2012 Goat Names for the first 23 kids

The goat names so far this year include: Wharton (my husband went to school here for business…helps us buy goats), Wyatt (friend has a child with this unique name), Boots (4 brown boots), Crockett (Davey Crockett…cowboy theme, has 4 black boots…cute), Myrtle, Ellie (short for Eleanor), Charlotte and Wilbur (going with the old fashioned name theme), Lucy and Jude (sire has barn name of Ringo), Abby (Abigail), Harriet (friend), Tilly (Matilda), Bella (Isabella)…going for more old-fashioned names, Lucky (when you are the only surviving animal in a group of 6, you are lucky; Buckle: had both front legs buckled up under him at birth…hopefully they will straighten out with time; Teddy (president fame), Luke, Jasper (red color), and Chloe; Domino (black and white), Fiddle and Harper (the dam is named Piano, so the musical theme).

It’s Kidding Season

It’s kidding season and you know what that means…frolicking baby goats, new moms munching spring forage and cheese just around the corner….

We are at the middle of March and nine does have kidded so far, 8 Nigerian dwarfs and one La Mancha.  The count is at 13 does and 10 bucks so far.  We will be keeping all the does this year as we grow our herd and assess our bucks, but most of the boys will be for sale as wethers (castrated males).

Many people wonder if we name all our animals and how can we remember them…yes, they all get names, even the boys we are going to sell. We have no trouble remembering their names…they all have unique personalities and look different so we can quickly tell them apart.  For the first month our kids are bottle fed three times a day and handled at each feeding…that helps keep them people friendly and gives us a wonderful dose of love and joy from each of them.  They are then bottle fed two times a day for the second month and one time a day for the third month.  We start them on grass hay, fresh water and free choice mineral mix right away, and add in alfalfa hay at a month of age.

Why don’t we just let the moms raise them?

One of the hardest parts about being a dairy is that we need the milk to make cheese.  Our current kid-rearing plan is to let moms nurse their kids on demand for the first 24 hours, then 3 times a day and overnight for the next two days.  The moms and babies are separated at 3 to 4 days of age when moms are milked and kids are switched to a bottle.  The moms go back with the herd and the kids join together in a baby goat pen…lots of fun.  This year we are using frozen goats milk from last season, but that will soon be gone and we will buy store milk, add some cream to bump up the fat content and mix in some of our goat yogurt to put good flora into the kid’s rumens (the “active” stomach of a goat).

The other challenge is that goats are at risk for parasites, particularly coccidia. The young goats are new to the environment and need age and experience to handle coccidia.  Based on advice from our veterinarian and friends with goats we have decided to treat with decoquinate to help prevent the overgrowth of coccidia in our kids…they will only need this for a few months. This treatment is added to their bottle each morning. We also use boot covers to prevent transmission of parasites from our adults or llamas to our more at risk babies.  We would rather spend the time to keep our animals healthy and hopefully avoid the need to treat for illness.  As they get a little older they will go on a herbal worming program to help avoid the need for any worming treatments that could require us not using their milk…so far…so good…but we are always on the watch.

If an animal in milk needs antibiotics then their milk is separated and not used in our cheese, even if the medication has zero milk withdrawal.   So, you can see, keeping our animals healthy is of paramount importance to our milk supply and quality.

The Birth of a Creamery

The Birth of a Creamery

We started the design for our creamery in 2010. Luckily for us Gianaclis Caldwell ( of Pholia Farm) wrote a very helpful book, The Farmstead Creamery Advisor, which gave us a good starting point. We have also consulted with her and had her review and improve our plans along the way. She has a wealth of knowledge on so many levels and has been very generous in sharing her expertise with us in a wise, warm way. We owe a large part of our barn, creamery design to her.

When it came time to sort out how to handle the cooling and humidifying of the aging and drying rooms in our creamery we realized there was much we didn’t know and we put a stop to the project and worked with two cheese consultants to sort through the options and make the best decision we could given the current level of understanding. We are now awaiting the delivery of some equipment from Holland which will provide the best option for creating a hygienic, flexible, sensible and cheese focused system for environmental control of our aging facility. We are always learning and things always take longer than you think. Luckily we built a separate utility kitchen in the farmhouse that will be our interim creamery until we can complete the stand alone building.

Do goats like hot tubs?

In between barn checks (actually two nights of barn checks) Tadaah kidded with 2 bucks, one was rather large at 4 lbs 14 oz and the other was 2lb 12oz. We estimate that they had probably been born about 15 minutes before we walked in the barn. We helped her finish clean them off and proceeded to give assistance to get them nursing. Ideally we like them to have colostrum (doe’s pre-milk filled with immunity boosting goodies) within an hour of birth. The larger buck, Wharton, had no problem, but the smaller one, Wyatt was going through the motions but just did not seem able to suck.

I was puzzled, but my first guess was maybe he was cold. Sure enough his temperature was 93 degrees (normal 101-103 degrees). We quickly made a “goat hot tub” for him in the sink and dunked him for 5 minutes up to his neck. His temperature quickly rose to 103 degrees and after drying with a hair dryer we put him back on mom and he sucked like crazy! Wyatt is growing just fine and has not had a problem since. (photo)