Goat Farming, Not All Lollipops and Rainbows

Reader Contribution by Janice Spaulding
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Even though I have been talking about kidding in my blog, things just don’t always go as you would like them to. Something just happened here at Stony Knolls Farm that I thought I should share with you. My next blog will go back to kidding.

Every now and then a goat has to be culled. Today, our dear Carlotta had to go to “freezer camp”. Because of our appreciation of God’s creatures and our love for all our goats, we try to do this as gently and as humanly as possible.

Carlotta, one of our registered Alpine does, was getting older, 8 ½ to be exact, and was beginning to be difficult to deal with, nervous and afraid of her own shadow. She had some really gorgeous kids, however, this year we were not able to get her bred. She went in with our handsome Alpine buck, Bat Man, over and over again, every 21 days. This past Friday, she was in heat again. We were pretty bummed out because she is a terrific milker, over a gallon a day, and very easy to milk. However, the inability to be bred, along with her age, and with the developed skittishness, we realized we had to make a very difficult decision. Ken called the processor and found that we could bring her first thing this morning.

At 5:45 a.m. we were up, and out feeding all the goats, bringing in firewood, checking the hay feeders, and making sure the heated water buckets were all topped off. We have a small crate called a “Goat Tote” which we had loaded on the truck yesterday, and lined the bottom with hay. It has a nice well fitting cover that zips on to keep the goat or goats being transported, warm and cozy. Ken

backed the truck up to the little porch on our barn, and Carlotta was caught and loaded. We stayed with our regular feeding routine, Carlotta had eaten along with her pen mates. She was lured with whole corn before finally cornering her. She did load very easily, however. All of our other goats come running like crazy to greet us when ever we go into the barn, so we had to work around all of our more than willing “helpers”.

The ride to the processor was uneventful. The back roads are all covered with frozen solid, well packed, very shiny snow, better known as ice. So it did take longer than the usual 45 minutes.

When we got there, Carlotta was very calm, a lot calmer than she had been in the last two months. She unloaded quickly and easily. The USDA inspector looked her over and approved, then we said goodby, took off her collar, and she proceeded into the final area. By the time we were at the end of their driveway, it was all done.

In about a week we’ll go and pick up the cut, wrapped, and flash frozen meat. 

Even with all today’s activities, after we returned home from the processor, it was back to normal. When we came down the driveway all the goats were gathered around the hay feeder happily chewing their cuds on a warmer than usual, sunny, winter’s day.

Living on a goat farm is not always lollipops and rainbows. Some of our favorite goats have gone the same way as Carlotta did. Injuries happen, once in a while we may have a kid who just fails to thrive, and like Carlotta, circumstances beyond our control mandate a quick end.

Let me encourage you to never, ever, pass on a problem goat, either by sale to a unwitting customer or to an auction. Passing on these goats can ruin your reputation permanently. We bring our culls to a USDA processor on an appointed date and time. Within minutes of taking the goats off the truck, they are dispatched. We do have our State of Maine red meat license, so we are able to sell the meat both at our farm and at farmers’ markets.

Next time, I’ll get back to discussing preparations for kidding, and what to have on hand.

’til next time!

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