Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance, Livestock

Raising Kids

I woke to the soft sound of rain on the roof this morning rather than the commanding bleat of a goat insisting it is milking time.  It was almost 6:30!  I even got to enjoy the bliss of lying in bed for a bit.  Of course there was a price for this enjoyment.  When I went to milk, the doeling still with Hush had basically emptied her of milk, leaving pretty slim rations for her sister, Mocha, whom I have locked away with a buckling that came with them.

Before you accuse me of favoritism, let me explain the method behind my madness (well in this particular instance anyway).  The doeling still with Hush is going to a new home on Sunday and we are keeping Mocha.  In order to make this process easier, and quieter, on all of us, I decided to lock away Mocha to get her used to being away from Hush so when the other doeling is gone, there will be less hollering.  Also, being the larges of the two, Mocha was getting the lion’s share of the milk so this week and a half of extra milk has given her sister a nice boost.  Once the doeling is gone, Hush will be milked twice a day and Mocha will be bottle fed until she is three months or so old.

There are several options when raising dairy goat kids, each with it’s advantages and disadvantages.  The first is to leave the kids on the doe all the time.  The advantage is that the kids get  as much milk as your doe produces.  However; unless your doe is an outstanding producer, and you shovel a lot of feed into her, there won’t be much of any milk left for the house.

Another option is to leave the kids with her during the day and lock them up at night, milking in the morning.  This gives you milk for the house and allow you to only milk once a day when the kids get old enough to take all the day’s milk.  You can even skip a milking and just leave the kids with her all night if you’re going to be gone.  The disadvantage is that the kids loudly protest being locked away from their mother so there’s a concert of bleating every night for a half hour or so.

Finally the kids can be taken from their mother shortly after birth.  I like to leave them for at least two days so they get small meals of colostrum so vital for their health.  This allows you to more closely monitor the doe’s production and  health (a drop in milk production is the first sign something could be wrong).  It also provides you with more milk for the house as you can more carefully ration the amount the kids get.  The doe and the kids protest less since they haven’t spent much time together and you can put the kids back with the doe in a few weeks since she won’t let them nurse at that point.  Of course, you are then locked into milking twice a day no matter what.

My preference is to pull the kids a couple days after birth, as long as there is more than one so it has company.  I try very had to be a good neighbor and loudly crying animals doesn’t fit well with that.  I like to know how my doe is doing as far as production goes and I think their udders last longer.  I didn’t have that option with Hush, since I didn’t have her when the kids were born, so I had to come up with an alternative plan.

I am trading the doeling still with Hush for a registered buckling.  He will also be bottle fed with Mocha and the buckling with her now will be sold.   The registered buckling will then be sold once the does are pregnant this fall.

Life on the homestead is full of hellos and goodbyes.

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