Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chick Days and Babies

I had a feeling that morning that Petunia was about to kid. Generally she is anxious to get into the milking stall for her morning grain, but today she only poked at her food briefly before wanting to be let out of the gate. I snapped this picture "before", anticipating that I would be taking "after" photos shortly.

And, sure enough, within 4 hours I found these:

Two perfect, little girls!

When kids are born here on the farm, we take them from their mothers immediately. We then milk the nannie and bottle feed her colostrum to the babies. This is a controversial subject to some, but we've found that kids that stay with their moms are much more skiddish and afraid of people than bottle raised babies. This makes it much more difficult for doctoring, hoof trimming and eventually selling.  If a baby is removed immediately after birth, rather than waiting several days for them to nurse free choice on colostrum, there is little bonding between mother and child therefore less trauma and separation anxiety. The kids are kept at a great enough distance, sometimes in the house depending on the weather, that the mom can't hear if a baby cries, and within a short time she has forgotten about her babies.

  Newborn goats use a different technique to suckle from their mother than drinking milk from a bottle so we try to have their first nursing experience to be on a bottle. If we succeed, learning to bottle feed is almost instant, but if we've delayed and they have already latched on to their mama's teat, then it takes a bit more time for them to figure out how to drink from a bottle. Their tongue placement is different and it is quite humorous to watch them sticking their tongue out the side of their mouth trying to learn the baby bottle technique. Once they have it though, they don't forget and their little tail wags a mile a minute as they guzzle first mom's colostrum and several days later, her milk.

  We NEVER feed replacement milk! I can't convey how strongly I feel about the use of  substandard, inferior, powdered product to feed baby goats so that the breeder can use the fresh goat milk for other uses.
We understand that it takes about $300. worth of actual goat milk @ $2.00/quart, to bring one goat to the 12-16 week weaning stage of its development; a chance for most goats to achieve health, vigor and the beginning of the reumening process of digestion of grasses and leaves, and unfortunately many growers are swayed by the bottom line profit aspect of raising and milking goats.  Our concern is to raise the healthiest goats possible so our babies receive their mom's colostrum and later milk, fed at three to four hour intervals for 12-16 weeks.

So, here they are, three days later, twin girls yet unnamed, arriving at Chick Days at Mid South Lumber in Youngstown.

This is the second year we've been invited to Chick Days. This year, set-up day, the day before, brought 6 inches of rain all day which dampened our ability to pre-prepare.  Saturday dawned with ground level clouds spitting moisture everywhere!  We sat in the truck on site contemplating whether or not we'd stay.  Die hards that we are, we stayed.

Our booth consisted of three pens of goats: milkers, sale goats and babies, tables of heirloom vegetable plants, a goat milk soap and farm fresh egg table, a milking game for the kids, our milking stand for demonstrations and a spot to pass out samples of fresh milk and cheese and to demopnstrate the art of making and hanging Chevre (goat) cheese.

What a show we had.  My husband, Bob is the ultimate showman, calling in spectators and game players with his booming, circus style, "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.... STEP RIGHT UP FOR THE WORLD FAMOUS, AMAZING...." be it milking goat, or milking game startups and countdowns all day long.  I was busy at the milking stand helping children feed babies or milking mamas, while Samantha and Nan gave out and sold product, answered questions and visited with spectators.  Joel helped with set up and breakdown.  Here are some pictures of our day's adventures:

By the end of this fun filled day we were bushed, and happy to head home.

So were our new babies!

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