As I write we're in the middle of the 2016 kidding season with the first kids having already arrived and are approaching two month old. We’ve still got seven does left to kid with three of those being due in May. So, before we get too deep into the new year how did 2015, our first full calendar year with goats end? In a word--wonderful.
By the end of February, 2015 the bred does finished kidding. Overall, it was a good crop of kids. In October, 2014 we purchased a total of 6 does, 4 of which were bred. We ended 2015 with a total herd number of thirteen. Of that thirteen only one goat, 608 (our current herd sire) was an outside purchase. Yes, those goaties sure do multiply.
When we started with our herd they were untamed and roaming the farm with reckless abandon. We quickly regained control over the herd by deploying electric net fencing and over the next couple of month tamed them down with daily feedings. They’re a smart crew and quickly figured the racket out; “Chill behind the safety of these fences and wait for the guy with the buckets to come and serve us breakfast in bed. Then loaf around most of the day and chow down on the ample supply of thick brush and get fed again in the evening. Pretty cush!”
By the time February, 2015 rolled around the final kid had hit the ground and we ended up with three twin pairs and a single. Of the seven kids from the 2014/2015 kidding we retained five kids and had one fatality, a buckling succumbed to Floppy Kid Syndrome (FKS). Of the five kids retained four are does and one is a buck. All the does attained our primary retention criteria of unassisted birthing and exceptional mothering which qualifies them for re-breeding. In March we did borrow an unproven buck, Odie, for an attempt at re-breeding. He spent the month with us but was ineffective.
We had some hiccups with kidding due to our newbie status. The first was the making of a bottle baby, and the second was the loss of the kid buckling to FKS. As far as that loss is concerned, I can say that all animal husbandry has its learning curve. They are steep with losses to be expected. The nature of Floppy Kid Syndrome is that by the time it manifests it’s too late. Yes, there are some early detection tests experienced shepherds can do, but that’s where the “feel” of goat husbandry comes into play. Trust me, I’ll be able to detect that disturbance in the goatie Force in future kiddings.
The circumstances surrounding the bottle baby weren’t really anybody’s fault and certainly not due to anything the birthing doe did. It arose out of safety concerns for the herd as a whole. When the doe birthed her twin pair of doelings, the herd was roaming the ten acres freely. That in itself is nothing bad. Our farm is in the heart of coyote country and the decision to pull any kids that were born before the herd could be contained was decided from the start. The herd was gathered and contained later that same day of the kids’ birth except for their mother. Murphy’s law indeed. I still stand by our decisions and actions regarding that does birthing and the decision to bottle baby her kids. It’s just circumstances that led to the longer term bottle baby of one of her kids. At the end of the day it all ended well and was good experience for Tuesday and I.
On December 1, 2015 we sold our first goats which were the first kids born on Must Bee Kiddin’ Farm. Seven days later their mother gave birth to another twin pair. On December 8, 2015 Must Bee Kiddin’ Farm started it’s second kidding season, the current 2015/2016 kid crop season. At this point in time we’ve come full circle. The retained doelings are bred and will be kidding in May.
Our shepherding skills have advanced considerably over the past year. We’ve learned to listen to the goats and trust our instincts. Our actions are now more decisive and our herd is better for it. I’d like to thank our herd for their patience and mostly quiet guidance in our learning. Here’s to a new and better year filled with bouncing and bounding kiddies! //mr
In 2014 a couple of 40-somethings decided to make a change. The purchase of 10 raw, pine scrub acres along Florida's Nature Coast started it all. This is that story.