Friday, December 9, 2016

The cost to feed dairy Livestock: Are you prepared?

The cost to feed a Dairy Animals: Are you prepared
The average new farmer has no idea what they are in for when they bring home some dairy goats or, even worse, a dairy cow.
Listen, folks. . .they aren't cheap to maintain. Period.
The amount of water, hay and (usually) grain they consum will blow your mind.
Sadly, people decide what they are willing to feed and do that accordingly, and the animals suffer for lack of education and funding on the owner's part. A lot.
Cows and goats need free choice forage. Black, molded hay kept outside for 2 years ISN'T suitable. Some cracked corn in lieu of grain isn't suitable. Did I mention they all need a loose mineral out free choice that runs $20 to $40 a bag?
Usually, they need access to grain. A lot more than you think they need, with a few exceptions (click the blog, and you see the fawn cow on the left needed 15-20lbs of grain a day to hold even the condition you see there because she gave 6-7 gallons of milk a day; the dark brown cow eats tremendous amount of forage, but she gets no grain).
Know your animals' needs. You can't decide how much you are going to feed them. You have to feed what they need.
Dairy Livestock aren't wildlife. Did you know they do not exist in the wild? They aren't land-race breeds able to thrive without man's husbandry all of the time in play, either.
Nothing like a production dairy goat or cow lives in nature.
The investment in a dairy animal goes on for the life of the animal. I so often see livestock that are simply too thin (even for dairy animals), and the supposed farmers appear to have no idea why. Then we talk, and it is plain to me that they aren't feeding enough because it is "expensive."
Yes, it is.
We feed 3,500lbs of hay a week here on the farm to 2 horses, 2 ponies, 2 cows, 1 calf and the goat herd.
We feed an additional 300lbs of grain weekly, including what we use for the poultry.
It isn't cheap. But the costs reflect a sufficient feeding program. If you aren't able to afford to feed your livestock properly, scale down what you're keeping until you're able to afford the right care.

As a side note: 

MOST dairy cows will need grain unless they are lower production cows with a history of grass fed selectively bred genetics. Virtually all dairy goats MUST have grain. One of the most harmful bits of advice you can receive is you can usually get away without using grain for dairy animals, just feed lots of grass. It is like saying an athelete can do endurance running with a typical American diet. A body builder can compete with a regular diet. No. These animals are hard working, performance creatures. Most will milk their life away without enough calories, and grass simply will not give it to a lot of them.

If it means a lot to you to have milk and not use grain, you need to find a farmer selling cows with a history of not using grain and animals maintaining condition. Grassfed cows are out there, but they aren't typically what you find offered for sale.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Goat Keeping 101 reference

We raise animals as caring way, using medication when needed, and aim for hardy animals; however, we do not raise goats organically. Dairy goats are a man-selectively bred and created type of goat. They do not exist in the wild, so we do not take a hand's off approach in management.

If you're looking to raise a somewhat organic based goat, make sure you buy your breeding stock from folks raising animals the way you aim to raise them in the same climate and area you will raise your herd.
Before you decide on goats, I suggest reading a few blogs I've written.
Goats are Not easy. Actually, of all livestock, they are, by far, the most difficult to raise well.

Our care:
We feel the areas of most importance are GREAT nutrition, proper mineral balance and WELL managed Parasite prevention. If you address these 3 things correctly in YOUR herd, you will have fewer issues. 

We Bottle Raise most kids on Raw milk until 4-6 months old. They receive 60 ounces a day once they are 2 weeks old until weaning. They are not raised with the adults. This makes for friendly, but well grown kids. Dam raised kids, for us, are not friendly enough to be in our herd and are not kids we would want to offer to buyers for a future milking doe or an easy to handle buck.

We never use milk replacer – use ONLY goat's or whole cow's milk when feeding bottle kids - if using raw, make sure it is from a disease free (CAE, Johne's and CL) goat or cow (Johnes, for one). There are other disease, but there are none as prevelant. TEST your herd for CAE. Test for other things based on risk level.

Our Goats free range on our brush covered farm. While they do not like grass, they love tops of weeds, leaves, brush and briars! We feed a 16% Goat Ration. You cannot have a doe in milk and keep a body condition that is healthy without grain. They cannot be grass based as a general rule. This link will give you more information. You need a high protein grain for kids and does in milk, especially. Kids receive a 16% Pellet like Noble Goat. Dry does get minimal grain. Never be skimpy on feed or hay quality. They can't have Moldy, subpar hay. The bucks receive grain year round. This link speaks to buck care, which is more complex than you might think. More grain is fed during rut. We top dress Wethers and bucks grain with Ammonium Chlorida to prevent Urinary stones. Read why here. Remember access to high quality hay 24/7 is important for YOUR WHOLE HERD. Alfalfa is ideal.

Our does keep a body condition score of 3, usually. You can watch this video to learn more about healthy weights in your herd. We let the does have all the grain they wish to eat for about 15 minutes for morning and then the same for evening milking. They get around 4-5lbs of grain a day. This means, at our farm, each gallon of milk produced, including hay costs, runs about $3 per gallon. Time, meds, purchase costs and housing costs not included.

We offer a loose, high quality mineral. We usually use Cargill Right Now Onyx. Your area is probably deficient in copper and/or selenium. Check your soils maps through the AG office. Sheep cannot have copper, so make sure it isn't a mineral labeled for sheep. Goats really need more Selenium and Copper than most soils provide. We give BO-SE for Selenium and Copper Bolusfor copper twice a year. This is very important.

We keep growing kids from age 4-6 weeks until 6 months on a coccidia prevention program (dimethox or Baycox). Untreated, high cocci loads cause internal damage and the goats often never recover totally. Read more here.
We give kids about 3 cups of grain twice a day paired with milk and hay until 6 months, wean from milk at six months and continue on grain and hay. As dry yearlings, they can be on hay only if you are able to feed exceptional hay.

I like to breed does as yearlings, so they freshen at two. It is fine to breed them to kid as yearlings if they are 80-100lbs at breeding. Remember they need to continue to grow through pregnancy. You need to be able to provide enough grain and free choice hay so that the growing kids and also handle a pregnancy. A Helpful Prekidding guide is here.

We only worm as needed based on the Famacha Chart. We use chemical wormers. Herbal wormers haven't been effective in our experience in our area. We use Cydectin Injectable. We find Safeguard is useless. Always repeat ten days after first worming to break the life cycle of the parasite. Please click here for a list of wormers, the doseage and more

We allow our does to free range, but if you keep a large dry lot with good shelter, clean bedding and good fence, this will work, as well. You will need to provide free choice, high quality hay year round. You will generally see fewer parasites on dry lot management feeding off the ground and with clean feed pens, but I like the herd to be able to be out and roam about.

Goats MUST have good shelter from rain and wind. They HATE rain. They need to be able to stay out of mud as one huge issue in dairy goats and all goat breeds is hoof infections / hoof rot.

We disbud all kids born here. You want an experienced person to disbud. Do not assume a vet knows how to do this correctly. Most are done between 3-7 days of age. Do not use a full size calf iron. We apply the iron with light pressure in a rocking motion for 10 seconds on does, 18 on bucks. Disbudding is vital to goats that do not get stuck in fence, fit into a milking stanchion, have a high resale value and do not harm their people or herdmates. Read more here.

We tested for CAE for 3 years straight, and we now test occassionally and by request if very current results are desired. All animals here are tested negative or negative by parentage. We use Biotracking lab. CAE is NOT something you want passing through your does onto your kids. Testing is important. These links tell you much more on testing and then on CAE and what is means and does.

We personally do not test for CL and Johnes because of the difficulty in knowing if the tests are accurate. They give breeders and buyers a false sense of security, but we do allow buyers to test at their expense before purchase (cost isn't especially high). We have taken great pains to purchase from well managed herds and have good bio-security at the farm to minimalize the risks of both diseases, which cannot be managed. Testing Labs are link here. Information on CL is found here.

We do not currently test for G6S, the genetic mutation found in Nubians. The testing is cost prohibitive for our whole herd with some research that makes us feel more questions need answered before we put faith in the testing, but have had buyers test bucks from us, and we have only had normal results. We haven't had an affected kid born here. Read more about it here. Any buyer is welcome to test any kid before a purchase at their cost.

We sell only registered Does and Bucks. We sell only American Saanens or Purebred Nubians or American British Guernseys (once ADGA lets them in the herdbooks). We do not sell perfect animals, as no one does, but we do sell animals that can have the potential to be quality milkers and perform in the show ring. We take part in the ADGA's Linear Appraisal Program when we can. Read more about it here. This gives a score to each doe or buck to let us and the buyers know how each animal officially stacks up to the ideal goat. The perfect goat. It is a great tool to know what you're buying, breeding and where the strong and weak areas in the goat are found. The ideal ranges for scores found on an LA sheet can be looked at here. Understanding all the awards, marks, scores and symbols on a pedigree can be sorted out on this link. Having registered animals gives you a lot of control and knowledge. It isn't just a piece of paper. It lets you know so much about the animal's history, the strong and weak points of the parentage, the milk production possibilities and so much more. Breeding good animals without knowing the history behind them and having anon-partial accoutability with DHIR/LA and more is unlikely.

We milk does twice a day for 8 to 10 months a year. We do not breed every doe every year. Milking the doe is really important. They are dairy goats. Use them for their purpose.

Other issues we have dealt with that you may encounter will be linked to below:

The best Overview on Dairy goat Care from Birth to Kidding
The best extensive guides for goat care online are 8 Pages of Links on Dairy Goat Info's Health Section here and Saanendoah Here
For a Great "Purchase" List, Click here
Another nice overview is Here

How to SUCCESSFULLY raised goats kids on a bottle. Do not USE milk replacer ever. Follow this schedule, and you will have healthy kids

I cannot tell you how many calls and messages I get yearly about dying, bloated or dead goat kids.

My first statement (not even a question) is always, "You were feeding powdered milk replacer, weren't you?"

The answer is always a weak, "Yes, I was."

Sometimes they say the vet told me to, the breeder told me to or that they had used replacer with calves and thought it would be ok.

Listen, goats are so fragile. Yes, you can raised puppies, foals and calves on replacer. But it is so risky to use powered replacer, my FIRM recommendation is to never, ever try it.

This advice has saved many a weak, dying kid.

Feed real (tested free from CAE) goat's milk or WHOLE cow's milk only. No replacers. Pasteurized, store bought is fine.

Bottlefeeding Full size goat kids on my schedule:

First 24 hours
I start offering up to 10 oz of REAL COLOSTRUM to a newborn kid. If they drink it all, wait 4 hours before offering more. If they take 2-4 ounces, I offer milk again in a few hours.  I feed only colostrum the first 12 hours. They must have colostrum from a goat (not a cow).

You can go to Whole Cow's milk thereafter

Day 2-7: They are on about 8-10 ounces 4 times a day

Day 7- 4 weeks:  I do 20 oz 3 times a day

4-8 weeks: 20 oz plus ounces 3 times a day or go to free choice lamb bar feeding

8-12 weeks: 30 oz 2 times a day

If you chose to feed longer (I do)

12-24 weeks - One 30 oz bottle, once a day

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sometimes, in all of our thinking of what we do not possess or what we have lost, we are unable to reflect on what we still Have or fortunately found along our way. . .

Sometimes, in all of our thinking of what we do not possess or what we have lost, we are unable to reflect on what we still Have or fortunately found along our way. . .

This day always reminds me to try very hard to appreciate what amazing memories I have of those I’ve long since lost and to feel very blessed, to be very thankful for those I still have and the moments I am fortunate to experience now.

Great Loss does not negate a great future of beautiful people, places and moments, though when we have lived through tragedy, there are hours, days and years it may seem to impossible to believe. . .

I'm actually positive I've faked a lot of happiness for a long, long time (even now, sometimes), but eventually, clouds part (at least for awhile), and you really are desperately grateful. You aren't just faking it. You just are appreciative. You remember that even when it seemed like all was lost, there were bits and pieces you scavenged to either collect or cling to tightly. You admit you have found new things to hold onto in desperation, that you love, and in all of that, you know you must be thankful.

Tomorrow, perhaps more than other days, I am thankful for 3 lovely boys, a husband who will go anywhere and do anything I ask (and I ask a great deal), a mountainside of the creatures I’ve loved since girlhood. . .and for years of being able to save horses in an area where they previously lacked a voice with people of such value. . .

I am thankful for what are now only memories, but they are cherished. I am glad I have them. Everyone doesn't. I had the most beautiful girl as a sister, such as I believe the world could not have known without her here. I've been able to love someone so much and have held her in such high esteem, her loss could hurt me so deeply that I've known a few emotions others will never believe in.

To have grown up with two younger brothers so unique and intelligent, I can easily be swept away in dreaming what life would be like had they lived longer with me. . .

And to have known a Father that touched an entire region in such a way his name is still and will always be spoken with a rare type of reverence that shakes a person to the core. . .regardless of how long he has been gone and no matter that he wore his shirts threadbare and taped his shoes.

To have a mother who never failed to watch a "play" I put on as a child or go the extra mile to entertain me and 12 year old sister still here when there is no reason I couldn't have been robbed of everything. . .including them.

I will always fight to remember to never let the loss of so many amazing lives prevent me from admitting how many new lives I’ve met and love deeply today. It isn't the same, but that is the hand dealt. There are Lives I’d never have known had so much tragedy never existed. I’d never have looked beyond all I had for something epic to fill the deep void left behind.

My walk would have been so different had they stayed, easier and happier, but I recognize that I would be weaker, more selfish and less thankful without the journey I’ve taken to be here today.

So with that, no matter where or what, I imagine you too can find a reason to be appreciative, to be thankful.

I understand. It isn't easy or even possible this year. . .sometimes. Try, though.

Be Thankful in the face of a county that seems torn apart, selfish, ill informed and hate-filled because there are, as I try hard to see all of the time, lovely lives all over the place who want better and are working for better.

(I don't think another photo would ever work on this day, for after it all, my mother is still able to see the good when even I see only bad. . .This was in front of the Emmons building as it burned down)

Be Thankful.

Not because I always am and told you it is a good idea, but because someone who has walked a journey I hope you never do. . .is still trying her best. So I bet you can, as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Donald was elected, America whines and I sigh

We are not an informed, tough society. I wish were could be, though.
We have lived through decades and decades of corruption in America, and especially in our state of West Virginia. Yet most people have no idea how to really change anything.
So many do not realize state and county politics dictate far more in our lives than the national elections. Heck, most have no idea how laws come to be. Most never call their Reps to ask for change. Most have no idea what happens after a law passes or ever work to change anything, yet they will complain.
But I know enough representation personally and have enough knowledge to impart to assure you that a huge amount of men are representing women that are what many would consider misogynists and carry beliefs that are radically conservative Here. Frankly, most women elected are/do, as well. But they care about being re-elected, and so in spite of their beliefs, you can make progress if you really try.
We've not felt REAL, radical changes through the many national candidates taking office in the way we bemoan over the recent years, either. We haven't felt radial change through the state elections, either, though we have tantrums often.
That is the American way, after all.
We seem to enjoy the ability to whine and complain. We don't bother to learn how to fix much. Even the people who think they know the issues well really have no idea how to change anything.
When you've lost your father, sister and two little brothers (both under 20 years old) in 2 years, you would probably never say your life is ruined (or anything that might be twisted to mean anything like this) because an election didn't go the way you hoped.
Checks. Balances.
I've lived through all sorts political messes in a state that has ranked near a 3rd world country level since well before I was born. I've not seen meaningful change so far no matter who was elected.
I'm glad I've seen the cusp of the birth of change.
I have known what misogyny costs as I've paid as high a price as a woman (or female child) could ever pay more than once. More than Once. You can't tell me anything there I've not lived.
I've had the status quo in this county leave my only remaining brother addicted for more than 10 years because the Big Pharma lobbyists have more money than the common man does, and I've lived in a world where my family can get no rest for a moment. . .not even now.
I've done animal rescue for years. I've seen what man and beast face here in America at our VERY worst, lowest and saddest points. I've seen how no matter who we elect, little changes. I have seen a handful of people work to try to change everything, too, regardless of who was elected.
I've seen the public stay quiet. I've begged so many to speak up on various issues for children, adults and animals.
I know how quiet you are when you must do more than type angry words on Facebook.
I know.
What I will do now is tell you THAT YOU can change things. Again. As I have before.
You can change the laws that exists. All of these people in office want to be re-elected, and until you call and call and write day in and out, you've ignored your ability to change. Voting is one small step of many others.
Your duty doesn't stop when the voting ends. Your duty has just begun.
Don't complain. Find out how laws come to be. Find out how you CHANGE things. I know the power of one. Too many ignore it, and they complain.
Be Someone. Now seems a great time. This coming season at the legislature, I intend to change things again. You can, too.
Don't tell me you're busy. Come on, friends. I know better.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Now I lay be down to sleep, and no matter who is elected, I pray the Lord my Soul to Keep

Tomorrow, no matter what happens, we are still in a country together unless you've got the bags packed and are headed out.
If you are, good luck wherever you go.
I hope all sides that claim to care and be tolerate and love folks mean it. Proof is in the pudding and such, on ALL sides: Side A, B and C. There is a C, after all.
I guess we will see whether they are all serious, won't we?
Things don't always go the way we believe is needed, do they? I've lived through various major elections. Some went my way, others didn't.
We can be hysterical and encourage actions which do not fit into the kindness spectrum, and then again, we can act like Americans.
There are folk who will argue for their poor behavior, defend it and explain why they are uniquely qualified to make a call on good, bad and so forth. They are able to judge all.
There are those who will gloat and be unkind.
There are decent folks that do not fall into those categories above.
Here is to THOSE people. Hold us together. We will need it because I fear the other folks are going to make it hard to stay together.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

If you are beating, starving or raping your child. . .that must be the end of your rights as a parent forever. We have a system that works FOR THOSE PARENTS, Not the Children. Why?

I love Freedom. I'm a liberty minded person.
It is interesting how people who claim to be freedom minded use this concept of "freedom" as a protection for those who abuse children and animals.
Did you know you are only entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if you're an adult in America? Sadly, that is the way of it.
I've got news for you, though. . .children (and animals) are entitled to decency and a life free of abuse.
This doesn't mean the government has any RIGHT to decide how they are parented (I don't care if you live in a tent and are kind to your child and feed him enough), but what it means is we ALL know there is a clear line where abuse and GROSS neglect takes place. It isn't parental preference. It is a CRIME. We can't excuse these crimes. We can't give these parents ANOTHER CHANCE.
No parent has the right to have a second chance if they abuse and grossly neglect their child. The child's RIGHTS MUST MATTER MORE.
In WV, that is not the case. Most cases of abuse go ignored. Most adoptable children stay locked up in foster care until they aren't adoptable or rehab-able. And so many people are willing to err on the side of caution in the name of protecting a parent's rights instead of a child's right.
On the heels of all I've seen reporting child abuse and neglect I've witnessed in person, in the year I spent as a CASA and from just living in a world where children get bottom of the barrel too often, I already realize that only thing this parent's rights mentality has done for WV is harm children.

"Children are dying from abuse and neglect at a higher rate in West Virginia than any other state, a problem that judges, social workers and others say is fueled by rampant substance abuse and likely to grow unless lawmakers get serious about finding and paying for solutions."
West Virginia had the highest death rate due to neglect and abuse in the nation in 2011.
Overall, we rank 37 right now with many factors considered, but realize, that rank is surely only because most reported cases ARE ignored. Ignored according to what I have seen and to those I know who worked in child advocacy in other states. . .at higher rates than can be imaged. I have made MANY reports, and none have ever been followed up on. Ever.
Imagine if 1/2 of the cases called in that were valid were followed up on? Yet, When they are, they have too few workers giving it a go and system who doesn't advocate for them. The laws aren't on their side.
They are in a system working for their parents, not them. They are in a system that may eventually take them after 3 years in a broken foster system where they are more damaged than before. Then we try to adopt them out, after their grandmother first fostered them and let their abusive parents visit them over and over, after we dragged them through the system until they are unable to heal. That mother they had keeps having more, and instead of those kids being taken at birth, they are allowed to stay until they are broke and abused and destroyed. We rattle about abortion (which I do care about, but we ignore something as brutal we can fix much quicker) and ignore this horror. This is a horror we can really change in few years if we refuse to shut up. But that isn't as compelling for some bizarre reason.
It is insane. Really.
I believe parents have the right to parent outside of government influence. I don't believe the government can tell me anything about anything. . . as long as I do not starve, rape or beat my children or chain them in the yard. You know. That is all really clear. It isn't rocket science.
If you are beating (not spanking), starving or raping your child. . .that is the end of your rights as a parent. We have a system that works FOR THOSE PARENTS. Why?
I have two sponsors at our state legislature saying they will work with me on a bill that may change this as of a few days ago, so lets give it a shot. Laws take time to change, but surely, of all things, this is MORE WORTH it than anything else.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Average Breed PRODUCTION Numbers in Dairy goat Herds on Milk test / DHIR for 2015


Keep in mind, herds that test will generally be some of the top production herds, so you averages are very likely to be less, perhaps substantially so.
DOES 275-305 DAYS in MILK
Breed - Average LBS over lactation daily - Butterfat - Protein
ALPINE 9.2lbs 3.2 % Butterfat 2.9 Protein
LAMANCHA 8.4lbs 3.7% Butterfat 3.1 Protein
NIGERIAN DWARF 2.5lbs 6.3% Butterfat 4.4% Protein
NUBIAN 6.9lbs 4.8 % Butterfat 3.8 % Protein
OBERHASLI 7.8lbs 3.7 % Butterfat 3.0 % Protein
SAANEN 9.9lbs 3.2 % Butterfat 2.9 % Protein
TOGGENBURG 8.3% 3.1 % Butterfat 2.7 % Protein

I think of her so often, daily. . .so much, I'm not thankful for what I have still

I think of the sister I lost often. Daily, really.

I've never believed in someone's love for me as much. It isn't to say I loved her more than all else, but I've loved no one more, and there was something there for her I'll never know again.
There are things a sister who has known you since you were a child offers no one else can. . .
There are things I'll never have without her, but I hope I can find a way to not let all of that hurt prevent the other little sister who came along so long after the first "Little" one that she could never feel the way Angel did about me once upon a time.
And in the same token, perhaps one day all the desperate missing of the one will let me remember more often to not take this one for granted.
She is Alana. Quite unique and decidedly her own strange person. . .and one I know my darling Angel would have loved as blindly as she ever loved me, and I'd say this little one will have deserved the love more than I ever did.
And darn them both for all those weird hugs they love(d) to give me. Maybe one day, I will learn how to like them.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

This photo show the result of the AVERAGE consumer. That is what is shows you. The consumer in America is what creates these nightmares. Your demand.

Despite what this article on the blog by OGP says, A TRUE farmer would never casually just think of this type of disaster as merely a financial loss. He would be there by boat trying to save what was left likely even if not allowed to do so legally. He would be doing something. 

Factory farms are not ran by farmers. They are ran by CEOs, really. The disconnect between food and living beings occurs when people run these "operations" (not farms) like machines. 

A real farmer would be out there with a boat or 12 if he had to trying to save his livestock, even at his own detriment, folks, more often than not. I'm sure many caring farmers did just that. The corporate machines? No. Those aren't farmers.

I know a vegan agenda would have people believe this picture shows "the average farmer'" and his view of his animals, but that is simply not true.

This photo is more about the results of the AVERAGE consumer. That is what is shows us. The consumer in America is what creates these nightmares where thousands of animals are in mass buildings where evacuation and rescue is impossible. Your demand. Your money and how you spend it, how I spend it, creates the world we want.

Let this image inspire you to become more aware of where you food comes from (I hope it reminds me, too), and let it encourage you to buy AT LEAST one more thing locally, from small farmers, as often as you can that you are certain care very much.

(Not my image, not my article from One Green Planet. My comments are directed around and toward article by One Green Planet.)



Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27

"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington