Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our Little Manitoba Dairy Goat Herd!

Mervy and Marty, two of the triplets.

An update on our little herd of goats!  We've had goats a little over a year now, starting with our three Mamas: Goldie, Mabel and Chocolate arrived last June.  We currently have a herd of ten - having added Daddy Randi in December and having seen the birth of six kids through May and June!  What an adjustment it's been; the time has been full of laughs, joy and yes, quite a bit of frustration and worry!  Being new goat keepers nothing is familiar, routine or 'to be expected'.  You can read all you want and watch all the videos you can find, but the best lessons learned are the ones you experience!

Originally adding the three does to our routine was not at all a burden.  We already had a pattern morning and night for feeding the chickens and we had, in previous years, had a small group of Berkshire pigs to care for each summer.  We did not bring in pigs for the summer we added the goats - one thing at a time.  When we added young Randi in December the Farmers Market season was over, the farm was quiet and he just went in with the does and was hardly a 'blip' on the work radar.  There were when the does were following Farmer Man around and figured out how to get on the roof of our house!  We got into a nice rhythm of feeding, grooming and hoof trimming and all was well.

Gaffer and Marty: less than two weeks apart in age, but
being an only child gave Gaffer a weight advantage
from the beginning!
Goats are awesome animals: sociable, intelligent, affectionate.  We enjoyed, throughout the Fall and Winter, taking them for walks, without leashes.  We learned not to worry about them 'escaping' because they always just came to look for us if they got out.  We did find we had to improve our fencing a bit - they are smart critters and better jumpers than you might think!  And yes, they like to eat the ornamental flowers and shrubs in your beds, borders and pots! We continued our education, to care for the does while pregnant and into birth.  However, nothing prepares you for actually going through labor with a goat the first time, second or third time!  Of course, each doe had a totally different experience with a different set of problems!  You can read more about the birth of all the kids here, here and here.  Choosing the 'goat', 'Nubian goats, or 'The Goatling' labels from the right-hand side of the blog will bring up all the posts concerning them!  Adding the routine of milking and feeding baby goats has been a bit of a strain!  Our big error was having babies in May/June - when we should have been planting and tending our vegetables.  We thought we were being so smart (!) having less to worry about in warmer weather but it did put us behind in the gardens!

We're still learning lots, each and every day.  Randi was very young when we brought him here: we both laughed when we first saw him and asked if he was old enough to 'do the job'!  He obviously was, and has produced beautiful kids!  Randi is a purebred registered Nubian goat; his father Buccaneer was recently declared on of the top ten bucks in Canada!  Our newest experience is a buck in rut: Randi has decided it's mating season now, and he's already putting on his 'show'.  Fall is officially mating season, as the days get shorter, and we have no intention of breeding the does again until October.  This could be an interesting few months coming up!  The mating rituals of male goats involves weird moaning noises, peeing on one's own face and producing lots of musky odors!  I guess the does don't mind, but I'm not finding him as attractive these days!  It's actually quite 'yucky' to pet him at this time, much to his consternation!  He loves a good rub on the forehead but.....not happening right now!

Marble, the third triplet, and the twins, grazing and nibbling
on their favorite treat: willow branches!
Our females are all high-percentage, commercial Nubian does.  Goldie and Chocolate are 75% Nubian, Mabel is 85% Nubian.  We chose Randi as our herd sire to strengthen the Nubian/milking lines.  Goldie is part Saanen and Alpine, and has the cute little wattles under her chin, which she has passed on to her son Gafferty.  As Gaffer has been fully weaned, we're quickly learning that Goldie is an incredible milker!  Literally twice the production daily of the other two mamas at around two litres morning and again at night!  If you're interested in increasing production in your dairy goat herd, Gaffer is available for sale - contact us!  Mabel, although not a 'happy' mother, is a very good milker, quickly producing her litre and a bit morning and again at night.  Her triplets are high percentage Nubians, with the added milking genes of Randi's lineage.  Her two sons, Mervyn and Marty, are also available for sale and are extremely friendly and people-oriented as they have been bottle fed from birth.  Chocolate has the creamiest milk of all three - although we've never had it officially tested in any way, but by taste, to us, it's the nicest milk.  Her milking capacity is a bit of an unknown, as we are still allowing her to nurse her twins, but we keep them separated during the day and get more than a liter in the evening milking!  I believe her twin girls will be available for sale, because we do not have the capacity for too large a herd right now.

Having baby goats around the farm has been extremely fun!  It's made us very popular with friends and customers; we've become a bit of a destination!  Hey, wait a minute, isn't that agri-tourism?  Maybe we should have made some money at giving tours!  Baby goats are just a hoot - they run and jump and climb and then 'zoom' over to see how you are.  Especially the triplets, bottle-fed from birth, are just like pet dogs, although they're getting a little big for our laps now!  And soon, now that we're getting extra milk - some serious soap making is going to go on around here!  Once we get caught up in the vegetable maybe October for that soap making!


  1. Sounds like a busy, fun, summer!
    We have had over 20 inches of rain around here and the weeds are the most predominant site! Whew. Many area of the gardens are just left because we cannot keep up. On the other hand the flowers have been spectacular. Many Trumpet lilies blooming their hearts out!

    1. Oh, Clayton, I wish you could send some of that rain! We're sooo dry! I've got to slip over to your blog - I assume you've got some great photos of your flowers!

  2. It's great to hear about your experiences. Congratulations on all the wonderful milk production and on keeping your little flock happy and healthy.

    1. Hi, Cloverleaf! Thanks for stopping by! It's a little intimidating to get started with a you probably know! But I feel more comfortable as time goes by...still lots of reading and learning!

  3. Would you guys happen to have any female youngsters looking for new breeding stock