 for ol' Bird.  They say the buck determines the sex, but I don't believe it.  Birdie has been covered by 5 different bucks and produced bucklings every time.  I guess it could be dumb luck, but I'm prone to think she's contributing in some way.  I've tried the apple cider vinegar in the drinking water with her, and that hasn't helped.  Any who... these guys are super cute and super sweeties.  This is my absolute favorite color pattern, just like daddy Robin.  Unfortunately if they grow up to be bucks, all that pretty white will be orange most of the time with urine, so I'm really leaning toward wethering (neutering) and training them to pull a cart.  Wouldn't they make a handsome pair of cart goats?  I've named them Jacob and Esau.  Seems to fit - Esau is a bit bigger, and Jacob is more of a talker.

Now, the birth went well.  I followed my own directives (see "Goatherds are Not Midwives") and sat on my hands.  It was the first time I ever saw an abnormal presentation - one front leg was tucked under on the second kid.  We waited and waited, and I wondered how long it would take for that second kid to come.  As long as Birdie was up on her feet and not in distress, I wasn't going to mess with things.  Kid crowned and went back in 2 or 3 times.  Finally I saw a foot and head.  I cleared the little guys airway, and he sucked on my finger.  The going was slow, and I realized I wasn't seeing a second leg.  It was a simple matter to loop my finger around that second foot and bring it to the front, and then the birth proceeded.  The kids are doing well, but it's a chilly day, so I decided sweaters were in order.

Martha's kid Dolley is shaping up well.  She reminds me alot of Martha.

We got another new Mini Nubian doe.  This is Annie from the Ordered Steps herd in Jacksonville.  She's a looker.  She's in the breeding pen now with Nosey.  Annie has great conformation; look how she posed for the photo!

This is our new pony Buster.  He's the best pony on the planet.  I have never known a horse or pony as well trained as this one.

Love my animals....

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Girls!

Eddy Place Black Beauty (Merryleg's mama) gen3
Eddy Place Bettye's Baby gen3

Had to snatch these to gals up.  To fine to pass up!  Beauty is at the height maximum for minis, but our herd tends toward the minimum, so I don't think it will be a problem.  Beautiful conformation, and I saw that udder this spring - looking forward to all that milk!  They are both bred to Hershey - http://eddysgoatplace.com/AdultsforSale.aspx
Somebody needs to snap him up; he's gorgeous.

I *really* want to get a doe from the Ordered Steps herd too.  I have to wait until one of the Nigerians sells.  I also need to breed Nosey to one more doe.  I have to breed him to 3 does, before he can get his Purebred certificate.  Three were exposed to him, but I think only two are bred by him.

AGS registered Nigerian Dwarf goats for sale!  Take a look at the breeding plan tab above for photographs.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Crotched Diaper Cover Pattern (Tickle Turdle)

So I found out something kind of disturbing today.  Even when you take down a website and quit paying for it.  It can be archived and remain on the internet for posterity!  So be careful little fingers what you type!

But this is rather harmless, so for fun I thought I'd share.  Once upon a time before I had a real life - lol - I had this little endeavor crocheting and knitting baby things.  (Not that people that crochet and knit baby things don't have a life.  But admittedly, I didn't ;-P)  This was my little website - isn't it cute?:


This gal didn't like how I wrote the pattern so wrote her own :-)


Now I did figure something out that I never posted on the internet.  If you take some of that elastic thread and  crochet it in with the final row or two of the edging on the wrap, it makes the legs snugger.  I liked to use these wraps with Kissaluvs:


PS Now I'm knitting leg warmers for my little dancers with the round knitting loom.  Very cute!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Goatherds are Not Midwives

I wrote this blog post back in 2010 after watching some particularly disturbing youtube videos. It was nice to vent, but I don't feel it was as helpful a post as it could be, so I'm rewriting it.

Here's the thing folks - we are talking about animals here. They do know what to do and can birth and mother their kids on their own - most of the time. When I say "goatherds are not midwives", I mean you don't need to lay out chux pads, offer perineal support and coaching. When I see people treating livestock like humans, I get concerned. There is a term for this - anthropromorphism - ascribing human characteristics to something not human. The danger of anthropromorphism is that animals are not respected for what they are, and their unique needs are not met.

Folks new to goats often get nervous about attending their first goat births. While this is natural human emotion, your nervousness really doesn't do your goats any good. I'd like this article to help you prepare and put you at ease. The first rule of thumb is that easy birthing is typical for healthy animals. It is very important that you assimilate this belief. Say it to yourself over and over again as a mantra. Animals run on instinct. Any kind of animal trainer can tell you that animals pick up on how you are feeling. Additionally domesticated animals look to their humans as leaders. Do not stress your animals unneccesarily by acting worried and concerned everytime you look at them. Put forth calm confidence. If you don't believe it, fake it until you do.

The second rule of thumb is make sure your pregnant does are indeed healthy! I cannot think of anything more important to a pregnant doe than minerals. Mineral deficiencies are the root cause of a number of labor difficulties. The first mineral to consider is calcium. Goats need a ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus that is around 2:1. Grass hay and grain are high in phosphorus. Alfalfa is one of the easiest ways to add calcium to the diet. Lack of calcium can cause ineffectual contractions and hypocalcemia (often mistakenly diagnosed as toxemia or ketosis). Selenium is another important nutrient. Selenium supports effectual labors and healthy vibrant kids. Alot of folks use BoSe injections. BoSe is obtained from your veternarian. We use Selenium yeast on the feed 6 weeks prior to kidding. Copper is important for nervous system health. Avoid products labeled "for sheep and goats" - these products do not contain copper which is essential for goats. Zinc is important for immune function. Additionally make sure that your goats are in good condition for kidding. They shouldn't be jiggly with fat, but having a layer of fat over the ribs and spine is good, because a good milker will milk off alot of her reserves.

Third rule of thumb - Make every effort to attend kiddings! Sometimes easy kiddings will sneak up on you, but if you arrive to find a train wreck, chances are you weren't being attentive enough. Although most kiddings go well, and most goats worth their salt know how to care for their young, it is best that you be there to help if needed.

Fourth rule of thumb - Learn what a typical kidding looks like! Our Mini Nubians have good width and small kids. They typically kid very easily. When goo starts streaming, I know kidding is going to happen soon. Once I see pushing or hear hollering (mine don't holler much), then I expect to see a little nose and two feet very soon. This kind of kidding, I just sit back and watch, and enjoy the miracle of life. Often I arrive to find one kid on the ground, and the second coming out. Some people may advise doing a quick check as soon as labor is noticed to make sure kids are positioned correctly. I see no harm in that - like I said, with my typical kiddings, I'm likely to be to late to do that! Key is just don't bother your goat too much. Kids should come out with their noses on their front feet.

Fifth rule of thumb - Learn what an atypical kidding looks like. A very small number of times (as in I can count on my fingers), I have seen kiddings that did not progress normally - that is I saw pushing and no babies presenting. Since presentation generally comes very quickly with pushing in my herd, I will go in and check what's going on if I see a doe pushing for a few minutes without anything showing up. You don't want to wait too long. I've read of people waiting hours. Please don't do that. Remember goats are not people - there is nothing normal about long pushing phases for goats. Check presentation sooner than later, so that any corrections can be made while their is still room to work. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into the ways kids can be malpositioned and methods of fixing them. There is alot of wisdom on the dairygoatinfo.com forum, and I reccommend getting on there and reading the advice given to people with problem kiddings. My strategy is to find the feet, try to get the head onto the feet, hold on and give gentle traction.

Finally - If you are dam raising (as opposed to bottle raising), it is most important to make sure the kid nurses. Make sure mom's teats are not blocked, and she has plenty of colostrum. If you get a slow to start kid (it's been say 30 min, and it hasn't nursed and now it wants to sleep), you can milk out a little oz from mom and bottlefeed it to give the kid some energy and then get it on mom. With selenium supplementation, I have kids are much more likely to get up and suck right away. Check the kid often throughout the first days to make sure they are nursing and have full bellies. Most healthy moms do a great job mothering, but occasionally things go wrong, and you need to be prepared to step in. You will also want to watch that the placenta and nothing is retained.

I hope this post provides you a healthy perspective on goat kiddings. May your kiddings be successful!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nigerian Dwarf Herd For Sale

After a long deliberation, we have decided to sell our entire herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats in order to focus exclusively on raising Mini Nubians.  We will only be retaining our senior buck Sam Houston.  We are asking $1,000 for the entire herd which includes one doe in milk with her doeling (weaning age), one bred doe, 2 does in the breeding pen, and our junior buck.  Photographs of all can be found at the tab up top for "ND breeding plan" and pedigrees at the tab for "ND Pedigrees".  We have alot of color and blue eyes in our herd, as well as milking potential in the pedigree.  All are AGS registered.  We prefer to sell the entire herd at this time, rather than break it up.  Please email swgoats@yahoo.com for more information.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Welcome Countryside Readers!

Thank you to those of you who read my article in Countryside Magazine and took the time to check out my blog.    I hope I've been at least a little bit helpful in your journey into goat herding.  Goats are one of my passions - at times perhaps even an obsession!  I just learn so much from the process, and it trickles down into all parts of my life.  Goats have taught me about patience, compassion, JOY, stewardship, and life, among other things.

For those blog readers who aren't aware, my article "Love Your Buck!" was printed in the Nov/Dec issue of Countryside Magazine.  It has been delivered to subscribers and will be on store shelves soon if not already.  There are several articles about goats in this issue.

Regulars may notice I have a new layout on the blog.  There are now tabs across the top that will take you to my breeding plan and pedigrees for our goats.  In time I hope to have more tabs with basic information about our goat breeding and sales operation.  This new feature on blogger is fabulous, allowing this pertinent info to be easily accessible.  Of course there will always be fun blog postings of baby animals and projects, useful tips, etc.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2011 Breeding Plan - Does Due in Jan/Feb

The first set of does have been breed for 2011. These does will be having kids in January and February. For photos of the bucks please look here.

Duck's Mini Herd Ginger Rogers - AGS Nigerian Dwarf (sire-Dean's Funny Farm Little B, dam Owl's Roost Hope)

Notes: Nice lines. We bred Ginger for the first time this year. She had good udder quality - it was hard to gauge production as I didn't milk her right away, and she only had one kid. Bred to Sam Houston.

Duck's Mini Herd Chinaberry - IDGR Grade Experimental Miniature Nubian 1st generation (sire Dean's Funny Farm Zeus, dam Dewberry NOA Nubian) blue eyes

Notes: Bred to Robin. Kid's will be first generation. We have got two fine bucks and two fine does out of this breeding. We milked her daughter Cranberry this year, and she has a nice level lactation curve and excellent udder quality. Easily hand milked.

Still Waters Cranberry - IDGR Grade Experimental Miniature Nubian 1st generation (sire Still Waters Robin, dam Duck's Mini Herd Chinaberry) blue eyes

Notes: Cranberry's udder is easy on the hands, and she's kept the milk coming in since Feb. This year she was bred to Sam Houston. (Unfortunately she wouldn't stand for Nosey - she wanted an older, more fragrant mate - so we're probably going to get more first generation babies. Lesson learned that it is better to keep the older guys around until the younger guys are fully mature.)

Still Waters Mulberry - IDGR Grade Experimental Miniature Nubian 1st generation (sire Still Waters Robin, dam Duck's Mini Herd Chinaberry) blue eyes

Notes: First Freshener. Hoping she shapes up like Cranberry. She's looking good. Bred to Nosey. Kids will be second generation.

Rio Leche Farm Lily - IDGR Grade Experiemental Nubian/Alpine (sire Mr Coffee Bean, dam Freckles)

Notes: Bred to Robin. This pair keeps giving me bucks. 5 total so far. Giving it one last shot for a doe. Lily is a solid gallon milk goat with a decently level lactation curve.

Monday, September 13, 2010

2011 Breeding Plan - Our Bucks

Still Waters Robin - IDGR grade Nubian (sire "Danny" dam Still Waters Birdie)

Notes: Birdie was our first milk goat. She has been a reliable milker with a nice dairy profile. We used Robin lightly his first 3 seasons. I milked his daughter Cranberry this year. He contributed a beautiful Nubian conformation and milking capability. Cranberry has a soft, easily milked udder and a level lactation curve.

Still Waters Sam Houston - AGS purebred Nigerian Dwarf blue eyes (sire Duck's Mini Herd Davy Crockett dam Dean's Funny Farm Princess Di) about 22"

Notes: Great grandfather was MCH Piddlin Acres Blue Thunder ++*S VG - scroll down here to take a look at him, you can see where that black and white pattern is coming from! Sam seems to be carrying it strong as all Sam's kids have been some version of black and white or nearly black and white. Sam takes after mama being a stockier type ND - good rumen capacity, but I'd like to see more refined muscling. (Though when you get down to his level and look good, he's an improvement over mama in the muscling department.) Sam threw 4 doeling last year and 1 buckling. We have two daughters that will be ready for breeding next summer.


Still Waters King David - IDGR Grade Experimental Miniature Nubian - 2nd Generation, blue eyes (sire Ordered Steps Mordechai dam Still Waters Cranberry) about 24"

Notes: What can I say? He's beautiful! (click on picture to get a better look) Can't wait to see his kids! Mom is Cranberry mentioned above.

EddyPlace Nosey - MDGR American Miniature Nubian - 5th Generation (sire Double-R-Farm CM Hershey dam EddyPlace Nelda II) about 23-24"

Notes: We purchased Nosey this spring from Eddy Ailstock who has a beautiful herd of Miniature Nubians. We hope Nosey will contribute improved breed character, strong legs and improved udders. Mom has a very nice looking bag. GREAT EARS!

Still Waters Daniel Boone - AGS Purebred Nigerian Dwarf (sire Still Waters Sam Houston dam Duck's Mini Herd Ginger Rogers)

Notes: Daniel has beautiful lines and more refined muscling coming from his mother. Ginger had good udder quality this first freshening, but I must admit I chose not to milk her this year.

RESERVATION POLICY - I don't take reservations on kids prior to their birth. Once kids hit the ground, I post if they are avaliable. At that time I will reserve them for $25 first come first serve - the fee is non-refundable, except in the event something happens to the kid. It is your responsiblity to arrange pick up time around the time of weaning. You are invited to make an appointment to come see the kid prior to reservation. I will not allow bottlefeeding except to someone with a really compelling argument - ie you are making a trek to get here. (This is to insure you get the most healthy kid possible from our farm.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A poetry break

by Sidney King Russell

Agatha Morley all her life
Grumbled at dust like a good wife.
Dust on a table, dust on a chair
Dust on a mantel she couldn't bear.
She forgave faults in man and child
But a dusty shelf would set her wild
She bore with sin without protest
But dust thoughts preyed upon her rest.
Agatha Morley is sleeping sound
Six feet under the mouldy ground.
Six feet under the earth she lies
With dust at her feet and dust in her eyes.

What battles are you fighting?
If you died today, would you be glad you chose those battles to fight?
Are you fighting a loosing battle?
If you knew you would loose the battle in the end, is it still worth fighting?
What rewards do you seek?
Temporal rewards? Or eternal?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ups and Downs

Farming seems to be a constant roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Martha gave birth to twin doelings a couple weeks ago. Out of 3 births this year - Sam Houston threw 4 doelings and 1 buckling. Those are pretty good stats! He's also thrown all black (or almost black) and white kids. Not sure how I like those stats - I like black and white, but I like other colors too! These two got the recessive eye genes. Even though Martha and Sam both have blue eyes, these kids have brown. Still very cute. Martha has a nice bag that can be milked easily by hand. I want to start separating them during the day so I can milk her but right now they are still so small they can slip right through the fence.

Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison (Martha's line is named for first ladies)

The chicks are grown up now. Here are some pics. The first is an Ameracauna. The second shows a Buff Orpington and the Eygptian Fayoumi rooster (Prince Ali).

The downside of farm life - the day after the twins were born, I discovered a dead laying hen with two bites out of it. Then I discovered another was missing - and worst of all our kitten Anna was gone. I don't know if coyotes found us during the early morning hours when the chickens would come out or a stray dog or what. Now I lock the chickens in their houses at bedtime and don't let them out until I'm up and about. I haven't seen any predators. Kind of a minor annoyance to have to add that extra task. And I brought little Rosa in the house to be a house cat, much to Papa Bear's dismay. I am a big cat lover, and I just couldn't leave her out there to the wolves - or whatever is out there.
Our apple trees had a few apples this year. Mom was in town, and she made a awesome apple crisp out of them. Papa Bear is big into planning his blueberry patch. He had millet planted on the front of our property - a crop that is supposed to help amend the soil. We haven't had any rain though. Doing the rain dance now. He's also working on building a greenhouse so he can buy baby blueberry plants and raise them up larger before transplanting them into the ground. Papa Bear had more luck with gardening this year. He grew a bumper crop of squash, green beans and okra. Next year he needs to work on timing the harvet right as some of the veggies were over grown by the time they made it to the kitchen. He had a great crop of watermelons coming, and then the vines withered up before they were ready to be picked. Gardening in Texas seems to be a school of hard knocks. We planted pine trees when we first moved here, and there are some that have already grown taller than me. I guess we will never starve now - I was reading that pine bark is very nutrious and high in vitamin C...
Breeding season has started. Soon I should be getting up our breeding plan and kidding schedule.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chick and Kit Pics

Buff Orpington, Barred Rock, Eygptian Fayoumi

These are old pictures. We received our chicks from Ideal Poultry at the beginning of May. I've just been too busy to make any posts! We got 4 Buff Orpington, 4 Ameraucana, and 6 Barred Rock pullets, and 1 Eygptian Fayoumi rooster. We moved the old flock of Barred Rocks into a new coop in the horse shelter, and we're using our old coop as grower housing for the new flock.

I'm a little nervous about what is going to happen when I turn the new flock loose since I have 2 roosters and 2 flocks. But hopefully they'll work it out without too much bloodshed. I hope our new rooster - Ali - won't get his butt kicked and all his ladies stolen. I'd prefer if they'd just keep their distance from each other, but I don't know if that is what will happen or not. I guess I won't worry about it now - they are still too little to turn out (I prefer to let them get pretty big before I let them out in the big wide world).

I like buying the chicks straight from the hatchery. Both times I've brooded, I haven't lost a one. It was fun to buy some new varieties. I liked the Barred Rocks, but I can't tell one from the other. The Eygptian Fayoumi is supposed to be a good free ranger, so I'm hoping he'll influence the hens not to be too lazy.

Moving the old flock was a good decision. In their older age, they had got really lazy about flying up over the goat fence to free range. Instead they were sitting around tearing up the ground in the buck pens. The horse fence is just wire, so they can get out and roam easier.

I also aquired 2 barn cats (actually they live in the kids' playhouse). Some folks came and bought a goat and talked me into two kittens. Financially probably not a good move since now I have to get them fixed (there went my goat money). But it has been a wonderful move as far as my human kids are concerned. They are much more inclined to want to go out and play now that they have kittens living in their playhouse. We live way off the road so I'm not as worried about them as I would be. We have two house cats, but I've never had outdoor cats before. It's quite fun to see their antics. Sweet Pea named the younger one Briar Rose. And Elle named the calico Princess Annaliese (after I explained *she* couldn't be Prince Phillip). At my request the names have been shortened to Anna and Rosa.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

If we don't have what you are looking for....

I'd love to be able to sell every one who calls or emails the exact goat they want. Unfortunately, I don't always have what you are looking for. These are the farms/herd names you will see on our registration papers; you may want to check them out. It's interesting to look them up. It's surprising where some of the genetics come from! Whenever possible, I put a link to their websites. If I don't have the website, I can give you contact info if you email me at swgoats@yahoo.com (except for the list at the bottom - I don't personally know those folks).

Nigerian Dwarfs -
Duck Haven Farm, located in NE Texas
Sweetheart Miniatures, located in Texas
Dean's Funny Farm, located in NE Texas
Texas T9C, located in Texas
Piddlin Acres, located in Texas
TX Twin Creeks Farm, located in Texas
Flat Rock Farm, located in Texas

Mini-Nubians -
Eddys Goat Place of North East Texas
Ordered Steps, located in NE Texas
Hickory Leaf, located in Montana

Nubians and Nigerian Dwarfs-
Checkerboard Creek Farm (CBC Farms), located in Oklahoma

Nubians -
Rio Leche Farm, located in Deep South Texas

Here are more AGS herd names I haven't tracked down yet:
Creek Road - to the best of my knowledge this herd name is no longer in use
Dalkini Acres
Chisholm Trail
Owl's Roost
Green Gate

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Praise for the Henry Milker

I posted awhile back about the Henry Milker that I bought to train my miniature goats to stand for milking. http://redfencefarm.com/

At the time I really liked the design, but I did find it rather hard work to pump it up. Well, the short of it is I had a defective pump! When it finally broke on me, and I reported it to Mr. Henry, he was good enough to send me another, and this pump is a dream!! It really does work just as he says - a few pumps and the milk flows and you sit there and watch the jar fill! I find it empties the udder very efficiently. I do give it a few bumps at the end and strip it out by hand into the teat cup. I'm very impressed with this product and give it a big thumbs up. Customer service is impeccable too.

On a more personal note, I'm down to milking 2 goats once a day. I hate knowing I'm loosing some of their milk supply, but I just couldn't keep it up! I don't know where the spring has gone! I'm seriously contemplating how I am going to do breeding and kidding next year. I need to streamline things a little better.

Cranberry has a beautiful little udder for a first freshener. I actually gush each time I milk her, because even hand milking her is easy peasy. I hope her full sister born this year turns out to be just a good. It gives me a real sense of satisfaction to see that I have improved my goats through my planned breeding - that Cranberry is better than her mother. I hope some day I'll have all the doe kids that people want and not too many buck kids. (Still got bucks for sale - make me an offer people!!) :-)

We got several baby chicks brooding right now. I'll have to get pictures of them up soon.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Circle of Life

Sad news, one of the little doelings I held in my hands as she took her first breath a month ago took her last breath in my hands yesterday morning. Little black and white Princess Jasmine died of heart failure - I suspect due to white muscle disease, a condition caused by selenium and/or vit E deficiency. Snow White, her sister, is our little floppy invalid is still improving. We gave her a round of Selenium and vitamin E injections (BoSe), and she's much stronger. She still has a ways to go though before she'll be able to get out of her box and be a goat. I believe both these goats suffered from Selenium and Copper deficiency. I increased the mineral consumption of the entire herd by topdressing with Manna Pro goat minerals, and leaving out large amounts of feed store goat minerals. The animals have been packing away the minerals. The doelings' mother Princess Di is looking much better - her normal color is returning. I am considering whether or not I will breed her this fall. I may hold off and breed her for a summer kidding. In fact, I may hold all the NDs off to kid in summer. This was not a great year for me and the NDs...

Monday, April 26, 2010

For Sale

Still Waters Little John - Little John is SOLD!

At this time I have no other goats for sale. Birdie is due in June and Martha in august. Likely only bucklings will be for sale. Next year though, be looking for does to come up for sale. We have a wonderful foundation now!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

We've Got Color, Yes We Do, We've Got Color, How 'Bout You?

The kidding season has been a little rough for my Nigerian Dwarf herd. I changed feedstores this winter and failed to notice that the feed I switched too lacked copper and selenium. Copper and selenium are VERY important. Important for horses too - I had noticed the horses were going through the mineral blocks really quick for winter time.

I already reported that Mulan had a stillborn. Princess Di had 2 does, but the excitement quickly turned to sadness when we realized that one of them has bad eyes and couldn't stand. I have been nursing Snow White for 2 weeks, and she's made dramatic improvement, but she still is not mobile on her feet (though she can do a great crab crawl). I know we goat people have mixed emotions about these situations. Many - perhaps wisely - would have put her down at birth. But there are quite a few softees who would keep on trying. I'm going to give her a little more time to try and gain some mobility, though I'm told this kind of damage is largely irreversible. But look at this face - see why it is so hard?

The next picture is of Snow White's sister, Jasmine. A very flashy little girl with blue eyes!

Ginger had one baby boy, Daniel Boone. Daniel is a very interesting dark chocolate color with flashy white markings, and spots. His eyes are kind of a weird combo right now with blue in the middle, but I bet they just go on and turn brown.

Doesn't he just look like he's saying "what the?"

Martha apparently wasn't ready to be bred in November. We've had her in the breeding pen with Sam Houston for almost 6 weeks, so hopefully late summer, we'll see some more little ones. I don't know if our herd queen Birdie is bred or not. If so we'll have a 50/50 MiniNubian out of her in June. I suspect the copper thing may have been playing havoc with her as well. We are very lucky to have learned this lesson without more losses.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Adventures in Milking

<--Chinaberry, 3rd freshening

OK, so one of the disavantages of building a herd for the ground up is that it takes several years to really figure out what you've got. You buy the best kids you can afford, but then you have to give them time to grow up before you truly know what you have. You can breed them at 7-12 months, but even so they are still growing. There are fine examples of first fresheners who start out with outstanding milk production. But there are also many fine dairy goats who take til their 3rd freshening before they really show what they can do. Take our first goat Birdie for example - I was told at her first freshening they were milking her out into a butter bowl! She had lost half her udder to a dog bite injury when I got her. Her 2nd freshening and my first time milking, I was happy with my little pint jars of milk. 3rd freshening she really took off and provided me with 1/2 a gallon a day on that one side! So my first lesson has been to be patient. Lily the second goat I bought is an Alpine/Nubian cross. First and second lactations I got around 1/2 a gallon a day from her at the peak of production. This is her 3rd freshening - she is still with her kids right now, but I tested her today after 6 hours separated from the kids and she gave me 2 lbs. Looks like she's turning out to be a gallon milker, which is my book is a respectable dairy goat.

I've been trying to figure out how my minis are doing. I have a 3rd freshener, 2nd freshener, and 1st freshener. I've never milked them before, so it's been and adventure trying to get an idea of what they are like. I separated the 3 for 6 hours today and then milked all 3. There was kicking, some spilled milk, baby goats diving for the udders while I tried to get the goats to my milk stand (*really* got to change the set up...) and other mishaps, but this is what I found.

Chinaberry (3rd freshening) pictured above gave 1 lb of milk. Nice udder, nice size teats, though I have found it easier to milk her with the Henry Milker (more on that later). She is nursing 2 kids - best estimate she is giving 3-4 lbs (1.5-2 quarts) a day.

Cherry (2nd freshening) is 75% Nigerian Dwarf. She gave 8 oz after 6 hours. She has a nice udder, but the teats are a little small and the stream is a little thin. I used the Henry Milker on her too. Somewhat surprisingly she behaves pretty well for milking - usually I find her to be too flighty for my taste. She is nursing 2 kids too - best estimate she is giving about 2 lbs (1 quart) a day.

Cranberry (1st freshening) gave 8 oz after 6 hours as well. She has a beautiful udder for a first freshener with nice sized teats that milk easily and a nice soft texture. This little goat is meant for milking - she hardly took any training at all. She is nursing just 1 kid - best estimate she is giving about 2 lbs (1 quart) a day. I am *confident* she will be an excellent producer in future years. She is still growing.

So not too bad, it's a start. I've read management has alot to do with milk production too, and I hardly replicate ideal management by pulling them from the kids whenever I need some milk. I don't feed alfalfa or large amounts of concentrates. I give lactating mini does 2 cups of 16% and 2 cups of beet pulp a day, grass hay and pasture when avaliable.

And on to the Henry Milker. Lovely Chinaberry with the sweet temperment, really isn't so lovely on the milk stand - she really doesn't care so much for having her udder handled. After a week of tag teaming her with my husband, I ordered a Henry Milker from this website (cheapest price) -

It is a very handy little device. Here are pictures -

For the price you get 2 lids with valves, 2 sets of tubing, 2 different size teat cups, and brushes for cleaning the milker. It fits any large mouth jar (it comes with a quart jar). I thought it was a pretty decent deal, cause by the time we would have driven around getting all the supplies, I probably would have spent a good penny making one.
The instructions suggest putting some liquid or even vaseline on the edge of the teat cup before putting it on the goat. I did not find that good advice. For one thing it made too tight a seal, and it was hard for me to pump, and secondly, vaseline worked down the teat came in contact with the milk, not a good thing. It don't find is as easy as pump it up and drink a cup of coffe while the milk flows - maybe my goats will settle into it so I could do that, but not so far. Instead I pump it up, then have to bump the udder to keep the milk letting down. It slowly looses pressure so I have to pump it back up every few seconds - which I think is a good thing cause it is more like a natural sucking motion. The pumping does make my hand tired. There is no way I could ever pump it up too high, it's too much work!! But it is worth it cause it really helps draw those smaller teats down. And it's easier to train the goats to it than hand milking.
My one real complaint would be the glass jar. I worry about it getting broken as my milk stand is several cinder blocks pushed together. I took me 3 days to train Chinaberry to it. You have to be patient and overcome the learning curve - the goat has to learn too. When the goat is dancing around the valves can get loosened and will need to be tightened up in order to get a vaccum. The Henry Milker does not eliminate work, but I think it is a useful tool.
I take it completely apart to wash it. I take the bolts and washers off, handwash the lid in warm soapy water, and carefully dry it before replacing the bolts and washers. I hand wash the ring and dry it. The jar can go through the dishwasher. I soak the tubing in hot, soapy water then rinse it and leave it propped so all the moisture can run out of it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Kids on the Block

I've been wanting a couple kids up the generational ladder to cross with my herd so I could more easily improve the ears. (Gosh, why keep trying to reinvent the wheel, when others have already paved the way!) I also wanted to improve the milking capacity of my does. My herd tends more toward the minimum height requirement than the maximum, and as such I've been getting yields that are more like ND than Nubian (more about my self conducted milking trials in another post). I feel incredibly fortunately to have found these beautiful kiddos. I bought them from Eddy's Place in Jefferson, Texas. (http://eddysgoatplace.com/default.aspx) Eddy's animals looked to be somewhat taller than mine, so I think it will be a good cross. Shame on me, I brought the kids home as bottle babies. I did so mostly because my life is so busy, and I thought it better to get them while I was there, than to try to make it back in May. I also have a ton of goat milk in the freezer that needs to be used up! (Also some canned milk - If you've thought about trying to can milk, forget it; it's very nasty.)

Nosey is a 5th generation buckling - check out the ears!! His dad was Hershey so I tried coming up with a name off Hershey like Reese, but as I got to know him more I realized, Nosey fits. He took to the bottle real easily and comes flying out the gate every time I open it and dives at my feet.

This little doeling is 4th generation. More great ears - this is the kind I've been pining for - no control at all! She was named Blackberry, but I changed it as we have enough berries in our herd! Her mother is Black Beauty so I decided to call her Merrylegs and start a line of goats named after famous horses. Merrylegs has been slower to warm up to bottlefeeding. She wanted to fill up on grass instead of milk, and so has had to do the rounds of Probios. But she seems to have decided I'm not so bad and is coming to me now for her bottles.

Lord willing, I think 2011 will be a good year for the MiniNubian herd! If I could just get some does! (It's just not possible to always have bucks - is it?)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lost One

Sadly, little Mulan, my spotted Nigerian Dwarf lost her baby. She had a little brown haired, brown eyed buckling. When I went to check on her, I found the baby in the shelter. It was cleaned up, but life-less. Not sure what happened. If it was a difficult birth or what. He was larger, but didn't look too large. Poor thing. She seems pretty sad about it. She's sticking pretty close to her own mama, who is due to have kids in April. *sigh* Anyone who thinks animals don't have feelings is kidding theirselves.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

$15 down the drain...

OK, so I bought this tip for my Rinehart X40 dehorner -
Unfortunately, I didn't notice when I was buying it that it said it was for the X50 only :-(
Tonight I really needed to disbud the 2 full size bucklings. So I changed out the tip - noticed it was a little wobbly - huh, that's weird. There's a little metal rectangle that goes on the screw - I added another of these from another tip thinking the screw was just too short. I seemed to fit good then.
I heated up the iron, and grabbed the first one. First thing I noticed was that the shape was awesome. These little guys have some pretty significant horn buds already, and I've always had trouble with bucks getting scurs. I taken everybody's advice. I know I'm doing it right. I redo, and still they all end up with scurs. I thought this tip might be my answer.
But then the trouble started. I noticed that the X40 was glowing red, but the buck tip was not. Then I noticed I was not getting a good fast burn or a copper ring. The little guy was doing so good. I'd burn a little then wait for it to heat up again. But in the end, I had to give up. Of course, now the dehorner is burning hot, so I can't change out the tip anytime soon. Tomorrow, I have to try again with my normal tip, and the poor little guy is going to have to have another quick reburn, cause he never did have a good copper ring.
Hehe, maybe I need to buy and X50 to go with my $15 buck tip. Sadly, I don't think hubby would go for that!

Why I dam raise kids...

Dam raising (nursing) versus bottle-feeding will probably always be a hot topic for those raising goats. People have many reasons for bottle-feeding - they want to do CAE prevention by feeding the kids pasturized milk, they want all the goat milk for themselves, they think the kids are friendlier when they are bottle raised. I've tried both ways, and I believe hands down dam raising is superior. Here's why -

1. The God factor - I believe the world was formed by an intelligent being, and He decided to feed babies this way. Who am I to mess with what has worked for millenia?

2. Pasturizing may kill some pathogens in milk, but it also kills everything beneficial as well. *I* prefer to drink raw milk for my own health. I believe raw milk is healthiest for goats as well.

3. The milk is cleanest when it comes straight from the source. There is no chance of spoiling in the teat.

4. Milk replacers (ie goat infant formula) are inferior to the real thing, and often cause scours. A baby can drink all the fresh goat milk he needs, but if you over-do milk replacer, he will scour.

5. I *like* sharing my milk with babies - for one, I think they establish better lactations than my hand milking alone. Secondly, when I go on vacation (or if I'm sick, or sick of milking), a baby can take care of the milking for me, so I don't have to impose on someone to do it for me. Of course, I'm not a commercial dairy - a family of 5 has very different needs and does not need to run the backyard herd like a commercial dairy.

6. I have noticed my kids that nursed to contentment grow fast and stay healthier. I even noticed last year that my Nigerian buck who was weaned at the customary 12 weeks did not grow as well or stay as healthy after weaning as his sister who stayed with mom. For this reason, I have begun weight taping kids and will dam raise them to 2.5X their birth weight before weaning.

7. I do not feel the temperments of bottlefed babies are better than dam raised. Spending time with the kids is what makes them tame - being present at their births (or shortly after) and holding them often will make them sweet. Bottlefed babies are constantly underfoot looking for milk, and are more a nuisance. (Look at how often a dam fed baby is under mom's feet - that's how *you* are going to be treated if you bottlefeed!)

Not saying there's never a reason to bottlefeed, but this is the reason I don't make it a practice. There are sound reasons for doing things the old fashioned way. Nothing can take the place of the basics for creating a healthy herd - good food, clean living conditions, and a watchful eye.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cyber Hug of the Day

Oh Lily, What have you done?

I was hoping against hope that Lily would have a doe this year, but alas, here are bucklings 4 and 5. 3 years, 5 bucks! When I named her Lily, I had all these lovely flower names picked out for her little doelings, but no dice. While the berries flourish in the herd, the flowers do not. (Birdie was supposed to give me all these does to name after birds, but so far no luck with her either! Maybe this year?)

She always has such nice little bucks. These are brown roan color with white markings and black points. Nice toplines showing on day one. They are full size dairy bucks. Both are avaliable for reserve.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

These two girls hit the ground yesterday. They have droopy ears so far. A little short. Both blue eyed. They are out of Cherry (25/75) and Little John (75/25), so they are 50/50. We will retain one, and one is avaliable for reserve (probably the bottom one as our daughter is wanting the top one - to be named Strawberry to replace the Strawberry we sold last year). I've been calling the bottom one "Candy".

Figuring Out Ears

I find the classification of Mini-Nubian ears to be a little confusing. My buck Mordechai has 2/3 or 3/4 drop ears. I bred him to a 75/25 with full drop ears, and I got this -

Contrast that with his "uncle" a 75/25 -

Refer to daddy at the same age and now-

What you you think? Will the buckling at the top have full drop ears? Or will they stiffen more? If I breed him to mamas with less than full drop ears will my chances of getting good ears be enhanced or diminished?