|Posted by jameshillgoats on September 8, 2013 at 12:15 PM||comments (0)|
I sure didn't want the goats to feel left out of the proceedings this morning. So my first chore of the day was to worm the entire goat herd. (Not exactly what they had in mind, but any attention is good attention, right? :roll:) We have a few 5-6 month old does that we have decided to sell to make room for the planned breedings this fall.
James Hill Sierra Leone (her dam is very petite, and one of my best milkers).
James Hill Cinder Ella (left) and James Hill Nightshade (right). (I had initially planned to keep Nightshade, but am keeping both her dam and her sister. It makes sense to let her go...but she needs to go QUICKLY before I change my mind again!)
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 28, 2013 at 10:35 AM||comments (34)|
Here at James Hill, we disbud our kids when they are a week or two old. Disbudding is ABSOLUTELY my least favorite animal husbandry chore. Dehorning goats prevents all sorts of potential mishaps such as torn udders, eye injuries, goats caught in fences and accidental injury to goatkeepers.
The importance of this was emphasized for us recently. You see, we failed to do a sufficient job of disbudding on a couple of kids last year. When their horns began to grow, we decided not to intervene, as we initially thought it was scur growth, not horns of any significance (even though I should have known better). Danny, a pretty broken chocolate buckskin doe, grew approximately 3 inches of somewhat mishapen horn.
On heading to the pasture to collect my milking does, I noticed something odd with the appearance of Danny's horns. On closer inspection, I found she had somehow broken one of her horns about halfway down. It was not a clean break, and the broken piece was still attached with several sharp splinters protruding from it.
We had to use small pruning shears to trim on through the horn. This process was difficult and stressful for Danny (and us!), but was accomplished (thankfully) without bloodshed. While we had her immobilized, we went on and placed bands to the bases of her remaining horns. It will take a couple of weeks, but this will cause the horns to drop off.
All this could have been avoided if we had been a bit more diligent in our initial disbudding process. As it stands, it will all work out in the end, and any serious injury to Danny or another goat was avoided. But she is not very pleased with us at the moment:
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 23, 2013 at 11:15 PM||comments (89)|
All goats registered with AGS, ADGA or NDGA must have permanent identification, either via tattoo or microchip. We tattoo our kids, as do most other goat breeders. Each breeder has a specific series of letters and/or numbers assigned to their herd. Each kid is identified by number from birth. The herd tattoo is applied to the right ear, the kid's birth identification number to the left.
The procedure is relatively simple: the inside of the goats ear is cleaned and dried and a layer of tattoo ink is spread on the inside ear surface. A pair of tattoo pliers is loaded with the appropriate letters and numerals. The pliers are positioned on the ear and pressure applied with a brief, firm squeeze. An additional smear of ink is applied and briefly rubbed into the newly tattooed ear. Quick and simple.
UNLESS, of course, you add a reluctant husband and two over-eager children to the sequence. Then you have established the annual "Paint A Goat Green Festival". This is a unique festival in which all participants, both human and caprine, are generously smeared with semi-permanent green tattoo ink. This ink will not wash out of clothing, and takes days to weeks to fade from skin, fingernails and hair. All in all, it's great day of fun.
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 22, 2013 at 10:40 PM||comments (91)|
Many folks ask how we manage our milking process, especially potential dairy goat owners who are considering a doe or two of their own to provide fresh milk. So here is a brief overview of our system from the goat to the jar. This system works well for us, and can be easily modified to fit other set-ups.
Flower waiting for me at the gait when I come in from work at 6:30am. Her tripletts stay overnight shut away from mom in our indoor kidding pens. We plan the length of the separation for 10-11 hours. (Never more than 12 to prevent overfilling the dam's udder). This is Flower's second freshening, so she is an old pro at our system.
Flower on the milk stand, waiting for breakfast to be served. She eats while I milk.
Everything needed to process the milk cleaned with warm soapy water and bleach, sterilized in boiling water, and set out ready to go.
The jar in which the milk will be stored after processing is heated in boiling water just before use to insure cleanliness. It is taken out and set aside to cool while the milk is being processed.
We milk our goats by hand, and use a 1-cup stainless container rather than a milking pail. This lessens the chance of a hoof unintentionally ending up in the milk! Immediately on being milked into the cup, the milk is strained through a sieve.
The milk is strained again, this time through cheesecloth. This removes any hair or trash that may have fallen into it during the milking process. Stray hairs or other contaminants are unhygienic and will give an off flavor to milk.
The milk is heated to 165 degrees Farenheit. We use a double-boiler method to prevent scorching during the heating process.
On reaching the adequate temperature, the milk is immediately transfered to an ice bath to rapidly cool to 55 degrees Farenheit. This helps prevent growth of any remaining germs and preserves the fresh taste of the milk.
And there you have it! A quart of fresh, delicious goat milk. The milk is placed in the refridgerator or freezer for later use. Flower is put in the kidding pen with her kids during the processing period, then they are all turned out to pasture with the rest of the does and kids for the remainder of the day. Total time from retrieving Flower at the gate to returning her and her kids to the herd: <30 minutes.
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 16, 2013 at 12:05 AM||comments (35)|
Several folks have asked what type of fencing, feed, shelter, etc. are required for Nigerian Dwarf goats. Let's see...fencing should be sound with 2"x4" or smaller openings in wire (cyclone fencing works well also). Fencing is as much to keep predators OUT as to keep the goats in. But the old saying goes..."if a fence won't hold water, it won't hold a goat!". Staking a goat on a rope or chain is not safe...it could easily become entangled or attacked by a roaming neighborhood dog. Nigerian Dwarf goats are sturdy creatures, but are small in stature and hornless (disbudded or polled), and unable to defend themselves against larger predators.
Shelter may be as simple or complex as you want to make it! Minimally, goats should be provided with a roofed, three-sided structure that protects them from rain and cold wind (but allows for air circulation). Nigerian Dwarf goats HATE to get wet...and being housed in damp, drafty conditions can lead to a multitude of health issues including pneumonia, hoof rot, and skin conditions. Even an extra-large dog house can be home for one or two Nigerians.
Goats should have decent quality hay and fresh water available at all times. To keep them in good condition, a small amount of pelleted goat feed should be provided daily. However, as ruminants, they should NOT be overfed with pelleted feed or grain. Also, all feed should be stored securely to prevent their accidently ingesting a large amount at a time. Goats can (and DO!) bloat and die from overfeeding. Loose minerals should be provided free choice.
While this is a brief overview, it should give you a good general idea of how to care for your goat!
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 15, 2013 at 11:00 PM||comments (1)|
When I finished milking this morning I spent some time looking over the goat herd, trying to decide which kids to keep and which kids to rehome. This is always a tough decision for me. There are many characteristics to consider. Body structure and appearance. Anticipated function based on genetics and ancesters' performance. Personality (what good is a milk goat if she is forever contrary or you can't catch her in the pasture?). Every kid has its own special qualities. And then there are the ones who may or may not be the best specimens in your herd, but they have managed to steal your heart and you just can't bring yourself to let them go!
After much head-scratching and soul-searching, I have managed to make some firm decisions and a (short!) list of kids who will be offered for sale when weaned. We also have two year-old bucks that will be available to the right homes. All available animals are healthy, friendly and easily handled. All have been recently wormed and are up to date on vaccinations. All will have ear tattoos for identification. They will be offered with dual registration through AGS and ADGA. Prices range from $50-$250 based on age, sex, pedigree and characteristics.
We will be posting pictures and pedigrees on both our blog and facebook pages. If you are interested in any goat offered for sale, or are searching for a particular goat, please contact us via e-mail, text or facebook message to arrange a visit to our farm.
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 11, 2013 at 9:45 PM||comments (47)|
Our spring kids are growing and healthy...eight little does and three bucks. After the rainstorm last night, they were enjoying the sunshine today.
Dav-Lyn Fiona with her twin does James Hill Cinder Ella and James Hill I'm A Princess (sired by Dav-Lyn Whiskey Sour):
James Hill Gardenia (Pecan Hollow Flower x Rickett's 4 Winchester):
James Hill Mountain Man (front) and James Hill Nightshade (rear). Notice the moonspots on these kids. They are both sired by Rickett's 4 Winchester. So far most of his offspring have at least a few moonspots. Unique!:
Here is the little doe with the unique marking we mentioned in a previous post. James Hill Sierra Leone (LPC Sierra x Rickett's 4 Winchester):
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 11, 2013 at 9:20 PM||comments (1)|
So we completed the new goat barn before the rain started. Last night, we had a weather front move through with lots of lightening, thunder and heavy rain. Congratulating myself for a job well done, I went out on the back porch to give the goats an opportunity to express their appreciation for their new home.
Glancing into the old, cramped, slightly leaky shed, I counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...wait a minute...ALL THE GOATS? A double-check in the new, roomy, dry shed...NOT ONE GOAT? Come on girls, you gotta be kidding me! Go figure!
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM||comments (0)|
The rain is supposed to move in tonight, so we got another early start this morning trying to finish up the goat barn. We worked straight through most of the day, but we completed the construction. Of course, we never would have been finished today if we hadn't had all that supervision from the goats. Goats are suprising adept in construction skills...grabbing for the pliers, chewing on the wire you are trying to cut with the pliers, and butting you frequently in the rear (to keep you motivated and on task, of course).
The barn needs a just couple of items to be completely finished...got to hang a gate-type door and stain the outside walls. We didn't dare start the painting today with rain on the way. It's ok, the goats didn't mind that it wasn't completely move-in ready, they moved in anyway!
And yes, the little kid in the right corner of the barn has a white pattern on her side that looks just like a skull. Better pics of her to follow this week.
|Posted by jameshillgoats on May 8, 2013 at 10:25 PM||comments (0)|
Since we were blessed with an abundance of kids this spring, our herd has outgrown their shelter. For the last month we have been trying to get started on building a new goat barn, and today we FINALLY got the project off the ground.
I drew up the final "blueprints" last week, and the building supply store made our material delivery around 8:30 this morning. We got started early, and had it nearly half completed by 2 in the afternoon. A slight modification in design meant we were a couple boards short, so we called it quits for the day so hubby could make a hardware store run. All in all a satisfactory result for a good days work.
Here's hubby hard at work putting up the front wall. I think the look he was giving me definitely said I should put down that camera, and get back to the task at hand. Come to think of it, shortly afterward he somehow managed to scrape a nick in my knuckle with the power drill. Now I wonder...???