Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kidding Log - 3

The playpen

Since my last post 29 kids have been born to 13 does...it is definitely the year of the white goat! Dairy goats are very prolific animals; most of the does have at least two kids, many have had triplets and two have had singles.

It's interesting to compare kidding this year to lambing at Flying Mule Farm last year. Here with the goats at Toluma we usually kid in a barn, then move the moms and babies into their own freshen pens for 24 to 48 hours so they can bond, eat and not get trampled, stressed or mixed up. It is labor and capital intensive. 

Some of our freshen pens, kind of like my cubicle in a past life

When I helped with lambing last February, it was out in a leased field with no structures around. The ewes were expected to make sure their lambs were cleaned off, nursing and ready to go within 20 minutes of hitting the ground. If an ewe wasn't a good mother and her lamb died or had to be bottle raised, she usually didn't get to stay in the flock.

The goats I am working with now have not had selection pressure to be good mothers. We keep replacement does based on the amount of milk their mothers produce as well as the length of the mothers lactation cycle; a good udder, general good health and mild temperament (ie no kicking in the milking parlor) are also important factors.

Two thirds of the kids born this season have been male...we are still hoping for the female tally to catch up!

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