The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Supplies for kidding and milking

Brown goat

Goat bellyWe don't know when or if Abigail is due --- could be early February, could be early March, or could be never. But I figure it's far better to be prepared for something that might not happen rather than being caught without supplies when kids start popping out.

To that end, we had three major decisions to make. The first choice was already decided by my weak wrists --- carpal tunnel means that an automatic milker was a necessity. We ended up choosing the Dansha Farm model due to good reviews and low price, and realized in the process that we won't have to buy a milking pail and strainer after all since the milk stays clean with an automatic milker and goes right into a glass jar.

The other two decisions were thornier --- do we buy supplies for castrating males and for disbudding both sexes? Our goal is to eat any male kids, which means we won't need to castrate them --- here's hoping the cuteness quotient won't hold us back when the time comes. (As a halfway house, we may take the kids to the packing plant to be dispatched if we want the meat but can't quite stand to pull out the knife.)

Horned vs. hornless goat

As for disbudding, Mark does prefer our hornless goat, but he also isn't keen on the act of disbudding (and he knows that the unpleasant task would inevitably fall to him). Since Abigail is a mutt goat whose female kids probably won't have too much value, we decided to skip the disbudding process and plan to eat any of her girl children along with any males. After all, the kids' value as pastured meat for us is probably greater than the cash value they'd bring on the open market.

Queen of the ashes

Decisions made, we can now sit back and wait and hope. In the last couple of days, Abigail's right side (where babies go) has suddenly started to look more like her left side (where hay goes)...or maybe that's just wishful thinking. Either way, Artemesia is still regaling us with kid-like cuteness and sweetness, so I guess we'll survive even if Abigail didn't get knocked up, although we would miss a spring full of milk.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Cattle can be dehorned with a band placed around the base of the budding horn. They can be castrated with a similar device.
Comment by Errol Fri Jan 2 09:01:02 2015

I've read that if you don't want to bottle raise the kids, one of the easiest ways to share milk is to let the kids have access to mom all day, then separate them at night and milk first thing in the morning, then put them back together for the day.

Will you be using a system like this, or bottle feeding, or something completely different?

Comment by Rae Sun Jan 4 13:38:53 2015
Rae --- I was thinking of following that system at the moment (although we haven't separated up the coop yet into two stalls to make it possible). Good reminder that there's one more thing to prepare! :-)
Comment by anna Sun Jan 4 15:58:40 2015
Hello Anna, I keep a milk goat and eat her babies, and my experience is that castration is a must. The boys will breed their mom much sooner than you think and you'll have next year's kids in January. They can successfully breed through a fence. Even if you keep them separate, the uncastrated males will come into rut and make for stinky meat and sometimes an off flavor in the milk just by being close. Banders are cheep and seem to work fine, even if it takes a while for the nuts to drop off. Cutting is probably better. As for disbudding, it is awful. Good luck!
Comment by Anonymous Mon Jan 5 14:04:57 2015

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