ANZ's Farms

Monday, March 8, 2010

Comings and Goings, and Conventional Wisdom

We went from 3 goats to 11 goats to 4 goats in just three short weeks. What a whirlwind these weeks have been! And an emotional roller coaster ride. My joy has learned new heights watching 8 little baby goats scamper and spring around the goat yard ... learning to playfully butt heads, drink from a bucket, nibble on hay and climb on everything, including each other. All but two of those precious kids have new homes with new moms whose privilege it is to cradle them while bottle feeding them twice a day. Each goodbye was bittersweet, met with a tear in my eye. But the real tears came with the departure of our beloved buck Charly.

Charly is at camp ... or at least that is the way I prefer to think about his living on 11 wonderful acres in Orange County rather than here with me. Thanks to the kindhearted young man that is now Charly's keeper, we have stud privileges when the time comes and can even have him back if/when we move to the country ourselves. He is in a good place with five other goats and is awaiting the arrival of two Nigerian Dwarf does that will be his girls. It's quite possible he may not want to come home again.

The gut-wrenching decision to "get rid" of him niggled at us for days, but the reality of the need crystallized when I had a meltdown while trying to milk one morning. My reluctant-to-be-milked doe was challenge enough, but I was fending off amorous attention from him toward anything with double-X chromosomes, including myself. We tied Charly up in the goat yard for almost two weeks, waiting it out, thinking hormones would level off and peace would eventually be restored. But he remained single minded in his pursuit of passion.  Additionally, he alternated between love and hate with Little One, whom he perceived as a rival for his herd queen (go figure!) and was determined enough that I was concerned he might hurt her. Tied to a post is no way for a strapping young buck to live, so it was clear what we had to do.

A guide to our decision making has been, "What does it look like in nature?" The more natural, the better. We evaluate each recommendation against this rule of thumb, which has led to go against conventional wisdom at times. Conventional wisdom says bucks should not be kept on an urban homestead and does should be housed apart from bucks in separate pens in the rural setting. Reasons given include unwanted mating as well as the buck "aroma" permeating everything including the does' milk. We beat conventional wisdom for the year that Charly was a buckling, but now that he is mature, we have reluctantly seen why it is conventional and wisdom indeed.

While we're on the subject of accepting and rejecting conventional wisdom ... There is one other recommendation on which we are flip-flopping -- disbudding. We followed conventional wisdom and had Charly disbudded. The procedure itself was horrific. Furthermore, misshapen horns grew anyway and had to be ground off when they began pressing into his head. Only after we opted for disbudding did we learn that goats regulate their temperature through their horns. It may not seem like a big deal, but last summer our disbudded-without-any-horns doe panted in the shade while our disbudded-with-a-horn doe lazed comfortably in the sun. With Bella, the doeling we are keeping, our decision is not to disbud. We may regret that decision if horns interfere with milking or she hurts someone, but this is one piece of conventional wisdom we are eager to put to the test.


  1. I have enjoyed reading about your goats. We too are new to the goat world. Our doe just had two beautiful boys. I hate the thought of disbudding too, but we will only because of the safety for all concerned. We will have the vet do it though. He can do a much cleaner job than we can. Our wethers came from Tranquility Acres where Sharon has the vet school come out and do hers and they are beautiful. Of course we also have fans in their stalls. I still hate it though. Our recently sold buck had horns (although the breeder told us he was disbudded) and mixing no horns with horns is not good.
    Enjoy your babies!!!!!

  2. Thanks for posting, Sandy. We went to the vet school for our disbudding and it was still horrific and inadequate. The fan in the goat shed helps, but I think I will clip their coats this summer and see if that helps too.

    Do you have pics of your babies?!

  3. Oh yea, I thought about clipping mine did get almost sweaty feeling. I do you can see a few on my blog I was reading on yours about the TAH thinking about joining.
    I still hate the thought of the disbudding too. I just have a hard time inflicting pain, I can't even manage the shots!!!!

  4. Hey, Just saw your comment on my blog. The land and house are actually not ours. My husband manages rentals and this belongs to his boss. We sold our house (quicker than we thought) so we thought we'd take our time and find "paradise." Have you started your garden yet???