Proverbs 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weaning the Kids

                 Twinkie and Bluebell as kids                 

I love having baby goats.  They are sweet, bouncy and so much fun.  If you are feeling low you can’t’ watch baby goats for long and not crack a smile.   I rarely keep any baby goats to raise.  I only need a few goats to supply the milk we need here.   I only keep a baby from my best breedings to replace the adult milkers I want to retire every few years.  But with the “great goat experiment” going on I have to keep a generation or two of the next few breeding from all the does on the whole property!  YIKES!  And raise them all up to being milkers to see who stays and who gets sold.   I haven’t had to do this in years. Yes, we will have many extra goats for a while. (year or two)  But the end products will be way worth it.
I always take the babies as soon as they are born and bottle feed them.  It makes for very tame easy to handle milkers if I am keeping any.  Since they are all bottle babies I can sell the ones I don’t want to keep immediately and not have the work of bottle feeding since I am not keeping them anyway.  Also for me bottle feeding is best because I want the extra milk for my family.  I have in the past let goats raise their kids.  I would let the babies nurse all day and separate the babies off the moms at night starting at two weeks old.  Then I would milk out all the milk from the night in the morning and put the babies back with their moms for the day to nurse all day.  They always did fine this way as well.  But being I sell most of my babies I just prefer to have them nursing well on bottles already when they go to their new homes.  That way I don’t worry about them. I make sure they got their colstrum and are nursing well before I sell any.
      Twinkie, Bluebell and the little buckling from their triplet kidding.

As I said I love baby goats but do not like the chore of bottle feeding.  When I do keep them for myself I try to bottle raise the kids at least to 12 weeks old to give them the best growth and health.   Bottle feeding Twinkies babies (Amelia and Mini bell)  is starting to get really old.  Even though Carolyn does it for me (starting at about four weeks old) while I am working in the barn after I milk.  I am so ready for them to stop consuming so much milk so I can start making cheese and such again.  Right now Twinkie has been producing enough milk to feed both the babies and take care of our need of milk.  But we have had nothing extra for cheese or making things from milk.

I realized that Twinkies kids turn 8 weeks old in a few days.  They were born as preemies on January 25th.  They were born 11 days early and I had to tube feed them at first.  But as soon as their suck reflex kicked in they started nursing well.  On full sized babies once they can drink 20 ounces in one nursing I drop them down to two bottles a day.  One in the morning and one at night.    Twinkies two babies have been on two 20 ounce bottles a day for the last five weeks.  As of the last few weeks they are drinking a little water from a bucket, eating grain and hay and growing well.  I decided to cut them back to one bottle a day starting this morning.  So I am just going to give them only a night bottle until I wean them.  They were not happy.  It will take them a few days to adjust.  I am slowly raising their grain intake to compensate. 
 Sad baby goats eating their breakfast of grain after having their morning bottle taken away for the first time.

I guess the main reason to go ahead and try to get them weaned in the next few weeks is because Bluebell is due to kid on April 10th!  Any does she has I am going to keep as it is the first breeding of her and my Nigerian Dwarf buck, Major Coco and Bluebell is my best milker.  Anyways, if she has any does I will be back to bottle feeding several times a day for a while and have those babies to attend to.  So I really want Twinkies kids weaned before all that transpires.  Although one bottle a day for them and working on new kids won’t be to bad if I think they need to keep nursing a bit longer. 
This is how much milk I had this morning not giving any to the babies.  Yipee!  Each jar is a half gallon jar.  And she did have a bit more milk as I slept in a bit today.

The other issue I need to work out is that with Bluebell freshening I will have two very good milkers in milk.  2 gallons (or more) a day to find something to do with.  We really don’t need all that milk.  So I will probably start to milk Twinkie only once a day so as to have less milk.  I might just milk both goats once a day and that will be better for us as far as milk usage in our home.  Slowly backing off on milking and getting a goat down to once a day milking will cut their milk production at least in half.  So a half gallon a day from two goats would be fine.  Actually still a bit much for us.  But we always find yummy uses for it.  From ice cream to cheese, custards to pudding  we will find a use.  :)


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