I was expecting Pearl to kid anytime between tomorrow and the end of the week. However, this evening as I was heading out to feed (later than usual) I heard her crying. Hoping that didn’t indicate she was in distress, I swung by the barn to fill the hay cart and then stopped at the house to pick up a headlamp as it was already dark. As I approached the goat pens I heard a kid – with very good lungs – crying. Pearl had kidded and didn’t appear to be in distress though she was definitely unhappy with Fix bouncing around. After filling feeders, I filled a water bucket for the lambing jugs and went back to the barn for another flake of hay. I then put the dogs back in the house and milked Charmin. After finishing milking I put Charmin back in the pen and picked up the kid. Pearl did not follow me to the lambing jugs, though her two pen mates did. I went back for Pearl and put her in with her kid and caught the other does and put them back in their pen. After a quick dinner I went back out to see if Pearl had a second kid. It looks like just the single, but it is a doeling so that is good.
English Shepherds are/should be control freaks. They understand rules and want those rules followed. That is one of the things that makes it easier to work with them on your own stock and one of the things that often makes it frustrating to work them off your property and with strange stock.
English Shepherds are “loose eyed” dogs and thus work closer in to their stock than border collies. While some dogs will bark at particularly stubborn stock, if a dog is barking almost constantly it lacks confidence and you will have to be extra careful in starting that dog to build confidence.
The first thing I do when starting a young dog (and young isn’t age related but determined by experience) is develop a bond with the dog. This means I spend time with the dog in a variety of situations, teaching the dog to respect me and fostering its desire to be with me. I will take the dog with me doing chores. Depending upon the dog and the situation, this may mean the dog is dragging a line to ensure I can control its behavior. While I don’t directly focus on the dog, after all I am doing chores, I do make sure the dog isn’t getting into trouble and is staying close (how close is a personal choice.) When I have a dog that is sticking with me doing chores, coming back to check in frequently on off-leash walks and has rudimentary obedience skills as well as self-control I’ll evaluate whether or not the dog is mentally and physically mature enough to start working stock. This is also dependent upon my stock. I won’t work a young dog on ewes with young lambs.
If I’m going to work stock with a dog, I will wait to do serious obedience training until AFTER I have started working stock. While I want the dog responsive to me, I want the dog’s focus on stock. A dog who focuses on the handler is either going to be less effective in working stock or, worse case scenario, is going to get hurt by not paying attention to the stock. It is very important to remember that if you want a partner, you have to ensure the dog is capable of making decisions and not expecting you to make all the decisions for him/her. All the dogs I train are taught self-control early on so that the dog is making GOOD decisions on its own and so that I’m not constantly telling the dog to do or not to do something.
It is also critical that you set your dog up to be successful and not to fail. While corrections are, in my opinion, a necessary part of training, corrections rarely have a place in “teaching”. Until the dog understands what is required and knows how to avoid a correction, it isn’t fair to correct the dog. Once I move out of teaching and into training, I can set it up so the dog has to make the right decision under more challenging circumstances, but again I have to ensure the dog is prepared for the challenge and I’m not expecting something I can’t reasonably expect.
The age you start a dog is not critical as long as the dog is mentally and physically ready to start. What is critical is that you haven’t done things to “turn the dog off”. I’ve seen pups that were put on stock too young and a single bad experience was sufficient to turn the dog off working stock permanently. I’ve seen older dogs that had been discouraged as pups from interacting with livestock who wouldn’t work as they got older. I’ve also seen dogs bounce back from traumas that you would have thought sufficient to turn them off permanently — my first ES got kicked by a steer so hard it knocked him across a pen, gave him a concussion and broke a molar. He tried, unsuccessfully because of the concussion, to get up and continue working.
Working poultry (chicken, turkeys, ducks), sheep, cattle and goats is challenging in different ways and some dogs will excel on one type of stock and yet may not be a good worker on another type of stock. The dog might be ready to work poultry very early on and not be ready for sheep, goats or cattle until much later. So just because your pup or dog doesn’t seem interested in working one type of livestock or another, don’t be discouraged. It may need more time just accompanying you doing chores or you may want to try starting on a different type of livestock. While I do use my ES to handle my American Guinea Hogs, I don’t recommend starting an inexperienced dog on hogs and I personally will NEVER use a dog to work horses. There are several reasons for that but it can be boiled down to a safety issue for both the dog and rider.
NOTE: The above was originally written a few years ago, when I was raising Katahdin sheep for lamb and was pasture raising American Guinea Hogs. I have downsized the number of sheep I have and the hogs are now in various freezers.
The chicks turned 6 weeks old on Monday. I started opening up the pop door to the outside run for the chicks this past weekend and they have been having a grand time with the extra room. I had bought a Hen Hydrator which is a 5 gallon bucket that hangs with nipples for the chickens to drink from because I was tired of having to clean out the trays on the ground waterers. It plainly states it is not for chicks, but I went ahead and lowered it to chick height and the chicks have been happily using it for the past few days.
Cosmos, the youngest buckling, does not quite understand the proper way to go down a slide.
And here is Fix – who is starting to mature into a very nice looking dog.
I had bought two does exposed to bucks in May. Just Charmin kidded out a week ago this past Thursday. My absolute least favorite part of owning goats is disbudding. I have tried using a paste, which produced hit and miss results (heavily weighted to the miss), and banding, more successful IF bands are replaced promptly when they break. Last year I finally ordered a disbudding iron. The first one was damaged when I opened the box and by the time the replacement arrived it was too late for a successful disbudding of the kids. I should have disbudded Charmin’s kids, or at least the buckling, no later than Monday morning, but he was so small I put it off. Then the usual number of things happened so it wasn’t until last evening that I managed to disbud both kids and give them CDT vaccinations to guard against tetanus. It was a miserable experience for all concerned and I am hoping that it was successful and we didn’t all go through the trauma for naught. Evidently from what I’ve read and heard, Nigerian Dwarfs are the hardest of all the dairy goats to disbud and the bucklings are the hardest, with most developing scurs even at the best of times.
This came on the heels of the second doe, who never bagged up so I wasn’t sure she had been bred, suddenly going into labor Thursday late afternoon. Luckily I was home as I ended up having to pull a kid – which was stillborn. Buttons still isn’t out of the woods yet so I’m hoping I don’t lose her as well.
I enjoy the farm and the various animals. There is nothing cuter than a goat kid sproinging about. However, there is a downside to breeding any animals — the very real likelihood of not only the loss of the offspring but also the dam. WHO estimated that in 2015 303,000 women would die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. Actually, I’m always surprised at the low number of complications I’ve had with my sheep and goats over the years when one considers all of the things that could go wrong.
Everyone who suggests a name in the comment section will be entered into a random draw for a bar of goat milk soap.
Sire is Blunderosa Country Thunder and the dam is Blunderosa Just Charmin’
Kid #1 is a buckling (ignore the bit of beard from the doe)
Kid #2 is a doeling
Since I bought the doe bred, the breeder’s herd name and not mine will be used , so the names will start with “Blunderosa”.
Use the comments for your suggested names. The random draw will be done September 30th.
When I returned from vacation in May, Fix and I traveled to Tularosa to pick up a doe in milk. We ended up coming back with that doe plus two more does that had been exposed to bucks.
I have been waiting to see if either doe had indeed been bred and about three weeks ago one doe began to bag up. This afternoon when I went out to check on her, I found two very small kids under the new shelter. A trip to the barn netted alfalfa for the hay net and wheat hay for bedding. After setting up the kidding jugs, I moved the two new arrivals and the doe to their new, temporary, surroundings.
The kid in front is a doeling – just shy of two lbs – and the kid behind her is a buckling who weighed in at 2.5 lbs. And of course they elected to move to one of the stalls I had not bedded down.
Better pictures to follow. And these will need names. The sire is Blunderosa Country Thunder and the dam is Blunderosa Just Charmin’. I’ll put up more photos and a naming contest in the next couple of days.
Except for hanging gates and finishing the weaning pen.
A friend came over this morning and we erected the shelters for the wet and dry doe pens.
I used the fence line to set the shelters, and if needed I can tarp the back of both shelters along the fence line. These were inexpensive and easy to make using T-posts, cattle panel, baling twine and a tarp. The tarps were used billboard covers so there are images and writing on the inside. If I had had to buy the T-posts and cattle panels, I estimate the cost to build both would have been about $150.00. Since I had everything but the tarps my total cost was 32.40. For comparison, the wood and tin shelters which I moved to the new pens cost approximately 300.00 each to build.
After it cooled down a bit this evening, I went out and finished digging holes for the two gate posts and then put up the rest of the fencing. The gates are tied on with baling twine for the time being.
View from south end facing north. Dry doe pen on left and wet doe pen north of the dry doe pen. I’ve moved the three dry goats so each pen now holds three does. Eight foot alley with gate. Kidding jugs straight back. New buck/weaning pens on right. I have not put up a dividing fence and gate so right now it is all one large pen. I will also attach hog panel to the fence for the weaning pen so the kids can’t get through the cattle panel. When I don’t have any young kids in the weaning pen, I will leave the gate between the two open so the bucks will have more space. Each pen has a shelter.
I moved the two bucklings from the kidding jugs to their new pen at feeding time. They spent about 15 minutes chasing each other around the pen before settling down to eat. Buckling on the right is CBF KS Cowikee. The buckling on the left is Seldom Herd DA Cosmos.
Over the past weekend I finished rebuilding the former sheep pen. Once a new shelter is erected, that pen will be ready for use. I marked off where the 8 foot alley gate needed to be set and ran a string to mark where the front of the two additional pens will lie. I couldn’t start building those pens until the other shelter was moved from the current goat pen to its new location as I didn’t want to have to maneuver around fencing. Monday evening after work a friend came over and we moved the shelter and brought over the two additional 8 foot gates which will be used for the two new pens.
Tuesday evening after chores I strung the remaining lines to mark the two new pens and started setting T-posts and attaching cattle panel. The pens are about half done at this point. I still need to dig holes to set posts for the gate in the alley and the pen gates before I can finish putting up the last cattle panels since those will need to be cut. Other than installing the gates, I should be able to finish putting up the pens by the end of this coming weekend.
Building the two new shelters for the doe pens shouldn’t take long so it looks like I may indeed make my goal of having the pens constructed and ready for use by the end of this month.
The other night after my friend finished brush hogging he took a look at the railroad tie post and gate he had put in for me about 7 or 8 years ago. He thought I had dug out enough that he could get it out and sure enough, one good kick and the tie fell over. He then dragged it over to where I was going to set it up as the alley gate. So tonight after chores I took a shovel and dug down about 18 inches. I had measured the edge of the gate to the center of the railroad tie and then measured the same distance from the edge of the lambing / kidding jugs to mark the center of the hole. Unfortunately, when I tipped the railroad tie up and the bottom of the tie fell into the hole, it didn’t fall into the center. I tried and couldn’t pick up the tie to re-center it and I also wasn’t able to push the tie out of the hole again. Finally, I decided I could live with the gate being a little off-center. It will still open and close, though only one way now instead of both directions. I filled in the hole and called it a night.
I try to work early in the morning and generally quit about 11 am when it is starting to get really hot. I did a little work on my own this morning but most of the day’s work got done when a couple of friends showed up at a quarter to 11. I had initially intended to build the new pens today but had run into some problems taking down the former sheep pen and needed the extra hands to finish that up. When I built the pens about 7 or 8 years ago, the pens were expected to be temporary and so I used cattle panel and T-posts. Over the years the bottom of the fence has become buried which made pulling T-posts and the fence a challenge and something that really went better with more than one pair of hands. The shared fence between the goat pen and former sheep pen had a damaged cattle panel and rather than remove both panels, we opted just to pull and replace the damaged section. This photo shows how deep the fence has become buried over the years when compared to the new panel set in place today.
My friends dug out the small shelter that was against the shared fence and we moved it out to the general area where it will be put into use as a shelter for the bucks. Once I rebuild the pen I will erect a new shelter using cattle panel and a tarp. I will need to finish digging out the gate post and once that is accomplished, will need help moving it with the attached gate to its new location.
My friends were willing to work a little longer but despite a full bottle of water I was feeling the symptoms of heat stroke – nausea and being lightheaded – and decided to call a halt to the day’s work. I’ll conscript them to help on another weekend but can do quite a bit of the building myself, working an hour or two in the early morning and later in the evening when it has cooled off a bit.