Posted by: The Swiss Frau | February 9, 2014

The Goats Know

It does seem that spring is never going to happen. In the barn there are signs too big to ignore that it is just around the corner. Early March means the first does are due to kid. They are getting noticeably large and everyday brings them closer to delivery. It also means they will become fresh does and enter the ranks as valuable milkers. It also means they get their big bells like the rest of the milking goats. As soon as the kids are born the doe gets milked and from that moment on she is part of our milking herd for the next 2-3 years until she kids again. Our breeding plan is to breed only the does that can have what is called an extended lactation. Not all breeds can do this, but so far the Toggenburgs  have been able to go at least 2 years. We have only one Saanen that is milking now and we don’t know how long she will go but I have no doubt she will go another year. The benefits of extended lactations are these: 1. The doe will only have to kid every 2-3 years limiting the number of kids she will produce and the risk to her health. Kidding is the number one cause of death. 2. She will produce the same amount of milk in those 2-3 years that she would have produced if she kidded every year. 3. The doe will produce fewer kids that will have to be sold, or sent for meat. 4. It saves me a lot of extra work and worry.  

Another sign of spring and the reason I think the goats know something we don’t know is that their milk production is rapidly increasing as it would in the spring. Most of the goats held steady at about 4-5 pounds each day in the deep winter and now they are at 6 pounds each and will continue to increase until they reach the 8-14 pound a day mark. 

Days are getting longer. The chickens are laying more eggs. This is the first winter I can remember since having chickens they they were unable to go outside. In a normal winter I would put out straw and they would go out and scratch around but this year not one wants to go outside. 

Having to rest for 5-6 weeks because of the heart surgery during the worst part of the winter was a blessing.  I have been going to the barn now at least once a day, sometimes more, and starting tomorrow will be back to full time milking. My family and a family friend got the farm through during this time. We were blessed to have a very experienced goat herds woman to do the week day morning milking and take care of the birds. My husband, son and daughters all worked so hard to do all the many jobs on the farm while I was house bound. We continued to milk 2 times a day through the winter. It would have been easier to dry up the goats in light of the surgery but then I would have lost 5 valuable milkers that are starting their second or third year of lactation. Three more does will kid this spring and then we will be milking 8 does. Currently my best milker is starting her second year of milking and her daughter will kid at the end of March. I am hoping she has 2 doelings since this line is excellent in production. I will keep these girls if there are any. Last year we had only one doeling born and all the rest were bucklings. We are due for some females I think. 

I will keep you posted on the kidding season. Thank you for reading the blog. Keep looking for signs of spring. 

 

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