We prepared for kidding season by planting winter forages and the does thrived on fresh greens, from chicory to turnips to rye grass. I love to watch goats eat, as they pick and sort through the plants. We had not planted turnips before but they seem to be quite popular. We had a huge swath of turnips in the Maternity Ward pasture. Initially, they nibbled off the tops of the turnips, then they dug or pulled them up. Khaki, our old Spanish goat, was caught digging them up with her magnificent horns! The turnips were left laying on the ground for several days before they started eating them! The chicory was gone in a couple of days, making me wonder if goats know it has some beneficial impact on worm load.
On Christmas Day, we did our first full kid weighing and they are all gaining rapidly. Weighing all kids every couple of weeks will enable us to spot problems with doe milk production or kid health. With dozens of kids, you cannot accurately ‘eyeball’ weights. Better to spend a half hour recording weights every couple of weeks than to lose kids. Your hands play a role, too, as you check body condition and Famacha scores on the does. With their winter coats in full fluff, you cannot eyeball a doe’s body condition, but must feel the ribs and spinous processes.
However, eyeballing the goats does allow you to note some areas of concern. Does a goat look depressed, lethargic or slow? Is she eating or uninterested? Are her feces pelleted or runny? Take action! First, take the temperature… it should be between 101.5 and 103.5 F. Don’t leave a sick goat in the herd as viruses and bacteria spread quickly, especially if they are spending time in sheds and barns.
The most important step in gathering information is to write it all down! We keep notes on weights, Famacha, body condition, fecal egg count, unusual behavior, mothering skills, ability to maintain condition during nursing and more. All of this information will be analyzed when we make pricing decisions on kids and yearlings, decide who to sell, who to keep, and reflect on specific matings. For now though, we will enjoy the scampering, jumping, bouncing kids! Too soon, weaning time arrives.
My prognostications on kidding order were terribly off, as usual. Joey came in first on December 8, followed by flurries of kids afterwards. Baby Mel didn’t let go until the 15th! Overall, we are pleased with the crop so far and have posted all kids to both Goatzz accounts, Asno Blanco and Double S Kikos.