June 28, 2014

The Worst Part Of Keeping Goats

Maybe I should have said, "one of the worst parts of keeping goats," because there are several unpleasant tasks which often must be done. Goatherds would probably mention disbudding, neutering, and weaning. Of the three, I think weaning is the worst. It's traumatic for both kids and mamas, and there is about a week's worth of crying and hollering.

Splash is now one of the big billy boys. 

Weaning amounts to separating the kids from their moms. In our case, it's only the intact boys that get separated, because once they become sexually mature at about 2 months of age, precautions must be taken! Some folks wean bucklings at 2 months old, but I've had problems with that (details in an upcoming post, "A Goat Mystery Solved"). Because of that I like to wait till they're about 3 months to wean, if possible.

The terrible day finally arrived for Splash. Lily's triplets are three months old and being the biggest and strongest, he was getting the lion's share of her milk. Not to mention he was doing the buck thing, which none of the girls appreciated.

Introductions in the buck pasture went fairly well. Neither Gruffy nor Caleb is a bully like Elvis was, so that helped. Of course there was the obligatory macho goat ritual.

They haven't actually been mean to Splash, but they give him a hard time about entering the goat shelter. For his part, I think Splash has done quite well, better than Alphie did. He hasn't backed down from the other bucks, but still cries cried for his mother and the other kids. Alphie carried on so that I fully expected a sheriff's deputy to pull up one day and ask if I was torturing children. But then Alphie was constantly bullied by Elvis.

I still have Zoey's buckling to separate from her when he's old enough, but hopefully he'll take it like a buck, just like Splash.


Harry Flashman said...

I suppose they have to work out their pecking order. It seems to be a ritual common to all mammals, including humans.

Farmer Barb said...

Ah, the buck thing. I try to warn the visitors to the Nature Center that "those goats aren't being friendly. They are sending their scent over to the girls ON YOUR HAND." Most folks don't know that they pee on their faces until they actually see it happen. My daughter was shocked. "Mom, why do they DO THAT?"

Farmer Barb said...

Might I add, that I just love the structural shot of Dan's handiwork. That red shed makes me swoon.

Leigh said...

Harry, that's so true. The pecking order is a reality amongst all species.

Barb, good point about "friendliness". When I sell goats folks will sometimes ask if they're friendly. I usually tell them the are tame (or not so tame as the case may be). And it is shocking the first time one observes the boys scenting themselves for the ladies. When mating season comes, the boys have only one things on their minds and all bets are off when it comes to being human friendly. Even a tame buck forgets his manners.

And we're mighty pleased with that shed! :)

Mark said...

I remember the same thing with calves. Oh the wailing, bawling, pacing, and fretting! Listening to mama and baby you'd think the world was coming to a violent, horrific end. Multiply that times 4 or 5 calves and you have a chorus of despair, wailing out a dirge of bovine agony. It's a good thing to have behind you! It does help when the buck (or bull) is not a bully, though.

We had mostly polled cattle so no debudding was required. Turning little bulls into little steers was a chore we had. With cattle there is non-surgical method, but it still requires a wrestling match. Toward the end of the time he had a herd Dad would sometimes let the little boys grow into bigger boys before summoning my two brothers and I. Then it was definitely 'game on' in the calf pen.

Florida Farm Girl said...

I guess there's testosterone in all of 'em, one way or the other, huh? They'll work it out in a few days, I'm sure.

Sandy Livesay said...


Only about a week of screaming??

Do your neighbors handle the weaning screams well?

The picture of all three of the goats showing who's boss is funny.

Renee Nefe said...

I have to imagine that the crying is somewhat like what I had to endure when I got my cat Beamy (I didn't name her, poor thing!) She cried for hours the first night. When I somehow managed to fall asleep she decided sleep would be a good idea too and curled up at the foot of my bed...only for me to end up kicking her off the bed.
Night #2 she decided to sleep by my head instead. It was safer there. I learned that when I moved out she held another crying concert.
hoping that Little Red takes to the billy barn well for your. and good luck finding a bride for Splash.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the fun of weaning. I usually plan to do it when I'll be gone for a long weekend, so at least I can avoid the worst of it (even if the neighbors can't). Since my boys have all been banded this year I may wean straight into the freezer.

Anonymous said...

Our little doeling cried for her Mumma when she came to us too. Long and loud for days. Now she only calls when it's feeding time and she sees us or we're late and she hasn't seen us. Miss Anna is a bleatless goat. She only mips. Say the word mip and you have made the noise she makes. It makes her a perfect under the radar suburban goat. ;)