Milk, Milk and more Milk

I had the mobile vet out on January 23rd to ultrasound two goats I hoped were bred. Spice, a 2013 daughter of Joey, had not been bred when I bred her twin, Nutmeg, and her dam, Joey, in February 2015 even though I had her in with the buck. Spice is the spitting image of Joey (who I lost last summer when her kids were three weeks old – another story for another day) and I really wanted to breed her, hoping she would be a good milker like her dam. So, when the vet said she thought Spice *might* be bred, but was very, very early on if so, I was pleased. The vet thought that Nougat, my half Nigerian / half Sable Sanaan, was not bred. Nougat last kidded in May 2014 and was gradually producing less and less milk so I really wanted her bred again so I could dry her off, knowing she’d be back in milk in a few months. As the vet said the fact Nougat had been in milk for so long might be a factor in getting her re-bred, I opted to go ahead and try to dry her off and put her back in with the buck, even though that left me with only one goat in milk.

I calculated the date Spice was likely to kid (June 7), given the information from the vet and as she started bagging up a few weeks ago was comfortable that she was indeed bred. Thyme popped out a surprise kid last Friday but I thought I still had about a month to go with Spice. So when I went out this morning to feed and Spice was not interested, I was a little worried. I only know of two reasons a goat won’t eat – illness and labor. I hurriedly moved goats and set up a lambing jug and then moved Spice into a lambing jug. I went to check on her about 45 minutes later and found her cleaning off the second of two kids. Both are small but neither are premature so the vet was wrong on the dates.

Spice cleaning off the buckling - 1.75 lbs

Spice cleaning off the buckling – 1.75 lbs

Spice cleaning off the doeling - 1.5 lbs

Spice cleaning off the doeling – 1.5 lbs

The buckling looks to be white/cream with tan on his neck and legs. He has a small umbilical hernia which will hopefully go away as he grows. The doeling is a buckskin with abundant white overlay. Despite their smaller sizes, both are up and nursing so I am hoping both will do well.

Still waiting to see if Nougat did indeed get bred. I’ll re-breed Nutmeg when she comes back into heat in May and if Chai didn’t get herself knocked up, I’ll breed her in June.


Cosmetic or necessary?

Horns on a goat serve a useful purpose. However, horns are also hazardous – both to humans handling the goat as well as to the goat at times. I’ve had goats with horns and without and have lost more than one goat to breaking its neck when it has gotten caught in a fence. I’ve had to cut fence to get other goats loose. I’ve been caught by horns which have broken skin when trying to vaccinate or putting a doe on the milk stand. Crackerjack injured himself a week or so ago when he evidently caught a front leg between Sunny Ray’s horns and couldn’t get it out again. I prefer goats without horns. However, I hate the process of removing horns.

With my first kids, I hauled them up to Albuquerque for my goat mentor to disbud with a disbudding iron. It was unpleasant to say the least and both kids ended up with scurs. The next set of kids I tried to disbud using a disbudding paste. I was successful with one, not with the other. This past summer I missed the very narrow window of time that disbudding paste can be used and ended up banding the horns on the kids. Partial success – but that was mainly because I didn’t replace the bands as I should have.

This year I vowed to make sure I used the disbudding paste timely so yesterday over lunch I went out with the kid holding box and disbudded the little one.

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It is easy enough to do but requires the paste to be left on for 20 minutes and for the kid to be kept from rubbing its head during that time. When I first researched alternatives to a disbudding iron, I read a lot of information about how cruel it was to use paste and why it was more humane to use an iron. I reserved judgment on that since I had seen an iron used and had not tried the paste. I believe that some of the people who felt pasting was inhumane were focused on the kid’s crying and felt it was painful. In observing the buckling yesterday I think his complaints had more to do with being locked in the box and away from mom more than anything else. When I cleaned off the paste after the requisite time and put him back in with Thyme, he did not immediately try to nurse her and I have never before had any lamb or kid that I banded, vaccinated or did anything else to that did not immediately run to mom to nurse when I gave it the opportunity. I am hoping that this was successful as I would much prefer to paste than have to use a disbudding iron.

A friend asked if I was going to name him in keeping with herbs and spices (Thyme is a daughter of Nutmeg) and I told her I was keeping Sage and Parsley for use in naming future doelings so she suggested Garfunkel. I don’t usually use people names with animals but this seemed to fit okay so the new buckling (to be wethered) is now Garfunkel.

Bok Choy

The poll is closed. Bok Choy was the name with the most votes so here is Bok Choy in her new digs.

Bok Choy

Bok Choy

This weekend I completely dismantled the night pig pen in the pasture (I had built a larger pen in the center of the pasture when I got the additional hogs) and hauled all the panels, plus the dog house and tarp to the working pen. I rebuilt the pen in a corner of the working pen and then moved Hoggle and Bok Choy out of the lambing jugs. As soon as Hoggle gets a little bigger I’ll move both of them out to the pasture with the other three pigs.

First kid of 2016

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When I weighed the new kid Saturday morning the scale said 6 lbs. As I knew that could not possibly be correct, I came in and weighed a can of beans. Scale showed just under 1 lbs. So back out again to re-weigh the buckling. Six lbs. When I went to town to pick up feed I stopped and bought a hanging scale used by fishermen. Came home and re-weighed the buckling – 2 and 3/4 lbs.

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When I brought the buck onto the property in October, the two doelings born in July were still small enough to get in and out of the various goat pens. I had seen Chai in the buck pen but had never seen Thyme in with the buck. I have been keeping an eye on Chai – hoping that she had not gotten bred. However, a couple of weeks ago I noticed that Thyme had developed a “bag” so figured she had indeed spent some time with the buck. My other does generally bag up pretty early in pregnancy so I was figuring Thyme was probably about three months into a pregnancy (gestation for goats and sheep is 150 days plus or minus) and would probably kid out in late May/early June. So when I got home late this evening and was rushing to feed and water before dark it took me a little bit to realize there was a new goat in the goat pen.

Goat kid

I hurriedly made some adjustments in the lambing jugs and set up a jug for the new mom and her buckling. I haven’t weighed him yet but am guessing he is about three pounds. More photos and details tomorrow.

Last Chance

The winner of the random draw has been notified. Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

The boar is now “Hoggle” – from the movie Labryinth (which I do NOT recommend but I liked the name.) Jeannie you will be getting a free bar of soap.

Best shot EVER

Hoggle Best shot EVER

The largest gilt is Winnipig (a name a friend gave me but didn’t put up on the blog.) Sorry Mary, no soap for you.

Winnipig Hard to get photos unless I feed them and then their snouts are always glued to the ground

Winnipig Hard to get photos unless I feed them and then their snouts are always glued to the ground

The smaller gilt needs a name though and I’ve decided to let my readers choose her name.

Her best side

Her best side

Complete hog

Complete hog

Hogs and Water

With the unplanned additions to my hog sounder (I’m not sure of the age cut off but I think the three in the pasture may be too old to be considered a “drift” so I’m going with sounder) I needed to make new plans for living arrangements. I had temporarily enlarged the night pen but wanted to move it into the middle of the pasture and “build” out in spokes to create smaller pastures where I could rotate them (and re-seed behind them as they rooted up the pasture.) This is going to be done in increments, both because of the expense and the time involved in putting up fencing. In the meantime, I created another temporary, but larger, night pen in the center of the pasture which will become permanent once I decide on a final design. It will need a better shelter than just a tarp, and the pigs have outgrown the dog house I had initially given them for shelter.

One of the big issues is water. Hogs don’t sweat and therefore create “wallows” on order to keep cool. In the original night pen, the hogs had simply just jumped into their water trough which was unsanitary not to mention meant I was constantly having to haul hoses out to refill the trough. So I spent some time Googling raising pasture pigs and discovered hog “nipples” as well as some creative ways to use hog nipples to provide water. 105849a Unlike the waterers used for small animals, these are designed for the hog to bite down to release water.

The first hitch was trying to find a food grade 55 gallon plastic barrel locally. The local pawn shop had plastic barrels but they had previously contained oil so those were not suitable. He also had some 275 gallon water totes which supposedly were food grade. While that seemed a great solution, when I looked at the containers it was clear that there were two major issues with using one as a hog waterer. First, the issue of cleaning it on a regular basis, and second fitting the hog nipples just wasn’t possible given the small opening at the top, the overall height and the fact that the nipples needed to be placed low on the container. 00V0V_b8OJC6lzAGL_600x450

So after giving it some thought I figured using a plastic trash can might work as long as I could elevate it and stabilize it so the hogs couldn’t push it over. The guys at the local hardware store took the two nipples I provided and put together a hog waterer that would be easily cleaned and large enough to hold sufficient water for a week. I wanted to have two nipples to minimize fights at the waterer. The waterer was duly installed by placing in on top of an overturned empty bucket that had held cattle mineral (2.00 at the feed store) and four fence posts were pounded in around both to make a cage of sorts. Finally, bailing twine (the farmer’s version of duct tape) was used to tie the trash can to the fence posts to secure it. Several hoses were then screwed together to run from the frost free hydrant to the trash can. After the nipples were tightened down to stop the water leaking, the can was filled and I waited to see how well it would work. I had left the water trough in the partially dismantled original night pen and I suspect the hogs continued to use it for drinking throughout the week as I never saw a hog at the new waterer. However, today while I was out in the pig pasture pounding in rebar for the new fencing, I finally saw the gilt at the waterer. By the time I got there with my camera (phone) Ham-let had joined her.

20160416_104824-2-1_resized Hamlock was not far behind and it didn’t take long for the two largest hogs to spat over access to the hog nipple. 20160416_104939-1_resized 20160416_105013-1_resized

I tried showing the hogs the second nipple on the other side, and finally Hamlock and Ham-let caught on. 20160416_105210-1_resized Of course, that meant the (unnamed as of yet) gilt had to come see if it was better on that side. 20160416_105318-1_resizedWhich meant that Ham-let was able to sneak back to the first nipple and have a drink. 20160416_105608-1_resized

The next step is to run a permanent water line from the frost free hydrant out to the waterer and install a float so that it automatically refills. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to haul the water trough out for them to use to cool off in or just create a wallow by tossing a couple of gallons of water out every day to keep one spot muddy.

Reminder: Naming Contest ends Monday, April 18 which is the official tax day this year.

Want free soap?

I have three new American Guinea Hogs that need names. These are potential breeding stock so will not be heading to the freezer anytime soon, therefore non-food related names preferred. Anyone leaving a comment on the blog will be entered into a random draw to receive their choice of any bar of handmade goat milk soap in stock. And as an added bonus, anyone entering a name that is selected will also receive a bar of soap so potentially anyone commenting on the blog could win two bars of handmade goat milk soap. Since the hens are now laying (a lot) if the lucky winner(s) are local, a dozen eggs from free-range chickens can be substituted for a bar of soap.

AGH #1: Gilt (unbred female) born in October 2015. She has a pink ear tag labeled SH1.

Gilt #1

Gilt #1

AGH #2: Gilt born in December 2015. No ear tag as of yet but will be ear tagged in the near future. This gilt has a wavy coat with red highlights and may be carrying a gene for red.

Gilt #2

Gilt #2

AGH #3: Boar just weaned, born early March. Again, no ear tag as of yet but will have one soon.

Boar next to Chihuahua

Boar next to Chihuahua

The contest opens with this blog post and ends on Tax Day (hoping to make someone’s day a little less unpleasant.)