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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Goats: Spring Cleaning!

Some have said that a “heat wave” can be defined as three consecutive days where the temperature is 20 degrees or more above the normal recorded temperatures. Well, by that definition we had a heat wave in Maine this week! Woohoo! It was 82 degrees snowremovalyesterday, March 22nd and 83 & 80 the two days before. Average temps are usually in the mid 40's to the low 50's in March, we've even seen it 25 degrees below zero in mid-March, so we're all soaking this up. One of my friends sent me a photo of her two daughters dressed in shorts and flip-flops standing on a huge snow-pile.    

Part of our usual spring clean up includes branch and fallen limb removal which we did this year in mid-March instead of late April! My husband actually scooped up the remains of a snow-pile and dumped it elsewhere so the snow melt wouldn't run down our driveway. 

Today was the official “GOAT CLEAN UP DAY”. Each of our very pregnant girls was led out of the barn and on to the fitting stand. Some needed to get their udders trimmed before kidding in another two weeks, others just needed their hoofs tended to. All of them got their annual CD/T vaccinations.  

First girl on the stand was Winnie. Her registered name is Wenonah, but I like Winnie much better because it lends itself to some cute nicknames! She's a French Alpine and compared to our American Alpines she's more on the petite side. Being smaller in stature though, does not prevent her from becoming humongous during pregnancy. We call her “Wide Winnie” or better yet, “Winnie-bago”.   hairywinnie      clippedwinnie
  It's normally way too cold at this time of year to be outside trimming udders, so we usually do it after they kid rather than before. Not this year!   

The photos of this beauty show her before her “dairy trim” and afterward. Hairy udders cause several problems, one being that hairs can drop into the milk pail during hand milking, YUCK! Secondly, while you are squeezing the teats you can accidentally pull some of the hairs on the udder. This will cause a foot in a bucket faster than you can say “heck”! Also, it's way easier to clean up their “tushies” after kidding without all that excess hair.  

After the trim, and a booster shot of their annual vaccine (we use Covexin 8), we  tackled hoofs. The last time the girls had a hoof trim was back in November, so they were a little over due. They are well mannered and were very patient while I snipped and clipped their hoofies. I tell them that it's like having a pair of new shoes, but they aren't too interested in my ramblings; if they could talk, they would probably say “would you please, just shut up and get this over with!” PregnantCoretta 

Well trimmed hoofs are an important part of good goat health! Severely overgrown hoofs can cause leg, pastern, and foot problems.   

I stress “flat” when I teach hoof trimming at Goat School. So goodhoofsthat we don't have to compromise our girls and boys hoofs to first time trimmers, we have our meat processor save goat hoofs for us. I have folks put their cadaver hoof in the position that a goat would be standing in, on a flat surface, after they are finished with the trimming, so that I can do a proper critique. This fun task has helped many people to understand what can gshooftrimhappen with an improperly trimmed hoof!  

We will begin kidding around April 3rd, AND, I just got a new camera, so, stay tuned for more kidding photos! I'll also be doing a post on disbudding as soon as those new born kids are ready. We have strong opinions on the topic of disbudding, I'll explain and provide some good photos of actual disbudding.    

Are you interested in attending Goat School? Our next one is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday June 2nd and 3rd, with a Soap and Cheese making class on Monday, June 4th. We still have room available! For more information, click here!  

The Goat School Manual and my other book; Goat School: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking are both available through our web site for a special price, click to learn more.