On our 5 acre hobby farm we have two milking goats, Nora and Fauna. Nora is the first goat we bought and has been our more stable albeit noisier goat. We bought Fauna about a month after Nora and she is our roller coaster goat with far more ups and downs.
She is an 8 year old Nubian/Oberhasli cross that we bought when she was about 4 months old. Over the almost 8 years that she has been on our farm she has had 7 batches of kids. While dying is a part of farm life her kids do have a slightly higher mortality rate than Nora’s do. I took a quick look through the farm records and here is what I found out about Fauna:
Has given birth 7 times.
4 sets of twins.
3 sets of triplets.
Total of 17 kids.
2 kid deaths.
6 kids that I have had to take into the house to warm up.
1 bottle baby.
Fauna is a great milk producer but temperament wise she is a prickly lady. This spring kidding season has been difficult for her and me. She had triplets again this year, two bucks and one little doe. Fauna was not letting her kids eat at first and we actually had to hold her this year which was a first. She also tried to headbutt me while I held her which has also never happened before. For the first few days we would check on them every few hours and hold Fauna so the kids could eat. After that she started to let them eat just fine. There is usually one kid she semi rejects that I have to bring in the house to warm up whether she has twins or triplets. The doe kid is the one she’s not favoring this year and we had to bring her into the house a few times to warm her up and get some colostrum in her.
Unfortunately when the kids were about a week and a half old we noticed that the little doe was looking bony and dehydrated. My son Lucian and I started to hold one of the bucks so she had an opportunity to eat but that didn’t seem to be enough for her. I had milk left over in the freezer that I thawed out so I could bottle feed her at least twice a day. Fauna didn’t completely reject her but she wasn’t looking out for her either. I used up our store of frozen milk after about three weeks.
Now I have been milk sharing from Nora to feed Fauna’s kid. Milk sharing is when you separate a lactating mother from her kids for a short time so you are able to milk her but her kids are still able to feed from her for the rest of the day. Nora’s kids are only 4 days older than Fauna’s kids but they are almost twice the size. I have been putting Nora into a different pen at night, milking her in the morning then letting her out to pasture with her kids during the day. She makes enough milk to feed the little doe, whom Lucian named Fantasy, about 10 oz. morning and night with a little left over to save for the days I have to work early and don’t have as much time for chores.
I have to say milking then bottle feeding has been a little more labor and time intensive than I would like. Also Fauna’s attitude has been deplorable this spring. Her kids are now 6 weeks old and I am just now starting to be able to let my own kids around her. She has been trying to headbutt them every time they walk by her pen. Penelope is two and for some reason she seems to be the one Fauna aims at the most. She also tried to headbutt at me when we were first getting her kids to nurse which is an attitude I do not appreciate. Her disposition has steadily been declining over the last few years and while we have had her for eight years this is still a working farm and it is time to cull her.
We have come up with a plan that I think will work well for us. We plan to sell all the kids except little Fantasy and one of Fauna’s buck kids. We will also be selling Fauna as soon as we wean her kids. I am a little sad to see her go but she is starting to become a hazard to my children so it is time for her to find a new home. The plan is to use the buck kid to breed Nora one last time in the fall as they are not related in the slightest. Then we will sell him in December before Christmas. Hopefully Nora will have a doe next year because I really want to keep her line going on our little hobby farm.
Our little farm has two dairy goats that we have had since a few months after we bought our property in May of 2012. We bought Nora a two year old Alpine Oberhasli cross in August of 2012 and Fauna a 3 month old Nubian Oberhasli cross in September of 2012. Before purchasing Nora I had no experience with dairy goats. Dairy cows yes, but goats NO. I soon learned that while the milk comes out the same way they are not the same. Goats require a whole different mindset when it comes to feeding, fencing, and socializing.
Nora is the first goat I have ever had and over the last nine years she has consistently had her kids close to Easter. This year she had her kids on Easter which made a nice Easter present for us. She was acting restless earlier that morning. She would walk to the far end of the pasture paw at the ground for a while before pacing back to the other side of the pasture where the shed is. She did this for a little while before the two yearling goats we wintered here started to bother her. I put her in a different pasture where she immediate found a shady secluded spot to settle in. When I brought her a bucket of water a little while later she had already given birth to one baby. Lucian and I watched her and the new baby for a little while before we gave her some space.
When we checked on her a short time later she had two babies. One was standing and the other was still wet and resting on the ground. I’m glad she picked one of the few days we’ve had where it wasn’t raining, the sun was shining, and the wind wasn’t blowing. I left them out in the sunshine for a few hours before we brought them into the barn. I like to keep the new babies with their mothers in a stall for at least a week so they have bonding time. This ensures they are nursing well before they get outside and start wondering. I have also been keeping a heat lamp on them at night and during cold, wet days. I have started to put them outside when the days are nice, which is rarely. I put them into our buck/weaning pen which is a 10 X 30 foot pen that has pig panel sides. The small squares mostly keep the kids contained. (Baby goats are escape artists!) They really enjoyed playing out in the weaning pen during their first day out. Nora was definitely ready to get outside too!
This year Nora had two bucklings again. I was really hoping for a doe from her to continue her bloodline. She isn’t getting any younger and Franky was a great Toggenburg mixed buck. Oh well, hopefully she will throw a doe next year. Nora is a great mother and takes the best care of her kids. I never have to worry about them because I know she’s got it all in hand. Fauna is a different story altogether but she is a story for a different post.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.