|Ivory, March 6th, 153 days|
One Stripe typically has her babies 150 days after breeding, which is the average gestation for goats. This year when Copper, One Stripe's daughter, had her first kids, she freshened at 150 days on the nose. Ivory's mother, Katy, typically freshened at 155 days except for the year she had quadruplets, then she gave birth at 153 days. Now, Ivory has had her second set of kids and both years she freshened at 155 days. I find this to be very interesting, useful information.
|Ivory's mom, Katy, March 2013|
Last year Ivory had twins, a buck and a doe, with no problems and was an excellent mom, so I wasn't real worried about her performance this year. She lived up to my expectations, had her babies without any assistance or trouble, cleaned them up, talked to them constantly and made sure they were well fed. She is a very productive doe. Her only flaws are yelling at the top of her lungs when we walk in the barn and butting the other does on occasion. We have debated off and on about selling her.
This year Ivory has given us two beautiful replacement does. This may make it easier to sell her come fall. We will use her milk, along with One Stripe's and Copper's to make our supply of cheese this summer. After we have all we need for the year, we may go ahead and sell Ivory around August. This will give us five does since we are keeping Copper's doe, Penny, and Ivory's girls, Cricket and Lady Bug. This will be plenty of breeding stock for us and more than enough milk production for next year.
|Ivory, Lady Bug, Pearl and Cricket|
Next year there will be three young does to to train to milk. This year Copper was the only doe that I needed to train and, thanks to how tame she was to begin with, this has not taken hardly any work at all. I will do another post on milking a newly trained goat before long. Over time, if you ever get this opportunity, you will learn little tricks that can make a big difference, kind of like the hints Frank has given about hatching and raising baby chicks. Experience really is the best teacher and I learn more everyday. I will never be through learning or know everything there is about anything. Take your comments, for instance. This is a new source of information that I have found to be very valuable.
Right after the baby goats are born, they will walk right up to you with no fear. When they approach about a four to five days old, they develop the instinct to be afraid of things that are bigger or above them and will flinch or try to get away from you. After they reach about ten days to two weeks old and are more steady on their feet and more confident in their ability to move around and get away, they become curious. It really helps to have tame, manageable does. This is the best way to have easy to handle kids. Velvet's boys now run around us and try to jump up on our legs. They are very tame and easy to handle. Copper and Ivory's kids are just now starting to come up and smell our legs or hands, but if we bend over too quickly to pet them, they are off and running. It won't be long before they will be tame and easy to pet and work with as well.
|One Stripe and one of her adopted boys|
Pearl, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian, is the greatest babysitter we have. She has the patience of Job when it comes to these baby goats. And they just love her. Her laid back, gentle nature also contributes to the overall calm atmosphere at the barn with our goats.
Time is the best teacher when it comes to raising livestock. We have researched and read for many, many years. Working with, raising, butchering and learning to cull according to our long term goals are all things that have come with time. When we first began raising goats, I didn't know much about udders - which ones were good, which ones were bad, what is a good attachment and shape, which ones produces more milk or were easier to milk. There was so much to know and I could only learn so much from reading. The real learning came when I started milking every day and trying to train goats to be milked. I have made my fair share of mistakes, and will make more in the future, but I have learned in the process.
Stay tuned. There is more lore to explore.
Until next time - Fern