Category Archives: Dairy Goats

Tattooing Goat Kids

Wanted to take a minute to let you know as far as my reading goes that goat kids need to be tattooed at 6 weeks of age. If you tattoo before this the ear is still growing well and the tattoo may become stretched out and hard to read as it ages. If you wait until they get too old though they become stronger and are hard to hold still. I will suggest that the best ink buy according to my reading is the green paste in a soft tube. We have two people during this procedure, one to do the holding and the other does the ink rubbing and tattooing. We first clean the inside of the ear with alcohol on a cotton ball and clean it well. Next, put on disposable gloves and rub the ink onto the ear where the tattoo will be, then tattoo the ear, then rub more ink into the sight and rub really good for at least 30 seconds. Right ear should have “Your Herd Tattoo” in it and left ear is the ear for the year and number of kid born. So this year is 2019 and the letter will be L and the number is the order in which they were born. For instance, if I have had twins born first, the first one born will receive the letter L and the number 1, L1, and the second twin born will be L2, and so on like this. Do not wash the tattoo ink off, let it alone, it will wear off soon. If the goat is going to be registered it is also supposed to be tattooed. Any tattooing device is bound to get the job done, no need to buy the most expensive one. Hope this helps.

Barn and hay feeder ideas

So those of us that have raised goats even a short period of time know how they can waste hay.  If it touches the ground it is all she wrote, no way they are eating it now.  So we had a couple different kind of hay feeders and are most happy with the ones my husband installed recently.  They have 2″x 4″ slots in it and it is a large 16′ stock panel from a farm store.  It was much more expensive than a regular cattle panel because its holes are so much smaller, it has a lot more metal on it and it is very heavy.  But one of these panels was enough to make every hay feeder in all of our stalls.  Six hay feeders that can hold a little over a half a bale each.  We only have to put out a bale or two every other day in the winter with nine goats eating from this hay.  Another nice thing about these hay feeders other than reducing waste is that they are adjacent to out aisle so that we can just put the hay into it over the wall easily.  We can lock the goats into the stall and go through putting out hay without any goats jumping onto the hay or us as we go.  They are pretty clean and the goats eat almost all of the hay with these feeders.  Also shown are barn pictures to get an idea of what you may or may not like to do with your barn.  All of our goat stalls have pallets that were cut in half as a place for the goats to jump onto and rest or play.  They LOVE being off the ground.  Also my walls of the interior of the barn are half walls, allowing us to see into all the stalls easily and them to see out easily.  There is a middle gate in the middle of the aisle that will be closed for one side for juniors and the other side for senior milkers when it is time for weaning.  The milkers side has the larger open stall close to the milk room.  Also shown is the cow milking stall and stanchion.  The cow area is very low tech but is very functional and cheap.  I do not keep the cows in their milking stall, they muck it up too fast.  The cows stay in a pasture adjacent to this stall with a shelter from wind and rain built off of the front side of the barn.  The goats are able to flee the barn if there was ever a fire, they have a small paddock off of each side.  Logs cut from large trees provide a place for us to go sit in the paddocks with the goats and soak up the sunlight and fresh air.  We have a couple logs in the barn to for rainy days.

Milk Room and Milk Stand

Everyone has a different set up for a milk room and their are different kinds of milk stands.  I am very happy to have a husband whom can build about whatever he puts his mind to and is willing to build the things I desire around the farm.  I love my double header milk stand!  I have fast eaters mostly but I do have a couple slow eaters.  The slow eaters either have to go last or waste my time in the milk room.  So this double header makes it to where I can be more efficient with my milking time.  I put a fast eater on one side and a slower eater on the other, then feed them at the same time before I start milking.  I can milk quick enough to milk the faster eater first then put her out back into the holding stall and then come back and milk the slower eaters before they are done eating, great.  Also, if you ever tried to really compare udders from one to another, the goats usually move to much to really see good.  I can now put them side by side onto the stand and see better and make my decision about which one is wider or taller or whatever.   I would like to say that most milk stand dimensions are not big enough for my taste.  I like the goats to be able to lift up their heads more and I like them to not about fall off for a slight movement.  I clip my goats on the milk stand, and one wrong move on a short stand and they would about break their neck.  My milk stand dimensions preferred are 16″ off the ground with a 3′ tall headpiece coming off of the stand, 22″ wide, and 48″in length, with the inside neck hole being 17″ by 3″.  This works well for my size goats.   I also have pictures of the milk room shown to give examples.  I love the large windows that can be closed if I desire.  I can look right into the back yard and see my children playing.  I also like having an overhead fan to deter flies when milking and to help beat the summertime humidity of Alabama.  It is ran on a switch I can flip on by the light switch.  Also a mirror on the opposite wall of the window catches the light and reflects it back into the room, and opens up the room and makes me feel less claustrophobic, and allows me to seem more outdoors as I see the trees reflection.  I like to store all of my goat supplies that are not affected by heat or cold at the barn in bins so that dirt daubers and dust can not ruin everything.  Believe me if it is left out, dirt daubers are bound to find a way to build a nest in it.  This helps keep things better organized for easier finding as well.  I have a half wall of pallets with a pallet gate in it that leads to the feed room next to it.  This is open but at the same time the goats can not access the feed room as they come into the milk room area. I like to prefix my food in coffee and sour cream containers that I have collected.  This kind of open design that is likely to accumulate dust over time is probably not best for a milk room from which a lot of milk will be sold, but for our small homestead it is quite sufficient.  As far as reading the book The Small Scale Dairy, the whole system I have is not as germ free as a milk selling facility should be.  So if you plan to sell milk or milk products I suggest you read this book first and make your decision on your milk room from there.  Of course, we already had this barn built by the time I read this book.  No matter what windows would definitely have to be included and a mirror on the opposite wall, indeed.  For goat supplies that are heat or cold sensitive I keep a goat cabinet in my house for those items.   I store all of my feed stuffs in short metal barrels with lids to prevent moisture, spoilage and mice from ruining any of it.

 

Transporting Goats

Goat transportation does not need to involve a large trailer that are usually hard for a women to load or unload by there self.  I have a husband whom is awesome at building with wood that built me this awesome camper shell so that I can transport goats at whim.  I used to have a caravan that had a hitch on it  and pulled a small 4’X 6′ trailer.  It worked fine until I decided to upgrade to a truck which I am happy to have.  Most people we know just use dog crates in small suvs or small truck beds.  This works great and a tarp on top will help with wind if it is a open wire cage.

Herbs for Cures

I like to ring to the title and believe it to be very true indeed.  I am a huge fan of the number one bible verse for all us milkmaids out there.

Proverbs 27:23-27 – “Be you diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds. For riches are not for ever: and does the crown endure to every generation? The hay appears, and the tender grass shows itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for your clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And you shall have goats’ milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance for your maidens.”

I am a huge fan of Fir Meadows Farm Herbal practices and herbal sales Fir Meadow link and of Land of Havilah herbal practices Land of Havilah link , I suggest you read some of their articles on the webpage, very interested and different than the average Joe indeed.  I started using a particular herb I am sold on called GI Soother by Fir Meadow GI Soother link . I started out with a couple bucks that had horrible disbudding jobs that were several weeks old at the time.  I wanted to fix the scurs with my disbudding iron and make them not grow back, but they were very stressed by this being older and just being moved to a new home.  I learned a hard lesson.  I got one of them disbudded again and the job was successful, but the little fellow got bad scours.  I was about to do the other bucklings head when he got scours too.  Turned out they had cocci in high loads.  I bought the dimethox and treated them.  But I also had to drench them every couple hours as they would not eat or drink or get up.  This went on for a good 4 days.  By the time a week went by they were fine and getting back to normal.  So the next time I saw a scour I was armed with GI soother and it worked so much faster and better than the previous dimethox.  I do have a centrifuge and did do fecal samples to see that cocci was the issue.  I now stay on top of cocci as a preventative like most people do with the pellets they add to food daily for the first few months of life.  I give GI Soother to all my young ones born from 10 days to 4 months either in a bottle or in a drencher every other day in the spring .  They learn to take a drench good though and if I need to drench them as an adult, no big deal and no fighting. I have used this on other peoples goats that have scours with the same amazing results.  This product simply works, and works much better and is much safer than dimethox, and is cheaper to boot.  I like the Deworm A  Deworm A link  as long as you can give fresh garlic with it to boost its potential, this is a preventative and I give two times a week, it is not a fix all for a bad wormy goat, giving fresh ginger with it is also helpful, but make sure to use the garlic.  It is used to prevent them from getting bad wormy.  I also like to use the copper/selenium herbal blend Kop/Sel link to make sure they have enough of these since our soils are so depleted.  I also give this blend in my prenatal blend starting two months before due dates.

I used another wonderful herb twice now and will always keep a jar in my cupboard.  It is DVenom DVenom Link .  This is for venomous bites.  My boxer dog was bit on the mouth by a baby copperhead snake last summer.  His face was swollen up within  30 minutes.  He lay down and we started dosing him with this DVenom ticnture when I saw the swelling.  We gave it to him every couple hours.  By the next morning all of the swelling in his face was almost gone but looked to move down into his throat.  But by the next morning he was acting normal running and playing with the neck swelling gone down a good bit as well.  I believe this tincture saved him and I ordered more.  Soon one of my does came back from the woods and was rolling and itching but I did not think it a big deal and came back a few minutes later and her face had started to swell.  I felt her and she had what seemed like a thousand bites all over her.  I believe she got into the yellow jackets that we could not find the nest to but had been seeing in the woods.  I did start giving her the DVenom immediately and every couple hours as well.  The next day she was so swollen you could not recognize her.  I kept treating her with the herb and started spraying a sea salt solution for wounds that I made up on her.  The next day she was much better with at least half the swelling gone, and the next day about 3/4 of the swelling gone, and by the next day she was ok.  The sea salt solution helps the scabs go ahead and dry up and fall off, and man there were tons of them.  I can not imagine how many times she was stung, poor girl.  I am so thankful I had this product on hand and that it saved her as well.  God did not leave us defenceless, he gave us the plants on earth to use, we just lost the knowledge of what to use and how and how much along the lines of generations that started using modern medicine instead.  It only takes ONE generation for knowledge to be lost, what a shame.

Going to get off the topic of animals for a moment and tell how a man I know was helped by herbs as well.  He had acute swelling in his legs from the knee down, and of course refused to go to the doctor.  His wife ordered him some heart herb from Dr.Christophers and cayenne herb powder pills as well.  He took two of each kind of pill at least three times a day.  So 12 pills a day.  He was sick in bed when he started taking these herbs and the wife felt that the legs were swollen from a circulation problem stemming from the heart.  The herbal pills worked a wonder.  Within a day he felt better and within a couple days he could move around good with the swelling going down.  The swelling was all the way gone within a week, but the herbs continued to be consumed for a couple more weeks to be on the safe side.  Dr. Christophers makes many herbal tictures, powder pills, ect.  They are awesome, Fir Meadows sells some of his products as well, like the cayenne tincture cayenne pepper tincture link that I give to baby goats right after birth( man does it lively them up if they are sluggish!).  This product is also great for shock, bleeding, and the heart.  My husband is able to take the smokeout Smoke Out link which is a high heat cayenne tincture to help smokers and dippers quit and get good nutrition.  When they have the urge for a dip they just use smoke out instead.   It is very hot though, not for sensitive to hot spices people.

Coming soon….   a praise report about Fir Meadow’s Wonderful Salve Wonderful Salve link

Management Here

So, first of all, it seems very clear to me that management at every farm is different. We all feed different amounts of different foods, breed at different times, wean at different times, ect., always different. I will just give you a little insight on the way I do things here so that if you are new to the goat world you have a little direction until you find your own path that works best for you.

Hoof Care:

I do my goats feet every month or two depending on the goat. Some will need it more than others. There is usually some hoof that needs to trimmed off at this point and the hoof needs a good cleaning out anyway. I include the bucks feet in this too, even during rut, he needs to be taken care of. I wear a buck suit, which mine is a reused green pilot suit, with gloves and then I am completely covered and do not worry about my cloths smelling like buck. I have done goats feet that were very neglected and have learned that if the hoof can grow long enough to grow around and get dirt trapped in it as it grows that the bacteria in the dirt can make holes in the hoof and start foot rot. In this case I would soak the foot with Dr. Naylor Hoof N’ Heel at the tractor supply and Jeffers Jeffers link . Then I would spray it with Dr. Naylor Blu-Kote. Try to get any dips of hoof that look like a potential dirt trap cut off the foot while trimming. If you start to get into pink skin for white hoofed goats you are about to draw blood, so stop. Black hooves are my preferred color hoof as they do not seem to bleed as easily, however they do not look pink before blood so you have to know when to stop from experience and carefulness. Cayenne pepper powder is a great blood stop to have on hand. They do sell blood stop powders at Co ops or some people use corn starch. If you are trimming little babies feet be careful and only take off a little, they are much easier to damage and much softer. Young goats under one year hooves will seem to grow much faster than the older does, and bucks in rut hooves grow a lot as well, non pregnant goat feet seem to grow more than pregnant, ect. Please take care of your goats feet, they need to walk good for all their life, and unless they are running around in the desert with rocks and ridges to wear their feet down, chances are they depend on YOU to take care of their feet. I notice that if there is a main area of management that is neglected that it is feet, that is why I chose to do this subject first.

Breeding:

I breed most of my goats each year and milk some of them through instead of breeding them. I dry up the ones getting bred when I wean the babies. Then I dry up the ones I milked through when the babies start being separated in the spring. I know everyone feels different about when goats should be bred for the first time. But after speaking with a long time dairy goat owner that has been to the west and seen many more farms than my self, along with books and articles, I decided that I will breed my doelings the first year. Preferably when they are 8 months and 70 pounds or more. I have done this and I pray for twins for that first timer because the single baby will likely be bigger and will be harder to push out. I do not feed to much extra to keep the babies from growing to much and getting too big, feed management can be a little tricky indeed. I make sure I can be there to help that first timer as well. I am actually sure to be there for all births, but if I had to pick any to make your priority it would be first fresheners, especially one year olds. It is hard to keep a dairy goat until two to freshen without them getting overweight. We do like to show our goats in a few local shows, but the reason we have goats is for the milk, so it would make no since to me to hold them dry until two years old. I will not turn a young buck loose with lots of does and expect them all to get bred. I would only breed him to one doe per day preferably. Two at the most if I had no other option. I like to take a doe to a buck and let them breed once, then take her back a couple hours later, then repeat the next day if she is still in heat. Three times in one day is the most I do for one doe. I do not leave them together so that the buck does not get wore down chasing her. Because lots of does will cycle close together and you are bound to need that same buck to service a few other does all in the same week. Feed him good during this time of breeding and start to up his food a little a couple weeks before you plan to breed. Rut takes a lot out of a buck, take good care to give them proper nutrition and shelter.

Milking and Feeding Time:

I already made a blog post listing my feeding program and will not go over that again. I know everyone is stuck on the 12 hours apart milking and feeding program, but I do not take part in this system. I like to feed and milk on a schedule that works for MY house. I feed and milk in the summer at about 8:30am and 6pm. I will feed twice during the winter and milk once, milking in the morning at about 8:30am and feeding again in the afternoon before dark at about 4pm. As long as you are consistent do what works for you. I will separate babies starting at three weeks old, from older does not yearlings, to start milking the dam in the morning. I will then leave the baby with her all day and put the babies up at about 8 at night in their own stall. I will wean the babies from their dam at 5 months old into a separate area where the babies are no longer with the dams. They will stay separated until they no longer try to nurse, this could take several months, every goat is different, you never know when it will be.

Deworming:

Here in the dirty humid south we have to worry about the barberpole worm parasite load, and more. Please visit wormboss website and learn the life cycles and how to keep the loads down. I have no desire to be worming my goats with chemicals all the time, I do not think this stuff is good for them and do not know how long it really stays in their system. I will use a dewormer if necessary, but I would do rotational grazing or use a dry lot to keep from having to. All chemical dewormers have withdrawal days for milk and those are listed on the fiascofarm.com website. Take yourself to a famancha work shop and get a card and learn how to read a famancha score. This will help you with the barberpole worm only though. I have my goats in dry lots and I have a 6 acre pasture of woods and brush. I keep the does in their area, and in the time where leaves are growing, I take the herd to the woods pasture and I let them browse for a few hours , then I bring them back up to their dry lot at the barn. Do not let goats browse wet pasture early in the morning, make sure the dew is dry before turning them out. Do not let goats graze grass to lower than 4 inches tall. Do not let goats graze when rainy and wet. Goats were meant to be browsers not grazers, so they do not have a good tolerance to worms and can acquire a heavy worm load quickly. I do my own fecal samples or famanchas and know when I need to deworm. I also know dewormers do not always work. Also most dewormers are not meant to be a one time use and done, because they only kill adult worms and you have to repeat the worming to catch the next adults and sometimes again. Most worming for barberpole worm is to do it , wait 10 days repeat, wait 10 more days repeat. Or if there is a light load you may get by with two doses 14 days apart. Deworming rates are based on the weight of the goat and seeing how unaccurate a weight tape can be compared to a scale, I highly suggest a scale before deworming, I use this one pet scale link . I have read many times that safeguard does not work and is a waste of time and money, so I have never tried it. I do not like the injectibles, they seem to hurt the goat very very badly.

How to tame down wild dam raised babies

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.