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Goats at Mystical Ventures

 

IMG 0720-300pxGoats are a relatively new endeavor here at MV. A few years ago, we noticed that the overgrowth was invading our property in a big way. We had cut back trees and overgrowth before, but Mother Nature has a way of reclaiming that. We wanted to do something more permanent, so we had the tree folks come in one more time, and they cut back a lot of the overgrowth. As mentioned earlier, we are big supporters of mulching whenever possible to keep down weeds, and mulching also puts back nutrients into the soil. So we began to mulch heavily. We had heard that goats were natural grazers and a lot of folks got them specifically to keep brush under control. So, I began reading lots of books about goats, went to visit a few goat farms and asked loads of questions: how many goats? what kinds of goats? dairy goats or meat goats? what kinds of breeds? how large? what kind of shelter did they require? fencing? food? care, etc. If they could help with the land management concern, dairy goats seemed to offer a number of other benefits: we could milk them, make goat cheese, goat yogurts, even goat soaps. We learned that more people on the planet drink goat’s milk than cow’s milk. It would be an adventure.

 

Hildegard-kissing-Isabelle-200pxSo, in the spring of 2010, after the land was somewhat cleared, we bought a small shed and some fencing, and I picked out two baby kids, one doeling and one buckling. Goats are herd animals and really are very unhappy if they are alone, so I chose two Saanens, a large standard size white dairy goat that originated in Switzerland, known for its good supply of milk. The buckling would be castrated before I picked him up, and then called a wether, since we wanted to see how to handle goats, period, before we started breeding any. So, Dante and Beatrice became our first two goats. Bill was also looking at the books and liked the Nubian goats, which are also standard size dairy goats, originating from Africa, but are multicolored with floppy ears and a Roman nose. It took me a while longer, but I finally found a breeder with those and I drove a couple hours to pick up two sisters, Bernadette and Gertrude. We were hooked. Goats are the most fun animals. 300pxgoatsThey’re different than dogs and have that herd mentality, but they’re playful and fun to watch and easy to work. They don’t bite, since they have no front top teeth and are used to chewing hay and grass, not others. They cleared the land in no time. The following spring, we decided to buy a “first freshener,” a goat that has just given birth for the first time and is “in milk”. Again, before we decided to breed more goats, we thought we should try this “milking routine”. We also added one more yard to be cleared. So, last year, Sky Dancer, a milking Saanen, arrived. Goats need to be milked twice a day. Luckily, we have two teen-aged neighbors who love animals and were willing to help with the goats all along. They were willing to split the days of milking and use the milk for their family which has been a huge blessing. When Sky first started, she was giving us almost a half gallon each milking. Last year, as well, we decided to trey one more breed and bought a Toggenberg doeling, Hildegard. She was a real sweetie, but unfortunately, we lost her after only one week. Apparently she died of enterotoxemia, a terrible digestive disorder that sometimes attacks the babies.

 

Liz-and-Bernadette-300pxThen, last winter, we got brave and had two of the goats bred: Beatrice and Gertrude. Beatrice became pregnant, but Gertrude did not. This June, Beatrice delivered two babies, a doeling, Maggie, and a buckling, Dominic. They are a lot of fun to watch and we now hear little baa-aas every morning when they know one is up and coming with fresh hay. We are currently trying to sell Dominic, since I also discovered that uncastrated Billy goats are a world unto themselves and I’d rather not have all the females pregnant all the time.

 

 The goats are all registered with the American Dairy Goat Association and that group is a huge resource for information. Their link is: www.ADGA.org

 

Sky-Dancer300px There are also groups around the country that just raise Saanens and others that just raise Nubians as well. They also are helpful in gathering information.

 

INBA: International Nubian Breeders Association: Their newsletter is published four times a year out of Fayetteville, NC. Contact: Kathy Goodin Newsletter editor, 130 Curtis Road, Fayetteville, TN 37334; personal email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

NSBA: National Saanen Breeders Association: also has a quarterly newsletter. http://www.NationalSaanenBreeders is their website and they also offer Saanen Talk, a yahoo discussion group.

 

Each month at MV, in the Farm Animals Notes, there will be some seasonable tips about raising goats, and hopefully a chat room of sorts for Q. and A.

 

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