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Posts Tagged ‘managing goat herd’

Paring down the herd has been a process.

I pared down in three steps and wrote several blogs posts along the way.  The first post, Selling Goats – How I Changed My Business Mindset, was a collection of my farm and business thoughts geared towards keeping manageable numbers.   I wrote the second post, Pruning- It Isn’t So Easy, after I realized that selling the goats was more difficult than I had originally thought.

Very recently, not long after I published the third blog post, I realized that I needed to pare down the herd even more.  I am so elated to be able to say that no sadness rolled over me when I made the decision to sell.  I was determined.  I knew the end result that I wanted.   I just did it.

We are now down to our original goat herd.  Some of the older gals on our farm are in retirement.  We own a few boer goats that will be bred occasionally.  We have six dairy goats that will bred to keep the girls in milk for Annie’s Goat Hill milk-based products.

We are now purposely breeding for a warmer kidding season.  Gone are the days of kids born in sub-freezing temperatures.  Gone are the days of a barn full of kids.  We are breeding only for exact needs.

Just a few mornings ago, the day after the last sold goats left our farm, new kids were born.  Ask me if I smiled.  Babies (purposely) born in May.  It is warm.  The kids are healthy.   I am totally enjoying the newest dairy youngsters!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Goats require selenium for optimum health.  Unfortunately, soil in much of the United States, and other countries, is deficient in selenium.  When soil is lacking in selenium, so are the grains and hay that are produced from the deficient area. 

What is selenium? Selenium is a trace mineral essential to health, but needed only in small amounts.  Selenium is important to a goat for proper gait, healthy pregnancies, and strong kids that grow well.  Selenium deficiency can lead to White Muscle Disease (commonly –  newborn kids with weak legs) and can affect the immune system as well. 

How can selenium deficiency be prevented?

  1. Check to see if the soil in your area is deficient.  Use as an example only – an older map of selenium status in the United States can be found here.  If you are unsure if your area has a selenium deficiency, ask your county agriculture extension office, a local goat club, or find an online group with members that raise goats in your area. 
  2. If your area is deficient, supplement your goats throughout the year with quality minerals that contain both selenium and vitamin E (and other needed minerals, such as copper). 
  3. An annual injection of selenium may also be needed. 

Can too much selenium be given to a goat? Yes! When injecting a goat with a selenium supplement, follow your veterinary instructions very carefully.  We use an injection called Bo-Se (a combination of selenium and vitamin E).  The prescribed amount is 1 ML per 40 lbs of goat weight.  If a kid is born weak, for example, and the kid weighs 10 lbs, we give an injection of no more than 1/4 ml.  Too much selenium can be toxic! Follow instructions carefully.  Toxicity does not normally occur from feeds containing selenium, but toxicity does occur from injections.  Too much selenium results in the same symptoms as a lack of, and the toxicity normally cannot be reversed.

What are the signs of selenium deficiency? Weak legs.  Kids born dead or too weak to nurse.  Stunted growth.  Poor coats.  Poor gait.  A lack of milk.  Abortions and kids that are resorbed (fetus absorbed by the doe early in pregnancy).  

What do we do on our farm to prevent selenium deficiency? Loose mineral supplementation.  Feed alfalfa mix hay in additional to pasture.  A selenium vaccine is given during gestation, 30-45 days prior to the doe’s due date (assists both the doe and the unborn kid, boosts birthing strength as well).   Supplementing the bucks in a deficient area will also help prevent immune diseases, and will assist with the production of semen. 

As always, be cautious with any injections, supplements or medications.  Follow your veterinarian’s advice.   Educate yourself.  Remember, though, do what works best for your farm and your region! For example, management practices that work in Southern California may not work in Ohio due to a difference in climate, soil, and the overall condition of your animals.

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As the fog lifted this morning I enjoyed the beauty, the quiet, and the cool air.  It (the cool air) did not last long, but I am still purposely treasuring summer, despite the drought and the heat.  Winter will be on its way before we know it. 

I mentioned drought because, as you can see in the photo, between the sidewalk and the trench to the right of it (not quite filled in yet from our well installation last spring), there is no grass, and what is available is brown. 

The goats are struggling to find grass to graze on. 

The goats are on hay, which is important to their well-being.  A good alfalfa blend is fed twice a day on our farm during times when pasture is scarce. 

I also feed minerals from a bag, but a truly top-notch mineral for a goat is browse.  Goats are browsers in their natural habitats (mountains and hill-sides).  A large shrub or tree, a deep-rooted plant, supplies an immense value of natural minerals to a goat.

I made a track around the farm this morning, slicing off branches from various trees such as apple, maple, and spruce. 

The goats had a feast, one that was healthy-as-it-could-be.

Fall is a great time to gather up leaves for goats.  Have you seen a goat chase after a leaf? Sometimes they catch them as they drift down from a tree, before the leaf has been able to float to the ground.  It really is an entertaining sight.  Exercise, fun, and minerals combined into one great escapade!

When feeding browse, be aware that certain plants, especially ornamental yard plants, are highly poisonous to a goat.  A good reference point is the list of edible and poisonous plants at the Fiasco Farm website.

Enjoy your goating…or even if you don’t have goats, I hope you enjoyed a few tidbits on raising goats!

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