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Check out this link for Victorian show dates for 2014: http://www.vicagshows.com.au/calendar.html
THE GOAT-KEEPERS DIARY 2014
March 10. 2014
This is one of Bart's sons that we are keeping for our breeding program. CA1FG0025. Strong and meaty, and a really nice "butt".
Now is the time to select your buck for breeding. We have lots of bucks for inspection, including other Bart sons. Please select your bucks early as you get first pick of the bucks, but from a husbandry point of view, give your buck time to settle in before you expect him to work. It is very stressful for any animal to change homes with strange people, dogs, smells, and noise. Be kind to your buck and give him a chance to do his best. Recommend you give your buck up to six weeks to settle. While he will probably work before this, don't just shove him into a paddock with a lot of madly cycling does as soon as you get home. He may not appreciated being "rushed" by a mob of anxious does.
Actually I think Bart's sons would appreciate it, but not all bucks do, and so you need to be considerate. Give your new buck time for a little honeymoon time with a couple of nice natured does before you let him loose with the mob. If he loses a lot of weight while serving lots of does, give him a couple of weeks time out with two or three does for companionship and feed him up before you let him "loose" with the mob again.
Bucks under 12 months are usually restricted to 15 to 25 does for their first season. Bucks over 12 months should not be expected to serve more than about 50 does a season unless high levels of supervision and nutrition are provided.
Keep a respectful distance from your working buck and don't bring your friends around to watch the action. Bucks are rarely aggressive to humans, however some bucks do not appreciate strangers and the noise while they are working and they may not serve the does while you are present.
February 28, 2014. Thinking about joining your does? We are offering two of our top sires for sale. One is Barney, and the other is Bart. Go to the Boer goats for sale page for details.
February 13, 2014. Here are some of the young kids from the last drop. Hope you enjoy the slideshow.
February 12, 2014. Going into goats......do your homework or lose a lot of money and goats.
In this diary I try to discuss items that improve goat management and hopefuly save breeders time and money. This is one of the most important things I have to say. If you are thinking of going into goats you must do your homework or be prepared to lose a lot of money and many nights of sleep. First look to the right of this column and read the 10 essentials to start a goat breeding business. They are just the beginning...read on if you dare!
Generally speaking, people new to farming have no idea just how much work farming is and they think that goat breeding will be pretty quick to learn. Most people think the goats will grow, have kids, survive and thrive under their care, and then they will be able to sell them at good prices. This belief is strong even when the new goat owners actually have little or no knowledge of the fundamentals of breeding, caring for goats, or marketing their animals.
Here is what I say to potential goat breeders. I ask them what is your profession? Many people I speak to are highly intelligent and have very responsible professions/occupations. The second thing I ask them is how long did it take you to become really proficient at your work? They usually say something like about five or ten years. I then advise them that it will take at least this long to become a half decent goat breeder. And, that is the truth.
Many people go into goats, spend a lot of money on infrastructure, some buy good goats, and some buy cheap goats that are not suitable. However my experience is that more than 50% do not make it past three years. The major reason they do not make it is because they have not been clear what they are getting into when they first buy goats. They often treat it as a bit of a hobby and do not dedicate the time and resources required to be successful.
I do not want to scare potential breeders from going into goats. What I really want is for people to go into breeding goats with their eyes wide open and a realistic understanding of the time, knowledge, and effort it takes to successfully raise goats. They are such wonderful animals, they deserve to be cared for by kind, knowledgeable and realistic breeders. If you are reading this, I do hope you are one of the great breeders of the future.
February 10, 2014. Measuring performance of your herd.
Below is a link to a really interesting paper on how to measure performance of your does. Well worth a look. Just eye-balling animals for production is not really good enough these days, so have a look and see what you think
February 5, 2014. Those bad old does!
Each year I have several kids who receive injuries due to does hooking at them when they are just too close, or trying to sneak a drink, or competing for feed. I have three kids at the moment with serious injuries all caused by the one doe.
While it is natural for does to love their own kids and put other kids “in their place” some does are just over the top in aggression towards other kids, and sometimes other does as well. These aggressive does are a risk to the whole herd and in reality for a farmed goat enterprise, they need to be moved “closer to goat heaven”.
I have seen does, for no reason other than the other goat is in view, to run at another doe or kid and just smash them into the wall or into the ground. Not nice. However the damage they do to the kids is more likely to be a damaged hip, leg, or shoulder as they hook them into the air with their horns.
What can be done. If you are not ready to send the doe “away” and you need to hand feed, consider these management options. Spread feed out as broadly as possible so animals are not forced to battle for food. This may mean multiple troughs rather than a few fancy ones. If you have clean areas and you are feeding large pellets, or hay, spread this out as widely as possible so there is not so much animal-to-animal contact.
Make sure your sheds are long, open in the front, and there is plenty of room for everybody. This gives animals a chance to escape. Put escape benches in the sheds for the kids. The kids can get under these benches and not be harassed by the does. Try not to have small areas where the kids can get into and then smother each other because it is hard to get out.
Give in, put the bully doe and her kids into a separate area and keep the peace.
February 3, 2014. Check out this website for research articles.
Check out this website for research and for a nice description of how to measure condition in your goats. Most breeders have difficulty keeping condition on goats because of their high productivity. Show goats that are heavily fed, or goats that do nothing to produce may get too fat, but generally it is loss of weight that is the big problem for goats. Correct condition score is between 2.5 and 3.5. How do your goats stack up? Remember a big stomach is not a fat goat. Check out this web-site for video.
January 21, 2014. Now the heat is over (for the time being anyway).
The blast of heat in Victoria lasted days and absolutely dried the grass to a crisp. This means we are very vulnerable to any fires that happen to crop up. In another "diary" last year I discussed managing the goats when fire threatens. Today I am more interested in finding the right feed for the does with young kids at foot. While the big heat didn't worry the goats too much, already I can see the effects of the reduction of nutrition in the standing feed. The does suddenly began to look for any blade of green grass and they have just started to drop their condition more rapidly. It is quite normal for a high milk producing doe to lose weight while she has kids at foot. The best does then put that weight back on as their milk production reduces, ready for the next joining season.
Around here, pretty well all the grass is crisp and white. That means the goats can get plenty of roughage, but not enough protein and energy. I have begun to feed the does with kids, grain cubes, and if I can get them at the right price, would like to introduce some lupins or lucerne or other good high protein feed. Goats can convert dry feed into good quality nutrition if they have some protein to feed the converting microbes. I like molasses as a high energy feed for the goats. It is cheap, highly nutritious, the goats love it.........but what a mess they make of themselves and each other. So be prepared for sticky goats if you feed it in open troughs.
The older goats are doing just fine with one kid at foot, they are losing a bit of weight with two kids at foot. The maiden does are o.k. with one kid, but they are struggling to produce enough milk for two kids. The same goes for the kids. Best conditioned kids are single kids on older does, worst conditioned kids are twins on maiden does. This is the time to carefully look at how good the does are at producing prime kids, and how fast they can regain their weight after raising kids.
January 14, 2014. It is 39 degrees and rising.
Today is very, very hot, and it will be very hot all this week. This means early morning rounds to check all is well, plenty of water and plenty of shade and feed for the goats. There are no young kids or heavily pregnant does to worry about so they should all cope pretty well. Even the bucks "in rut" are taking time off from their hormone driven battles.
However, I do think about the native animals during such intense weather. On occasions in the past it has been so hot, that possums have dropped dead out of the trees, or in despair come down out of the trees during the day to look for water. The birds congregate around water points and try to keep cool.
So on days like today, I put out extra water dishes in strategic places so everyone at least gets a chance to have a drink. I place escape branches or logs in all the troughs, so that any foolish bird that happens to fall in the water while trying to get a drink, can escape after a "ducking". It is a sad sight to see drowned birds in the troughs, and it is not nice for the quality of the drinking water either.
Fingers crossed that we do not have fires accompanying the hot weather. There are several relatively safe areas on the farm where goats will be taken if things turn bad. As all the goats will end up very close to each other if fire threatens, there may be a few unplanned pregnancies in about five months. Let's hope it doesn't get to that.
I hope you and all your animals are safe in this weather.
CHECK OUT THE GOAT KEEPERS DIARY 2013 ENTRIES /goat-keepers-diary-2013-entries.html
April 22, 2013. Time for some humor.
"The Cadenza Hoon". by Jeff Brewer
For those of you who have visited Cadenza Boers, this image will be very familiar...and guess who the "hoon" is?
Hmmm must comb my hair more often.
Thanks to Jeff Brewer for his great work.
April 30, 2013. Worms on the march or should I say wriggle!
This is the time of year when previously sub-clinical problems start to be evident in the Boer goat herd. As the cold bites, the nutrition that the pasture provides is decreasing, the worm burden rises because of moisture availability for hatching larvae, and any deficiencies in nutrition are magnified. One thing that all goat breeders should be able to do is to "condition score" their goats. Most times we aim for our goats to be in condition score three or higher. Does with kids at foot usually lose condition because of the big effort required to feed two kids as well as maintain themselves. We try not to let does get below condition score 2.5 as this leaves them open to cold stress and other immune related issues. It also means they will be in low body condition to join to the bucks. Check out the site below to understand condition scoring: http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/agriculture/animals-and-livestock/goats/assessment-skills-for-goat-meat-marketing
For worm related issues for each State, we suggest you subscribe to the sheep Worm Boss site, and particularly for us in Victoria, Patricia Veale writes a summary of what is happening with worms and also discusses the results of worm tests coming in to the test labs. This month she has written about coccidiosis and how it is a problem especially with young stock at the moment. While the site deals with sheep, you can be pretty sure this information will also be relevant to goats. Check it out.
March 30th, 2013.The unpaid workers
Ted at the back, and Lucy in front. Great mates.
Ted and Lucy are the working dogs here, but also great mates, lovely temperaments, and a great pleasure to have. They are both soft on the goats, but because it is not really natural for them to bark, sometimes they need to give difficult goats (specially the bucks) a hurry up by slipping in a "quick nip". Ted and Lucy are short-haired Border Collies. I like Border Collies because they are softer, and not as "over the top" as some other working breeds so I can manage them better. I like their short coats because it keeps them cooler, but it also keeps them cleaner and mud free. Ted is actually a better working dog than Lucy, however Lucy is starting to catch up with him in managing the goats, but in a different way. She is highly intelligent and is happy to please. Ted "the cool one" has recovered from his little "operation" but there is no doubt he is slowing down, and Lucy is becoming the main dog, with Ted supervising the action.
Advice: when you buy a working dog, buy from a reputable breeder. The initial cost is nothing compared to the costs of keeping a dog for its lifetime. A good dog will repay the initial cost, thousands of times over.
April 14, 2013. The buck kids are not happy.
The third group of buck kids has now been weaned. They are not happy and nor are their mothers. While I would like to have left them on their mothers for a little longer, they were really into chasing the does and "whooping" all day. The question arises, what is the best way to do the weaning?
I like to leave the newly weaned kids in the shed for a day or two so they get used to being away from their mothers, and the mothers reduce their calling for them. I often reduce the stress of weaning by allowing the mothers to visit their kids and sleep in the pen next to them for two or three days. This seems to comfort everyone and the kids settle better. It is not good practise to send the newly weaned kids off to an unfamiliar paddock as they will be stressed and often try to find their way back to their mothers. They must be kept warm, dry, and well fed over the early weaning days to give them the best chance of thriving. I feed the kids a chaff/lucerne chaff mix or some good quality hay, and some pellets. This fills their rumen with a lot of good feed with high roughage, so the kids are warm and have full bellies. I like to move the does away from the kids, rather than the does seeing their kids taken away from them. It seems less stressful for them as they know where the kids are. After weaning day, I drench the kids, weigh them, electronic tag them, tip their horns, and vaccinate if needed. Often these things are done over a couple of visits to the shearing shed rather than all at once. I also cast my eye over the kids to see if any show real potential as stud bucks. Today out of about 45 kids, I picked 6 buck kids showing potential. When I checked their breeding, I noticed most were singles, and most were by the one sire. So am I selecting primarily based on size and bloom because they were better fed, or am I really able to pick the better kids at this early age? While I hear various breeders say they can pick a champion at birth, I am a bit skeptical. What I often see is breeders taking a special interest in these kids and feeding them better than the other kids. This is called a self fulfilling prophecy because they grow better and look better because of better nutrition. The way to pick a real champion is to give all kids the same chance to grow, and the champion will emerge over time. There is no doubt better does throw better kids, but that is not the whole story.
March 29th 2013. The second worst job for a goatkeeper.
There is a time when the older does are having problems keeping their weight on. My experience is that this time comes from about the age of eight years on, and is often related to how productive the doe has been in her breeding years. Those does who consistently produce triplets and are big milkers seem to be the first affected. While it might be expected the front teeth are an indication of wear of teeth and therefore difficulty eating, the does here seem to eventually have problem with their grinding teeth. This means they cannot "cud" properly and therefore the food is not properly prepared for digestion. The loss of these teeth may well be the result of the massive pull on calcium over their production years.
While the does themselves are still active and running with the herd, they do not seem able to put back condition after they have raised their last lot of kids. This is a real problem with winter coming as they become too thin and cannot keep warm.
What to do with these does. Eventually for all animals there comes a time when we need to take the responsibility of ending their life humanely. Personally, while the doe is happy and able to keep up with the herd, I am happy for her to continue. However the Boers in particular, have no tolerance for weak animals in their group. While I did not see this in the Angoras, the Boers will intentionally seek out the weak goat, attack it, and try to force it from the herd. This is a sensible thing to do from the herd's point of view as it may reduce attacks from predators. From the poor goat's point of view, what was once a comfortable place in the herd now becomes a misery. The other goats will often not let the weak doe into shelter, will intentionally "thump" her whenever they get the chance, and will actually try to chase her away.
I recently "put down" several of the old does here (9, 10, and 11y.o.). I never send these old does off to slaughter on the truck. They have given me everything and I cannot bear the thought of them being so stressed at the end of their life.
For any owner to just allow an animal to die in the paddock because they don't take responsibility for the animals welfare, is a despicable act and they should not own animals.
The most humane way to put down a goat is to shoot it. However the way to shoot a goat is very specific and must be done by a knowledgeable person. The following link talks about the CODE OF PRACTICE FOR GOAT WELFARE and the basics of caring for goats, but if you look at Section 9, it gives you instructions for THE HUMANE DESTRUCTION OF GOATS.
While kids may be shot from the front of the head,( as for cattle), by directing the shot at a point of intersection of lines taken from the base of each ear to the opposite eye (see Figure 2). THIS METHOD IS NOT SUITABLE IN MATURE GOATS, as the brain is located well back in the skull compared with other livestock.
Putting down old does is the second worst job for a goat-keeper, putting down baby kids is the worst. I will try and make the next note in the diary a happier story!
March 26th 2013. Husbandry issues. Infected ears.
One of the issues that occurs in a small percentage of kids, is the problem of necrosis of the hole around the tag pin. The major reason for smelly skin around the pin hole is that insufficient air can get to the hole to enable it to heal properly. When tagging animals it is very important to keep equipment clean. I always dip the tag and applicator in disinfectant between kids, and am meticulous not to touch the pin head of the tag with my dirty fingers. The tag must be inserted in the correct position on the ear as well. Even given all these precautions a few kids ears do not heal up well. Sometimes I spray this with a healing spray, however for the worst of them, I just cut out the tag and replace it when the hole has healed. Because the kids are double tagged I can still identify them even with one tag cut out. Part of the reason the tag hole does not heal well is because the shank of the tag is too short and the Boer goat's ear is quite thick. This means the plastic of the tag on each side of the ear is too close together and restricts air flow. Manufacturers don't appear to see this as an issue. However I note that the electronic round PIC tags have a longer, slightly thinner shank, and I very rarely have any problems with these tags.
This year to try to reduce problems caused by the normal plastic tags, I actually whittled down the inside tag area by slicing off a large piece of the tag on both sides of the pin before inserting the tag into the ear. This allows much more air to flow around the puncture hole. I have found the ear seems to heal up much more quickly with the extra air flow. The electronic tags will be inserted soon, and it is at this time a close inspection of the birth tag takes place, so after this I can confirm whether or not my perceptions are true.
PS. No matter how careful you are doing the job, it is not a nice job tagging kids.......
March 20 2013. The bucks are "smelly" and the does are "waggy" time of year. While the breeding season was a little slow to get going this year, probably because it was so dry, all the goats really want to get the fertilization process going! While some animal species have an all year round breeding season, goats are particularly stimulated by the shortening of daylight hours. That means from about January to July is the prime joining season. I can assure you, at the moment, the does are ready and the bucks are willing, however I am stalling the process for a little while longer as I do not want kids born in the very cold weather. While goats will often join outside the prime season, especially if bucks and does have been kept isolated from each other, you will start to see the bucks reduce their spraying, and the does reduce their cycling behaviour after about July August (as the days start to get longer). It is important to understand the effect of the daylight hours on fertility.
I have heard breeders, especially inexperienced ones, talk about their buck being infertile because they put him with the does but there were no kids five or so months later. I ask them what time of year did you put him with the does, and did the does cycle? Quite often they have not observed the does cycling but assumed the buck was infertile. The buck will not get a non cycling doe pregnant, no matter how hard he tries. Additionally, does in milk with kids at foot very often will not cycle until their milk supply is reducing. It is a rare thing for a buck to be infertile so check to see if your does are cycling before blaming the buck.
Another important management requirement is to purchase a new buck well before you want him to join your does. Goats usually find being moved to another property very stressful. The new buck may take some time to settle and to recover from the trauma of moving homes before he will take an interested in joining does. So aim to give him at least 4 to 6 weeks to settle.
Weanable size kids need to be removed from the paddock while the bucks are serving the does, as otherwise the doe kids are at risk of becoming pregnant. Once Boer buck and doe kids are over approx 25kgs they are close to becoming fertile. Doe kids in particular are at high risk of becoming pregnant and if they do, it will be a very dangerous thing for both them and the kids they are carrying. These does are at high risk for pregnancy toxemia, malnutrition, abortion, as well as having stunted growth themselves and also their kids if they survive. The message is, manage the kidding so your animals kid at the proper time and at the proper body weight and condition. Happy kidding.
WE OFFER A CONSULTANCY SERVICE
For breeders who feel they need more personalised assistance in setting up their goat breeding program, we offer a consultancy service. In addition a goat farm and/or goat assessment service is available for those who would like an opinion on the direction they are heading, and how they are managing their goats. These services are offered on an hourly rate plus travel expenses. Please feel free to talk to us about our consultancy services...no obligation.
Want to be successful breeding Boer Goats? Important for those thinking about going into goats is the basic information FAQ publication (see faqsjan2010.pdf file below).
You are welcome to call us, ask a question, arrange a visit to the farm: 0429661369