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Best-dressed goat

Personable goat

Never in my life have I spent as much time on personal daily hygiene as I've spent lately grooming our pregnant goat. My goal isn't really to make her look pretty, though. Instead, I Brushing a goathave a couple of more constructive points on my daily agenda.

The first is to keep myself occupied while Artemesia eats her morning and evening ration at a snail's pace. I realized a few weeks ago that Abigail was getting the lion's share of Artie's food (as well as all of her own) since our horned goat eats at lightning speed then bullies our smaller, hornless goat away from the rest of her dinner. So now I lock Abigail out of the goat shed while Artemesia nibbles on her alfalfa pellets and roots.

And even though it sometimes seems like a long time to wait on a busy morning, I'm actually glad Artie is a slow eater. That trait means I won't have to overfeed the doe just to keep her occupied while milking the way I did with Abigail.

First freshener udder

So I brush our goat to keep myself from getting bored while Artie eats, right? Well, not entirely. I'm also trying to get her used to being touched all over long before the kid(s) arrive. I have a feeling that if I'd done this with Abigail, it wouldn't have been such a hassle (especially at first) to drawn down her milk.

Of course, Artemesia is much more malleable and people-oriented than her herd mate already. But even she flinched and tried to tuck her hindquarters the first few times I gently felt at her expanding udder. After a couple of weeks of personal attention, though, she's still not entirely thrilled at being felt up but she accepts it as a necessary part of eating her Feeling for goat kidsdaily carrots.

While I'm messing around down there, I also press up gently on Artemesia's belly. About 90% of the time, Aurora (or her brother) kicks back. I have a feeling that if I was more experienced, I'd be able to guess how many kids are in there using this push test, but I can never seem to remember exactly where the last kick happened well enough to know if more than one kid is nudging its mother's insides.

Goat eating off the edge of the stanchion

If I run out of goat to brush and prod, I move on to giving our darling a pedicure. I'm very glad to see that her hooves are suddenly growing a rate more commensurate with her food intake --- a good sign that the wormer might have licked her parasite problem. The insides of her eyelids might also be getting a little pinker, but that's harder to tell since my camera tends to misread colors in closeups of Artie's dark face.

As you can tell, though, I'm not entirely teaching our first freshener good habits. Once she's done with the food in the stanchion, she moves on to licking out the bowl. Oh well --- a beloved goat needs to be at least a little bit spoiled, right?

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I probably don't need to tell you this, but with no kids to occupy her and your herd size so small, Abigail's reaction to the newcomers may prove less than hospitable at first. Just a heads-up...
Comment by Julie Wed Mar 16 07:21:12 2016

Julie --- Yeah, I'm unfortunately aware of that. Abigail's already been getting meaner to Artemesia --- not sure if it's because of the extra attention and food we're showering on the expectant mother, or just the fact that Artie doesn't want to play as much. Either way, we've decided to keep one of Artemesia's kids (a girl or a wethered boy) and move Abigail to a new home as soon as the kids are born. I think we've got a taker, but if not I'll be posting on the blog soon asking if anyone wants a cheap goat.

Mark's actually inclined to move Abigail on before the kids are born, but I feel like Artemesia would be too lonely. What do you think? Is a mean herd mate better or worse than no herd mate?

Comment by anna Wed Mar 16 10:39:17 2016

Anna, I think you're wise to line up a new home ahead of time, but I wouldn't have her leave until after Artemsia delivers. I'm sure you'll be right on hand to separate them, and no sense stressing her out beforehand. A lone goat is not a happy camper.

Comment by Jule Wed Mar 16 20:00:35 2016
Jule --- That was my gut feeling too. We are prepared to separate them into neighboring pastures if necessary, which should keep the herd instinct sated without allowing the bullying. In the meantime, I'm giving Abigail a bit more attention just in case she's jealous. :-) Thanks for the followup comment!
Comment by anna Wed Mar 16 20:46:28 2016

I am doing exactly the same with my Mary... and for the last week have definitely felt baby movement in there! She is getting less reactive to all the brushing and belly/teat touching.... and jumps right up on the stand waiting for her goodies.
And.... one of my little wethers is bullying her also. It will be harder to place an unregistered wether than a doe like your Abigail, so i really hope we can work it out.

Comment by Deb Wed Mar 16 23:57:32 2016

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