This past weekend we were blessed with above average temperatures and sunny skies. It’s a rare occurrence to have a weekend be warm and dry so we were sure not to waste a minute of it.
Everyone’s heard the saying ‘Make Hay while the sun is shining’ but for us it was bring in a load of hay before it gets rained or snowed on. As mentioned in our previous post, we have been feeding round bales to our larger groups of does and their respective bucks. However, we still have one small group of 4 does and their month old kids who are getting square bales b/c it just doesn’t make sense to give them a big round bale or risk the kids getting trapped in the center of it. I was able to get a great deal on a ton of square bales from a co-workers farm.
- Bringing Home a Ton of Hay
We purchased the approximate ton (50 bales) for $100. Granted this is first cutting hay, but it is green, free of mold, and the bales are much larger than we normally get. I can normally put 50 square bales on my 5’ x 10’ pull behind trailer comfortably. For this trip, I was glad to have the pickup bed for the overflow. I had to go about 35 miles with the load and wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be restacking the hay alone in the dark along side the road.
On Saturday, we unloaded the square bales in the barn overhang and fed a few to the goats to see what they thought of them. The goats were all happy to have good hay and went straight to eating it. They did seem to be out foraging more all weekend with the warmer temps and drier ground. It was enjoyable to watch the month old kids foraging in the woods with their dams.
Lorie and I had a long list of things to get done and we tried our best to mark them off as we went along. We started out by catching all of the month old NZ kids and recording their 30 day weights.
For birth weights, we use a digital hanging fish scale that we purchased during the 2010 scholarship benefit auction at KikoFest. We have a flat vet type scale that we use for all other weights because the kids have all outgrown the bucket or bag that we use to weigh them in at birth.
For the kids, we take a small wire dog kennel and place it on top of the scale and then Zero the scale. The scale is placed on our working stand to ensure a solid base. This works out great b/c the kids are too small to reach the head restraint on the working stand. After each goat’s weight was captured, it was transferred to a holding cell (X-large wire dog kennel) for it’s photo shoot and for the 2 legged kids to pet.
The goat kids were very excited to get away from our kids and back to their dams. It’s amusing to see them make a mad dash from the gate where we return them to the pasture back to their respective does and drink milk like they’ve been away from it forever.
- A Solid Red NZ Buck was the best performer at 30 days with an on farm index of 122
The only doe out of 8 kids, a mostly white doe with brown mask, impressed us with her 30 day performance coming in with an on farm index of 116.
Our next ‘to do’ item included working one of our breeding groups of goats. Usually we spend an hour (and often more than an hour) chasing goats around the pasture and catching them individually. Usually this means that there are some goats we don’t get too because we run out of energy or daylight. This time we got smart and decided to put in a little extra time up front to construct a catch pen in the corner of the pasture utilizing the existing fence and extra cattle panels that we had laying around. This also allowed us to bring in our working stand and all the items we needed to work the goats without a few of the nosey goats and the LGD being able to escape through the open gate or get in our way of setting up.
Once we opened the catch pen and threw out some sweet feed, all but three goats went right in the pen.They’ve had nothing but round bales and an occasional protein block for the last few months. Of course there were 3 goats of lower intelligence that appeared unable to find the opening in the catch pen and instead tried to stick their heads through the cattle panels and get stuck. Once we chased them in and sealed the catch pen we were able to get started. We trimmed hooves, checked FAMACHA scores, and vaccinated all of the goats.
Only 2 had borderline FAMACHA scores and needed wormed. We worked Warsaw, the 2 year old NZ buck breeding this group of does, first and got him out of the catch pen. He didn’t require worming or hoof trimming so we quickly vaccinated him and let him go. He is a mild mannered buck but his sheer size is reason enough to get him out of the confined space with us and the group of pregnant does.Next we went down the pecking order of the does and got the ones who were head butting other worked and out first to reduce the chance for injury or abortion. This group of does should kid in March.
We finished up by setting out new round bales for all of the groups of goats and cleaning out and refilling their water troughs. It is a rare occurrence here in January when the garden hose is thawed and able to easily fill all of the troughs. Did I mention how enjoyable the weather was? I’m sure 40 – 50 degrees isn’t unusual for all of you this time of year but for us here in WV it was a pleasant surprise. Just last week it was 11 degrees one day and the water seemed to freeze before it hits the troughs.