March 13, 2014

Well Ladies, Who's Gonna Be First?




Assuming my girls all settled, the first due date should be Surprise on or around March 26. She's the only one with a set date because she had only one visit with Hooper. Lily went into heat shortly after that, giving her a first potential due date of March 29. She seemed to go into heat again, however, so my calendar has a few more possibilities. Ditto for Ziggy whose first potential due date is April 9.

I do breed late with April and May being my preferred kidding months. I know a lot of folks start kidding in January and February, but I think those months are too cold. I don't really know why folks start their season in winter except, perhaps, so that the doelings can be bred the following fall. Does anyone have a good rationale to share? I'll stick with later kidding because every year there are sad stories about hypothermic kids. Some make it and some don't. I just want my kids to have the best chance possible, and staying warm is one way I can help do that.

So, two more weeks! Hopefully it will be happy and uneventful.

Ziggy says, "I'll never tell."


Mama Pea said...

I'd say the only sure thing is that you've got three pregnant goats there!

Anonymous said...

Have a nice day with your pet ones. You will be busy with them for the following months!

Sarah said...

Ziggy kind of has a smug I have a secret look too! Just last week I was reading a sad tale of a hypothermic goat that didn't make it. I like your stance of giving them the fighting chance with warm weather!

Felecia Cofield said...

Hi Leigh! Our goats have just gotten bred for the first time. They should be due sometime in July. Is there anything wrong with kidding in summer? I hope it won't be too hot for them. But they are Nigerian goats from Africa, so...probably not. I guess the hard part will be to keep the milk cool after I begin milking. I love reading your blog! It is so informative! Thanks for sharing! Blessings from Bama!

Danni said...

Hi Leigh!! Your goat mamas are beauties and I can't wait to see their kids! How fun that must be - its been quite some time since there were any babies at my farm.
Thanks for your very kind comment yesterday - it felt like a big hug.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I'm with you on kidding and lambing in late spring. Mind you our goats never came into season until mid October and we wold wait until their second season to mate them, which worked out pretty well. Sheep on the other hand tended to come into season sooner,so we would wait before we put the ram in with them. I hate to see the little lambs shivering in the snow and ice when they are born at new year. I appreciate that the farmer will get a better price for the earlier lamb, but in a harsh winter he risks losses or loss of condition.
Looking at your plumptious does makes me long to be keeping goats again.
Our next door neighbour will be lambing in four weeks and I am hoping he will need my help (selfish I know!)

The Cranky said...

Goodness, this is odd, your blog isn't showing on my feed list all the time even though I'm still following you...I'd been missing you and thought I'd come by to check on you. So glad I did!
Hope you're well and that you've made it through this bleak winter.

Willow said...

All the best with the kids !

Anonymous said...

I used to breed much earlier than I have for the last few years. Mostly it's for showing. It's hard to be competitive when my lambs and kids were several months younger than the competition (since so many judges seem to think that bigger is better). Unless there were other health issues I rarely had problems with weather related deaths; as long as the babies have a full tummy and shelter available they are much hardier than most people think. It's the same reason I shear before lambing/kidding - if mom is cold she's more likely to seek the shelter to have her babies and to tuck them someplace warm afterwards.

Just posted about the surprise in my barn last night...

Su Ba said...

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago and far, far, that's a fairy tale......Many years ago when I had a half dozen Alpines for milking, I use to breed for early kids. The reason-- the Easter meat market. There was a New York buyer who swung through New Jersey just before Easter in order to supply the New York City demand for young kids. So just about everyone sold their excess kids to him. He paid by the pound, so we tried to get a few extra weeks of growth on them.

Nowadays I wouldn't do that, but back then we were newly married and needed the cash.

...Su Ba ,

Carolyn said...

We bred for early kiddings because the Boer kids were being given to the Ag. students at school to show at the County Fair....and like others have already stated, they like them to be older by time Fall Fair time comes around.

We will never, at least on purpose, do that again. We had all but two of our dairy & meat does kid in late February and it was too darned cold. Lost one to hypothermia and we were constantly worried about the other kids. I like the late March & early April kiddings best and we'll go back to that.

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

Looks like Ziggy might be having twins. Hope all goes well with the kids.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I've been cautious in my predictions ever since the summer of 2012 when I thought my girls were bred but hadn't been! Things are looking pretty positive this year, however, :)

Weekend-Windup, there's no "chore" more delightful than baby kids!

Sarah, Ziggy is a hoot, isn't she? I've gotten some good answers to my question (below), but I'll still stick to warm weather kidding!

Felecia, you should do just fine with a July kidding! In fact, one plan is to breed goats to kid at different times of year to keep a constant supply of milk going. It's tough when all does have to be dried up at the same time. In summer months, I'd be thinking ahead about keeping flies away during labor and delivery. To keep milk cool I keep a large bucket with a frozen lunch box cooler in the bottom and milk into wide mouth quart jars, which fit into the big bucket and stay cooler until I get back to the house. (I'm not sure that makes much sense, so maybe I'll do a blog post with pics one day!)

Danni, so good to hear from you! I hope to have baby goats to show off soon!

Gill, thank you for that. It makes sense but makes me kinda glad we aren't in the lamb meat market. And I, too, hope your neighbor needs help with his lambing!

Jacqueline, so good to hear from you! Feed readers lost me when I moved my domain name from google. I'm still here and still busy!

Willow, thanks!

Sue, thanks for the input! That makes sense and I hope it does to other readers too.

Su Ba, yes, the need to make a living often makes the decisions for us! It's nice you had a buyer for those kids. I wish we had that around here.

Carolyn, your blog post about that confirmed my late kidding preferences. I prefer late baby chicks as well!

Fiona, Ziggy likely will have at least two. Last year she carried four! But she was a whole lot bigger. Of course, she may not be due for awhile yet!

anonymous said...

Our reason for kidding in winter months is to prevent the kids from dying of coccidiosis. Around these parts you can lose half your newborns in the warmer months but they do just fine at 20 below wind chill with a shelter. I have never had to use coccidia medication on kids born in the winter months.

Leigh said...

Anonymous, I was wondering whether or not someone would mention cocci. I'm curious as to whether the kids you mention are raised on their mothers or bottle fed, and when they were weaned. The only times I've had trouble with cocci has been with kids weaned too early. All the kids that have been given mother's milk until 4 or 5 months of age have never gotten it. I'm not jumping to any conclusions, it's just something I've observed on my own small scale and would love to explore further.

Renee Nefe said...

I think I need a goat role call.

Oh and I think Ziggy will probably go late again. ;) She seems to like taking care of her babies on the inside.

Farmer Barb said...

You mentioned deciding on the criteria for culling. Who is staying and who is going? Will the line of your Kikobians be served by Alphie with all the other fellas getting the Craigslist appointment or the butcher?

Dar said...

The only think I know about the goat family is that they are just as resilient as sheep when it comes to the weather....even in our cold snow country of 6 mths or more, the sheep have always done fine in inclimate weather when lambing season (Feb-Mar) came have acquired quite the knowledge and by your grounds, it doesn't look like you have bitter weather.
Good luck with your newbies...only an uneducated guess I'd say Surprise or Ziggy. Can't wait for the announcement.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Ziggy looks like she is harboring quads in there, didn't she have quads last year? All of the above reasons are good for why difference in kidding dates, also pasture is another consideration to think about. I have pasture now, yet some farms are still snow bound right now. I don't want lambs/kids in summer, grass is gone, and it is too hot. It is one of those things dependent on purpose, marketing or personal preference.

Unknown said...

I am so excited to be back on baby watch with you and your gang! Ziggy looks gigantic... again. Your coop looks great and I'm sure your girls will love it.

We're getting ready for goats over here, finally and I can hardly stand it! So excited. I looked at a ND yesterday and going to visit some Nubis today. I am pretty sure now that I'll get a dairy goat baby and fiber baby. I would love to hear your thoughts on these two dairy breeds and if you have info on a fiber goat. Thanks Leigh

tpals said...

It's fun being able to experience goat births vicariously through your blog. I'd probably wait for later in the spring myself. That's why I'm holding off a couple more weeks before putting eggs in the incubator.

anonymous said...

All dam raised with the exception of a few rejected ones bottle fed mom's milk. We experience that most get coccidiosis before 8 weeks of age, so well before weaning age. Perhaps just this region of the Midwest, as all the other goat breeders in this area that I have talked to have cited the same reason for winter births. It could be some people need them ready for 4H in the spring also.

Frank and Fern said...

I look forward to seeing how your kids turn out, Leigh.

We like to have kids around the first of March, generally. I have found that kids born in warmer weather don't develop as quickly as kids born in the cooler months. By the time April and May roll around here, the worm population is also at it's peak spring emergence.

We have had kids in December a couple of times without any problems. In fact, the kids seem to thrive quite well. We do not have power to the barn, so we don't provide any additional heat, only hay for bedding and warmth.

I have found that there are just about as many ways to raise animals as there are people. Hope all goes well for you.


Anonymous said...

Babies!!! Can't wait to see them

Bill said...

It makes good sense to kid when it's warmer. We lost a lot of kids this winter.

I used control kidding, but always have allowed it year round. I'd wean the kids at 3 months and put the mama in with the buck then, regardless of what time of year it was. My thinking was that we could get 3 kiddings every 2 years that way.

Last year I just opened the gates and let them breed when they want to. That ended up putting almost all of our kidding into January and February, which was brutal. I'm not sure why nature sets it that way. I'm expecting that these mamas will next kid in the fall, however. Maybe we'd be better to just let them kid every April, but that's our reasoning, for better or worse.

Leigh said...

Renee, she just might! She just started huffing and puffing today, so we're getting closer!

Barb, culling depends on goals. I would like to have two Kikobian bucks for genetic diversity. Of course they will eventually need to be replaced, but for now that would give me several years without having to worry about weakening my line genetically. That means we'll keep Alphie for a few more years and hopefully we'll get another buck this spring. That means eventually I'll sell my Nubians as well as Kiko Hooper. And I've decided to sell Rosie because she has 4 teats. That's not an issue for meat goats, but since I want dairy too, she's not a good choice. We still have quite a bit of chevon in the freezer, so I'd rather have the sales at this point.

Dar, we do seem to be having an early spring! Our winter was the coldest in a long time and all our pasture went dormant, so we had to resort to more hay than usual. Unfortunately, spring rarely lasts long and summer will be here all too soon!

TL, Ziggy seems to be growing daily! Good point about summer heat and pasture. It is interesting to see how our regional differences affect how we manage our livestock. There's always something interesting to learn.

Jen, that's so exciting! I have both Nubians and a Nigerian Dwarf and have liked the breeds pretty well. Nubians do tend to be very vocal (and dramatic) but they do give good milk. My ND gives the richest milk, but in smaller quantities. She also doesn't stay in milk for as long. I've never had an angora so I can't tell you much about them except I think they are the most beautiful goats in the world!

Tpals, hello and welcome! I do agree with you about the weather and chicks. I much prefer warmer weather too. We got our first chicks in February and it took a lot to keep them warm.

Anonymous, thank you so much for following up. To you and Fern both, I appreciated your answers. They support something I've been thinking about for awhile now; that is, that our animal keeping should not be based on a system, but rather, on a relationship to the land. By knowing our individual problems we can best adapt our techniques to solve them. A secondary consideration would be relationship to community, economically as sales and also for education, such as 4-H which was also mentioned.

Stephanie, hopefully soon!

Bill, interesting! Thank you for joining the conversation. Seems experience is key to all the answers given.

Unknown said...

Thanks Leigh. How much milk on average would you say you get from your ND's? I'm still trying to figure out which way to go as in another year or so it will just be me and the music man...So if I get a baby by the time I breed I'll only need milk for 2.

Leigh said...

Jen, I've had three ND does. The best milker only gave about a cup and a half twice per day. The other two would give me about a cup per milking each. I sold the two smallest ones because their udders were too small for my hands. It was hard to milk them. Ziggy is the biggest so I kept her, even though she doesn't give a lot. Very sweet, creamy milk.

From my Nubians I've gotten anywhere from half to a full gallon per day.

Unknown said...

Okay thanks friend that's what I am hearing. We don't drink cows milk but we love cheese and yogurt! I was thinking the Nubi might give me to much milk for 2 people but 1c of ND doesn't sound like i'll be able to make very much. I'm also concerned about utter size. I have big man hands haha. Thanks again for your input I knew you could verify my info :).

By the way I'm so happy to be back on baby watch with you! Ziggy is gigantic.... again lol

Leigh said...

Jen, here are a couple more things to consider. There will be several dry months before kidding, so if you keep only one goat in milk you'll have a milkless period every year. My primary cheese is mozzarella, so I make plenty ahead of time, grate it, and freeze it for that time (alas no yogurt or kefir, however).

Also, think about what you want to feed the kid(s). Unless you want to buy milk or milk replacer (not recommended), then you'll be sharing the milk with them. Last year Ziggy was only able to make enough milk for two of her triplets. I bottle fed the third from Surprise's milk. In other words, I got no milk from Ziggy last year. Surprise supplied it all.

If you go with the NDs, you can keep two in milk but breed them at different times of year so you have a constant supply.

Any goat(s) you buy can be sold later if they don't work out! I've had goats come and go. Purebred does sell well, especially if they are in milk or come with a "free" kid.

Do keep me posted on your goat adventure!

Leigh said...

P.S. Extra milk can be fed to somebody! Dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, etc. So can whey. :)

Michelle said...

I try to schedule my kiddings for early March. Having kids before insect populations grow is important to me because those bugs cause disease and irritation. I also like early March babies because they are ready to be weaned around the end of May/early June, when I get out of school. This works perfectly for me to have a glut of milk right when I start to have time for cheesemaking.