2015 Naming Contest

Four goat kids need names so I’m again hitting up readers to submit names. Rules are simple – 1) no human names; 2) post your suggestions in the comments by August 10th. I’ll draw a name from all submissions and the winner, if local, can choose either a dozen eggs from my free range chickens or a bar of handmade goat milk soap. Sorry, if not local, you get a bar of handmade goat milk soap.

Kid #1: buckskin buckling out of Nutmeg

Kid #1: buckskin buckling out of Nutmeg

Kid #1

Kid #1

Kid #2 - brown/white doeling out of Nutmeg

Kid #2 – brown/white doeling out of Nutmeg

Kid #2

Kid #2

Kid #3 - black/white buckling out of Joey

Kid #3 – black/white buckling out of Joey

(Joey’s registered name is Seldom Herd RTW Aurora)

Kid #3

Kid #3

Kid #4 - buckskin doeling out of Joey

Kid #4 – buckskin doeling out of Joey

Kid #4

Kid #4

(The coloring on Kid #4’s ears is called “frosting”)

Life is full of challenges. . . and fun

Goat kids are active very early. At six days this little doeling is practicing her acrobatic skills.

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In another week or so, she’ll be large enough to be able to bound up onto Nutmeg’s back while Nutmeg is standing and then the challenge of trying to keep the kids in the pen will begin.

It was bound to happen . . .

In all the years I’ve raised goats and sheep, I’ve never had a doe or ewe that wasn’t able to deliver on its own. Given the problems I’ve had this year so far with all aspects of the farm, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this year was the exception. The last animal due to deliver was Joey, my best milk goat. When Nutmeg finally delivered on Sunday I figured Joey wouldn’t be far behind, but it wasn’t until yesterday that she started showing signs of impending labor. Joey has always been one of those “get it done” goats – the norm is for me to check on her one hour with no signs of labor or problems and then the next check, usually an hour later, she has kids on the ground, already cleaned up and nursing. However, this year that was not the case. When I went out to do a last check just before dark on Thursday night I found Joey flat out on the ground with just the head of a kid presenting. The normal presentation for both lambs and kids is called a “divers” presentation, with two front hooves and a nose. Joey was being vocal, which is not her usual, and was obviously having problems. When I checked, I was surprised to find that the kid was cold, but still alive. Knowing I was going to have to try to shift the kid and that I probably didn’t have a lot of time, I called my sheep mentor. I had educated myself on all the ways a lamb or kid could get into difficulties back when I first started the farm, but without having (thankfully) to ever use that information, I wasn’t sure how much I would remember, or how well I remembered it. My sheep mentor, being the great guy that he is, immediately sprung into action and found his diagrams and information. The first problem was that Nigerian Dwarf goats are much smaller than my Katahdins and what might have been a fairly quick and easy fix with a larger animal turned into a lengthy and exhausting task with Joey. Although I have small hands, there was no room for my hand inside Joey. I couldn’t push the head of the kid back to make room. I finally made a pail of soapy water to help lubricate my arm and after trying to get Joey to shift over, finally managed to get my gloved hand in up to my wrist. At that point Joey was screaming as though she was being disemboweled and my hand was caught between the goat kid and her bony pelvic ring being squeezed every time she had a contraction.  After what seemed like forever I finally got one front leg out. I had to get Joey to actually stand up to be able to shift over so I could try to reach the opposite front leg, and then finally both legs were out. Amazingly, as soon as the second leg was out, the kid just slid out – alive. Joey was exhausted at that point and wasn’t showing much interest in her kid, even though I laid him in front of her. Since I was sure she had at least one more kid to deliver but wasn’t sure she had the energy to do it, I ran into the house to warm up some honey and grab a towel to clean off the kid. When I got back, Joey had delivered her second kid. I did just a quick cleaning of both kids – since it was warm enough I wanted Joey to actually clean them off once she had recovered – and to check sexes. I waited until Joey was up on her feet and the kids were up before calling it a night and going in to clean up.

When I weighed kids Friday morning, the first, a buckling, was just shy of 6 lbs. Since a typical weight for a Nigerian Dwarf kid is between 2 and 4 lbs, I figure that the size of this one prevented it from shifting itself into a proper position for delivery. The second kid, a doeling, was 3.75 lbs.

An exhausted Joey and her doeling - a buckskin

An exhausted Joey and her doeling – a buckskin

The buckling

The buckling

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is Joey’s offspring from December 2013. I bred her this winter when I leased a buck to re-breed Joey and Nougat. It does not appear that Nougat was successfully bred, but Nutmeg started spreading out and bagging up fairly early so I was hopeful she was indeed bred and would kid in July. However as the days in July passed I was starting to think that perhaps she was just having a false pregnancy (not uncommon in dairy goats). Yesterday when she went off her feed and started bleating I thought maybe . . . but no obvious signs of her being in labor, just the constant, all day long, bleating. She stopped when the sun went down but this morning when I went out, she was standing in the lambing jug chewing on a piece of placenta . . . with two little kids in a corner.

I went back to the house for betadine and the scales (and camera) and then climbed into Nutmeg’s pen. Little buckling weighed 4.75 lbs and looks to be a buckskin with white. The little doeling was 3.75 lbs. I haven’t determined what color pattern she is genetically but she is dark with a lot of white. Both appear to be healthy and were up and nursing. From the back Nutmeg’s bag looks beautiful, and her teats are nice and big but I’m not as happy with the fact that the teats face forward rather than down. I’ll introduce her to the milking stand in a couple of weeks and then will see how that impacts on hand milking her.

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Year of the Sheep . . . not so much

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2015 is the year of the Sheep. Really not seeing that on the farm. This is the first year since I started raising sheep that all of my breeding ewes were not bred. Rather than the 20 plus lambs I normally have, this year I had eight.

It is, however, the year of the Chicken. I have had multiple hens go broody, starting with my first hen showing up with two chicks in tow. She unfortunately lost both those chicks, but the second hen hatched out eight chicks and those are doing very well. Hen number three hatched out seven but lost two within the first few days. While what I’ve read says that all eggs in a nest will pip out within 36 hours, that isn’t necessarily true. The chicks in this clutch were hatched over a week span so the oldest chicks are considerably larger than the youngest as demonstrated in this photo where the smallest can still spend the night snug and warm underneath mom while the oldest has to resort to sleeping on top of her. 20150615_Hen with chicks

Hen number four was not so lucky. She hatched out one live chick, with two that were unsuccessful in pipping out. Since she hatched her chick several feet off the ground in the hay stack, I moved her and her chick into a dog kennel in the barn. That worked for the first two weeks but then she started roosting on the top of the kennel and her chick, who couldn’t make it to the top, would roost as high as it could fly (it is now roosting on the top of the kennel) and from there it was inevitable that she would start taking the chick on walkabouts.

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Then hen number five showed up with seven chicks in tow that she had hatched somewhere on the property. She is down to five chicks but those are growing rapidly. A couple of days ago I went out and found hen six was showing her eight chicks the ropes. It will be interesting to see how many she successfully raises.

One of the reasons I had looked at Icelandics was to get chickens that would go broody and raise chicks. It is a really good thing that some of my hens decided to go broody this spring as the attempt to incubate the Icelandic chicken eggs I had shipped pretty much failed. Out of 18 eggs, only six hatched and four of those didn’t survive more than a couple of days. However, the two that did survive are doing well and I turned them out with the other chickens a couple of days ago.

Icelandic Chicks

Icelandic Chicks

It will be interesting to see if I get any hens out of the 29 chicks or if I’ll end up with a freezer full of chicken instead.