Selling Goat Kids

Goat kids are the cutest animals I have come across and I love to snuggle them and watch them play. I would love to keep them all but I can’t. Sometimes this can be a hard concept for the kids and myself on occasion, but it is a reality of farm life. We cannot keep every animal on the farm. Each year we sell the kids from our goats Nora and Fauna.

We sold one of our goat kids this weekend and my son and I had to discuss all the reasons why we sell the baby goats.

  1. We would be overrun with goats if we kept them all.
    • I decided it would be fun to do a little goat math to see exactly how many goats we would have if we kept them all. We have had the 2 does for 7 years and on average they each have 2 babies a year. So 4 babies a year times 7 years equals 28 goat kids. Add the two nannies and the buck and we would have a herd of 31 goats by now!
  2. There is not enough pasture to feed them all.
    • Before the addition of another horse our grass was able to maintain one horse and three goats. That’s it. Our soil is sandy and does not grow thick enough to maintain too many animals. I could feed hay year round but that would be super expensive.
  3. It costs money to buy hay for them.
    • I have to buy hay for the winter. The sale of the goat kids pays for their hay for the year. In order to keep the goats I have to have revenue coming in to pay for them which is where the sale of the kids comes in.
  4. Too Many Goats!
    • I like having goats but when we occasionally decide to keep a doe kid for longer I realize I like having two goats and only two. When we have more they seem to get into trouble and cause havoc to my fences and garden. I’m not sure why one extra goat is a catalyst to trouble making but it is.

I do enjoy having the baby goats but after they are a few months old I am ready to see them go to new homes. Lucian is my sensitive child and he still gets upset when the baby goats leave. Fiona waved goodbye after we loaded the buckling into the buyer’s truck and she was good to go. We still have two bucklings left and I hope they will sell this weekend. Fingers crossed that I find a buyer.

Tricky Kids

On our small hobby farm we only keep as many animals as we can take care of. That being said some of the animals are easier keepers than others. For example, we have two goats that we breed so we have milk and we sell the kids later in the summer when they are old enough to be weaned.

Goat kids are about the size of rabbits with long legs when they are first born. Over the years we have had kids die but with the exception of the kid that died last year it is always within the first two days of life. During these first two days they are very sensitive and require close monitoring.

Like newborn human babies it is important to:

  1. Keep goat kids warm.
  2. Make sure they latch on properly and are drinking milk.
  3. Be sure they pee and poop, at least the first time.

Nora is our oldest goat at 8 years old. Out of our two does she is the better mother. She cares for her kids so well that I never really have to worry about them at all. She keeps them warm, makes sure all of them are eating, checks on them if they are yelling, and enjoys her time with them.

Fauna is two years younger and a pain in my butt as far as kidding season goes. Some years are better than others but every year there is one kid that she just doesn’t care for as much. I usually have to bring one into the house for a few hours to warm it up and bottle feed it. She is the goat that needs constant monitoring for the first few days until she gets accustomed to her kids.

kimg0852This year she had triplets again! There is one black and white doe, a creamy buck, and a red doe. While they were all born healthy there were a few touchy days to keep them that way. She has larger teats that hang down pretty far so the babies were unable to find them for a first feeding. After about an hour or so they were still not having any luck and were screaming for milk so I bottle fed each of them a few ounces. New babies will rapidly weaken if they don’t get milk every few hours.

Two hours after that I checked on them again. They were still having trouble and making noise which was upsetting Nora, the other goat. She is our better mother and she wanted to check on Fauna’s babies to be sure they were okay. Fauna stood nicely while I maneuvered her babies to help them latch on. This worked while I was on my knees and elbows angling her teats in place but not if I moved. So I milked a little more into a bottle and fed all three babies again. The next time I checked on them two of the kids had it all figured out but the little red one had not. She was also by herself away from the heat lamp so I fed her again and moved her under the warmth.kimg0855

The next day she was weaker and more lethargic so Trenton and I took turns going out every hour or so to bottle feed her a few ounces and try to convince her to nurse from her mother. Unfortunately, the other two were hungry little buggers and Fauna was getting annoyed with her kids and didn’t want to stand still anymore. Thankfully, the little red one has regained her strength and has figured out how to nurse from Fauna so I don’t have to bottle feed anymore.

Soon Nora’s kids will be big enough that we can start milk sharing a bit to have a little fresh goat milk in the house. Fresh goat cheese on crackers sounds delicious right now!

kimg0860On a side note goat kids are little escape artists. Fauna’s kids are moving around enough now that they have figured out how to get out of their pen to say hello to Jack, our horse.

 

Almost Easter Kids

One of the reasons I love spring is because it is time for new babies on the farm. New fluffy chicks, noisy little piglets, and bouncy kids (the goat kind).

Nora is our Oberhasli/Alpine cross that we have had for 6 years but last year we did not breed her because we were about to have a new baby of our own and I decided I only wanted to milk one goat at a time with a newborn in the barn with me. It worked well for us and I wish I had only been milking one goat when Fiona and Lucian were newborns but I grew up on a dairy farm and cows are bred back every year. On a homestead I have more flexibility.  For example, while we were milking Fauna last year one of her kids mysteriously died at 4 weeks. This left her with too much milk for one kid so we experimented with milk sharing. It worked out so well we decided to sell her remaining kid in the fall rather than in the summer like we usually do.

This year we bred both goats and Nora is pretty consistent about kidding around Easter. This year was no different, she had her kids the Monday after Easter. Lucian and I noticed her acting funny in the pasture Monday afternoon so we watched her for a while to be sure she was in labor. She was standing in one spot without nibbling the grass, laying down, getting back up, pawing the ground and looking completely uncomfortable. If it is nice outside I will usually let them have their babies outside but Easter Sunday we had a bit of a spring blizzard so it was wet, cold, and windy. It took a bit of coaxing but we were able to get her into the barn.

kimg0811We made sure she had food and water then left her to settle in. I went out to do chores a little while later and she had one baby almost dry and standing in the stall with her. Trenton brought the kids out so they could see the new baby and we got  the heat lamp hooked up. Fiona was so excited to finally see a baby goat. 

In the 6 years I have had goats I have never had them kid only one baby so after the kids (the human ones) were in bed I checked on her again and sure enough there was another baby snuggled up with the first one. I made sure they both drank milk before going to bed and thought about the fun little surprise Fiona and Lucian would have in the morning.

“There are two of them!” Fiona yelled when she checked on them while we did chores. They are both boys and Lucian named them Collin and Jake. Penelope had her first experience with kids and baby giggles have filled the barn every morning and evening when we do chores. kimg0798

A Sad Mystery

By definition a farm is land used for cultivating crops or raising animals for food. I believe a farm is also a special setting where a family can grow together and learn simple life lessons. Some lessons are happy such as, how do chicks hatch? While some lessons are sad, why did our baby goat die?

Why did our baby goat die? This is the question that has been troubling our little farm over the week. One of our does, Fauna, kidded the week before Easter. She had one buck and one doe. The doe was smaller and Fauna ignored it for a while so we brought it inside to warm up and feed it a little milk until she was strong enough to go back outside with her mother.  A week or so passed and both were healthy so we burned their little horn buds off. By the next morning they were jumping around as if nothing had happened.

A few days later we decided it was time to let them outside for the whole day. They had been outside before but only for a few short hours at a time. Long enough for Fauna to get some fresh air and the babies to play around outside. We put them outside in our winter pasture with our other doe, Nora. Nora and Fauna butted heads a bit but they usually do especially when they are separated for a while. Nora didn’t seem bothered by the kids, she sniffed them then ignored them. When we brought them in that night they were still happily jumping around but when it was chore time the next morning the little buck was dead.

Not once since we started raising goats have we had a kid die at three weeks old. We have had a few die a day or two after being born but never have any died in the night halfway to weaning age. It is a sad mystery as to what happened.

My son Lucian helped my husband bury the little goat and he was sad also. He said, “It died before it had a  name.”  Granted we don’t always name the goats we intend to sell but it is a little sad that the little fella didn’t have a name before he passed.

As the farmer I have to look at the cold reality of monetary loss. The sale of the kids usually pays for all or most of the hay the goats will eat over winter. I’m going to have to make up for the loss of the kid with milk sales, hopefully.

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The kids (my human ones) learned a little lesson about life on a farm. A farm is a place where animals are born and where they die.

New Addition

Lucian figured out where we could get a new buck for the fall completely on his own. Out of the blue one day he said, “We should get a new billy goat from Papa Kenny’s and bring him home to live with us.”

Papa Kenny is Trenton’s uncle and he lives about 5 hours west of where we are.

Trenton’s uncle told Lucian that he could have one of his baby goats as long as he thought of a good name for it that wasn’t “Billy.”

So when we went to visit Lucian told his Papa Kenny that he wanted to name his new goat Frank. He looked over the three or four males in the pen and picked out a great looking Toggenburg buck. Kenny threw in a two horse trailer he didn’t need any more so Frank had a comfortable ride back to Wisconsin (which was awesome) and so we have our new addition to the farm. A great big Thank You to Ken and Lori for the goat and the trailer.

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On a farm animals tend to come and go. Sometimes it can be hard for Lucian when an animal goes to a new home but he is still young so he has a tendency to forget after a while. Or so I think, but he has the memory of an elephant and will ask why an animal had to go to a new home months later. For example, we sold our Billy goat last fall after breeding season for a few different reasons.

  1. We kept one of his daughters so we would need a new breeding buck anyway.
  2. He was getting aggressive as he matured and had become hard to handle safetly. We kept him for three years which is the longest we have kept a buck.

His question last week was, “Why did Billy have to go to a new home? I really liked him. Was he getting too mean with his horns?”

He understands why he needed to go to a new home but he has to mull over changes for a while. I hope we are able to keep Frank for a good long time and when he is ready for a new home Lucian will be old enough to fully grasp the reasons why without getting too upset.

Kids are Here!

We had been watching the goats very closely for the last week and finally the kids are here!

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We have two mama goats on our little farm: Nora and Fauna. Nora always has her kids first and that has not changed this year. I went to the bank and when I came back she had one baby on the ground. I sat on a little wagon a ways away and waited to see if anymore would appear. Before too long she pushed out another one and much to my surprise a short bit later one more popped out feet first. Triplets! This is the second time Nora has delivered triplets but last year one of them died soon after birth. All three are healthy bouncy kids.

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Two days later I had to work for a few hours in the morning. Trenton and the kids came into town and we had lunch together before heading home. After settling Lucian and Fiona down for a nap we went outside to get a few boards to start building the duck coop. I could hear the goat kids making noises like they were lost so I went to see who was stuck. Goat kids do not stay in fences until they are at least a month old and don’t fit through tiny spaces you think only a cat can fit through anymore. I looked into their shelter and behold Fauna had triplets also! All I have to do is leave for a few hours and that’s when the goats will kid.

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We have never had so many healthy kids before!

The kids, my kids, love to play with the babies and the babies love to play with them. It is always fun to have spring babies. This picture is of Lucian, Fiona and Natalie (Nora’s kid from last spring.)

 

IMG_1035. Chicks, kids, and soon ducklings. Spring has finally sprung.