The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Some Things About Raising Goats

Raising goats, just like anything, has taught us a lot over the years and I thought I would share a few things.

Despite the best laid plans, animals don't always accommodate our wishes. I showed my breeding calendar in a previous post and thought I would give you an update.

As you can see, One Stripe did finally breed this summer. I don't think it was so much her as it was Teddy, our buck, that delayed the breeding. We bred One Stripe in the summer to have December kids, although it may be January this year. We are trying to have year-round milk instead of drying all of the does off at once. Ivory, Velvet and Copper will be due in late February and early March. That will get us into the heavy milking season just when we are ready to start making cheese again.

We dried up Velvet in August because we had made most of the cheese we wanted and we just had too much milk to deal with. 

One Stripe is currently drying off by herself. This is her typical pattern. About two to three months after she breeds, she begins to dry up so she can put her energy into her developing kids. 

So right now, we are only milking Ivory. We have gone back to milking her twice a day to try to increase her production a little. We are getting about a quart and a half a day, but would like to get at least half a gallon a day. We like milk and Pearl usually gets about 3 cups a day for breakfast.
Red was born here, but has since been sold.

As the kids are born we will share how we disbud them. It is a nasty project, but we have tried raising the goats with horns and have decided it is much safer for them and us if they are dehorned or disbudded.

Disbudding doesn't always work. There have been times that we let the kids get a little too old and didn't get all of the horn bud killed off when we burned them off.

We use a disbudding iron. Sometimes only a little nub of a horn bud grows out and sometimes some odd looking horns grow.

Velvet and Copper both have little nubs. This is about as big as they get. Copper has even knocked hers off before.

Nubby is the red goat in the center.

Nubby's grew much more (his name comes from his horns). He is one of our wethers that is destined for the freezer.

This little guy's disbudding was successful, but he has parrot mouth. This is a birth defect resulting in the length of the jaws not being the same. His bottom jaw is shorter than the top one. The lips should meet evenly and smoothly together in the front. We had this happen to a doe born here a few years ago. I'm not sure what causes it, my reading indicates it may be a genetic anomaly. The animals don't seem to have any difficulty eating or anything, but it is not a defect we want to pass on in our herd or anyone else's, so this is also a wether that is destined for the freezer.

And then there is Teddy. He is a nice looking, big buck that we could use to add some size to our herd. We hope all of our does are bred and have healthy kids from his bloodline because he will not be staying here much longer. 
We bought him last spring as a three year old. He is easy to handle when led by his collar or a leash and loads into a trailer with ease. So we were very impressed, initially. The first time we turned him in with the does he became aggressive toward Frank and
I by trying to bump and kind of herd us, so we started carrying a baseball bat when we were out among the animals. That worked for us. But then he started being aggressive with Pearl, our Great Pyrenees. It was bad enough when he started rearing up like he was going to butt heads with her, but then he started ramming her against the fence or gates. That was the last straw. He is not worth injuring us or losing Pearl. She is an excellent livestock guardian. While Frank was taking pictures of the wethers over the gate, Teddy was pushing against the gate with his head over and over trying to get it to open. So, as soon as we are sure the does are bred, he will be going to the sale barn. Then we can get the wethers in the freezer and be down to four does for a few weeks until the kids start arriving.

The seasons bring changes in everything - the garden, the goats and the chores we do around the farm. Everything in it's season. The season of our country is also changing. It appears that autumn is coming quickly and the winter that follows may be cold, dark and harsh. Be ready.

Until next time - Fern


  1. Disbudding is my least favorite thing about raising goats!
    But I agree that it is best.

  2. Had 500 plus goats and one thing learned about antibiotics-only use if animal runs a fever. I noticed a vet had given antibiotic to a goat after draining an abcess. Not a good idea.
    I was taught this, by a well known vet whom I used for 20 plus years.

    1. Thank you for the information. Why don't you give antibiotics for situations besides when a fever is present?