We’ve had a rough month with these goats. You can tell we’re novices. We just got last week’s bottle babies back out to the barn, and now we’ve got another one taking up residence in our kitchen.
It turns out, having three bottle babies is about as expensive as smoking, maybe even more so, at least if you feed them cow milk instead of goat milk. They’re hungry little critters, and milk is around $4 or 5 a gallon – which only lasts a day or two. We could try milking Saff and maybe even Missy, but they are feeding their own babies, and I don’t want to place too many demands on their systems just yet – dairy animals will produce milk at the expense of their own health, and the last thing I need right now is for my two passable mommas to get sick! Plus, milking would entail me getting up half or three quarters of an hour earlier, like 5am, when I’m already having fun trying to get enough sleep, and dealing with goats in the cold and dark before going to work. Yuck.
Missy’s boy (the one who collapsed last week) is up and about and being a total nuisance, but we never did convince her to accept him back, even though she seems happy enough nursing his sister. He went back out to the barn yesterday, though, thank goodness.
Silly rejected her doeling right from the outset, and was actively attacking her whenever she got close at all, so she came in the house for a week to be bottle fed and brought up to speed. She is also back out in the barn, now, rather than tap dancing in my kitchen.
We thought we were done with that, as Skye, our last doe to kid, is fairly placid and calm, rather than skittish like Missy or pushy like Silly. We thought she would be a good mom for sure. She gave us a cute little doe on Sunday night, but has not been allowing her to nurse. Skye has not been feeling well – she has the runs and her vulva is still very swollen from the birth, so we thought maybe we could just limp things along until everyone was feeling better, and hoped that Skye would become a little more accepting as she got back to normal, but it doesn’t appear to be working. Skye is getting her energy back and starting to look better, but she’s also getting more active about kicking the doeling off when we force her to allow it to nurse. Bleh. So the little one is in the kitchen, as we speak.
I’m afraid we’ll have to cull Silly – between her teat deformity and her aggressive lack of interest in mothering, she’s really no use to us, and we cannot, in good conscience, sell her on to anyone else. The breeder had suggested it right from the outset, but we wanted to give her a chance – if she had turned out to be a passable mother, we might have kept her. Unfortunately, Silly didn’t get the memo.
Next year, we’ll do a better job of managing breeding. No more February babies for us – it’s just too cold, and too dark, and too much of a hassle hauling bottles out to the barn 3 or 4 times a day when it’s -15 and dark and blizzarding. It’s hard on the kids, too, and there’s been a lot of frozen ears around here. I think we’ll shoot for late April, or even May, if we can breed the does that late.
Next year, we’ll have all the towels and flashlights and thermometers and bottles and nipples ready a couple of weeks before the earliest expected due date, whether we think the goats were bred or not. I will also learn how to give injections, and will have a few medications on hand. Apparently, I also need to stock up on Preparation H, as I have been informed it’s the best cure for swollen bits of pretty much any type, on several species.
Next year, we’ll have a vet who deals with goats lined up in advance.
Next year, we’ll have a herd name and tattoo registered with the breeder’s association. We could sell one or two of the bottle babies, but we can’t sell them as registered until we get our own registration, plus our tattoo. We don’t have tattoo equipment lined up yet anyhow, but it’s frustrating to think that we could sell these babies for good money, plus let someone else assume the cost of bottle feeding, had we only been a little more organized back in January. I’d hate to let them go for unregistered prices, with the pedigrees they have (and how much their parents cost), so I guess we’re stuck with them, for now.
Next year, I won’t be pregnant and awkward and exhausted and too ungainly to comfortably bend down to assess what’s going on with a goat who is in labor or having problems nursing. Barn smells won’t turn my stomach, and I will be out there more regularly, monitoring what’s going on. Plus, I won’t be so worried about getting kicked in the belly by a goat who’s unhappy with me fiddling with her rear end or udder.
As usual, this goat business has come with a steep learning curve…