So, I let my does dam raise. I do not worry about them catching CAE as long as the dam tested negative, I think the fresh milk and the nutrition the baby gets from it trumps pasteurizing the milk before I then feed it back to them. I feed bottles to my bucklings so that I can go ahead and sell them, but the milk is fresh, not cooked. I only separate the bucks out to sell so young because the knowing how to breed starts very young and I do not want brothers steadily jumping their sisters all the time, I have seen it happen, that is when I started separating. Not saying that happens in all herds and breeds. Now, if you are dam raising, the babies seem to be more timid of people. Starting from day one I get my hands on them and pet them and do this EVERYDAY for just a few minutes. Then once they are about two weeks old put them all in a stall with you for about 30 minutes every evening or whenever is good for you. Just sit there with them, they will start to come up to you, if you reach out to pet and they are scared back off and just sit there until you try and they are not scared anymore. We do this and my almost yearlings still think if I go sit down it is time to come gather round and see whom can get petted the most. All of the babies I have done this way are very sociable and calm, no wild runners aloud here, that would make me crazy. Once my babies are 3 weeks old, they are separated all night from their dams so that I can start milking the dam in the morning for our milk. I let the babies back with their dams right after morning milking and will put them up again right around 8 at night. I do this until the babies are 4 months old. By 4 months old I will start feeding the babies a full jr. goat ration of 1.15lbs per day split between 2 feedings .I have tried to tame down full grown wild goats and maybe got them to settle down and calm down a little, but was not able to get them really what I would call tame. I think it HAS to start when they are really young to be the most successful. By the time my babies are three weeks old I start giving them a nibble at food when their dams eat in a stall with only babies. Then by the time they are 2 months old they will get hooked up to their own bucket and go ahead and learn the routine of feeding time and how to stand to be tied for a few minutes. We did have success taming down two doelings we got together that were 3 months old just pulled off the dam. I did bottle feed them for a little while longer, but they were much harder to tame down than the ones I started her. They did not get really easy until they were over a year and even the once in a while they would decide not to be caught and believe me that was no fun.
Source: My Goat Supply List
So I just wanted to add a couple of spots of video to show you what all of my goats contractions have looked like. Once I know the due date is close, I will be checking the ligaments and watching the udder everyday to see and feel differences. When the ligaments are gone they say they will kid within 12 hours, by the time most of mine were gone it was less than 12 hours for sure. Most of mine’s udder have seemed to get at least 1/3 bigger right before they had them as well, either the night before or the day of. I make sure to know exact due dates and that way I can be there in case they need a hand, but also it is a wander to watch life become right before your eyes and I like to help. Most of the supplies I use and the way they are used are influence of the book The Accessible Pet, Equine and Livestock Herbal by Katherine Drovdahl. book link
- I always have lots of clean towels
- feed sacks( to place babies on as I dry them with the towel)
- naval dip(from fir meadows-naval dip link)( I do not use iodine)
- a dropper to distribute the naval dip
- cayenne tincture cayenne tincture link to get babies going quick put just one drop on their gums, and give a few drops to the dam as well for bleeding and vitamins
- umbilical cord clips clips link they are very easy and can be cleaned and reused ( I soak them in vinegar then spray them with hydrogen peroxide then boil them)
- an herb mix by Fir Meadow called Ewe-Ter-N Link for ewe-ter-n (give this to dam right as labor starts and again after labor)
- unsulphured black strap molasses at about a half a cup in a half gallon really warm water directly after labor and again a few hours later)
- surgical scissors, cleaned with alcohol and boiled, to cut umbilical cords after the clip is in place, I put the clip about 1 1/4″off the body
- one cup olive oil with 25drops of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil in it in a sanitized glass jar, as a lubricant, incase I need to go in and assist
- alcohol to disinfect clean washed hands or gloves ( I mix everclear with water, 2/3 alcohol with 1/3 water, I do not use regular alcohol)
Once a doe enters labor, mild labor may go on for several hours, you should preferably not see more than a couple hours of hard contractions, , and once you see them actually trying to push this should not go on more than 30 minutes to an hour at most. If things are not progressing something may not be right, most likely a baby position is not correct. There may be lots of sacks. I am including a picture, the light colored sack has the baby and the dark one underneath is just a water sack. Sometimes your doe will pass what seems like a lot of sacks and some won’t pass but one. They are all different. Once babies are out, if they do not seem to breath well and have stuff in their nose you can pick them up and hold their back legs and make some room and sling them back and forth a couple times to clear their breathing, just make sure they are not slippery and hold tight. Babies should be up and trying to nurse preferably in about 5 minutes to 15 minutes. I am adding a video of what new born babies should be acting like if all is well and a video of a goat having contractions in labor. This doe was a first freshener delivering as a one year old. Once the ligaments are gone, I am watching the tail, its all in the tail. When they have a good contraction it seems to pull inward on them opening them up. As with a women they get stronger and closer together as the delivery gets closer. You want your doe to deliver the afterbirth within one hour of delivery. Don’t freak out if they do not, just watch them and make sure they do not go into shock, if you think they are give them more cayenne tincture and get a vets help if they do go into shock. I have had a doe go for 12 hours before it passed and I actually had to help her get it out by pushing on her belly right in front of the udder with firm pressure off and on. DO NOT PULL the cord ever! Pushing in front of the udder under the belly helps because it seems to help their own contraction strength. Make sure the babies get colostrum in them within an hour. If they can not nurse because of them or the dam, milk her, and feed it in a bottle at 4 ounces every two hours until they are nursing good. If a baby is born by 2pm or so about 3 bottles will do that day until the next day. Then if I am bottle feeding still the next day I would simply go by the bottle feeding schedule I have on another post. Do not let the dams udder get to tight and full, keep her milked out two or three times a day until the babies are nursing good and keeping up with milk supply. Starting at two to three weeks most people put the babies up at night and milk the dam in morning and let the babies nurse the rest of the day. If they only have one I will be milking once a day regardless. The babies need to be checked often the first few days for that sticky glue like feces that will probably need some help being cleaned up after. If they pass a little of this and it does not fall to the ground but sticks to the body they need to be cleaned with really warm water and a wash cloth and then dried with a towel, please try not to get the umbilical cord wet as that would hinder the drying up period of it. You may need to wash them a couple times a day on the backside for about three days. If it is just a minute bit a baby wipe will do most of the time. The first few times will be really dark, almost black, then in a couple days it will be light yellow-orange until they start on hay and feed. Try to keep salt and kelp where the baby can reach, I have a two day old already tasting these and nibbling hay, amazing! I have also added a picture of a couple babies about the same age just born a day before. The bigger one was about 9lbs and the smaller about 7lbs, it is amazing the size difference of 2lbs in baby goats. I surely prefer the smaller one as it is much easier for the dam to deliver. I dread the single large baby out of a first time mother and make sure to help her. This is the reason I feed my first fresheners less during the last bit of pregnancy than I would a second freshener and up, to keep the babies from getting too large. I will increase the first timers ration from 1lb to 2lbs in the last six weeks and then after they kid slowly increase to the 3.7lb milkers ration. I do offer them carrots or fresh greens and lots of pregnancy herb mix(rose hips, stinging nettles, red raspberry leaf all from mountain rose herbs and coarse not powder, and copper-selenium supplement from fir meadows) during the last part of pregnancy though. There are a couple theories out there about when they will deliver. One, I have honestly seen to be true here every time, that the babies will come within 12 hours of the cords no longer able to be felt, usually it is much faster than 12 hours here. The next is that if you can see or feel the babies (you do this on the right side) that the doe will not kid until they can no longer be felt, this is usually true. However, my dear Clover proved this theory very not 100 percent true the other night. She was in hard labor and up until one of her twins came out you could not only feel but could see the other baby on her right side as if it was showing off before being born, haha. It was crazy indeed and this is not common but apparently it can happen. She did also have BOTH babies trying to exit at once, that was a first for me. I had to push one back for the other to come on out. All went well, just glad I was able to be there to help. She was also my only goat to come in the night, she has to be my favorite right!, or perhaps this would not be so tolerable. Most of my deliveries are about 10:30 to 12:30 in the morning, like 95 percent.
For those of you like me that have a swiss breed of dairy goat the disbudding needs to be done at a very young age. I like to disbud does at 3 days old and bucklings at 2 days old. I have done nubians and nigerian dwarfs and they can be done usually by one week
. Lamanchas can be done by 5 days usually. I shave the area for disbudding first with clippers so that there is less smoke and you can have the disbudder having less resistance. For bucklings you need to more than the normal horn bud area, you will do another spot slightly inward and downward from the original area, this area has ridge lines and will grow horn as well. This area is usually neglected resulting in many bucks having scurs. This extra bit does not need to done on doelings. I am adding a picture I took of the ridges at two days old and then another I took right after I disbudded at two days old. I love the Rhinehart X30 for disbudding, it is awesome compared to the Rhinehart X50 I was using. Please inform yourself about the decision to disbud or not to. Do not do it just because everyone else is, decide for yourself. Showing is a big reason we do it, you can not show a goat with horns at this time. Secondly we do it because I want my children to go into the pens with the goats and make goats a large part of their lives even as toddlers. I have owned goats with and without horns. I did own a doe I bought from someone as a milker that had horns, I did not like the way she would tilt her head back and trap my wrist as I tried to lead her by the collar. But she was not born here for me to train as a young one myself. Most bucks are not properly disbudded or the disbudding doesn’t take well and they develop scurs later in life. So to trim on these scurs we use what is called a fingertip wire saw that is in a survival kit in the camping section or just like this one I am linking to wire saw link here. This is a very effective and cheap tool that can take a good size scur off within 20 seconds. Tie the bucks head up high to a post with a lead rope and collar and have one person steady his head while the other saws the scur off. Do not saw closer than 3 inches off the head if you can help it because you will get too much blood and pain if you do. Keep blood stop or cayenne pepper in a shaker around while doing this job in case you draw blood.
I do my pregnancy testing only if I am unsure that the goat is bred and really want to put my mind at ease. Most times goat pregnancy rate for conception is very high and only one breeding is necessary. I keep my girls in a pen to where they can have a buck on another side of the fence to walk up to and worry through the fence. This tells me she is in heat and ready. I then take her by the collar and lead her to him and let him mount once and then lead her back out. I do it again a couple hours later, and then maybe ounce more that day it she is persistent. If she is still in heat the next day I will repeat what I did the day before. This will help to keep the buck from getting wore down and if I need him for another doe within a day or two, he will be able to cover them fine. Anyway, to pull blood for pregnancy is no fun, so I want to tell you if you have a doe or a cow that is in milk, you can send in a tube with 12cc milk in it and it can tell you if she is bred as long as she is at least one month bred. If she is a first freshener then blood will be required ( one month bred as well). I will now add the link to the place I get my milk test done, Lancaster DHIA, real nice customer service and just call them to order the vials. The pregnancy milk test is $3.25 plus shipping for goat or cow. I like to ship via flat rate post office small box that is $6 to ship and will get there in two days, so if I send it off Monday I generally have results by Friday the same week, awesome. They test for mastitis as well and you DO NOT have to keep it cold and I send it the same way. I like to wrap my milk or blood tube in bubble wrap and place it inside a ziploc bag. milk test lab link I use Bio Tracking( Bio Pryn)Bio Tracking page link for all blood test. Order your vials through them, I do not like to use their kit personally, just the vials. This company lets you choose the lab nearest you, here in Alabama I like to use the lab in Dublin TX.dublin TX lab link with forms . Remember, do NOT, test for CAE under one year old preferably. Also, results should be most accurate when the doe is not bred and is at least two months past delivery and is not sick otherwise. This link has the form you print out and send in with your sample.I put does on the milk stand and one person will need to straddle the doe and hold her head upward and still. I like to get out my razor and shave the neck where the vein is. Look slightly to the left or right of the center of the neck. Here is a link to a video that does it just like we do. blood pulling youtube video The vein will be soft, not hard, and press on it with your thumb to get it to bulge to see it better. You cleanse the shaved spot with alcohol and a cotton ball. Then insert a 22 gauge needle on a 3ml syringe. Keep in line with the neck going in at an angle and upward vertically with the neck, NOT Straight in towards the throat. Pull the full 3ml and then place the cotton ball back on that spot firmly for a few seconds to help with bleeding. Then plunge that blood into you biopryn blood vacuum tube. Now the vacuum is lost and you need to pull the air back out and create the vacuum again. Stick the empty needle into only the air in the tube and pull back until it is hard to pull back, done. Now I forgot to mention that you should write the name of the animal down before you put the blood in the tube, you can put a number beside the name as well, use a permanent marker. I keep the blood upright in the tube for an hour at room temperature, then I place them in the fridge until sent off.
I know everyone has a different idea of what a quality dairy goat looks like and milks like. I would like to just share a post that I am a large fan of that has many pictures to help you understand what traits are favorable and unfavorable. This knowledge can help you understand what to start breeding towards. You want a milker that can make a lot of milk, yes, but you want it to be able to move well and function well for a long time. Working on quality legs, great udder attachments, and good width and depth will help your herd be productive for a longer period of time. I think all breeders should pay attention to immune system of their herd as well and include this factor in deciding which ones to keep and which ones to part with. Here is the link to the page that has pictures and descriptions of different parts of the dairy goat-link page
Favorite Goat Book List:
- The Accessible Pet, Equine, and Livestock Herbal by Katherine A. Drovadahl book link
- Natural Goat Care by Pat Colby book link
- The Goat Vetinary Handbook by Peter Dun book link
- The Small Scale Dairy by Gianaclis Caldwell book link
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Belanger and Bredesen book link
- Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking by Gianaclis Caldwell book link
Favorite Website List:
- Fiascofarm.com website link great for general info on how to
- Firmeadowllc.com website link best for herbs especially GI Soother for cocci
- landofhavilahfarm.com website link
- Goat-link.com website link great info on health issues, what meds to use and how much
- wormboss.com.au website link education on worms and their life cycle
- newcountryorganics.com thorvin kelp link where I order Thorvin Kelp and sheep mineral and Sea 90 and they have a good goat mineral call Crystal Creek 2:1
- Jefferspet.com website link great and cheap on livestock and pet supplies
- Pbsanimalhealth.com website link dairy livestock supplies
- caprinesupply.com website link caprine means goat
- valleyvet.com website link medicines
- hambydairysupply.com website link
- hoeggerfarmyard.com website link
- lehmans.com website link neat stuff you do not see other place
- americangoatsociety.com/education/gestation website link due date for goats
Alpine Dairy Goat Feeding Chart Feed all animals these amounts 2x a day
Get a feed bucket, about 2.5 gallon, put in
(Use a 3 to 4 cup scoop)
1 scoop alfalfa pellets
1 scoop whole oats
½ scoop BOSS-Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
1 scoop alfalfa pellets
Mix well, repeat, mix well again
Feed milkers – 6 cups of mix per feeding
Feed does and bucks from 2-3 months the mix in a trough together about ½ cup each of the mix
Feed does and bucks from 4-6 months- 1 cup each of the mix
Feed dry does and young does 6 months and up – 1 ½ cups of the mix
Feed bucks not in rut- 1 ½ cup of mix
Feed bucks in rut- 3 cups of mix- they are in rut Sept. to Feb.
Also feed a high quality goat mineral and Organic Thorvin Kelp regularly or free choice, Sea 90 or Himalayan salt and forage or hay free choice.
Keep in mind everyone feeds something different and different lbs per day as well. I am just showing what I do as a guide for someone new without any idea of where to start. If I had a really heavy milker that could not hold weight well, I would up the food.
Since I came up with this ration and the measurements myself, be aware it was not made up by a scientist. I did however study the calcium to phosphorus ratios of foodstuffs and decided which foods to feed based on what is available here as well. I have the calcium ratio at 1.2 to 1 phosphorus. Also this rations is about 14 percent protein. I have read in my books and goat health articles that 12 percent is the desired amount to be fed to dairy goats if they have free choice alfalfa hay and up to 14 percent if they do not have free choice alfalfa. Mine do not have free choice alfalfa hay, but also half of my ration is alfalfa. This does not go along with the modern idea the more protein the better, but it is healthier for the goats and causes less stress on their system, and mine do well on it. The alfalfa is grown northwest as well, but the whole oats are grown here. When I am upping the food amount during pregnancy in the last 6 weeks, instead of feeding the whole ration the last week I will slack off (feed half a milkers ration) about 4 days before kidding so that the udder does not become real so full so quickly. Flag, meaning hard congested udder that has little milk moving through it, is no fun. In about a three day period I will then up the food daily to be at a full milkers ration by day four. I was using barley and think it was an awesome addition to a goat feeding program however the price and difficulty to get it has made me not use it anymore.