Friday, December 26, 2008

New pasture opened

Darcy has been really ill the past couple of weeks, so I've been pretty tied up with that, but I wanted to post about the new pasture we've opened up. Our tenant Shon is pretty good with fencing, so we've hired him to fix our existing fence and fence in some of the woods behind the pasture. Last week, we officially opened the gate to the new pasture area.

This wouldn't be pasture for a lot of species, since it is packed full of ligustrum and wild blackberries, but these are favorite foods of goats, so they're just pleased as punch. One advantage of having woody browse available for goats is that woody shrubs are full of tannins, which act as natural wormers.
I'm just tickled pink, because the rye grass finally came up and the goats have all the browse they can eat in the new part of the pasture. The fence line has also been straightened out, which results in probably 1/4 more area in the old part of the pasture. Steve and I basically just drove in a bunch of "T" posts the first time and sort of hung the fence off of it...not the best fencing job known to man.

On another note, I've managed to sell Symbol's babies already (they leave next week), but I haven't even advertised Darcy's babies yet. Because she had so much trouble with her health, I was afraid they wouldn't grow as well as Symbol's babies. I supplemented them with cows' milk and gave them preventive coccidistat, and I think they're likely to be weaned before Symbol's--should have advertised them first!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Banding Thoughts

Sunday, my friend Janet Cooper came over and showed me how to band the 4 male kids that were born 4 weeks ago. I've always dreaded doing this. I've had dogs and been a member of the dog community since I was 14 or so. From time to time, you hear rumors of people who dock tails or crop ears on puppies by using a rubber band, and this is portrayed as a completely inhumane and irresponsible practice, with horror stories of infection and gangrene.

But with livestock, this is looked at another way entirely. With dairy goats, male kids are sort of an unfortunate side effect of the biological processes needed to stimulate milk production. With meat kids, an intact male that lives any length of time will be too gamey for any but the most hardened taste buds. At the same time, there is no way that farmers could charge enough for these kids to make it financially viable to have them put under by a vet and castrated in the way we do with dogs.

So I was resolved to the necessity, but I was dreading the effects. And indeed the first 24 hours or so were pretty sad. It was clear the babies were uncomfortable--they walked stiff legged and spent a lot of time lying down or getting up and lying down and getting up. And they didn't do their normal climbing and jumping.

But 48 hours later, it's clear that they're pretty much back to their normal spirits and activity level. So it wasn't as bad as I thought.