Tag Archives: kiko goats

Fancy’s Kids

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Kidding season officially closed tonight with the birth of Fancy’s twins.  All told, we got 12 kids.  One premature and stillborn, one premature and now deceased, and 10 healthy strapping kids – 5 bucks and 5 does.

Fancy has been our lowest-maintenance goat throughout the time we’ve had them.  No hoof trims needed, no worming, no nothing.  Which is good because she’s also the most standoffish and hardest to catch.  So I was hoping that if any of the goats needed help, it wouldn’t be Fancy.

BUT….

She had the longest labor of anyone.  She started when I got home from school around 3:30 and finally finished giving birth around 9:30 at night.  In the rain.  In the cold.  But the kids were strong and vibrant.  One dark 8-lb buck and one light 7-lb doe, so she “bucked” the trend I talked about yesterday of the dark does and light bucks that all the other does had.  In fact, her little doeling looks almost exactly like her.

Fancy cleaned her kids off well and then….

SHE WOULDN’T LET THEM NURSE!

Oh no!  Every time one of the kids got near her udder they received a swift kick to the head.  She would let them suck at her knees, her chest, her sides, but not her udder.

I sat in the rain and watched this go on for way too long wondering if I should intervene.  The kids were holding up their end of the bargain.  They were tenacious about sucking and trying to find the udder and nipples.  They searched, they sucked, they bleated, but she wouldn’t let them on.

So finally I decided that we’d have to help her get the hang of it.  I went to get Lindsey and we both trekked out in the rain.  The plan was to hold Fancy and let the kids latch on with the hope that Fancy would figure it out.  When we got out to the paddock we decided to wait 5 or 10 minutes longer and she finally did let the kids nurse.

HALLELUJAH!

After they had both gotten a good drink we carried them underneath the portable shelter to help them stay as dry as possible before we went back in for the night.

One calf to go, then only small stuff for the rest of the year.  Rabbits and chickens are much less stressful!

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Miss Priss’ Kids

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Miss Priss dropped her kids on us today – a huge 8 lb buckling and a teeny tiny 4 lb doeling.  Lindsey said that the buckling hogged all the space and food inside.  But both seem to be healthy and vigorous.  They certainly have good lungs because they both yelled really loudly when they got their #7 and #8 ear tags.

Priss is the only experienced doe we have.  All of the others are having their first kids.  Priss is much more aggressive about getting her kids up and about as well as chasing away other curious creatures – goats, other kids, calves, cows, and me!  She gave me a nice little headbutt while I was putting iodine on her kids’ umbilical cords.  Good mom!

Fancy is out in the pasture about to give birth, so there may be another post later tonight!

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Nadine’s Kids

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Today we got lucky again!  Nadine gave birth to her kids – another set of twins.  I’ll have to do some research on this, but there appears to be some sex-linked genetics happening with our goat kids.  All of the bucks are white and all of the does are colored.  I’m sure now that I’ve said it the next kids will buck the trend, but it’s interesting so far.

Nadine’s twins are BoKis – hybrids between the Boer and Kiko breed.  Hopefully they’ll display some hydrid vigor and grow especially well.  They’ve got the stockiness, nose, and ears of the Boers.  I hope the Kiko blood gives them good hoofs and elevated parasite resistance.

The doe kid weighed in at 6.5 lbs and the buck tipped the scales at 7.25 lbs – the heaviest so far.  They were both up and about quickly and sucking down their colostrum like champs.

We’ve got 2 more does left to kid this spring.  Fancy and Miss Priss (the two oldest goats) are the only ones yet to kid.  Both have udders near bursting with milk, so kidding should happen for them very soon.

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Ebony’s Kids

New mom Ebony.

While making the morning rounds this lovely Sunday, I saw that Ebony had new kids.  She must have delivered in the early morning hours.  Both kids are healthy and happily nursing.

Ebony had a doe kid first.  She weighed in at 6.25 pounds.  The buck tipped the scales at an even 7 pounds.  So far Ebony and Ivory have color coded their kids.  The bucks are white and the does are darker with black markings.  That will make sorting easier later on – I hope that trend continues!

Of course, after finding them I dipped the umbilical cords in iodine, weighed them, and gave them their new earrings – #3 and #4.

We’ve got 3 more does due any day now.  Nadine needs to deliver soon – she looks three times as wide as she is tall!

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Apollo

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Meet our new herdsire, Apollo!  At least that’s his given name.  I don’t know if it will stick or not, but I am certain that at a minimum Lindsey will anoint him with a rank at a point in the near future.  I’m predicting Admiral even though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t own a boat.

Apollo is a registered Kiko goat. The majority of our does are Kikos and the breed is reknowned abroad for their ease of maintenance.  They are called the “go anywhere, do anything goat.”  Well-bred Kikos have good sound hooves, good udders, plenty of milk, and grow quickly on pasture or browse with very little intervention from the goat herder.  Read: they don’t need grain or consistent deworming.

I got to see lots of Apollo’s progeny at his former farm, and they look great!  I also noticed that the does we have right now are a lot larger-framed than the does in the other farm’s herd, so I’m hopeful that Apollo will produce even nicer kids with our does.

This will be our first year breeding the goats.  4 of ours were too young to be bred last winter and the other 2 had had kids left on them for 6-7 months without being weaned and so were really thin when we got them.  I decided the best course of action was to give them a season off to recover their body condition.

Now all of the goats are in prime breeding condition, so I’m hoping that we’ll get multiple sets of twins so that we’ll have a good selection from which to choose superior does to add to our herd.  The animals we don’t retain as future breeders will be sold as pets, brush-eaters, or grown out for meat.  We should have 4-8 pure Kiko kids and 2-4 BoKi (Boer/Kiko crosses) from which to choose.

Apollo is very friendly and curious about me whenever I enter the paddock, even though it’s breeding season and he’s got does to watch over.  He’s very easy to handle as well.  He always wants to be petted first thing, which is cute but also a little gross because of his “goat cologne.”

For people who haven’t been around goats, during the breeding season goat bucks will spray their urine on their beards and front legs.  This advertises his virility and machismo to any does in the area and for some reason does find this “goat cologne” irresistable.  I find that the smell is hard to get off of your hands.

If all happens as it should from here, then we should start getting our first round of goat kids on or about April 11, 2012!

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Building a Hay Rack

Fancy, Ebony, and Ivory are thrilled with their new hayrack.

Well, I’m still on “light duty” from my appendectomy.  I’m not supposed to do anything real strenuous yet and since all the things I had planned for this winter were “heavy duty” moving or building I decided to make providing for our goats a little easier on us and a lot less wasteful of hay.  Winter feeding of hay is the number one operating expense in most livestock operations, so we want to minimize the amount of hay we have to feed and utilize the hay we feed as efficiently as possible through good management and decision making.

In the future we hope to be able to graze our ruminants year round without supplemental hay except in the worst years but we have to get our pastures into much better shape before that can happen.  So this year we will have to feed hay to supplement the browsing and grazing of the goats.  I thought we were going to be able to make it until January before we had to feed any hay, but we’ve had such a cold snap here lately that the grass is fading fast.  The temps here have been in the teens this week – no higher than 28°F on any day – and have been in the single digits at night.  So basically we had to start feeding some hay.

Since we’re new at all this we started by placing a hay bale on top of a dog house thinking that LGD Maggie Mae could get some shelter and the hay would stay up off the ground.  That strategy worked for somewhere between three and five minutes.  After that time, the goats had knocked over the doghouse, spread the hay all over the ground, and they and Maggie had made little nests in the hay in which to sleep.  Seeing all of the goats and Maggie sleeping in their nests was very cut, but hay is expensive, and that was going to waste a lot of it.

From the couple of days I spent carrying hay out to the goats I could tell doing that every morning was going to get really old really quickly, so I started thinking about making a portable hay rack.  Lots of companies make hay racks, but I was unable to find one that was designed to be moved around pastures with the animals.  Most people either bring large round bales to central feeding points for non-rotationally-grazed animals or they bring their animals into a hayshed in the winter and feed them there.  We’ll probably opt for the latter strategy eventually, but we need to build a hayshed and small stockyard first.  That way we can store the manure in one place through the winter when the pastures can’t absorb the fertilizer and spread it in the spring when it can be utilized.  But for now we have no hayshed and no stockyard, so we needed another solution.

As I said, I couldn’t find any portable hay racks to model one after, so I tried to think of the solution that would be easiest for us.

I decided that attaching a hay rack to the goats’ portable shelter would be the easiest thing for us to do since doing it that way would create no extra work in moving it.  We already move the shelter with the goats anyway – a task that has gotten much easier thanks to my dad, who put wheels on the goat shelter while I was in the hospital.  Now that thing pulls so easily!  That used to be the worst part of moving the goats, but no more!

Anyway, I attached a remnant 4′ x 4′ piece of plywood to one side of the shelter and then angled two old garden trellises that I found into the bottom of the plywood and through the bottom frame of the goat shelter.  Then I attached a wire to the top frame of the goat shelter, wove it through the trellis for added support, and attached the wire to the top frame of the shelter on the other side of the plywood.  See the video below for a visual.

As you can see, this is a perfectly functional poor-man’s hay rack that moves right along with the goat shelter from paddock to paddock.  I used stuff we had lying around, but if you want to copy this it would only cost you about $22.  A full piece of plywood runs about $8 at Lowe’s and I saw similar trellises at Wal-Mart for $6.97 each.  You’d even have a half sheet of plywood left over at that price.

Hopefully the goats will be kind to it and not break it to pieces, but I think the worst they could do it bend the wire on the trellises.  That shouldn’t be too hard to fix if it becomes necessary.

After 24 hours, the hayrack has seemed very successful at keeping the hay off of the ground and at giving the goats access to the hay.

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Money, Math, and Movie

Part of the money from our very first sale. Lindsey says we should hang it upside down like Chinese restaurants do so it won't run out of luck.

We made our first two sales this weekend!  On Friday we sold one of our “pet type” lop rabbits to a couple who wanted a bunny for their grandson.  They came by the house around 7 pm and picked out a nice black and white lop rabbit.  We boxed it up and off it went to live with a (hopefully) loving child.  The $5 bill above is part of the $15 from the sale of that rabbit.

Then on Saturday we made another sale.  On Monday a customer from Campbellsville called and placed an order for 2 of our meat rabbits.  She wanted to pick then up on Saturday, which is good because after processing they need to chill (literally) for a couple of days to age the meat.  Since we’ve only raised these rabbits for half of the normally required grow-out period of 12 weeks I did the math and figured out that $2 per pound of liveweight would give us a profit and provide us the hourly wage we’re looking for from our farm endeavors.  Because these rabbits dressed out at 60%, that means that we’d be charging $3.33 per pound dressed.  I think that our price per pound will go up on those rabbits that we raise from birth, however.

The customer bought the live rabbits from us, and I dressed them as a courtesy for them.  So on Wednesday I had to process rabbits for the first time.  The processing went smoothly and the rabbits did not suffer, but it’s still a little graphic for me to describe in writing.  If you want to know how to process rabbits there are lots of good books, internet articles, and videos that you can google.  After processing the rabbits and composting the remains, the meat went into the fridge to age until Saturday when the customer picked it up.  I felt like an actual businessman writing up receipts.

Receipt from the first food we sold!

Now here’s where more patience comes in…  I figure that I work around 11 hours a day for 6 days of the week and for 2 hours on the other.  That means I work roughly 68 hours per week.  We’ve been here 14 weeks so far.  That means I’ve worked about 952 hours so far.  I’ve made $39.  That means my hourly rate is…….  4¢.  And that’s without subtracting the expenses yet.  Ouch.

This week has been really busy, as usual.  I’ve chopped and cleared out our bamboo patch to a more reasonable and aesthetically pleasing arrangement.  Tomorrow I’m going to cut all the leaves off of the chopped bamboo to make poles to dry and use for the garden and building Lifestyles Lane structures.  The leaves will go into the gardens to compost for spring plantings.

Fall plantings are in place and finally sprouting after a small rain this week.  We’ve had several weeks without precipitation, so it took a little while for the seeds to sprout.  The plantings include spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, peas, carrots, onions, and parsnips and are all growing now.  Hopefully they can evade the feet of the turkeys who come by every day to debug the garden.  They’ve really dented the squash bug populations.  The butternut squashes are now curing in the office for a couple of weeks until they go into the basement for storage.  Then into pies and soups!

The turkeys also do lots of other fun things.  See below.

They are doing well and their growth rate really seems to be taking off now.  They are also getting bolder and will explore further from the poultry house every day.  They will go all the way up the hill behind the house and halfway out into the front pasture, so their range is now about a half mile from their “base.”  Now we just have to see what we’re going to do with them.  One has been committed to fill an order (thanks Aunt Sheila!) and one will be our Thanksgiving supper.  We have 1 male and 2 females of the Chocolates and Black Spanish turkeys, so if no one else places any orders we may save them until spring and try to breed our own turkeys for next year instead of ordering them.

On to the caprine kingdom!  The goats seem to be doing great!  They are making short work of the  brush behind the house that was too thick to chop down or bush hog.  The goats have changed that.  Each section that they go through is eaten down to the point that I can now go through there with the machete and clear the rest of it out.  They really enjoy the brush and eat it preferentially over the grass they have available.

Maggie, the goats’ livestock guardian dog, is doing a great job watching over them.  She does take a little getting used to, however, because she watches over them at night by announcing her presence with authority.  That means a lot of barking.  🙂  Unlike the other livestock guardian dogs we’ve been around, Maggie really enjoys human attention.  I went into the goat paddock the other day to fix the shelter that the goats had broken a part of and I could barely accomplish any of the repairs because Maggie kept sticking her basketball-sized noggin in between my arm and my body wanting to be petted.  She really is sweet.

So it’s Sunday.  The dogs are sleeping on the couch, the goats are playing king of the mountain on the gravel pile, the turkeys are catching grasshoppers, and the chicks are cheeping.  Good day!

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