Sunday, March 23, 2014

When dairy goes wrong

When dairy goes wrong
I was emailing with a goat friend of mine, Jim, once
. . .
He mentioned how he mostly discourages people from getting into dairy goats (even as a seller) because so few really understand the commitment, cost and what a labor intensive endeavor it is, thus the kids or goats sold to such people suffer and end up with questionable care and eventually sold in an ad somewhere or at auction or diebefore making it that long.
He is right.
I do the same. Heck, I teach Intro to Dairy classes which could be called "Why to Never Endeavor into Dairy."
Many friends who first asked me about dairy goats can tell you. . .I've try to dissuade first, to make the undertaking seem impossible.
Once I know you're committed to farming and hands on commitment, it is another matter. Then it works quite the opposite. I will always be on the look our for a cow or goat for you, even when you have enough.
Anyway, I do the same with dairy cows as I do with goats.
Seriously, you have to milk a real production cow - period.
end of story.
You can get away with leaving kids on a dairy goat and not milking. . .You CAN'T do that with most any dairy cows. YOU HAVE TO MILK that cow.
Have a stomach virus? Still have to milk
Have a kid in the Er? Still have to milk
Break your arm? Still have to milk.
I want to KNOW that the person I'm talking to understands this is 24/7, in the snow, in the rain. I want them to know it is expensive, you have losses and many people hate it. Most hate it once they begin.
A few are crazy. They love it. It is bizarre.
You're buying a living, hard working being. You're trying them out, and if you do not like the experience, you're not likely to care how you take care of them or where they go when you're finished owning them.
That is a tough one for me.
I heard one goat breeder say few of the kids they sell each year ever make it past that year.
What!? But then I hear that happens a lot.
Lord, how sad.
I know many goat breeders who actually will not sell kids anymore. If kids aren't kept, even nice doe kids, by the farmer, they are grown out through human care and processed, never offered for sale.
I've sold to a few unethical folks masquerading as well grounded, solid and kind people, but right off the top of my head, the majority of the kids I've sold I know made it to adulthood, and I know where the VAST majority are right now and still know how they do. . .and some are many states away.
Finding truly dedicated dairy homes is so tough. Finding people not looking at farming and especially dairy animals through rose colored glasses is an uphill battle.
Statistically, Jim says the majority are out of goats (I assume this applies to cows or even sooner with dairy cows) in under 3 years. Where do all of those does, bucks and kids go? Some grounded goat people see a good deal and snatch them up sometimes.
But most some run through auctions, get tied to cinder blocks as brush control in a backyard, die from worm overloads, coccidia or go to more random people from a CraigsList ad that will repeat that same process again.
That is not fair to animals that were bred for a purpose and can fill that purpose in the right hands.
Thankfully, I know a lot of dairy breeders, like me, that simply will not sell to such people if we have any idea the end may be like that.
I can tell you I respond to less than 1/2 of the inquiries I receive looking to buy dairy animals.
As a homesteader / farmer, if you are already well on the path of dairy cows or goats, be really candid with potential buyers.
Explain the cost, the downsides. . .really get a feel that these people are sincere and up for it. Ask what will happen if the animals don't work out, what do they plan to do, where do they go? Ask about their expectations and long term goals.
We should care where the offspring we offer end up, and we should care to be honest with buyers who might turn and walk away if they knew how farmstead dairy really can be.
Our concern for the offspring from our land should not be cut off once the kid or calf leaves our farm. Lord knows, it does NOT stop for me at that point.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Production over consumption

Homesteaders talk about being self sufficient, and that scares a lot of folks. . .

That idea is too much to even take in for most. It is for me.

How about we say we want to find some area where we CAN be self sufficient?

We can do that.

We all have somewhere we can be MUCH MORE sustainable, totally self sufficient, even. . .

Work on that. 

Don't try to make every single aspect of your existence wholly sufficient on your work along.

Life is collaborative. 

That is the only way it works. 

Do what you can on your own, within and on your land, in your life, 
but then look outside and see who you can work with, trade with and buy from to 
fill your life with things more sustainable, traditional homestead life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Winter that never ends

It is Spring . . . 


But then this happened the next day

It is never going away. . .

This winter has been so long, so cold and so full of snow. . .I am already dreading NEXT WINTER. . .and feel it is coming too soon and this one isn't even over yet

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Politics on the farm

One might say Politics have little to do with farming, but it is actually are very wrapped up in them. . .

So I will tell you, this farmer is libertarian. . .Libertarian on all areas except Abortion. 

I believe in 100% free will of the people when it doesn't directly infringe on another person's life. 

We cannot ask for freedom for some but not all.

I do not think free people need to ask anyone about their health, what they put in their bodies, who they join their bodies with.

Christ himself died to give us freedom - freedom to sin and to not sin as we chose.

I'll be darned in the government or any man on earth has the right to take it from me. . .and yet people continue to blindly vote for the same thing over and over and over and over and pray for change. . .while pressing repeat.

Break that cycle.

The most dangerous belief held in America and what will lead and is leading to it's destruction is the belief that regulations exist to protect us.

Throwback Thursday

How is this for a ThrowBack for an Early - not quite yet - Thursday pic?

Circa 2009 on the farm 

Some Kid rearing tip . . .not the human kind

A Kid rearing tip . . .not the human kind

So often I get messages and calls this time of year. . .

A goat emergency. . .someone has a listless kid that wouldn't eat. The very young kid was near death and vets or breeders have told the person to raise the goat kid on milk replacer. . .

My response, Always. . .

"NO REPLACER. Take the kid off now. Put the kids on Whole cow's milk (never 2%) if local, tested goat's milk can't be had."

As always, kid is then perfectly fine within a day or so.

I've been getting these calls for years now, the answer THAT HAS ALWAYS WORKED has been - NO REPLACER. WHOLE COW'S MILK if goat's milk isn't available. Every single person has saved their kids because of this.

Keep this in mind when you sell bottle kids or purchase them.

This assures the kid gets the best start in life, and that is what we want.

People will tell you how replacer worked for them fine. . .remember everyone's version of fine doesn't always equal really excellent growth and health, and also, that does nothing for the many people who simple end up with dead kids.

Another bottle kid goat tidbit that may help someone:

I also had an email dialogue last year with a lady raising some quads. Some are on the dam. Some she bottle raised since, of course, the doe wouldn't be able to care for all 4 well enough.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of easy to find information online as to HOW much to feed. While she knew to not use replacer, she said the 7 week old bottle kids were stunted in size. I asked how much she was feeding. It added up to about 30 oz or less a day for full size kids.

My kids get 60 oz a day, at least. They are full size kids, not miniatures. This is until at LEAST 12 weeks. I personally do not wean until older, actually.

Personally, this is what I do with success, and there is some variation kid to kid:

First 24 hours
I start offering up to 10 oz of colostrum to a newborn kid. If they drink it all, I wait about 2 hours before offering more. I continue this the first 24 hours every 3-4 hours and wait up to 6 hours overnight.

Day 2-7- they are on about 10 ounces 4 times a day

Day 7- 4 weeks - I do 20 oz 3 times a day, if they will accept it

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 continue beyond 12 weeks (I do 16- 24 weeks) - a 20 to 30 oz bottle once a day.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Buying Livestock? Remember. . .

Two Simple Rules to remember for Spring Livestock purchases. . .

the biggest time of the year is now for buying additions to your herds or for starting your flock or herd. . .

#1. Spare no Expense for high quality (read: conformationally correct), Registered, Healthy (which usually means genetic and disease testing) Animals.

#2. Really, REALLY like and believe in the goals of the people you buy from as they will or should guide you along your path to success for that breed you have.

YOU will NEVER regret it if you follow these two simple recommendations.

Candy. . . the very first of many

Our lovely first Bottle Baby Nubian dairy doe

A Glorification of Milking cows

Not to make it more romantic than it is, but. . . 




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