Shopping for Goats

We went shopping for goats today, came home empty handed, and wanted to share the reasons why. Our trip was about 170 miles round trip and took about four hours. When the gentleman asked what we thought and Frank told him we were going to pass, he told us he was sorry we had wasted a trip. Frank told him it was not wasted, we got to visit the whole way. Isn’t that neat? There is not much Frank and I would rather do than spend the day with each other whether we are home or on the road, so today has been another day well spent.

A few days ago I found an ad on Craigslist that had the potential for adding some new blood into our herd. We called and set up a time to make the trip. The gentleman wasn’t much of a phone talker, and just recommended we come look. I should have tried to ask a few more questions. 

One Stripe

We went to look at a Nubian doe that had black and tan quadruplets. I have always liked black and tan goats, but we have only had one, and she was an excellent specimen of a milk goat. She had a nice thick, long body, she was big and had great babies. Even though my favorite goat at that time was more of a big belly kind of goat, just because she was friendly, kind of like One Stripe. All of this leads to the confirmation of the animal, the type of body structure they have which will add to a herd and not bring some unwanted traits.

Google Images

The first thing we noticed about this doe was her udder. Now that I have learned more about milking and udders, I have realized that there are many subtleties that can add or detract from the performance of an udder over the short and long run. Although this doe’s udder was nice and full, and she was able to feed all four of her babies, it wasn’t well attached. By this I mean that the ligaments that attach the udder to the body wall were more narrowly spaced allowing the udder to swing or sway side to side when she walked. This is not a desirable characteristic for an udder at our farm. Over time it will break down more quickly allowing the udder to sag, sometimes all the way to the ground.

Copper a week before she gave birth

A well attached udder should be widely spaced between the legs and up to the belly area. It’s hard to describe in words. Frank described it to one of his friends using a paper sack analogy. A well attached udder would be like an open paper sack that is wide open. A poorly attached udder would be like a paper sack that is squeezed closed at the top, like you were going to blow it up and pop it. The actual area of attachment to the body is much smaller.

The second thing we found out about this doe is that she is a polled animal. Polled meaning that she was born without horns. There are folks that will tell you that some goats are just ‘naturally’ polled, but we are of the opinion that any goat that is natural will have horns. Another problem that occurs among polled goats is that if you breed two of them together you may end up with a hermaphrodite. A hermaphrodite is a goat that has “both sex organs and sterile“. The gentleman had bought this doe from a lady that had all polled goats.

The next issue we noticed is the way the kids were disbudded, or dehorned. The gentleman’s disbudding iron did not have the right tip and he had burned all the way across the top of the kids’ heads. Even so, the horns were still growing out.

Copper’s ear before we fixed it.

 
And the last thing was the ears. The doe’s ears were turned over sideways, similar to this picture. This can be corrected when the goat is very young, just like we fixed Copper’s ear. One of this doe’s kids had one ear that was the same way.

We wouldn’t have bought the doe because of her udder alone. A pendulous udder is not a trait we want in our herd. We had a doe named Red that was born here and was a great milker. I milked her for two years, then one day as she was walking out of the barn I realized that her udder was swinging from side to side much more than any other doe. As I

Red taught us why we don’t want horns & about pendulous udders.

watched and really looked at her, I realized that her udder was not widely attached like the other does. Then I really looked at her. Sometimes when you are used to something you don’t always ‘see’ what is really there. Another instance of that was the first goat we had born with parrot mouth. I always knew this goat looked a little different, but it took a number of months for me to realize what it was that was creating that difference. These are the ‘ah-ha!’ moments of learning, and I am grateful for them even when they lead to an undesirable decision. The goat with the pendulous udder we sold, pointing out this deficit to the buyers. The goat with the parrot mouth we butchered, not wanting to pass on a deformity in our herd or to anyone else. The doe today, we did not buy, even though I would really like to have some black and tan goats. 

This gentleman also had a billy goat today that we wanted to look at. He was solid black, which is unusual, a solid, nice looking animal. His draw back? He had horns. That was an instant decision. No horns at our place, so no nice big, black buck. Then as we stood and visited for a minute, the buck started backing up and putting his head down in a stance that indicated he would like to butt something or someone. The owner indicated the buck liked to ‘play’, not a behavior we care to have in a buck when that ‘play’ can

Teddy was a great looking animal with some bad behaviors.

hurt someone. The buck was separated in an area by himself. The owner said he put a couple of the baby goats in there with the billy for company, but he just chased them and chased them around, so he had to take them out. The only time this billy was allowed around other goats was during breeding time. All in all, what I saw in this goat was one that was not socially adapted to being with other goats or people. So, even if he had not had horns, his behavior would have prevented us from buying him. We learned a lot about unwanted buck behavior from Teddy, who was a very nice big billy and the father of Cricket, Lady Bug and Penny.

It takes time to ‘learn’ an animal, whether it is a chicken, dog, cat, goat, or any other animal. Time is a good teacher. Having friends, neighbors, or other folks with the same type of animals can help a tremendous amount. Observing and studying your own animals can teach you a lot. Over the years we have made our fair share of mistakes with animals. Buying some on impulse. Trying to ignore bad traits, or think somehow we can overcome them by some magic. It never works out. We just end up dealing with someone else’s problem, and it’s never worth it in the long run. 

If you are starting out or looking for new animals, research all you can, talk to everyone you can, don’t overlook flaws that will cause you troubles and listen to your instinct. Then you still may end up with an unforeseen problem. But if you do, learn from that as well, and in time, you will end up with the herd or flock you want. Healthy, productive and content. We have been blessed with stewardship of this small spot of earth in southeastern Oklahoma, and we give thanks for that every single day. Even when we didn’t get to bring home a few more goats.

Until next time – Fern

Some Goats Have a Mind of Their Own

Even though it is more work and planning, we have been wanting to get into the routine of breeding at least one goat in July for December babies. This would provide us with fresh milk year round instead of having to buy milk when all of the does dry up for the last two months of gestation. Our plan this year was to breed One Stripe in July and the rest in November. This would bring us one set of babies in December and the rest in April. Good plan, right?

One Stripe’s name comes from that little white stripe on her side.

Well, it appears either One Stripe or Bill, our buck, had other plans. Frank’s back surgery was the beginning of July, so our breeding plans were postponed for a few weeks. But any time I put the two of them together, Bill just cried and acted clueless. He has been slower to mature than the other young bucks we have bought in the past, but this last week he finally figured things out. This means we will not have milk during the last two months of One Stripe’s and Copper’s

Copper is in the back looking over everyone.

gestation. They were both in heat, so we bred them both. We can expect kids from these two does around February 10th, which is 150 days from breeding, or the average gestation for a goat. This is not our optimal time since it is the coldest part of the year. It is normally not a problem, but it can be. It is a problem for cold fingers. We thought back in July that One Stripe might be pregnant….but she wasn’t.
 

Bill


Our young does are growing nicely. Bill will be turned in with them on November 1st. The girls will be eight months old and ready to breed. Cricket is friendly and the biggest of the three. Penny is just as friendly as her mother, Copper. Lady Bug is a pretty girl, but is still pretty stand-offish. If she doesn’t come around and get easier to handle, she will be sold after she has her babies. Training her to milk may gentle her down some, we will see.

Cricket

Penny

Lady Bug

One Stripe with the two wethers on either side

Our two young wethers that were born in March are still alive. For a while we thought we would lose them. After Frank’s surgery, a neighbor came over and helped us ban and worm the boys. After a while, they weren’t doing well and had some raw skin around the site of the ban. We have used this technique for many years on goats and sheep. Once we took some goats to the vet and had them castrated. Once was enough. We found it to be very gruesome, and returned to banning again. Everyone has their stories and their preferences, and that is great. This is ours. 

An example of the small sheds

Anyway, back to the story. These two wethers were not doing very well and Frank could not help me with them. I managed to catch them while they were eating, and use a double ended brass clip to attach their collars to the fence. That way I wouldn’t have to hold them while I tried to work them over. The first time I put some drawing salve around the ban in hopes they would go ahead and heal up. The scrotum sack was just about to fall off at this point. A few days later, one of the boys started staying in their small shed instead of grazing with the herd. I figured at that point I would loose them both. But, that just wouldn’t do. I had to try something else. On my own. You see, Frank has always been the needle man. Anytime we have to give shots, he gets to do it. Not that I can’t, I just don’t want to. I don’t like it. But, as I found out, I can do it, and it’s no big deal. So, I gave them both a shot of LA200 and applied more salve to the raw area. I figured the one in the shed would still die, but he didn’t.

About a week later while I was in the barn milking, Frank called me on the radio. Yes, we use hand held radios every single day around the farm. Anytime I am in the barn and he is not, well anytime we are outside, whether we are together or not, we always take a radio. It has saved many a step when we need to communicate something. So, Frank called me on the radio and said, “You saved those two boys lives.” That makes it all worth while. And it makes for more meat on the hoof.

We hope to butcher our three older wethers soon. They are way past the age we would normally do it, but it just hasn’t gotten done yet. We are out of red meat in the freezer and it will be nice to have some of our own again. We chose goats because of the smaller carcass size. We don’t need as much milk as a cow would provide. The meat you get from butchering a goat will be easier to process and preserve when we no longer have access to refrigeration or freezers.

There are always hooves to be trimmed and chores to do when it comes to having goats. Sometimes when they won’t cooperate or bellow all the time, they are a real pain and we don’t appreciate them as much. That’s a nice way to say they drive us crazy. It’s interesting to watch animal behavior. If one runs, they all run, if one starts screaming, another one may join in, kind of like people. And I bet if we gave one of them a TV, they would all want a TV, or a free phone. I don’t see the government out here handing out free goat feed. How come some people get things that are ‘free’, and others have to pay for those things that are ‘free’ that they don’t get? So much for my mini rant.

Sometimes plans with the goats just don’t work out the way we would like, but, in the long run, they provide milk, butter, cheese, meat and dog food for our little homestead, and that is part of our long term plan. And it is a good plan. A plan to survive.

Until next time – Fern

It’s Weaning Time

Weaning baby goats is not difficult if you have good fencing. You just separate them from their mothers and wear ear plugs for a few days. Sometimes babies are sold, making the weaning easy. So far, we haven’t sold any babies this year, and actually, we didn’t have any for sale. Two different families have stopped by recently looking for a new billy goat, which is an oddity. When you raise goats you need to plan on keeping your bucks as wethers for meat, or taking them to the sale barn. Bucks, just like bulls, are a dime a dozen and each herd only needs one. So, if you are planning to start raising livestock, have a plan for the excess male animals you will be raising, whether it is chickens or goats.

We put some extra 2 x 4 stock panel sections along the bottom part of the corral specifically with weaning in mind. Before we had this up, we found that some very determined babies could still squeeze through the pole gate and find their way back to mom and a meal. Now the babies can only stand there and cry. Loudly. Well, only for a day or two until they lose their voices altogether. But it will come back, and by then they aren’t crying near as much.

Copper and Ivory aren’t real happy that their babies can’t come to them when they call. So they fuss at me. That’s okay, because I think that is a sign of a good mother. Their babies are now ten weeks old and more than ready to wean. Some people wean at six weeks, but eight weeks is probably the norm. We choose ten weeks because it just makes for a stronger, healthier baby. It won’t take long, before the does are fine with only being milked and not having big babies nursing. To accomplish the task of weaning we had to do a little bit of goat musical chairs, or ring around the pastures. First I put the does and babies in their pasture and closed the gate.


Then I got all of the wethers and boys to go in the pig pen. (We used this pen to feed out a couple of pigs once and the name stuck.) After they were all in, I sorted them until only the two young bucks that were born here were left. We had put them in with the new buck, Bill, while he was still in the trailer after his arrival. The big boys and Bill, I moved into a different pasture next to the does.


Now I let the does and babies out of their pasture. Next, I put the does in the barn with grain to eat. I was hoping the babies would follow me with a feed bucket into their respective pasture. That didn’t work too well. Copper’s babies cooperated, but Ivory’s didn’t. I ended up luring Ivory into the big baby pen in the barn, then catching her girls and carrying them to the pig pen. They’re getting heavy!


Whew! That was done. We decided to leave the babies locked in the pen for the night. The two oldest bucks are used to this pasture and can show the new arrivals around. That is a plus. The next morning after I fed the babies, I left the pig pen gate open. We thought we would let them out to graze during the day, but pen them up each night for a while. I left them eating and wished them a good day.


When I came back in the evening to feed, all four of the babies were back in the pasture with their mothers! Hmmmmm……they came through the gate into the corral even though we had put 2 x 4 stock panel over the bottom two openings. We were surprised. So now I was facing the same sorting procedure with the babies again, which I was not looking forward to. As I stood there shaking my head at them it occurred to me that there is a much easier way to accomplish this task. Remember how I used the does to lure the babies into the pen when I wanted to pen them off at night to get more milk? This is one of those moments when you think, “Good grief! Why didn’t I think of that yesterday?? It would have saved me a lot of work!” So, this time I just opened up the gate to the pasture, called the does with a bucket of feed, walked around into the pig pen and everyone followed me. Wa-la! The babies were penned up. It was easy to walk each doe out since they are used to that behavior when I milk them. That was so much easier, too bad I didn’t think of it the first time. 


So now, once again, the babies are penned up. I got five quarts of milk this morning. It won’t take long to get enough milk to start making cheese again. I hope to make some fresh mozzarella sometime this week. You know, all of this is a lot of work, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am so grateful to live in a place that I still can live this way and do things the way I choose. I only pray that it continues to be so. In some places, for some people, the tide has already turned and the heavy hand of government restrictions are at their door. Be vigilant, be resourceful, and above all, be ready.

Until next time – Fern

Meet Bill

We want to introduce you to our new buck, Bill E Goat. Get it? I’m sorry, but we love to laugh and this is just one of those moments. But, really, his name is Bill.

After we read about the goat, we made contact with the folks that had him. These folks are very privacy oriented, as are we, so we met them at a big box hardware store a couple of hours away from our house. It sounds like something out of a spy novel, doesn’t it? But, we respect people’s privacy, and we’re glad when people respect ours. They were nice folks and we appreciate their willingness to meet us and save us a few miles.

When we bring a new animal to our place they spend the first week in isolation. This is accomplished in our stock trailer, which is very convenient. We pull it into the barn to provide shade, protection from weather and have the new animal in close proximity to the herd.

Bill was not very happy to be alone for the first two nights. The second day he was here we wormed him with Cydectin, then the third day we used Safeguard which is fenbendazole. At this time, we are still using chemical wormers for the goats. We don’t use them very often, usually no more than twice a year, and some day we hope to eliminate them altogether. We have honeysuckle, wormwood and garlic growing which will deter or cause worms to expel from the goats, but haven’t learned enough to use them effectively yet. The key word there is yet. That will come in time.

The third evening Bill was joined in the stock trailer by One Stripe’s two adopted nine week old boys, which began their weaning process. Now we had three crying babies in the trailer. But at least Bill had company now. We continued to watch Bill for any signs of ill health. The previous owners provided us with a bag of feed for him. We gradually used this up while getting him accustomed to our feed ration. He had a good appetite for the hay, grain and water we gave him and appears to be a strong, healthy animal.

One week later, Bill and the boys joined the older wethers out in the ‘boys’ pasture. Bill seems small now, but we expect him to grow and fill out quickly since he is already four months old. We will feed him, and the other boys, everyday for a while. Bill’s first breeding duties will come about mid June when we plan to breed One Stripe. We would like for her to have babies about Thanksgiving to keep us in milk through the winter. We will breed the other does around November 1st for April babies next spring. So Bill will not be full grown before he will be put to work. He still calls for his mom and his old herd sometimes, but he is enjoying all of the new growth of the pasture. He should work out just fine.

Until next time – Fern

Ivory’s Kids & More Goat Lore

Ivory had her babies the day after Copper. She is continuing in her mother’s footsteps of waiting until the 155th day after breeding before she kids. It is interesting to know some of the patterns of our animals. It makes our stewardship more effective and informed.

Ivory, March 6th, 153 days

One Stripe typically has her babies 150 days after breeding, which is the average gestation for goats. This year when Copper, One Stripe’s daughter, had her first kids, she freshened at 150 days on the nose. Ivory’s mother, Katy, typically freshened at 155 days except for the year she had quadruplets, then she gave birth at 153 days. Now, Ivory has had her second set of kids and both years she freshened at 155 days. I find this to be very interesting, useful information.
 

Ivory’s mom, Katy, March 2013


Last year Ivory had twins, a buck and a doe, with no problems and was an excellent mom, so I wasn’t real worried about her performance this year. She lived up to my expectations, had her babies without any assistance or trouble, cleaned them up, talked to them constantly and made sure they were well fed. She is a very productive doe. Her only flaws are yelling at the top of her lungs when we walk in the barn and butting the other does on occasion. We have debated off and on about selling her.
 

March 8th

This year Ivory has given us two beautiful replacement does. This may make it easier to sell her come fall. We will use her milk, along with One Stripe’s and Copper’s to make our supply of cheese this summer. After we have all we need for the year, we may go ahead and sell Ivory around August. This will give us five does since we are keeping Copper’s doe, Penny, and Ivory’s girls, Cricket and Lady Bug. This will be plenty of breeding stock for us and more than enough milk production for next year.

Ivory, Lady Bug, Pearl and Cricket

Next year there will be three young does to to train to milk. This year Copper was the only doe that I needed to train and, thanks to how tame she was to begin with, this has not taken hardly any work at all. I will do another post on milking a newly trained goat before long. Over time, if you ever get this opportunity, you will learn little tricks that can make a big difference, kind of like the hints Frank has given about hatching and raising baby chicks. Experience really is the best teacher and I learn more everyday. I will never be through learning or know everything there is about anything. Take your comments, for instance. This is a new source of information that I have found to be very valuable.

Right after the baby goats are born, they will walk right up to you with no fear. When they approach about a four to five days old, they develop the instinct to be afraid of things that are bigger or above them and will flinch or try to get away from you. After they reach about ten days to two weeks old and are more steady on their feet and more confident in their ability to move around and get away, they become curious. It really helps to have tame, manageable does. This is the best way to have easy to handle kids. Velvet’s boys now run around us and try to jump up on our legs. They are very tame and easy to handle. Copper and Ivory’s kids are just now starting to come up and smell our legs or hands, but if we bend over too quickly to pet them, they are off and running. It won’t be long before they will be tame and easy to pet and work with as well.
 

One Stripe and one of her adopted boys


Pearl, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian, is the greatest babysitter we have. She has the patience of Job when it comes to these baby goats. And they just love her. Her laid back, gentle nature also contributes to the overall calm atmosphere at the barn with our goats.

Time is the best teacher when it comes to raising livestock. We have researched and read for many, many years. Working with, raising, butchering and learning to cull according to our long term goals are all things that have come with time. When we first began raising goats, I didn’t know much about udders – which ones were good, which ones were bad, what is a good attachment and shape, which ones produces more milk or were easier to milk. There was so much to know and I could only learn so much from reading. The real learning came when I started milking every day and trying to train goats to be milked. I have made my fair share of mistakes,  and will make more in the future, but I have learned in the process. 

Stay tuned. There is more lore to explore. 

Until next time – Fern

Just How Many Goats Do We Need?

We have debated this question many times. In the last few years we have had as many as twelve does and as few as four. Our ideal number revolves around milk and meat production. We try to logically consider what factors may affect the sustained production of these items and our dietary needs. 

How many do you milk? This year we had three milkers and we had so much milk we couldn’t use it up fast enough even though we were feeding it to the dog, cats and chickens. The chickens would only drink so much milk. And Frank is a milk drinker, everyday. So we cut back to milking the three of them once a day. That helped some, but we still had an over abundance of milk. 
 

Cheddar

After we made all of the cheese we wanted we dried up one of the does. Then we found out that One Stripe had 

Chevre

bred in July like we wanted her to, and was farther along than we thought. She starts drying up about two months after she breeds and that left us with only one goat to milk. Since that wasn’t giving us as much milk as we wanted, we went back to milking her twice a day in the hopes she would

Mozzarella

increase her milk production again, but that hasn’t really worked. We are just barely getting by and are dipping into our frozen milk reserves for Pearl and the kittens.

Special note: Some people will ask, “Why don’t you sell the milk?” The reason is that it is illegal to sell raw milk. You have to be a registered dairy to sell milk. And then, some would say, “Barter for the milk.” It doesn’t make any difference. If we barter, sell or give milk away and someone gets sick, whether it is from the milk or not, we can lose everything we have and do jail time. Therefore, we do not sell, barter or give milk away for any human consumption. And that’s it. 

If we keep the four does we have right now, next year we will have four milking goats. So we thought, why not go down to three? Three milking goats, as we mentioned earlier, will give us an abundance of milk. So, why not let one of them dry up early, which is a very good idea. Then you have two full-time milking goats and an abundance of milk. Here are the delimmas. If you want to have fresh milk year round, then you can’t have them all breed at the same time. Goats need to dry up a few months before they birth. The reason for our messed up breeding schedule is because that is what we tried to do this year, was have separate breeding times for different goats, and it just didn’t work.

We don’t have a good answer for this situation. We have tried freezing milk. It’s okay, but as long as the grocery store continues to sell milk, it is much better. We have tried canning milk. As Frank has been known to say, “I’m not putting that stuff in my mouth.” But the chickens will drink it and you can cook with it. We store powdered milk as part of our food storage and it is just fine. But someday, it will run out. Our nine years in Alaska we drank powdered milk. Remember, Frank is a milk drinker.

We have not come across a sure fire way to solve the problem of being able to have fresh milk year round. There is a chance, because of our mixed up breeding schedule, that we might actually have fresh milk all year. We’ll let you know in about January or February. Right now we have been getting fresh milk since January, so it will be close.

Okay, so getting back to the question of how many goats? We are probably going to stay with four. But then, what if one of the does has beautiful kid? Okay…..maybe five goats. We talked about going down to three does, but if one of them got sick or had problems that would only leave us with two to milk and that may or may not be enough. So we’re going to stick with four, for now. But that doesn’t mean that we are going to keep the four we have. We have one doe that keeps everybody stirred up all the time, she just spooks at anything and everything. She is a nice looking goat, good udder, good teats and a great milker, but she just keeps everybody on edge all the time. Remember, goats are herd animals, and if one animal spooks, they all run. You know, kind of like sheeple.

There are many factors that come into the decision making process in keeping a doe or putting her up for sale. Here is a list of some of the determining factors:

  • Milkablity (Frank’s new word) which is volume of milk; udder conformation (the shape of the bag); and teat size; not to mention attitude about being milked and ease of training
  • Cooperation within the herd; ease of handling
  • Healthy kids; ease of, or problems birthing; attentive mother or not; looks – no one wants an ugly goat
  • Over all good or bad habits 
  • Family tree; don’t keep too many from the same parents even if they produce desired characteristics – like Teddy – he is a big strong, good looking, healthy male that is easy to handle and a solid breeder. But when the girls are in heat, his attitude changes sharply and he can be dangerous. So he is leaving, dead or alive.
  • And one of the major deciding factors is Fern. If she likes a goat we will usually keep it, for a while anyway. The exception to the rule of selling off older stock on our place is One Stripe who will live out her days here. She is a great goat, good attitude, wonderful milker, excellent mother and Fern just loves her. So she stays until the end of her days. This is not always a good idea, but it is the plan for just this one.

 

One Stripe

In the birthing process, we have about half doe and half buck kids. On average, healthy adult does have twins or triplets. This year we will probably have four does and four buck kids. The plan is to keep one doe

kid to replace the one we are selling. But remember, plans can change.

We will sell the three remaining doe kids and that will leave us with four bucks. Young bucks in the industry are considered to be ‘a dime a dozen’. It is rare that you keep a buck to become a new breeding billy. So, therefore, we may have four young bucks that we will castrate and one year later will butcher. These are called wethers, which is pronounced like ‘weather’. This is part of our food supply. Now remember, it takes one billy to service 10 to 20 does, therefore, bucks are not in high demand. So that is where our meat comes from. All the wethers have the same name – Meat. One time Fern named them Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Teddy and the wethers, Meat, Meat and Meat

So, how many goats do we need? Four does and one billy will keep us in milk and meat and then some. The key is balancing them out so that we are not overrun with either. That is the plan anyway. So if you’re thinking about goats, this is the way we do it. Hope this helps.

That’s the news from the farm.

Frank and Fern
 

Goat Breeding Season

March 2013 kids

We traditionally turn our buck in with our does to breed October 1st so we will have kids in March. It is a good time of year to have kids here. It is usually not too cold and some of the grass is starting to come up and provide some fresh green forage for the does when they begin producing milk. We have had some accidental births at odd times of the year due to unplanned breeding, but our preference is to breed according to our schedule. This is another one of those things that is strictly a personal preference. Many people do things differently and we all have our own reasons for why we do things ‘our’ way. This is how we do it.

Velvet and Copper are both One Stripe’s girls

A doe will normally come into standing heat for one day out of 21. It is the only time she will breed. The average gestation for a doe is 150 days. I have had some does that kid at exactly 150 days and some that go until 155 days. This kind of information is only gained with daily observation of the herd and good record keeping. We don’t always know when a doe has bred, but there are usually signs that let you know she is coming into or out of heat, which makes an approximate date available. Keeping good does for a few years will also provide information about gestational tendencies. I had a doe that consistently went for 155 days except for once when she had quadruplets. Then she only went for 153 days, still 3 days beyond average.

We attempted to breed two of our four does in July this year so they would kid in December. The other two we planned to breed in October for March kidding. This would keep us in milk year round instead of having all of the does dry up in January. We will find out over the next three weeks if anyone bred in July, but I don’t think so. At least we didn’t have any indications that they did.

Velvet last March before her first kid.


A few days ago Velvet came into heat so we went ahead and turned Theodore, better known as Teddy, in with the does. Frank named him after Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy is a three year old buck we bought this past spring. He is amazingly easy to handle and will walk anywhere lead by his collar or a leash. He is also a nice, big goat that could add some size to our herd.

One Stripe and Teddy

The problem is twofold with Teddy. When we turned him in with the does in July he became more aggressive to us by trying to push on us. Not butt us, but push us around physically. The next problem was he didn’t like Pearl, our Great Pyrenees. At first he kind of avoided her, then he started rearing up like he wanted to butt heads with her, like goats do. Pearl started staying out in the pasture instead of sleeping in the barn with the goats which was her customary spot. Then one day when we went to feed, Teddy butted Pearl and smashed her into the birthing pens in the barn. That was not a good day for Teddy. That was when we decided his days were numbered. We will use him for this breeding season and when all of the does are bred, he will be leaving.

I keep a document with a table to record dates of breeding and estimated dates for kidding. I always hope I don’t need to record a second or third breeding. We had a doe that bred again for the last time, finally, on Christmas eve. I don’t know why it took her so many times, sometimes it just happens that way.

                                Goat Breeding Schedule
Goat
1st
Breeding
Due Date
2nd
Breeding
Due Date
3rd
Breeding
Due Date
One Stripe
July 19
Dec 16
August 6
January 3
Copper
Ivory
Velvet
Sept 26
Feb 23
                                              March
Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
23
Velvet
24
25
26
27
28
1
2  
3
4
5
6    
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
As the does breed I will add dates to the table. We wait to see if any does breed again after 21 days to make sure everyone ‘took’ before we remove the buck. I have read that some people only put the doe and buck together for a few hours then separate them. I know others that run their herd together all of the time and the kids are born throughout the year. It is all a matter of preference and what the purpose is for the goats. 
 

Copper is our only yearling this year and will be having her first kids.

It would be great to have our breeding completed in the next 30 days. If all of the does come into heat and become pregnant during the first breeding, it will be time for Teddy to go and just about time to butcher the three wethers we have. Then for a short period of time we will be down to four does. Then comes kidding season, which is a great time of year. And that means spring is coming and it will be time to plant the garden again.
 

Even though I had hoped One Stripe bred in July, it looks like she will be breeding again in the next few days.

It is a good seasonal life with something going on during each part of the year. No two years are quite the same and there is always something new to be learned. Enjoy the last vestiges of summer as we slide into the cooler fall weather. The leaves will be changing here before we know it.
Until next time – Fern