Wednesday, April 22, 2015

(79) Reducing the Herd Size - Too many goats!

Is it possible to have too many goats?  Hummm ... I don't know .. but .. I have come to the conclusion that having over 100 dairy goats and milking 84 of them twice a day is more than this Crazy Goat Lady can handle efficiently.  So, now I'm faced with the need to reduce the size of my herd.

Thank you to all of you who have given 
my girls such wonderful new homes!

Some of my girls out grazing on a sunny spring day.

I have to tell you... making the selections of which ones to let go to new homes has been one of the HARDEST things I have ever done.  I have made and re-made lists during milking times for the past 2 months.  I finally decided to make a list of those that I absolutely had to keep instead of those to sell.  That was a little easier ... but not much.

I'm posting "udder shot" photos for your consideration of all of the does in milk as they came through the milking parlor for a morning milking a couple of days ago.  I'll be giving a brief description of each doe and if she is available for purchase.  For a fuller description of the does, you can comment on this post or send me a message on facebook.  I'll gladly send a pdf document with more info.

These girls get to free range and forage over a couple hundred acres every day between morning and night milking.  Then they spend the night in the goat yard and their shelter area.  They get plenty of hay during the winter when the graze and browse isn't growing for them.  The only grain they eat is the non-gmo oats that they get while they are in the milk parlor.  They were bottle babies and are extremely gentle and intelligent.

I have to apologize that some of them showed up for their photos a little dirty.  It has been raining around here and some of them were not very careful about where they slept last night.

(Descriptions are from left to right)

Amillia - 5 yr old - Sold - Susan
Ariana- 2 yr old - Sold Tonia
Makita - 2 yr old - Sold - Calluna
Tinkerbell - 1 yr old  - Retained
Brianna - 1 yr old - Retained
Lou - 3 yr old - Sold- Holly
Orla - 4 yr old - Sold - Suzie
Juliette - 4 yr old  - Sold - Kristen & Michael
Chloie - 7 yr old - Sold- Jeff
Camille - 3 yr old  - Sold - Kristen & Michael
Alice - 4 yr old - Sold - Bud & Sherry
Trinket - 2 yr old  - Sold - Bud & Sherry
Fawn - 7 yr old - Sold - Tonia
Lois - 2 yr old  - Sold - Judy
Lacey - 6 yr old - Retained
Mocha - 6 yr old - Sold - Tonia
Faye - 4 yr old - Retained
Trudy - 3 yr old - Retained
Zoie - 3 yr old - Sold - Cindy
Leah - 4 yr old - Retained
JoJo - 6 yr old - Sold - Suzie
Trixie - 4 yr old - Sold - Paula
Cooke Doe - 3 yr old - Sold - Suzie
Butterscotch - 6 yr old - Retained
Lanay - 1 yr old - Retained
Mandy - 6 yr old - Sold - Susan
Sanoma - 2 yr old - Sold - Tonia
Gwen - 3 yr old - Sold - Hanna
Leo - 2 yr old - Sold - Glenna
Oreo - 7 yr old - Sold - Tonia
Hanna - 3 yr old - Sold - Hanna
Vicki - 2 yr old - Sold - Dianna
Lexie - 3 yr old - Sold - Brenda
Kathlene -3 yr old - Sold - Cindy
Nalla - 4 yr old - Retained
Chleo - 3 yr old - Sold - Brenda
Lilly - 6 yr old - Retained
Pamila - 3 yr old - Sold - Hanna
Splash - 5 yr old - Sold - Hanna
Bella - 3 yr old - Retained
Lola - 4 yr old - Retained
Tonya - 5 yr old - Sold - Holly
Naomie - 2 yr old - Sold - Kristen & Michael
Jolene - 3 yr old - Sold- Glenna
Lucy - 9 yr old - Sold - Cindy
Bonita - 3 yr old - Retained
Ester - 3 yr old - Sold - Dianna
Opal - 7 yr old - Sold Tonia
Misha - 3 yr old - Sold - Bud & Sherry
Shekiah- 3 yr old - Sold Dianna
Bethany - 2 yr old - Retained
Maryann - 1 yr old - Retained
Olivia - 2 yr old - Sold - Glenna
Valery - 9 yr old - Sold - Tonia
Lanora - 2 yr old - Retained
Nancy - 3 yr old - Sold - Kristen & Michael
Poppy - 2 yr old - Sold - Baylee
Pennyroyal -2 yr old - Sold - Baylee
Leona - 4 yr old - Sold - Hanna
Ori - 3 yr old - Sold - Baylee
Tess - 3 yr old - Sold - Sally
Onix - 3 yr old - $150 - Sold - Brenda
Tina - 7 yr old - Sold - Susan
Hellen - 3 yr old - Sold - Suzie
Tasha - 4 yr old - Sold - Suzie
Oksana - 2 yr old - Sold - Hanna
Taffy - 2 yr old - Sold - Bud & Sherry
Twila - 3 yr old - Sold - Brenda
Trace - 3 yr old - Sold - Clayton & Mandi
Abbie - 6 yr old - Sold - Susan
Lora - 2 yr old - Retained
Tressa - 3 yr old - Sold - Jeff
Nellie - 8 yr old - Sold - Tonia
Vanna - 1 yr old - Sold - Tonia
Gina - 2 yr old - Sold - Josh & family
Ruthie- 3 yr old - Retained
Tiffany- 6 yr old - Retained
Tuvia- 1 yr old - Sold - Suzie
Ina- 3 yr old - Sold - Kristen & Michael
Yep.. That's a bunch of goats!  Now you see why I need to reduce the herd size? 
Thank you for taking the time to consider my girls. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Growing Fodder (part 8) - Success

Finally!  My dairy goats are energetically enjoying the Fodder that I'm growing for them.  I was beginning to wonder if my efforts in building the Fodder System and growing the Fodder were a waste of time, effort, and money.  But, feeding the fully grown 7 day old Fodder to my very pregnant does in the Kidding yard was met with enthusiasm for the fresh green food yesterday.

If you missed the earlier "Growing Fodder for my Goats" posts, you can access them here:

Growing Fodder Part 1
Growing Fodder Part 2
Growing Fodder Part 3
Growing Fodder Part 4
Growing Fodder Part 5
Growing Fodder Part 6
Growing Fodder Part 7


You see ... since my dairy goat herd can travel miles away from the milk barn and main shelter area in the course of a grazing day over 500 acres of the ranch .... I bring my does into a Kidding area a couple of days prior to their due dates.  These does are not going out grazing each day with the rest of the herd.  I want them close for giving birth.  I don't want to search all over the ranch to find a momma goat with her newborn kids. .... I'm funny that way.  I want them close so I can monitor births and give assistance if needed.

The does in the Kidding area are getting hay and oats each day. So, they're getting plenty to eat.  But, when I brought a tray of fully grown Fodder out to them yesterday ... they attacked it!  I felt like I was in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy!  Needless to say ... taking photos of them enjoying the Fodder was a challenge.  But I did get a few.....

The girls dove into the tray of Fodder 

Giving Lilah some 

Nellie stuffing herself on it 

Fawn pulling it off of the one I was feeding to Lilah 

And then there is Maggie ... she was taking it and shaking it wildly to break off pieces that she could fit into her mouth.

Maggie with a big mouthful 

It didn't take long for her to have it chewed up and gone

All the does in the Kidding area enjoyed the Fodder very much.  I am very very pleased.  The does that are not due to kid yet are still going out grazing and foraging each day.  So, they're not as enthusiastic about the Fodder ... but on the other hand ... I'm not needing to supplement the grazing part of the herd with hay or Fodder.  They're still coming in stuffed at the end of the day.

I'll be concentrating my Fodder feeding to the does as they come through the Kidding area for birthing.  As they go back out into the main herd group, they will have learned to enjoy the Fodder as s supplemental feed source.  Since they have learned to enjoy eating it, I feel like growing the Fodder is now a success. ... for the goats, the chickens, and the rabbits.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Growing Fodder (part 7) - Growing and Feeding

Once the Fodder shelving and irrigation system was in place, I began preparing the mix of seeds that I had planned to sprout and grow to feed the goats.  Here's how it's gone so far ...

If you missed the earlier "Growing Fodder for my Goats" posts, you can access them here:

Growing Fodder Part 1
Growing Fodder Part 2
Growing Fodder Part 3
Growing Fodder Part 4
Growing Fodder Part 5
Growing Fodder Part 6


If you recall from my Part 2 post ... my goats wouldn't even taste of the Wheat Grass Fodder that I had grown.  And, from the tests I ran on several seeds, I found some things they liked as sprouted Fodder.

Here is the seed mix that I'm growing for them......

RatioSeed$ per lblb per day
5 PartsRye0.3515
3 PartsWheat0.2911.25
1/2 PartWinter Peas0.571.5
1/2 PartSunflower0.531.5
1/4 PartTurnip2.000.75
Seed Mix0.4030
I weigh out each seed type and pour it into a large tub to mix the seeds together.

Seeds in the tub

Seed Mix

I prepare a 5 gallon bucket with warm water to soak the seeds in preparation for sprouting.  I add a cap (tsp) of bleach to the soaking water to kill any mold spores or bacteria that may be on the seeds.  This is to help prevent mold growth as the Fodder grows.  

Adding the Bleach

I add the seeds to the 5 gallon bucket and finish adding enough water to cover the seeds by at least 2 inches.  I soak the seeds for 4 hours.  I've found that this gives me the best germination rate.

 Seeds soaking

When the seeds have finished their soak time, I dip the seeds out with a strainer and place them into the growing trays about 1/2 inch thick.  I found that the 30 pounds of seeds would fill 24 trays.

Growing Tray 11x22

 Drain Holes in the Tray

Soaked Seeds in the Tray

At the end of Day 1 - you can already see root sprouts on the seeds.

Day 1 

Day 2 - More Root growth

Watering the trays from the irrigation system at the top of the shelving worked well by allowing the water to drain through the upper trays to and through the lower trays.

Watering the trays

Water running through the upper trays to the lower ones

You will recall that I built the Fodder System in the unheated entry room on the south side of the old farmhouse where I live.  The farmhouse's only heat source is with a wood stove.  So, I was hoping to be able to grow the Fodder in the unheated room without needing to open the door to share the rest of the house's heat with the "fodder room".  Without the door open the temperature was around 50* during the day and around 40* at night.  This was with outside night temperatures in the 20's.

 Daytime temp in the fodder room

What I found at this temperature is that the Fodder grew VERY slowly.  I realized that I was going to have to keep the wood stove burning pretty hot and share the heat with the fodder room so growth would be more acceptable.

Day 3 growth from the cooler temperatures


The main issue I had with the earlier Fodder tests is that my goats wouldn't taste of it.  They are the reason that I'm growing Fodder.  At the time I was running tests, they had LOTS of browse and graze out in the areas of the ranch where they free range forage every day.  So, they had no incentive to eat this strange looking grassy stuff.

At the suggestion of friends, I fed some of this batch of the mixed seed Fodder at the Day 3 early sprout stage.  It still looked like a grain that they might recognize.  They do get some oats when they come into the milking parlor during the milking season.

Day 3

 Removing the Sprouts from the trays

  Sprouted seeds in the bucket ready to take to the goats


I built a couple of feeders for feeding the Fodder to the goats out of a 7 foot x 8 inch pvc pipe.  I cut the pipe in half with the cut off wheel on my handheld grinder.  Then made legs for it from pressure treated lumber.  It should be a convenient height for the goats to eat from.

Pipe feeder for the Fodder 


 I took the Day 3 Sprouted seeds to the pregnant does in the Kidding area first to see if they would eat it.  Yes, they enjoyed it very much!

 Lilah and Fawn eating the Sprouts

Lilah especially liked it

Then I took the rest of the bucket of Sprouts to the rest of the herd before turning them out to graze for the day.

 Several of them tasted and ate the Sprouts

But, no one was really excited about them.

I encouraged more of them to come to try the Sprouts 

It was obvious that they would rather have me open the gates so they could go out foraging for the day.

After letting the goats out, the chickens came in to pick through what the goats had left 

The chickens really liked the Spouts

 I also took some to the rabbits.

The rabbits really liked it too

The rabbits are enjoying some of the fresh growing Fodder each day.


After opening the door from the house to the unheated fodder room, the temperature has stayed between 60* and 70* in there.  The Fodder has grown at a normal faster rate with the warmer temperatures.

 Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

You could almost see it growing with the warmer temperature and plenty of water from the irrigation system. I'll be taking that nice green Fodder out to the goats in the morning to see if they'll eat it.

I found that the grassy seeds - rye and wheat - out grew the other seeds in the mix.  The other seeds - peas, turnip, and sunflower - have sprouted and are growing, but not at the rate of the grassy plants.  I may be doing more experimenting with my seed mix to provide the goats with a Fodder they'll love.

In the meantime, the pregnant does who are in the Kidding yard ... are enjoying the Fodder since they are not going out foraging so close to their due dates.