New Babies

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What a pleasant discovery in the pasture on this frosty Sunday morning.

Our goat Aretha had her babies last night–two strapping kids who are already romping around and nursing lustily.

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She’s the first of the does in this pasture to kid. From the looks of the others, they won’t be much longer.

The Dad (Abraham) wasn’t around to witness the arrival of his latest progeny. He’s in the other pasture helping assure another round of kidding in March and April.

We used to be more deliberate about timing the arrival of our kids. But a few years ago I decided to just let the buck run with the rest of the herd. I shuttle him between our two pastures every 3 months or so.

I know there are two different schools of thought on this. Some folks say that it is bad for the does to allow them to breed more than once a year. Other folks say that we should let nature take its course. Some say that from a purely profit-motivation, it’s better to produce 3 sets of kids every two years, rather than two. Others say that the does are stronger and therefore live longer if they only kid once a year, so that in the long run it’s more profitable to limit their breeding.

I didn’t make the change for any of those reasons. When we dedicated a paddock to raising pigs we no longer had it available for the buck, so that was part of my reasoning. I had another paddock we could have put him in, but it seemed to me at the time that it was somewhat unnatural to isolate him from the other goats (even though we always made sure he had company). So I just opened the gates and quit worrying about it.

I wasn’t so concerned about the health of the does at the time. I didn’t know that could be an issue. I was more concerned about the possibility that they’d all start kidding in February, a difficult time for all involved. That does happen sometimes.

I’m still unsure what’s best. For now I’m leaning toward going back to the old system, which also involves keeping the weaned does away from the Billy until they’re at least a year old.

If we make that change, it will be after this round of kidding. In the meantime, we’re enjoying having new babies on the farm.

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27 comments on “New Babies

  1. thesnowwoman says:

    Congratulations! They are lovely, baby goats are the best, they always make me happy when they are being their hilarious little selves.

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  2. Oh, I just love those sweet faces!!

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  3. valbjerke says:

    Although goats are technically seasonally polyestrous (in the wild their strongest heats occur when daylight decreases) they do cycle year round. In the wild the kids are born when adequate nutrition is available to the does. Of course domesticating goats has allowed us to fool with the system as much as we like.
    We used to try to to stick to the ‘wild’ system. I felt it was easier on the does (though maybe that’s just my idea), and I preferred the kids to be born generally around the same few weeks. We kept our buck separated- does can show signs of estrous even when pregnant – and the buck will try and breed them regardless of that. Our buck pulled a Houdini one day and chased down (and pretty much terrorized) a pregnant foe while we were at work. When kidding day arrived, she dropped one, then her uterus prolapsed – fast trip off to the vet to fetch the other kid and fix the doe. I’m not sure if the buck getting loose caused that…..but it couldn’t have helped. 😊

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    • Bill says:

      Good info. Thanks.
      In our old system I would separate the does and kids at 3 months. The kids would go to a pasture reserved for juveniles and retirees. The mamas would go into the buck’s paddock for 4 months, then I’d return them to the main pasture until they kidded again. So we had kids being born all year (although they rarely kid in the heat of summer). That worked fine for us, but if I return to that kind of system I will not wean the kids until 5 months, and I won’t turn the does back in with buck until 7 months after they’ve kidded. That will give them more of a break. The tricky thing is that the little bucklings reach sexual maturity fast. We’ve had kids born at “impossible” times, when the only way it could have happened is if the does were bred by a “kid.” Just yesterday I saw a six month old buckling seemingly performing our buck’s job with one of our does.

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      • valbjerke says:

        Yes it does get fairly convoluted when you have a decent size herd, and they’re all popping out twins, triplets and on occasion quadruplets. A lot to keep track of. We always banded our boys as soon as we were able to get a band on them – well before maturity (I’ve seen them try and perform as young as four months). That solved the extra and rambunctious boy problem…..the doelings, we left on mom until 8 weeks to give them a good start in case I wanted to keep and breed them as well. We tried to hold them until 8 months before we bred them – though if our buck got loose it was game on – he didn’t care how old they were 😊
        I know – there are those out there that don’t agree with banding, or burdizzo for that matter – but when you’ve twenty plus bucklings running amok – things can get out of hand in a hurry.

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      • Bill says:

        We don’t band the bucklings because here the market prefers intact males. When I first started keeping goats I banded the males, because that’s what we did with young bulls and I didn’t know the preference was for intact males. The first time I banded a kid I ended up messing it up though. The band worked, but I hadn’t been careful enough when putting it on. So I ended up with a funny looking, but fully capable, buck. Maybe in the future I’ll separate the bucklings earlier than the does. But thinking about how complicated it could become reminds me of why I stopped bothering. 🙂

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      • valbjerke says:

        Makes sense – here the market dictated banded bucks – thankfully, I can’t imagine how I would have managed otherwise.

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  4. Daniel Wilcox says:

    Have Goat, Will Deliver, the new wild country show:-) (a 60’s TV allusion)

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  5. I do not know anything on this subject. Good luck figuring it all out. The kids are so cute! ❤
    Diana xo

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  6. Joanna says:

    Our ram has been left with the ewes and so we are expecting more lambs – unfortunately we don’t know when and it will possibly be over the worst of the winter. Not doing so well at this sheep breeding business. Oh well! Good job we are not depending on the sheep, but the alpacas. Now we do know approximately when they are due – we think 😀

    Goats are cute when they’re little and yours are especially cute

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    • Bill says:

      Goats seem to prefer kidding in the worst possible weather. I’m glad that this year it looks like we’ll be kidding mostly in December, March and April. Those freezing cold middle of the night in February kiddings aren’t a lot of fun…

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  7. Lovely babies! Our dairy does appear to stop cycling midwinter, and since I want to have a heads’ up on when the babies will drop, I put the buck in for a specific amount of time and then take him out. If someone comes back into heat, I can always let them have a quickie in small pen!

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  8. shoreacres says:

    This is all so interesting. Of course, I came back from my recent trip reading things like the “Corn and Soybean Journal,” so I’m primed for Ag 101. It seems to me that the calculations needed to figure out how many bushels in a pile of milo are much simpler than dealing with these critters. I guess that’s why calendars were invented. 🙂

    Now, here’s what I’m really good at: cooing over baby goats. They’re precious, and I can’t wait to see their little friends-to-be.

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    • Bill says:

      I had hoped we might have so more today, but it wasn’t to be. I was confident Aretha would kid first. Not sure how long the others will make us wait, but you can be sure I’ll share photos when they do. 🙂

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  9. Avery says:

    Good for the soul

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  10. Zambian Lady says:

    The kids look so sweet.

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