Okay, so we’ll just start with the fact that I know I’m crazy. Because if the 33 laying hens, 5 banty hens, 3 cats and a dog weren’t enough work, I’ve really gone and done it. I’ve added 2 bottle-fed diary goats.
Currently I’m waffling between thrilled and overwhelmed. We’ve already discussed crazy. I’d thought about goats. I’d pondered the value of goats’ milk. I’d even vaguely planned for goats. In a theoretical kind of way. But then there they were and I was bringing them home in a box that just happened to be in the back of my van.
They are one and two-week old Nubian dairy goats, meaning that in another year or so (maybe two years if they don’t grow fast enough for breeding this fall) they will be ready to be milked. But for now we had to run around to get milk for them and bottles and the whole bit. I spent some time this morning searching and researching and this is what I now know about goats.
The the best milk-replacer available within a 30 mile radius is Doe’s Match by Land O Lakes– don’t they make butter? Goats need mother’s milk for at least the first day, but after that you can give them milk replacer for any of several reasons; mine was to create friendly goats. Oh, and I don’t have a mama goat 😉 The kids should be fed 15-25% of their body weight in ounces of formula. The only way to weigh a goat on a bathroom scale is to weigh yourself, pick up the goat, weigh again and subtract. Goats getting less milk will switch to grain and hay quicker and be easier to wean, goats receiving more milk will grow faster. I’m going for grow faster, since these were late-season kids and I’d like to breed them sooner rather than later. The milk replacer in the bottle should be just like human baby milk, warm enough so you can’t feel it on your wrist.
Horns can be problematic for domestic goats, since they catch in everything! De-budding within two weeks, or as soon as you can feel a pea-shaped bump, is painful, but quickly over and is much more humane than allowing them to be caught in a fence by their horns all day. And my most important lesson was to make a friend in the goat world who will help me de-bud these little does tomorrow and has already offered to come help me any time I get in over my head. Thanks goodness farmers seem to love helping others do what they do!
And although family and friends who have known me for years will be shocked to learn I’ve adopted goats, few will be surprised that matching pink and purple collars were priorities, as was finding ideal names. Ms. purple collar with more white on her backside is Fanny Price. The gal with the pink collar and more brown towards the end is Harriet Smith. (Characters from Mansfield Park and Emma, both by Jane Austen.) I thought Fanny and Harriet were good goat names and it leaves me Lizzie, Elinor, and Maryanne from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility for the lambs. 🙂