Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Goat Dairy Farm Diary (To Answer Questions)

A small break from goat milk soap soap talk to answer some farm related questions...this is one of my barn white boards, photo taken a few weeks ago.

On this board I record kidding information (date, dam's name or ear tag number, the number of kids, and the kid's sex).

This board plays an important role on my farm. It determines when the kids are weaned (either bottle or dam raised), and it helps me to determine when a kid can be sold. And, since I am part of the USDA Scrapies program, when the information is copied to paper, it is the record keeping that I am held to.

I'll answer some wonderful questions now:

Do you dam or bottle raise your kids? Both. The boer kids are dam raised (except for those that are special needs cases, such as an abandoned or very sick kid). The dairy kids are always bottle raised on pasteurized milk. When there is a deficit in milk, and there is one right now, the kids nurse on both fresh goat milk and a fraction of milk replacer. I always inch more towards the fresh goat milk (pasteurized) due to the cost, and mostly due to the nutritional value in the "real" goat milk. I have 29 bottle kids today.

How long does it take you to milk? That is difficult to say. It depends upon how many does are in milk and what time of day it is. My day runs like this: 6:30-9:00 (answer email, check in on blog and contacts, prepare milk, eat breakfast, place orders out for shipment), 9:00-10:45 (feed and milk), 10:45-11:00 (break), 11:00-11:30 (prepare for making soap or other bath products, answer email, or prepare for what I plan to do after lunch), 11:30-12:15 (lunch), 12:15-2:30 (make soap or bath products, work on website, pasteurize milk, post on blog, answer email, and other business related duties), 2:30-3:00 (rest), 3:00-4:00 (prepare milk for bottle kids and clean up), 4:00-5:30 (feed and milk), 5:30-6:00 (rest, answer email, read online), 6:00-6:30 (prepare dinner), 6:30-9:00 (prepare customer orders, answer email, relax, and work anything else in that I can, along with another short feeding for the bottle kids). 9:00 (call a friend and then I zombie out). I consider anything after that time "family" time. I love it...shut the door, turn off the phone, enjoy the quiet!

How many does do you keep in milk? Right now I have 8, I generally keep 11 on rotation.

Do you take vacations? No. I do not miss vacations. I do, sometimes, feel as if I am chasing my tail. My schedule is not always as tight as it is right now. After the kids are born the herd more than doubles. But later, after months begin to pass, there are certain times in the year where feeding can take 20 minutes, twice a day. But then there are other duties to catch up on such as hoove trimming (which is needed right now).

How long are the kids on milk? A kid that is a wether (castrated male), one that has grown well, is weaned between 2 1/2 and 3 months old. A doeling is left on the boer dam until the next breeding season. The doeling is then removed to ensure she is not bred at a young age. And kid's are fed different amounts of milk depending upon their age, and at different times (hence the importance of the white board record keeping again). Right now I have 25 goats on 2 bottles a day, some on 1/2 bottles (10 ounces), some on full bottles twice a day, and 4 that are on 3 feedings a day (full bottles).

I hope that helps with some of your questions, and let me tell you this, your questions are more than okay to ask!

I also keep calendar's in the barn of due dates, wormings (only when needed), medications (I try to go as natural as possible on this farm), and other records. Fun times...now I need a nap, but I am late for preparing milk for feeding! :)


Arnita said...

WOW! Your day and time sounds like mine with the day care. Never a time to breathe. Vacations...what are they? I went out of town Friday night and came back Saturday, I spent all day Sunday playing catch up... LMAO!

Mary said...

Yes, ma'am! Funny business. Your sort of kids, and mine.

I write to you from my phone between barn tasks. Sometimes this is my best thinking time!

Lynnanne said...

I'm curious as to why the dairy goats are bottle fed and most of the meat goats are not??

Now on a personal note, what prompted you to go into goats and goat milk soap?