Sunday, January 22, 2012

Feeding Time Problem Solved

If everything is going according to plan, (which doesn't always happen around here, but none the less...) Knit and Purl should be pregnant by now. As I've been told by several people, including our vet, it can be next to impossible to tell if a goat is pregnant without doing expensive ultrasounds or blood tests. Some goats hardly show until right before they deliver. Our vet, who I love, with his no nonsense attitude and patient faith in animals, told us that we'll find out when we need to. I have a hard time with this, it's been my biggest struggle with raising other living things. Whether it be a radish or an elephant. I tend to "mother" things. Sometimes to absurd measures. I promise I always have the best intentions, and believe it or not, I work really hard to have these unsuccessful ventures slap me in the face.

But, I'm working on it. I have a hard time allowing "farm" nature to take it's course. I feel like I should be busy doing something to help it along. Then I look at Knit and Purl with their gentle eyes, and suddenly, I know what the vet's talking about. They're not worried. That's why I love animals so much, they have such a calming affect on a spastic worrier like myself.

Whether it's hopeful imagination, or if there really is something going on, I think they are showing some signs of babies. Especially Purl, she looks larger in the tummy area, evenly on both sides. I keep feeling to see if they're making their udders, but not much has changed in that department. I rest my head against their tummys, tying to listen for extra heart beats, but I only hear the healthy purr of a ruminants gurgling stomachs.  Its been more in personality that I feel there's something different with my girls. They've been sort of aggressive with food, even Knit, our most docile goat, and they've been eating like pigs.

We've always fed good quality hay, it's a bit more pricy for second cutting, but the goats prefer it, (and I send back bales that aren't green, and ask for another one. (The guy at the feed store sees me coming, and I swear he wants to run in the other direction.) I hate to admit this but, yes, I'm "that" customer. One day he asked, what kind of "horses" I had. I told him it was for goats and he looked at me like I was nuts. My latest thing that has them raising their eyebrows, is my search for sea kelp. (But while we're on this note, if anyone knows of a supplier of sea kelp in large quantities I'd be grateful for the info.)

Anyway...the problem lies in that we need to start feeding different types/amounts of food to each of the goats with different needs. We're also going to be starting a vitamin E supplement as the girls get closer to their due date. With six goats, and possibly six more on the way, we wanted to have more control over our feeding routine, as the routine is now, a stampede of hooves to the grain buckets, and very bad manners. We would also like to start getting our girls more used to a stanchion type setting. Even our buck Sulley will walk on a lead, but none of them have ever been tethered to anything for any period of time. I wanted to get them used to a bit of patience while Zach and I handle them all over, and take care of their needs like milking, hoof trimming, lice inspection, de-worming, checking their rears, eyes etc. So we set up a system that is modeled after Fias Co Farm, a wonderful site by the way, with TONS of information about raising goats. Each goat has their own bucket, spaced a good distance from their neighbor's bucket, with a short lead that prevents them from bullying their way into someone elses dinner. We know exactly what each goat is eating, and the amount. This lets the slower, more timid eaters finish without being shoved out of the frenzy. We lead each goat peacefully to their bucket, once everyone is hooked up, we feed. When everyone is done, they get released. They are ONLY tied up during meal time. We've been placing buckets under them, and handling their udders, in a sort of mock milking routine Not really sure if this is even necessary, as no one seems to mind us touching them, but it feel like good practice for us and the goats. Meal time is no longer this hurried frantic scene. I think the goats are even more at peace as there's no competition to eat as fast or as much as they can. I see them "coming up for air" and actually enjoying their meals, not just inhaling them.


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