It’s been a very busy summer full of lots of exciting projects, but most of those projects had to do with our farmhouse and the landscape of our farm. Over the past few weeks my attention has started shifting back towards the animals as we make our plans for a very busy, animal-focused summer in 2019.
First on my list was confirming everything we need for a successful kidding season with our goats. We have waffled a little bit on how many does we will be breeding this year, and I must admit I am still not certain what we will end up doing. However I can promise that we will have at least a few more kids than we can keep, so if you’re interested in incredibly friendly, curious and sweet Nigerian Dwarf kids with excellent milking pedigrees, please email me.
We’ve had a buck lined up for some time from Rock Bottom Farm in Richmond, Maine. Our boy is black with blue eyes and I really hope that he’ll pass on some of those blue-eyed genes. His name is Willie Nelson, which amuses me because the last buck we used was also named Willie Nelson. He’ll be visiting around the New Year, for kids during June, July or August depending on how quickly our girls go into heat.
This past week we had our veterinarian visit to check our herd. She gave them all their annual CDT booster shots, but she also checked there general health and we had a long conversation that answered many of my questions both about general herd wellness, and about breeding our does specifically.
My first concern was my girls’ weights. All of my unbred does (and also my wethers) are chunky. The vet said that for does who aren’t bred their first year, this is very common. They pack on the pounds, but it shouldn’t affect their ability to have healthy babies and they should lose some of the weight after they kid. She did, however, say that does who aren’t bred within the first two years will often have trouble conceiving and have complications in pregnancy. Our girls will be two in June, so they are just getting in under the wire, but she encouraged me to breed them all this year, or chose not to breed them in the future.
We also went over my supplement and vitamin routine. After the buck visits our girls will switch to a dairy goat feed instead of the general feed they’re on now. They’ll also start getting Molly’s Herbals Pregnancy Tonic. In addition to these basic changes and our routine seasonal worming and free choice minerals, we’ll be giving them Replamin Gel Plus once a week to give them a boost of minerals and vitamins, especially selenium. The girls will also be getting another CDT shot booster shortly before kidding.
I discussed copper bolusing my herd with the vet as well. Lucky has had some coat discoloration that improved when I bolused him this summer. The vet, however, said that discoloration probably had more to do with zinc than copper. She recommended giving the entire herd a copper bolus once or twice a year, in the form of the capsules that contain the small bits of wire. These capsules breakdown over time and while they do provide additional copper for the goats, they also give a more general immune system boost.
One of our goats, Maude, has four teats. This has concerned me for some time and I initially wasn’t going to breed her. When a goat has four teats, usually only two have orifices. The kids will need to be shown which teats to use or they won’t get the milk and colostrum that they need. The main reason not to breed Maude is the possibility she’ll pass on that four-teat gene.
Finally, to my concern about how many girls to breed. The only reason not to breed more goats is the time it takes to milk, but our vet didn’t seem to worried about that. As long as our does have healthy kids nursing every day, they don’t necessarily need to be milked. So, if we do end up breeding everyone, I can pick and chose who I use as milking does and not be too overwhelmed or overworked. There is the added work of delivering all of the kids and making sure everyone has proper care, but in some ways it would be easier to provide that care to everyone than a few individuals. We shall see on that front.
It is a go for kidding season 2019! I’m excited to start the ball rolling on what promises to be an exciting summer.
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