HERD CARE & MANAGEMENT

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Does

We test our show string annually for CAE, and our whole herd biannually starting at 6 months of age. We are a CL and Johne's free herd. Brucellosis and TB are also tested biannually in our milking does. Due to the fact that we show, we are not a closed herd and do not plan on becoming one in the foreseeable future. Only goats who are tested negative for CAE, CL and Johne's come onto the property. These are mostly goats who we have bought, who then proceed to quarantine before making contact with our herd. We request any persons visiting our farm wear clothes and shoes that they have not worn around other animals to keep from tracking possible diseases. 

Our milkers are free fed high quality mixed pasture and locally grown grass hay, in addition to twice a day custom mixed pellet feed on the stand that ensures proper condition and mineral and supple levels are maintained. We also offer loose and crumble block minerals, sodium bicarbonate, protein pails, salt blocks, and fly control blocks. 

Once weaned, our goats are wormed on an individual basis, vaccinated against clostridium perfringens types C & D, tetanus and Pasteurella for pneumonia, given supplemental copper boluses when needed, and BoSe monthly as a constant source of selenium. They also get a shot of Vitamin B monthly to keep them from getting stressed, which greatly reduces chances of polio and reproduction issues. We are not aimed at 'organically raised animals' or withholding proper medication and care. Living in the 21st Century calls for modern and informed medication and husbandry.

All goats get their hooves done once a month, though we usually trim individually depending on the goat. By taking proper care of our goats' hooves, we greatly decrease the chance of arthritis, especially in younger stock. All adults are bathed and clipped at least once yearly so that we can take updated pictures for our website. This allows us to make sure they don't have anything lingering under their coat, like lice, mites, ticks, and dead skin or debris, and keeps them from getting heat stroke during summer.

Kids

Our kids are raised on a strict CAE and disease prevention program. Our kids get heat treated colostrum ASAP after their birth via bottles, then get feed pasteurized goat milk from a lambar. They are penned separately from the adults (no shared fence line) for their safety and herd biosecurity. We keep kids inside our barn full time until they are at least a week old. After that, they are let out into a kid pen to exercise and play during the day, given that it is good weather. We bring them back inside for the nights to make sure none of them get cold, injured, etc. At about 4 weeks old, we will start letting kids stay outside full time due to their increasing size and energy levels. This usually goes by age groups (oldest first).

As a prevention for coccidiosis, medicated liquid supplementation is added to their milk. Kids are also offered medicated grower pellets at a couple days old. Keeping them from getting stressed and deworming them as needed also decreases the chances of worm blooms. As the kids and their appetite grow, we offer more milk and electrolytes into our free choice milk feeding program.  Fresh hay is always available for the growing kids, we allow and encourage them to explore and start eating more calorie rich food as they find fit. Since they don't have dams to teach them how and what to eat, hay usually doesn't become a noticeable part of their diet until a week old. 

We disbud all of our kids.  Kids are disbudded with the Rhinehart Electric Dehorner X30 at 4-7 days old and get a shot of Tetanus Antitoxin immediately afterwards. Their burn wounds are treated with iodine, and they stay inside for the next few days to ensure the wounds stay clean and there are no issues with healing. 

All kids, bucklings and doelings, stay together until about 2 weeks of age, where they'll get separated to make them easier to manage, and make sure no one accidently gets bred. Most wethers get sold before 2 months old to be raised for meat, and we retain a couple every year for our family to raise and butcher as well. 

 

Kids we're selling are the first ones to get weaned at 2 months old. Once they are about 1.5 months old, we slowly decrease the amount of milk kids are getting to encourage them to eat more solid foods.  We like to wean our keeper kids around 5-6 months old. We offer free choice hay during weaning since kids aren't getting as much milk. Our young stock are given access to calcium rich feed, like alfalfa pellets, to help their growth while still being fed medicated grower feed for Coccidia prevention. We try to avoid Coccidia medications like Corid unless absolutely necessary. 

Allowing our kids some sort of routine before weaning helps keep their stress levels lower. We don't change the times we refill the lambars, but do change the amount of milk we put in. We don't change their environment either. At this age, kids are kept outside and stay there during weaning. Allowing them the area to run around lets them get their mind off of what stresses them and lets them burn the energy that they might use for voicing their displeasure. Since they're constantly moving, they also burn more calories which will encourage them to eat.

All kids have their pictures taken before they are sold. This is for our records, so we can look back to see what we liked about them conformationally, their coloration and what we registered them as, etc. It also allows us to identify them, and the pictures are put on their personal identification papers which are given to their buyers, but we always keep a copy. We have pictures of all the goats we've ever owned/bred, and we will continue to do so for as long as possible!

BREEDING

Bloodlines and what we want to see improved can be the point of discussion before a kid is even born, but more commonly starts when a kid is weaned. We're very serious when it comes to researching the lines we consist of. We have pictures of almost every goat and their udder in our lineages, though we only display immediate relatives for the sake of keeping our website uncluttered. Looking through performance records, show results, LA scores, offspring achievements, titles of each goat's ancestors and other relatives, growth rates, and parasite resistance, are very important to us. Once we know what we want to see improved in a line, we look at possible pairings that would complete out visions and can out produce themselves. 

Once a doeling hits 80lbs we will breed her during the closest breeding season. If a doe is in the ideal weight range to get bred, but is narrow or small bodied, we will hold off on breeding her until the next year as she could have trouble kidding. Bucklings heading into their first breeding season might not cover any does. We like to let our bucklings fill out before breeding if we don't have anyone in mind for them to cover, that way they aren't as stressed and can focus on growing while the older bucks take care of things. Due to having lower buck power, any bucklings under 1 year old that we use don't breed many does. Bucks aged 1 year and over usually breed more does due to their higher buck power, but at the end of the day it comes down to who we think will pair good. 

Around late September and October, we start feeding more caloric pellets to our bucks (goat weight builder and senior horse feed) to make sure they bulk up before going into rut. Since rut is a very stressful time for a buck we do everything possible to make sure they don't get drained or die. Does will have their feed increased or decreased as needed so that they're at an ideal weight to get covered and settle.

Before breeding, we will trim hooves, give Selenium, Copper, & Vit. B. Because we have Nubians, we test GS6 levels before breeding. We typically aim to breed in November for April kids. Since we are in Wisconsin, we don't want kids too early in the year as the cold and bad weather could be hard on them. Does in our herd tend to sync up their heats, though we do watch them throughout the year and mark down when they go into estrus. We hand breed all of our goats to get a more exact idea on when they will kid, and also to keep the bucks from getting too stressed from being in with does for an extended period of time. If multiple does meant for one buck come into standing heat at the same time, we use the pen breeding method and remove them as soon as we see them being covered. All does are put with the main herd once they are bred.

KIDDING

About 1 month out from kidding, we will deep clean our doe barn. Just in case a doe gives birth early and we aren't there, this will keep the kid from getting an umbilical infection and lessen the dam's chance of getting mastitis. It also helps keep our ladies comfortable in the final stage of their pregnancy. Once a doe gets close to her due date, we watch to see if she exhibits signs of labor. When she does, we separate her from the herd and put her into a clean kidding stall to keep stress levels lower and ensure her and her kids' safety. Once separated, we will check in with her regularly to insure everything is progressing smoothly, or in cases where it's not, be ready to help. 

When does are giving birth, we like to be in the stall with them to offer support, but we try not to help at all unless they need it. Assuming the birthing process goes smoothly, we only step in to dry off the kid and check its sex before removing them. We also make sure the placenta is passed and check if the dam needs anti-biotics due to any possible vaginal tearing. After the doe gives birth, she is offered warm molasses water to get some energy back. She is also dewormed as the stress from kidding makes her more susceptible to getting a heavy worm load.

Umbilical cords are dipped in iodine and clamped ASAP. We hold off on giving Selenium or another type of artificial booster/supplement until the kid is a couple days old and has had time to unfold. All kids get heat treated colostrum within the first hour and for the next 24 hours, after which they'll start getting pasteurized milk from their dams.

SHOWING

We start feeding BOSS 1-2 months before our first show to bring out the natural oils in their hair and skin. Making sure they aren't deficient in copper, selenium or zinc keeps their coats smooth and full. We like our goats to be in the 3-3.5 range on the body score charts.

While we are feeding to win, we are also training ring manners. Daily handling and patience are the key to consistent good behavior. We teach our goats to walk nicely with their head up, to respect personal space and pay attention to their handlers, how to stand and stay still once set up, and that it's ok to be touched everywhere to keep them from getting stressed in the ring. We found that our goats walk better when we use a lead. We try to keep sessions short and end on a positive note to encourage our goats to like working with us. If we're taking them to a fair and have time, we teach them to accept loud noises and anything else that might scare them during their stay.

At least 1 month before the show, we will bathe with color correcting shampoo and clip. We don't usually clip young kids under 2 months old since we found they get too stressed and can fall sick. We clip everyone with a 7 blade on the body, lower legs with a 10, and udders are clipped with a 40 before using razors and shaving cream. Ears and cornet bands are also clipped with a 40. After we clip, we rinse them off to remove any loose hairs that will irritate them, and then use conditioner to bring back some shine and make their coat softer. This is repeated a week before each show to ensure that there are no lines or guard hairs and that our goats are clean. Before heading into the ring, we also use black or clear hoof oil, wipe baby oil on the eyes, nose and udder, and use a bit of coat shining spray. 

At shows we come with disinfected clothes and clean goats. We refrain from touching other animals and don't let ours' have direct contact with those from other herds, also making sure to keep enough space between us and other handlers in the ring. When we use stalls, we spray them down before bedding and put barriers up between stalls for biosecurity. Afterwards, we spray down our equipment and pack up. Once we get back, we bathe our goats and wash our trailer. The goats are then let out with the others, and we make sure to keep an eye on them to make sure they didn't get sick.