Cooper

Our 100th post!  Who knew we talked so much?

I blogged recently about the change of direction we are taking with our goats.  Having sold the meat breed goats, we still needed to get our dairy does bred and explored many options.  Not keen on getting another buck – they are stinky and frankly, our last one was a lovable butthead.  (Pronunciation guide: The first three syllables of “lovable butthead” are silent.)  We looked into artificial insemination (AI) but technicians are few and the ridiculously brief period of receptivity( 6-12 hours) ensures that even if you detect the heat, it will be finished before the AI tech can arrive.

I investigated learning how to do the AI myself, but courses are expensive and halfway across the country.  Then would be the challenge of keeping semen onsite ready to be thawed for that narrow window of opportunity – which could occur while we were sleeping!

My does are Oberhasli – a Swiss breed that we have since learned are somewhat rare in this country.  I have two friends each with registered Nubian does – another dairy breed – who were also without bucks.  You see where this is going…. a shared problem becomes a shared venture.  So, we agreed look for a registered, purebred Nubian with good conformation.  After looking for some time, we found the perfect candidate, named “4RS Minima Cooper”, but we instead purchased the large dalmatian dog seen below.

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And just in case you don’t think he looks tall in a picture by himself, here he is beside one of the Oberhasli does.

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So far he has been a perfect gentleman – gentle with the goats and respectful of people.

Kilo and Karina’s response to the new animal in the herd they guard was interesting and, ultimately satisfying.  Both initially barked and growled at the large, unfamiliar intruder.  Kilo, who is older, bigger, and calmer, rather quickly accepted my assurances that this animal was now one of their own and the two of them experimented a bit to see which of them would yield way to the other, but were amicable soon enough.  Karina, on the other hand, frankly didn’t agree with me; she barked at him intermittently for a couple of days, before grudgingly accepting that he belongs.  Now they both watch and protect him just as they do the other goats and sheep.

We are excited to see the kids born out of this combination!  Per the partnership agreement, Cooper will live at each farm approximately four months each year, servicing 2-3 does at each farm.  He is a lucky buck!

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Hoof Trimming

This really should have been included when I wrote about Goat and Sheep Maintenance here.  But, as happens too often around here, the day we trimmed the sheep and goats I…..forgot to take pictures.

I was given a chance to redeem myself however, after picking up the new doe.  Prior to traveling to get her, I had asked the seller if she was up to date on vaccinations, worming and hoof trimming.  I was told that no, she had never been vaccinated,  no, she had never been wormed (egad!) but that, while the seller does not trim hooves herself, a friend comes regularly to do it, the implication being that yes, this at least, was up to date.

So, after driving an hour to pick up the new doe, I was somewhat shocked to find this:

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The seller then cheerfully told me that this doe must have been missed the last time the trimmer did hooves.  Finding does this time of year isn’t easy so I paid for her anyway, loaded her up, and brought her home.  Before she left her travel crate she had a shot of CD-T, a dose of wormer, and all 4 hooves (8 toes) were trimmed.  Unfortunately, despite the assurances that she was simply “missed” last time, I don’t believe the poor gal had ever been trimmed before.  The quick had grown out so that I was unable to trim her back to where she really should be, but I hope you’ll agree that she looks far more comfortable now:

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My hope is that over time the quick will withdraw so that with subsequent trimmings I will be able to gradually bring her feet back to the shape they should be.

Starting Over….with a new Doe

As mentioned here, we returned from vacation to find that our goat doe had died while we were gone.  She had a name and we were fond of her, so this was a loss for us, but even more so for our buck.  He was lost without her.  The first night he slept as close to her dead body as he could get and after it was removed, he followed me around, crying whenever I went out of sight.  He “heeled” me far better than any dog I’ve ever had; wherever I went, I felt his chin pressed up against my leg as he kept pace with me, and if I stopped moving, he wanted me to pet him and thrust his face into my hands until I did.

I tend to be pragmatic.  The goats are Boers – a meat breed – selected for their ability to feed our family.  Without a doe, our plans to raise goat meat were shot, and it turns out that raising sheep and goats together poses a challenge due to their different dietary needs.  So I was in favor of sending the buck to butcher – despite having been adopted as his doe.

HWA voted to get a new doe.

Now, finding an adult doe – especially at this time of year – is no easy task.  It is kidding season and there are bucklings available in large numbers but most people want to keep their does and doelings for themselves.  However I put out some feelers and was able to find a Savanna doe – 15 months old – about an hour away.

Meet “Bianca” (So named because it means “white” in Italian.)  She has never kidded but we’re hoping that around 5-6 months from now, she and Smoky, our buck, will have a kid or kids.

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She has only been with us a few days so she and Smoky are still in a relatively small pen, while she acclimates herself to her new home.  Once she has, they will be turned out to graze the pasture with our sheep.

The Trials of Raising Goats

Recently we went out of town for a few days, leaving a house-sitter to care for the critters.  He’s done it before, with good results.  On our last day – in fact, as we were packing up the car to drive home – I received a text that he had found our goat doe dead.  The last time he saw her, she had appeared healthy, and she had no injuries so he was baffled as to what killed her and distraught that it happened on his watch.

On arrival home, I examined the goat but found a distressing lack of evidence regarding cause of death.  She had a piece of hay sticking out of her cheek as though she was standing there eating and just…..dropped dead.  Very strange.  I decided to perform an amateur necropsy.  Amateur because I am no vet and have never necropsied a goat before.  However, in butchering birds frequently, I have become accustomed to what the internal organs should look like and hoped I might find some clue as to why this doe died.

This is where you’re gonna shoot me…..I forgot to take pictures.

By the time I was able to necropsy she had been dead approximately 24 hours and the gases building were evident.  I started with a small slit in her side to relieve the pressure.  I then cut her open from the rib cage down in order to expose the organs.  Nothing looked out of the ordinary.  I did note that her stomach was HUGE.  It was full of hay, grasses and a little grain, and at first I was concerned it was too large and that possibly an obstruction was what killed her.  However I then realized that as a grazing animal, they do need to eat a lot of hay and grass in order to get the nutrients they need.  Watching them all day, they spend the entire day with their heads down, eating, and all of that grass has to go somewhere in order to be processed out as tiny goat nuggets.  So – probably – the large stomach full of fibrous material was completely normal.  I would like to know this for sure though.

The organs all looked the right color and size and I found no sign of parasites – something about which I had been concerned.

So – possibly? – a brain aneurism?  Or a heart attack?  I dunno.