Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Random thoughts / Goat advice from Shirleen

There's no pictures today. Yesterday kept me on my toes, so I didn't get to take a noon and night pic. More of that tomorrow, then.

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I went to the chiropractor yesterday, and all he found out of alignment was my left foot. I'm not sure how to feel about that! My back has been really achy lately, and my foot has hurt so badly that I haven't wanted to walk far on it. So far today, my foot feels great, but my right knee is twinging. I'm thinking that after a few days everything will settle back in. Cue: "The Old Grey Mare" ;)

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Yesterday on her blog, Maren wrote about organization, which got me thinking about my own style of organization. (This is a link to a blog post I wrote about organization on Aug. 30,2010

I feel like my life is fuller than it has ever been. I also feel that the way I am currently reacting to my life is hazardous to my health.

I forget things, like the simple name of an object (like "table") often. For me, it is a good indicator that my life is out of balance.

My goal is to determine what can change and what can't. From there, I will determine what I need to do to keep my balance: more freetime? more balanced meals? more time to meditate? to delegate some responsibilities? and simply trying to not worry about the stuff that I can't change or do anything about.

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Today a good friend of mine called after hearing what a hard time I'm having milking a first time mama goat that lost her baby.

Mama's udder/bag is very small as are her teats. Her milk hasn't let down, and we have only gotten enough milk to cover the bottom of the bucket.

So, Regina called me on her home phone and had Shirleen, her mother, on her cell phone to ask questions to and give advice from. It ended up that Regina gave me Shirleen's number and I called her directly. (Thanks Regina & Shirleen! :)

It was a great discussion! I'll let you in on some of the knowledge that she gave to me:

Feed hay to goats always. (I knew this - If they can roam and eat, even better, but for me, I have to buy the hay to feed.) They need the roughage to keep their bodies working right.

For 2 weeks before estimated deliver and 2 weeks after delivery, feed them sweet feed. The molasses gives them necessary minerals.

After 2 weeks, change to 16% dairy feed. They need the extra protein to produce milk.

Feed 1-2 cups of the feed (sweet or dairy) at milking times. For a pregnant, first time mama, put her in the stanchion to feed her the grain, so that she can get used to the stanchion and won't fight it come time to milk.

Feed a cupful of 16% dairy feed every day, even if they aren't being milked just for added nutrition.

When goat is freshened, keep record of how much total milk she gives during the day. The amount will fluctuate in the first 2 weeks, but thereafter it will remain pretty consistent. A great milk goat will give about a gallon a day. A good milk goat will give about 1/2 gallon. (I could kick myself that I got rid of Nanny a few years ago. She was an excellent mama and a great milk goat. She was awful to milk though!)

Milk the mama goat 3 times a day for the first 2 weeks, building up the milk supply, and just twice a day thereafter.

When milking a first time mama, the bag and teats will be very firm. They will soften up with time. A mama with her babies will have her bag hit by the baby's head to soften it, and they pull the teat to lengthen it to be easier to nurse on. When you are milking a first time mama, be gentle, but stretch the teat a little each time you milk to stretch it to size. For instance, I can only get one finger around my mama's teat, and her baby died. It is up to me to make the teat easier to milk. Gently pull on the mamas teat until you can see resistance on the bag. Each milking, as you milk, try and stretch the teat a little. Be gentle though, because her blood vessels are very tender. If you see blood in the milk, realize that you need to be more gentle. She will heal within a couple of days. Don't drink the milk if there is blood in it. Once it is easy to milk using all of your fingers, don't pull anymore; you have made the teat a good size that will be easier to milk from now on.

If your mama goat is having a hard time letting her milk down, There are some things to try that will help. Shirleen recommended taking out a bucket of hot water and a rag. For a few minutes at the beginning of the milking, wash the mama's bag and teats with the warm, wet rag and massage her bag. When you are finished, towel dry her off. Hopefully this will stimulate the milk to let the milk down into the bag so that you can milk her.

When baby is about 2 weeks old, feed it some 16% dairy feed too. When growing, gestating, or lactating give your goat some extra protein to help them stay healthy and strong. For babies, give about a cupful a day. For lactating or gestating mamas, give 1-2 cupfuls a day.

Whether to keep babies with mama or not For the first 2 weeks, keep babies with mama to nurse when they need to. When babies are eating on their own (about 2 weeks old): separate babies away during the day, after they have had time to drink mamas morning milk. Then, milk in the late afternoon/evening and put babies back with mama until the next morning. (by 6 weeks old they can be weaned and you can enjoy all of the milk for yourself)

A healthy milk goat will have enough flesh over ribs so that you can't see each rib just by looking, but not enough fat to make you not be able to feel the ribs.

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Do you have any great advice on organizing, keeping balance, growing older, or goats? I'd love to hear it! Or do you have any questions that someone might be able to answer here? If so, leave a comment!

If you don't, I'd love to hear from you anyway! :)

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