Here’s an overview of how we raise goats here, on our farm, using methods that work for us. It is only “one of many” ways to do things
. You should do what works best for you and your herd. The most important thing is to have happy, healthy animals. happy herdsmen and herdswomen, and have FUN
Our kidding pens are a spacious 6 ft. x 12 ft. The doe is moved to the kidding pen at the time of her due date, or with signs of impending labor. Ideally, each birth is attended but not assisted unless needed. Most of our does deliver by themselves. As the kid is born they are towel dried and licked dry by Mom. We also use a hair dryer if it really cold in the barn. Umbilical (navel) cords are dipped in iodine to prevent infection. Mom’s teats are squirted to be sure they are open and kids are up to nurse colostrum within minutes usually. We assist as needed. All kids get full and adequate colostrum within 2 hours.
During this time does and kids are left together 24 hrs/day to nurse and bond freely. Mom is milked out as needed (some of ours have way more milk than their babies can consume).
At about day 3, Moms generally get “Cabin Fever” and are ready for the next phase.
The kids are moved to a group kid pen in the same barn. Mom’s go back in with their herd group. Then 4 times/day, does and kids are reconnected for nursing. They spend some time exploring the barn aisle together and are then put back into their respective pens until the next feeding. Note: Disbudding and castration takes place within this first week of life.
2 Weeks-2 Months
The kids “move up” to the nursery barn. This is a series of pens constructed in the old milking parlor that came with the property. Kids are then put on the bottle 2-3 times/day as needed. Once they are strong on the bottle (2-3 days) they progress to “the bucket”. This is a 10 nipple caprine feeder that works great. They can have all they want. I’d like to add they are all offered fresh hay from day 1, and water from about week 1. At about 3 weeks we begin to introduce a small amount of grain (Gothberg Goat from Conway Feed, Conway WA). They begin getting controlled access to the outside for play and pasture. We have to keep a careful watch here for predator birds-eagles and ravens. During this time, the kids are being sold and movuing to their new homes too.
Now they are growing, eating, playing, and generally being goats. For this period they are back into the main barn. This tends to be our keeper group. They are fed hay, fresh water, pasture (24/7) and some grain. All of our does are fed pea hay and alfalfa and all have 24/7 pasture access.
8/9 Months-12/13 Months
During this time they are bred (as size, age, and condition warrant). Our general rule of thumb for breeding is minimum 8 months, and 80 pounds (which they always exceed). Now they begin to grow their pregnancies.
Ideal time (for us) for them to have thier first kids and thus begins the cycle again.
This is of course a much simplified version, more of an overview. We love the new kids. They are fun and entertaining. Fortunately, we have very few problems or complications.
With 50-60 new kids a year, we obvioulsly cannot keep them all. Contact Rhonda if interested in any!