ANZ's Farms

Monday, December 28, 2009

We're Expecting for Sure! (Part 2)

Part of good animal husbandry is preparing for the needs of your animals. We are as ready as I know how to be for kidding. The "kidding room" has been built in the goat shed, the supplies are gathered and on hand, and a list of last minute items has been written. I even bought one-sie pajamas to help me stay warm if she delivers during the night.

When you have an urban homestead instead of a goat farm, you have to be creative with your space and resources. Ideally, we would have a buck pen separate from the does, a kidding area and pen for separating bottle-fed kids from their mothers. But when you only have one buck, one goat shed and the possibility of a single kid, ideals give way to practicality. Goats are herd animals and should never be isolated from other goats. So, our kidding room is space in the goat shed partitioned by straw bales (pictured right). It affords privacy and heat-retention for mom and babies. Charly, our buck, has taken to sleeping on top, so it has actually increased the space inside the shed. Should he get in the way during kidding, he will be relegated to the goat yard ... as long as the gate holds him out. Hopefully, Mamma, our other doe who has birthing experience, will be on hand to assist as needed.
The kidding kit in the shed has towels for drying; a suction thingie for clearing airways and noses; string, clean scissors and betadine for the umbilical cord; and pen and paper, among other things. The supplies gathered in the house for ready access include the camera, flashlight, emergency care kit (purchased from Caprine Supply Co), colostrum powder, nipples for bottle feeding, more towels, and a blanket for me. Nearby is a list of last minute items like cell phone, warm water with molasses, and raisins for snacks (for the goat. I'll use the cell phone to call my husbnad for snacks for me :) ).  The outbuilding has a new delivery of straw so that the bedding can be replaced afterward. Even the dog crates have been brought down from the rafters in the garage if there be need to bring a weak kid inside.
In addition to supplies, we have had decisions to make in preparation for kids. Will we bottle feed or allow the kids to nurse? Our plan is to allow the kid(s) to nurse for the first four days. They need colostrum for health and strength, and nursing can help the doe become used to milking. Then we hope to bottle feed them her milk for about eight weeks until they are weaned. Bottle-fed goats are friendlier and easier to handle. What about disbudding? Having observed Charly's disbudding, I don't ever plan to put another animal through that horrific ordeal. Maybe once I have a goat with horns, I will change my mind. There are legitimate reasons to disbud, especially dairy goats, but I will need to be convinced. What about castrating the males? That decision can be postponed until we see what sex the kids are and what the people who get her offspring want. Wethers make good brush clearers.

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