March 5, 2019

Introducing New Kids to the Herd


I was asked a question recently, about when to introduce new kids to the rest of the herd. It's a good question, because there are a number of variables: herd dynamics, individual personalities, and the dam's mothering style.


I like to leave mothers and their new kids in the kidding stall for their first couple of days. New mothers, especially, need to learn who these tiny creatures are and bond with them. The stall isn't out of sight from the other goats so there's no herd separation anxiety for the new mother. They can see and smell one another and it gives everyone a chance to become familiar with the kids.


This also gives new babies time to learn how to use their legs and get around. They need to be steady enough on their feet and able to run out of the way of any adult who is trying to teach them their manners. Learning their manners includes learning which teats are acceptable to nurse from and which are not! With so much access to milk at eye level, it's a lesson that needs to be learned.

For their first outing, I like to wait until the others are out grazing and then let Mama and her babies out of their stall. That gives them the chance to explore and become familiar with the common area.




When it comes to meeting the rest of the herd, I supervise introductions.


I want to observe how the other adults react to the new babies and how well their mother will protect them. I've had does that let others butt their kids around, and I've had does who butt everybody else away before they can get anywhere near their kids.

Some adults are gentle with kids. They push rather than butt them away. Other adults are rough and rude with the kids, so I'm always on the lookout for bullying. The kids learn quickly and soon know who's way to stay out of.


I also keep an eye on the older kids because they tend to play rough and need to be supervised. Eventually the newbies know how to stay out of the way.


I keep these first times pretty short. If Mom wants to go out to graze, I'll put the babies back in their stall until she's back. They sleep a lot their first week or so and don't miss her while she's out with the others. I keep the adults out of the empty stall during this time, and I'll put mama and the kids back in it for several more nights.


I don't know if it's necessary, but I feel better knowing they can't get too far from their mother at first. Once everybody knows who's who and what's what, they don't need that anymore. Then it's just regular goat business as usual.


19 comments:

Goatldi said...

Just perfect. Pretty much what I do except I tend to keep them in with Mom for length of time determinate to how old the kids are to how seasoned the Dam is. First freshening does get a longer solitary with kids then those who on the 5th kidding.

Wonderful illustrations of how to prevent disasters as opposed to damage control which can often end up in Dams who reject their kids. Love those airplane ears way too cute!

Leigh said...

Goatldi, yes, good point. First-timers generally need more bonding time. We learn most of it from experience!

Kristina said...

Oh they are so cute. You have daffodils in bloom. I can't wait for our spring to arrive.

Sam I Am...... said...

How interesting. I never thought of that but I guess it's the same with most animals and I would be protective of those little cuties. Just like people with different 'parenting styles'.

Ed said...

The one thing I disliked about pigs is that when they gave birth out with the rest of the herd, the newborns were often killed by the others. Do goats do this? Because of this tendency, we were pretty religious about separating the sow from the others at least several days before she was expected to give birth. Unlike goats though, we rarely introduced them back to the herd. They stayed with mama until weaning and then were segregated into areas with others the same age. Occasionally when we didn't have room, we had an overflow pen where several sows and piglets could mingle and we did similar introductions like what you described.

Retired Knitter said...

They are so darn cute - even the adults. I am such a fan of goats. I had to laugh a bit - since goat introductions aren't that much different than introducing one indoor cat to another. it has to be done carefully. Once cats decide they don't like another cat - that decision is ... well ... like permanent! Done right it works.

Leigh said...

Kristina, yes, love those daffodils! Looking forward to the cold being over. :)

Sam, it's interesting, isn't it? It's amazing the range of personalities that can be found in any one herd!

Ed, I don't think that's common amongst goats, but I won't say it never happens. Like people, some goats are downright bullies. I hear of it occasionally on various goat lists and forums I belong to. Personally, I cull bullies. I won't have any animal that deliberately damages others. Interestingly, they are sometimes much happier with a different herd and that alone can change their personalities.

RT, two of our cats are like that! They took a distinct dislike of one another from day one and the war continues years later. With goats, it's often the pecking order. They have a strict social order and the goats on the bottom don't seem to be very well liked by the others. Sad, but true.

Rose said...

I did not know any of this with goats...just figured they were like cows. But when you think about it, it makes sense cause they have such personalities. I did enjoy learning this.

wyomingheart said...

Those little darlin's are so very precious, and I would be like and ole Mother Hen...watching their every move... I know that's just not practical, and you have a very good practice with the introductions. Thank you.

Cockeyed Homestead said...

My daffodils are frozen. Waiting for the thaw for them to die and fall off. :o( Do goats eat them?

Leigh said...

Rose, my only experience with a milk cow was without a calf, so I have no idea about them! Just like people, dogs, and cats, each goat is very unique. :)

Wyomingheart, that's why I take so many pictures! LOL

Jo, thankfully goats don't eat daffodils! They're toxic, so if they thought they were food I'd be in trouble! Here's hoping for milder weather soon!

Chris said...

It's greening up nicely in your pastures. A bet everyone is loving it out there. I also think your goats udders look really productive! So you must get a lot of milk. A good time of year to plan the goats milk menu! Like cheese making.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Baby Goats. There may be nothing cuter in the world.

Seeking Serenity said...

awww this is wonde.... DAFFODILS!??!!! green grass!!?? Oh My that just looks delightful like Hope, there's hope of such things coming!!

Kris said...

Honestly, coming from a typical dysfuntional family, it would have been great if someone had normalized ME at a young age! LOL Glad the kids are getting off to a nice start and a good welcome to the herd.

Debbie - Mountain Mama said...

The baby goats are absolutely adorable!!!

Leigh said...

Chris, that green makes me so happy. Our mild winter has helped, for sure, but I feel relieved that all my efforts at pasture improvement are finally getting somewhere.

TB, baby goats, kittens, and puppies!

Serenity, yes daffodils! Our first sign of spring. And very welcome because it's still too cold out for comfort. :)

Kris, ha! Who came from a functional family??? ;) What happened to your blogs? Your comment name doesn't link to them anymore.

Debbie, it's my favorite time of year because of them. :)

Powell River Books said...

Love your field of daffodils. Mine will most likely be dead by the time I get home later this month. We've been gone for two months now. That's the longest we've been away since I was caring for my mother six years ago. - Margy

Leigh said...

Margy, all those daffodils are such a bright spot every spring. Dan thinks they're "useless," but I tell him beauty is "priceless!" LOL