Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Udderly Magnificent

The purpose of raising dairy goats here at Granny's Best Goat Dairy .... besides the pure pleasure of their company! ... is for the milk that they produce.  With this milk, I produce delicious cheeses, yogurt, and cheesecakes.

The cost is the same to care for a doe that produces 2 gallons a day of milk as it is to care for a doe that produces 1/2 gallon of milk a day.  This is why I plan for and work toward producing milking does that have a large udder capacity and ability to consistently produce a good quality and quantity of milk.  I set the goal for each doe to be producing at least a gallon a day by time they freshen their second time.

A major part of the planning for production is the selection of the herd buck.  If you think about it, the buck is half of the herd.  I want him to be healthy, strong, gentle, and have good conformation.  Having star milkers and star bucks on his ADGA papers is a definite plus too.  I've been told that if a buck has large testacies that he will produce does that have large udders.  I haven't proven this yet, but am keeping records regarding this thought.

I was very lucky to get a wonderful herd buck when I purchased my first buck, BW. 

LaMancha Herd Buck - BW

He was very large, strong and gentle.  The does that I kept from my first kidding season have freshened their second time this spring.  Some of them are already outproducing their mothers. 

Here is some of the results of his offspring:

Emily is one of my first does.  She is part of the foundation of my dairy herd.  She gives around 2 gallons a day all season long.  Emily is 7 years old this spring.  She is recovering from pregnancy toxemia and ketosis.  The photo below was taken last milking season.  She is giving about a gallon and a half this season and is gaining her weight and strength back quickly.  I expect her to be back to her normal 2 gallons a day very soon.

 
Foundation Doe - Emily

Lady and Tina are two of the quadruplets that Emily gave me in the spring of 2008.  They are out of BW.

 
Lady - Emily and BW's daughter
(second freshening)

 
Tina - Emily and BW's daughter
(second freshening)

Lilah is also one of my first milking does and part of the foundation of my herd.  She gives a gallon and a half to two gallons all season long.  She is 7 years old this spring and still going strong.  She is the herd queen.

Foundation Doe - Lilah

Fawn and Oreo are Lila's daughters from the triplets that she gave me the spring of 2008.  They are also BW's daughters.

 
Fawn - Lilah and BW's daughter
(second freshening)

This photo of Oreo is from last spring when she was a first freshener.  She hasn't kidded yet this year.  I think her udder is pretty impressive for a yearling first freshener!

 
Oreo - Lilah and BW's daughter
(first freshening)

Opal and Pearl are Darcy and BW's daughters from the spring of 2008.  Darcy was Lilah's twin sister.  I lost her to complications after kidding.  (To read more about this - see my earlier post called  "(5) My First Kidding Season - Darcy")

 
Opal - Darcy and BW's daughter
(second freshening)


Pearl - Darcy and BW's daughter
(second freshening)

NaNa is Bell and BW's daughter from the spring of 2007.

NaNa - Bell and BW's daughter
(third freshening)

There are some of my does that I purchased when I was first building the herd that their daughters out of BW are out milking their mothers by quite a bit.  Misty and her daughter Sissy is one example.

 
Misty - One of my first does
(fourth freshening)

Misty and BW's daughter Sissy has much better udder formation and much greater production than her mother, Misty.
 
Sissy - Misty and BW's daughter
(second freshening)

Another one of my foundation does is Holly.  Holly has great udder formation with a lot of udder in the front.  She consistently gives a gallon a day.

 
Foundation Doe - Holly
(fourth freshening)

Holly and BW's grandson, Nathan, is one of the herd sires for one of my younger generation of does.  His offspring will be fist fresheners this spring and will be delivering kids over the next several weeks.

Lucy is also one of my foundation does.  This is her second freshening and she is milking very well.

 
Foundation Doe - Lucy
(second freshening)

Maggie gives me between a gallon and a half and two gallons a day.  I'm keeping her twin doelings from this year's kidding. 

 
Foundation Doe - Maggie
(fourth freshening)

Latte is one of my new herd sires.  He is a year old now and sired all of the Nubian kids that you've seen in the posts from this year's kidding season.  Now you see why so many of them have spots!  He is only a couple of weeks older that the bucks you see behind him.  He is going to be huge when he gets his full growth!  I am very pleased with his offspring and am keeping many of his doelings to build the herd.  His mother gave over a gallon a day as a first freshener.  I am trusting that he will pass this genetic trait to his daughters!

Latte (with Brown Bear and RC in the background)

I am pleased with the production of most of my does.  There are a few that will be replaced as the younger does mature.  My goal is to have all of my does producing at least a gallon of milk a day.  I keep that goal in mind each year as I plan for breeding season.  I've already started thinking about next fall's parings!

A wise man told me one time that if I take the best buck from my best doe and breed a generation of does with him that I will be duplicating the best of my best.    That's what I want as I develop this dairy herd ... the best of the best!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Kidding - Round 2

It's been pretty busy around here lately!  I think the second group of does are finally finished kidding!  Here's how it went and some photos of this group of kids.

On February 2nd ... Pearl had a little buck and a little doe in the early morning.  I wasn't out in the barn yet ... they were probably born 30 minutes before I went out to check on them.  This was her first time kidding and she had spent her time with the first one born - the buck - and hadn't cleaned the little doe enough to breath.  So, I lost her.  If I'd only been 30 minutes earlier getting out to the barn ... I hate losing any of them!

  
 Pearl and her little buck

 
 Pearl's boy

Fawn's little buck was already born on Thursday morning the 11th when I got out to the barn.  She wasn't due until the 13th.  Sometimes they are early ... I'm sure glad I had already put her into a kidding pen with the heat lamp on.   

  
 Fawn and her little buck

He is SO cute!  If I was going to keep a LaMancha buck, I'd keep Fawn's.  She is Lilah's daughter and he is black with a white star, white LaMancha ears.  He is adorable and has great genetics!  

I thought I might talk myself into keeping him.  ..... But instead of keeping him ... he went home with Tonia and her girls yesterday.

When I got out to the barn on Thursday morning, the 11th, Lucy's little does were also already born.  She also wasn't due until the 13th.  I'm glad I had already put her into a kidding pen with the heat lamp on too!  
 
  
 Lucy and her girls

  
 Lucy's girls taking a nap

On February the 15th ... Maggie had 2 little does.  They're beautiful!  I'm keeping these 2.  She's one of my heaviest milking does, giving me 16+ pounds of milk a day ... that's about 2 gallons a day!  

  
 Maggie and her girls

  
 Maggie and her girls

NaNa had 2 bucks in the afternoon of the 15th.  I was hoping to be able to keep a buck out of her.  She is a great milker and one of my Purebred LaMancha does. 

  
 NaNa and her boys

I fell in love with the dark brown buckling!  He is very dark brown with a black stripe down his back, black up his legs and a black tail.  I can't wait to see him as he matures ... and see the babies he'll throw!!    

  
 NaNa's boys

I still had Bonnie, Sissy, and Lady waiting in kidding pens.  I'm sure glad  they waited until the next day to kid ... it was cold out there! 

Here's Bonnie and her 2 little bucks that were born on the morning of the 16th.  She was just starting pushing labor when I was giving hay, grain, and water to all of the does in the kidding pens. 

  
 Bonnie and boys

I'm sure glad I was out there for her delivery.  As I watched her pushing ... I saw the first one coming.  His head was coming without his front legs!  When his head was pushed out and his face cleared... I had to go in to find his front legs.  I couldn't help her deliver him by pulling on his head!  She's a smaller Nubian and it was difficult for both of us for me to go in beside his neck to pull his leg out.  But, I finally got one leg coming out and was able to pull him.  The second little buck was born easily in normal presentation.  I'm glad for that!

Here they are at 3 days old.  I just love their spots!  They get that from their sire - Latte'

  
 Bonnie's first buck

  
 Bonnie's second buck

Sissy decided that the evening of the 17th would be a good time to have her kids.  The black one is a buck and the cream one is a doe.  The black one will be going home with Tonia on Saturday.

  
 Sissy and her kids

  
 Sissy's kids snuggled up!

It looked like Lady would be delivering her kids on the 17th also.  She had been very uncomfortable all afternoon and by evening she had a little gel hanging from her.  She didn't eat any of her evening grain so I knew it would be very soon.  

After milking and evening chores ... I sat with her until after midnight.  She finally got comfortable enough to go to sleep ... so I went into the house to the warmth of my own bed!  It was COLD out there!

I went out at 5:30 the next morning - the 18th.  She had a long stream of clear gel hanging from her and a small water bubble.  I knew this was labor and delivery should be very soon.  I sat with her until around 7:00 but she didn't show any signs of pushing.  I had given her a 3cc shot of Oxytosin to help her contractions and labor ... but still no pushing.  

I decided to come inside to warm up and get a quick shower.  I had made my mind up that if she had not made any progress with delivery when I got back out to the barn that I would go in to pull the babies.

Sure enough when I got back out to the barn, she still had not progressed any farther with labor.  So, I put OB lube on my hands and up my arm ... gently entered her to "see" what I could find.  

I felt the bend of a back leg ... it took me several seconds to figure that one out ... then I felt along the kid's body and felt ribs and the back bone toward the top.  The kid was blocking the birth canal by being totally SIDEWAYS !!

I pushed the front of the kid deeper into Lady's body so I could get hold of her back legs.  From the position she was originally in ... I knew that it would be easier to deliver her with the back legs than trying to align the head with the front legs.  I got her pulled and her face cleared.  She was very weak but started breathing.  I laid her down with her head downhill to help drain any remaining fluid from her lungs and nose.  Then went back in for the second baby....

I felt the nose and one front leg of the second baby.  I could pull it that way ... so I pulled the little buck ... got his face cleared ... got him breathing ... laid him beside his sister to finish draining.  He was also very weak.

I went back in to make sure she didn't have any more in there.  I found a very large water bubble and felt around on it to be sure if it was placenta or a baby.  Finally I felt something that felt like a head.  I had to break the water sack to get hold of the baby.  She had her front feet forward ... but her head was laid backwards pointing to her tail!  This position is SO hard to deliver!  

I tried to get her nose pointing forward and keep it forward while I pulled her legs to get her out ... but it kept slipping backwards.  Finally, I pulled her legs out so I could keep hold of them with one hand and then went in with the other hand to get her nose coming forward.  As I held her nose forward, I pulled her legs to get her head into the birth canal.  I pulled my hand out and kept pulling on her legs to get her out.  Finally she popped out!  She was extremely weak and floppy.   I was able to get her face and mouth cleared and she started breathing.

  
 Lady and her 3 kids

After drying all 3 babies, I laid them under the heat lamp to stay warm.  The kids were too weak to nurse ... so I milked some of Lady's colostrum and used a syringe with a tube on it to tube feed them.  I gave each kid 3 ounces of colostrum and let them rest.  

The delivery was very stressful for Lady.  She almost went into shock.  I gave her 30cc of CalMagCo paste with the drench syringe ... that helped a little.  I also gave her 50cc of the Magic mixture to help her with the carbohydrates.  

The Magic mixture is (1 part molasses, 1 part corn oil, and 2 parts corn syrup).  I keep some of this mixed up all the time.  When one of the goats needs a boost or is in stress, I give them some.  It seems like "magic" how it helps them so quickly!

  
 Lady's kids

The photos above are only a couple of hours after their birth.  The first two kids born were already up walking around.  The third one is up today and all 3 are nursing well.

We have a couple of weeks before any more of the does are due.  I'm glad!  That will give us a little time to rest up for the next group!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

After Kidding Doe Care

I know that this time of year most of our focus is on the cute kids, but making sure the does are healthy is also a great concern....one that I take very seriously. (for photos of cute kids ... see my earlier posts on kidding)

My does are my production partners here at the dairy ... they give the wonderful sweet milk that the cheeses and yogurts are made out of.  And, their milk only tastes its best when the does are healthy and free from infection.

One of the first things I do for the does after kidding is to give them a good de-wormer.  They are very susceptible to worm overload at this time when their hormones are going through changes right after kidding.  This is a very important thing and not to be overlooked.

I know everyone has their own opinions about what kind of wormer to use and how to administer it.  And, I'm not trying to change anyone's opinions.

With that said... I've had good success with a 1cc injection of IvermecPlus per 100 lbs. (usually 2cc per doe) This is labeled for cattle, but I've used it for my goats for some time with good results.  I like it because it takes care of the liver flukes too.  I withhold the milk from human consumption for a week after giving this wormer.

It is important to give injectable wormers as injections and not orally.  If given orally, it can kill the worms too fast and cause a goat to bleed out.  So, it is best to give a wormer orally only if it is meant to be given orally.  I give the injection into the skin just under the front leg.  I pull out the skin where the front leg meets the body and using an 18 gauge 3/4inch needle inject the wormer SQ -  into the loose skin.  This allows the wormer to work more slowly than giving it orally and over a longer time period.

One of the things I keep a watch on in my does for after kidding is the health of their udder.  Dairy breeds give a lot of milk ... more milk than most kids will usually nurse out completely ... that is if the kids are left on the doe after kidding.  I leave the kids with the doe for the first few days. 

Even if the kids nurse frequently, the doe's udder can still fill too tight between their feedings.  If the doe's udder feels tight, I milk her completely out twice a day from the first day they kid.  I make sure the kids have just gotten their fill before I milk her out though.  She'll make more milk by the time they're hungry again.  If her udder feels nice and soft, then the kids are doing a good job of taking enough milk to keep her udder healthy. 

Something I've noticed is that the kids sometimes prefer to nurse only one side.  That lets the other side fill too tight and it'll need to be milked out to keep the udder healthy and keep the doe comfortable.

Making sure the doe is milked out is a good way to prevent mastitis and relieve the swelling or edema that often accompanies freshening.  If she still has any hard swollen areas in her udder after milking her ... rubbing Peppermint Oil on the hard areas will help the swelling to go down ... usually in only a day or so.

If the udder is fevered or hot to the touch, she may have mastitis and will need aggressive antibiotics to get her over it.  If she has mastitis, she will probably also have stringy or clumpy solids in her milk when you milk her out.  Vet consultation or treatment would be recommended.  Mastitis is serious and can kill if left untreated.

If she is having a hard time letting her milk down and massaging the udder doesn't help get the milk flowing , I give her a 1/2cc injection of Oxytocin in the muscle at the back of the back leg.  Oxytocin is the hormone that they naturally release when they let their milk down.  I find that giving them a little help is sometimes necessary if they're nervous or tense.... or new to the milking parlor and can't let their milk down.  It is important to get them milked out completely to keep their udder healthy and performing to their best potential.

Another thing I watch on a doe that has just freshened is her discharge ... to watch for uterine infection.  I watch for any puss or bad odor in the discharge.  Normally the discharge will look bloody and sometimes like a gel.  But, if it has a bad odor or looks brownish or infected with puss, aggressively treating with antibiotics is necessary.

If she retained any of her placenta or had a stillborn kid, she will probably develop a uterine infection and will need antibiotics.

If I've had to assist the delivery of the kids by entering the doe with my hand, I will automatically start her on antibiotics to prevent uterine infection.

Depending on the size of the doe ... to fight uterine infection ...I use 6cc to 10cc of Penicillin injections (IM) into the muscle at the upper part of the back of the back leg.  I give it to her everyday (usually 2 to 5 days) until she doesn't show any more signs of infection in the discharge.

I withhold the milk from human consumption for at least 48 hours after the last dose of antibiotics.

Okay - so this was a post without any photos ...I'll do better next time with lots of photos ... I only hope this information will help someone with the health of their does after kidding.

The next group of 7 does are in the kidding pens and we're on labor watch for this weekend. So ... more photos of babies soon!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Disbudding the Kids

The thing I dislike most about taking care of the goats is the necessity of disbudding them. This is the process of burning and cauterizing their horn buds when they are young kids to prevent their horns from growing.

You might ask - "Then why do it?"  Well, the alternative is having goats with horns.   This is probably okay for meat goats that will be out in the pasture and need their horns for protection.  But, you see ... I raise dairy goats in goat yards and horns can be dangerous when they get into disagreements with each other.   I've had a few goats in the past with horns and they were always getting caught in the fencing and the hay racks.  So ... on my goat dairy the goats will not have horns.

The best time to successfully disbud the kids is when they're between a week and two weeks old.  Basically when you can feel the horn buds, but before they come through the skin.  If you wait too long, there is a better chance for horn skurs to develop that will cause problems for the rest of the goat's life.

Skurs can also develop if the disbudding iron isn't hot enough.  So, when I'm ready to disbud the kids, I plug in the disbudding iron first to make sure it has enough time to get hot before starting.  Then I gather the other things I'll need ... hair clippers to trim the hair off of the horn bud ... kid box to hold the kid safely while I burn the horn buds ... Fight Bac spray to cool the burn and prevent infection ... bottles of warm milk to give them as soon as they're disbudded - this makes them forget all about it and makes them happy again!

To prepare the horn buds for disbudding, the first thing I do is trim the hair off of the horn buds.  This helps me see the horn buds better when I'm burning them.  It also makes less smoke since there is not as much hair to burn.

 
Clipping the hair from the horn buds

 
Horn buds trimmed and ready

The next thing I do is to test the disbudding iron on a piece of wood to be sure it's hot enough.  Here is the top of my kid box where I've tested the iron several times in the past.  You can see the good ones where it's hot enough for a good quick disbudding and the ones where the iron just isn't quite hot enough yet.

Testing the iron

When the iron tests hot enough, I put the kid into the box. I built the box with a hinged top to easily get the kid inside and strong enough for me to sit on when I'm disbudding them. (I'll post the plans to build the kid box in a few days.)

 
Kid in the kid box

After getting the kid securely into the kid box, I sit on the box and hold around their neck just behind their head to keep their head from being pulled back inside the box.  I padded the neck opening in the box with soft leather to keep them more comfortable while holding them.  And, there is an angled platform built onto the front of the box just under the neck opening to securely hold their head during the disbudding process.  This keeps them from moving around and keeps me from getting burned by the iron.

Securely holding the kid

Once the kid is in the box and held firmly, don't delay.  Get the disbudding completed as quickly as possible.  It's stressful for the kid ... and for you ... so get done quickly.

Position the hot disbudding iron just over the horn bud (it should be easy to see with the hair trimmed off of it) ... take a deep breath and commit to the burn.

This is where you have to firmly hold the kid's head to keep it from moving around and firmly hold the disbudding iron on the horn bud.  I rock the iron around a little during the burn to be sure it gets a good burn/cauterize all the way around.  Don't twist the iron, just rock it a little in all directions.  This gives a better chance for a good clean burn and not having horn skurs grow later.

 
Applying the disbudding iron

I usually hold the iron on for the count of 10 ... but that's not a hard fast rule.  What you are looking for is a copper colored ring around the horn bud like in the photo below. 

 
A copper colored ring

This cauterizes the nerves and blood vessels as well as keeping the horn bud from growing.  The kid will probably scream a lot ... most of that is from being confined in the box.  If they move around or you slip during the burn, pull the iron back to keep from burning an area not intended to be burned.  Then re-apply the iron to get the copper ring.  (The ring may look white instead of copper.)  Don't hold the iron on the horn bud too long at any given time though.
My first kidding season ... I was very timid about the disbudding and didn't hold the iron on long enough.  I ended up with horns growing anyway.  So the goats had to go through being dehorned when they were older.  This was a very unpleasant thing and more susceptible to infection.  So it is much better to be bold about getting the disbudding done correctly when they are very young and the horn buds are only beginning to grow.

Quickly go on to burn the other horn bud.  You don't want to cause any more stress than necessary so it needs to be done quickly.


Burning other side

As soon as I have both horn buds burned, I spray Fight Bac on the buds.  This cools them and helps prevent infection.


Spraying with Fight Bac

I get the kid out of the kid box and give him a bottle of warm milk.  Oh .. I almost forgot ... I always wait several hours after their last feeding before disbudding them to be sure they have an empty stomach.  This helps them have less stress during the process and insures that they take the comforting bottle quickly.

 
A bottle of warm milk to make it all better!

They seem to forget all about the whole process by the time they have finished the bottle. 

The little caps on the horn buds will fall off in a few days and the hair will grow back.

We disbudded 24 kids yesterday afternoon.  I did the disbudding and then handed them off to Mom to give them their bottle.  Even with the team work ... it took us just over 3 hours to complete!  Whew!  I'm glad the first batch of kids are done.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kids in the Nursery

After the kids have spent 2 or 3 days in the kidding pens with their mommas ... it's time for the does to go back out to the big goat pens so they can come into the milking parlor for milking.  That means it's time for the kids to come into the Kid Nursery (see the earlier post on "The New Kid Nursery" for more details on making the Kid Nursery.)

 
Kids in the Nursery

One day last week  Tonia and her daughters came over to play with the new kids and to help me move the 14 babies that were ready to go to the kid nursery.  Here's Tonia's oldest daughter helping put the kids in their new home.

Helping with the kids

The kids are comfortable in their new home in our basement.  It's fun to watch them jump and play.

 
 Kids playing

When they're all worn out they snuggle up for a nap.

  
 Nap time

When the kids are moved to the nursery ... Mom feeds them their bottles of fresh warm goats milk.  Right now she's feeding them 3 times a day.  

At first, it's pretty hard to get some of the kids to take a bottle.  The first few days it took her about 2 hours for each feeding to feed the 24 kids in the nursery.  Some of them took to the bottle quickly and then there were those that were more stubborn!  I help with the  feedings every chance I get.  But, Mom's pretty good at it.

  
 Mom bottle feeding

Sometimes it fun to just snuggle for a while!

  
 Snuggle time

After they have all learned to take the bottle really good ... they come to Mom at the front of their pen and take the bottle quickly.  This saves Mom's back from having to reach in to lift each one out of the pen for each feeding!

  
 Feeding

They're all growing so fast!  It won't be long before several of them get to go to their new homes.  We like to be sure they have a good start and are taking the bottle really good before letting them go.