Goat Kidding Season Preparations

With goat kidding season just around the corner I have been prepping our kidding kit and getting the barn ready. We have quite a few does kidding this season so I am stocking up a little more than last year.

I need to get our kidding stalls put back together. I love that they are able to be taken down and give the barn more room in the summer time.

 

So, besides our normal kidding schedule with my does (drying off, worming, C/D&T, etc) I also trim up their backsides.

I try to trim up the does before kidding to make the clean up and nursing easier. My does tend to get a bit hairy during winter so all that fur needs to go. I use my Oster A5 Turbo 2-Speed Professional Animal Clipper and my Wahl Professional 8900 Trimmer Cordless Rechargeable Trimmer to trim them up. I love my cordless trimmers and use it even after milking to trim them up and keep hair out of the milk pail.

 

1-1333395373944

 

I have a rolling tool box that I stock with everything I might need during kidding. We live about an hour and a half from a feed store and it would take a vet about an hour to get to our house so I have to be sure I have all my bases covered.

 

05-IMG_0937

 

I keep it next to the kidding stalls so I don’t have to worry about bringing it down. Sometimes it is snowing when I have goats on the ground.

 

08-IMG_0940

 

Here are the items that I keep in the kidding box:

  • Puppy Training Pads: Used them to clean the kids off and catch any dripping goo from the doe.
  • Clean Dry Towels: Used for cleaning up the doe and drying off the kids.
  • Feed Bags: To clean up the afterbirth and any dirty towels or training pads.
  • Bottled Water: Used to clean my hands and wetting down towels for clean up.
  • Teat Dip Cup with 7% Iodine: Used to dip their umbilical cord and hooves.
  • Betadine: Used for cleaning up your hands and sterilizing especially if you have to go in to help.
  • OB Lube: To use if you have to go in and help.
  • Latex gloves and Long Plastic Gloves (Insemination Gloves)
  • Dental Floss: To tie umbilical cord if necessary.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Clean any tools.
  • Baby Nasal Aspirator: To get the gunk out of the noses of the kids.
  • Scissors: If you need to pop the bubble or the cord. I have never had to do either.
  • Weak Kid Syringe: To feed the kid if he is too weak to nurse on his own
  • Gatorade: Great for giving the doe am electrolyte boost if needed.
  • Karo Syrup: Good for giving the doe a boost.
  • Tums: I give my does tums as treats for about two weeks prior to kidding and a couple weeks after. It is great to keep their Calcium up.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
  • Molasses

 

After kidding I give my does a “After Kidding Tea” that is red raspberry leaf tea with molasses and tums in it. I give it to her warm and they slurp it up quickly. The Red Raspberry Leaf Tea helps stop excess bleeding after kidding and helps tone the uterus back to normal. The molasses gives them some calories and a little pep. The tums helps replenish the calcium that is lost.

 

Also, the day after my doe kids I give her dose of Valbazen (do not use in pregnant does). Since kidding is so stressful, worms tend to wake up and can be very harmful to the doe. I do not like using a lot of chemical wormers in my goats but I believe that this is a good time to use it.

Sunday Recap: Fencing, Watering, Finn Sheep and Breeding

It really doesn’t feel like winter around here. Usually we have a foot of snow, the animals rarely come out of their shelters and we rarely go out of the house. Not this year! I have been enjoying the days we have sun and getting some work done around the ranch.

I wanted to share with you the way fence in our hog pastures. We raise American Guinea Hogs, a heritage breed of hog that is pasture raised and smaller than commercial hogs.

We use field fencing with a strand of hotwire along the bottom to keep them from rubbing against the fence. Yes, you heard right….field fencing with a strand of hot wire. This holds in our boars, sows, weaners and piglets.

 

3-2012-12-30_13-34-15_973

 

You can see that Penny has found the one section of fence we have insulators on and is taking a nap.

 

1-2012-12-30_13-54-25_464

 

I have found that water bowls do not work with hogs. They like to tip them over, lay in them or push them around the pasture.

We use a Hog Nipple that is attached to a 50 gallon barrel. It works great and the water stays clean! My hogs use it and even my Livestock Guardian Dogs use it!

4-2012-12-30_13-33-14_6278-2012-12-30_13-49-42_446

 

We have been researching fiber sheep over the last few months. I really love raising heritage breed animals and wanted to find a breed of sheep that were considered a heritage breed. We came across a breed called  Finnsheep.

Finnsheep are a multi-purpose sheep that are well known for their ability to have multiple births (most often 3-4 lambs).  They are a heritage breed that has high quality soft wool, prolific out of season breeding ability, strong maternal instincts and premium lean tender meat.  Their are social, friendly, easy to handle attitude.  All this  makes them a well suited choice to any size farm.  Finnsheep are exceptional milkers, really good mothers, naturally polled (no horns) and are born with short tails that do not require docking. Their soft wool is highly sought after by both spinners and felters for it’s unique qualities.  Their lean tender meat is sought after by restaurants and food lovers alike.

We went to visit a farm that raises these amazing sheep. I loved how personable they were. You would scratch under the chin and they would sit like a dog and shake their tails!! I also was able to bring home a few bags of raw fiber to process and spin!

 

5-2012-12-29_16-39-55_644

 

After you say, “SHEEP, SHEEP, SHEEP!”

6-2012-12-29_16-39-58_929

 

I am on the home stretch of breeding season this year. All of my Nigerian Dwarves have been bred however, my oberhaslis were a little behind.

So this week I have my boys in two different pastures with their selections of ladies.

Smokey looks happy to have two girls to himself!

 

2-2012-12-30_13-34-23_638

 

Blitz on the other hand was too busy eating oak leaves to be bothered by the boy!

 

7-2012-12-30_13-35-55_419

Quartz Ridge Ranch’s Goals for 2013

Every year we try to grow our ranch to allow for our family to be less dependent on stores and more on our land. The past year has been one of ups and downs, see (Do you Ever Feel Like Throwing in the Towel). I am looking forward to improving on some of our systems and adding new animals. I believe it is important for a ranch to have goals each year and have a plan to achieve those goals. We are at the point that our ranch has become a business and we need to have a business plan for it to be successful.

Goals for 2013:

  • Start American Guinea Hog CSA – Raise American Guinea Hogs to finish weight for members of our community at a reasonable price.
  • Start our Rabbitry – We will start with 1 buck and 3 does and grow from there when we get a handle on it!
  • Add in a few fiber sheep, preferably Finnish.
  • Purchase a used livestock trailer.
  • All pastures have automatic water for the animals by Summer 2013.
  • Participate in Farmer’s Market by selling eggs, AGH CSA and a few other ideas I have up my sleeve!

Projects for 2013:

  • Build a chicken pasture, divide it and plant it with a chicken forage blend.
  • Build a portable chicken coop for the chicken pasture.
  • Build a structure for hay storage so we can purchase in bulk with minimal loss throughout the year.
  • Add one more large pasture for growing out weaner hogs that connects to the other two hog pastures.
  • Finish front yard of our house – fencing, four gates, lawn and DG for walkway. Add more lavender and rosemary for farmer’s market.
  • Re-build out milking barn – add new windows and easier way to bring the goats in and out. Get our milking machine up and running.

What are you goals for your ranch? I would love any suggestions on ours too!!

Why Raise Heritage Breeds?

At Quartz Ridge Ranch we focus on heritage breed livestock. “Heritage” breeds are simply the older breeds that fell out of favor over the generations. Most of these breeds were common on small farms before the age of industrialized operations. Not too long ago, livestock was raised on pasture on farms large and small. Farmers had different breeds of livestock based on their environment and needs.

The American Guinea Hog was the original homestead hog. They are a pasture pig so they can grow out nicely on grasses. They provided the homestead a nice amount of lard which was used for baking, frying, soap making, feed and many others. The small size was perfect for a family as they did not have the ability to store meat for long periods of time. AGHs are also great parents, the farrow easily with a smaller amount of hogs enabling them to raise them up with little or no complications. They take longer to grow to slaughter weight but the meat is delicious and well worth the wait. They respect fences and do not root much so putting them in your garden for a cleanup is a great way to feed them for a bit.

 

1-DSC_0591

 

The Oberhasli goat developed in the mountainous areas of Switzerland and was imported to the United States in the early 1900s. They are known for giving about one gallon of milk per day for ten months. These goats are very gentle and confident. The wethers are used for pack animals because they do not startle easily and handle the various conditions found on the trail.

 

2-2012-09-26_13-22-26_559

 

The Delaware chicken was developed in 1940 and was used for the production on broilers. They are an excellent dual purpose bird known for rapid growth and fast feathering of the chicks. The cocks grow to 8 pounds and hens to 6 pounds. The Delaware chicken goes broody naturally and is great at raising her chicks. The roosters are calm and friendly. They forage well and are more economical to bring to market weights in a forage situation.

 

 

Fast forward a few decades and factory farming became popular. Factory farming is the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. The first animals to be factory farmed were chickens. The discovery of vitamins and their role in animal nutrition led to vitamin supplements, which allowed chicken to be raised indoors. Then the discovery of antibiotics and vaccines facilitated raising livestock in larger numbers by reducing disease. In the 1960s pigs and cows began to be raised on factory farms. In 2005 factory farming accounted for 40% of world meat production. {Factory Farming Wikipedia}

Since the majority of livestock today is raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (look up that word if you want an eye-opener) producers have bred for qualities enabling them to grow faster and larger in horrible conditions. Livestock now has lost their hardiness, foraging skills, feed conversion, intelligence, ease of breeding/birthing, nurturing instincts and a flavorful end-product.

As agricultural practices change to meet the increasing demands of the future, the genetic diversity and qualities of the older breeds become more and more important. The result has been extinction and near extinction of the foundation breeds of our country. Most people focus on the extinction of wild animals like wolves or owls when we should focus on all species. Livestock can go extinct too!

We focus on the rare old heritage breeds and help preserve the genetics and save them from extinction. We are a small ranch and can only do so much but there is a growing group of dedicated farmers and ranchers that are focused on saving these heritage breeds of livestock.

If you are interested in learning more about heritage breeds or how you can help visit the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Our Daily Fodder Routine

A few people have asked what our daily fodder routine looks like. I had my daughter help us out to show you how quick and simple it is.

To soak our seeds we use a laundry bag that has small enough holes that the seeds do not come out. We place it into a bucket and then fill it with seeds.

09-IMG_2168

We place it into a bucket and then fill it with seeds. We use 1 1/2 quarts per tray.

10-IMG_2169

After we put enough seeds in. We close up the laundry bag.

12-IMG_2171

Then we fill the bucket up with water and let is soak. At this point some people put in a little bit of bleach, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. We have not experimented with this yet.

13-IMG_2172

We soak our seeds for 24 hours.

Setting up your Trays

Start with your bucket of seeds that have been soaking for 24 hours…

01-IMG_2160

Drain the seeds. We purchased an inexpensive laundry sink and use it to drain the seeds and also clean the fodder trays. It is important to wash them so you do not get moldy fodder.

03-IMG_2162

We then fill the trays up to be about 1/2” deep with seeds. We use a 2 1/2 quart measuring cup from the paint department at the hardware store.

04-IMG_2163

We then spread the seeds out evenly in the tray.

07-IMG_2166

Then the tray goes on the rack and gets watered 2-3 times a day.

08-IMG_2167

We plan on automating the watering in the next week. I will then experiment with watering times and amounts but for now a good rinse 2-3 times a day works great!

The Trays

We use garden trays that you can pick up at any garden store. I have found the best price on the trays are from the Greenhouse Megastore.

I use a Soldering Iron to punch holes into the tray for them to drain.

15-IMG_2174

Depending on how your trays are designed you will punch holes in the low parts of the trays so they drain completely and somewhat quickly. You do not want the seeds sitting in water for a long time.

14-IMG_2173

The Results

It should take your fodder to grow from seed to lush barley in about 7 days.

16-IMG_2175

When you walk outside with your bucket of fodder be prepared for this…

18-IMG_2177

They chase me all the way down to the barn.

Then you can expect a lot of this…

20-IMG_2179

A little more of this…

21-IMG_2180

and this…

23-IMG_2182

and this!

26-IMG_2185

 

A Break in the Weather

 

When life hands you a day without precipitation…you make a long list of things to do!

Today everyone went outside and got to work. I worked on getting our fodder system set up with an automated watering system. It isn’t finished but I ran out of drip line and the drive to the local store is about an hour. So I moved on to mucking out stalls and cleaning stall mats! Don’t be jealous!

Jeremy was busy cleaning up the roads, cleaning up the property after our last storm and clearing some areas for a future orchard.

The Little’s helped out by telling their Daddy where to go.

 

Farm

 

My lavender muscovies followed me around as I was mucking out the stalls. They love to find bugs!

 

Farm

 

So even though it was not the most exciting day on the ranch. It was nice to get some things crossed off our list.