Day 5 of No Kibble

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POOOP! I guess when Levy says the hours overnight are “strongly eliminative,” she means that quite literally. Winston, evidently showing us what he thinks of this whole thing, made a point to come upstairs to our bedrooms to poop in the middle of the night. He never goes in the house. And Mint had another mess as well.

I’m not sure if we should adjust the timing of meals, but I suspect that will be the answer. The house dogs are always hungry first thing in the morning, so perhaps we will feed them at our breakfast and dinner times, especially since I’m already soaking the cereal grains overnight and they’d be sufficiently softened by then.
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Nigerian Dwarf Bottle Feeding Schedule

Even if you dam raise your kids, it’s inevitable that you’ll wind up with a bottle baby at some point. Our does have large litters, as many as five at a time, and it isn’t uncommon that we end up with one or two (or three) per year that are put on the bottle. This is the feeding schedule we use for our Nigerian Dwarf bottle babies; you can approximately double the amounts and use this for standard sized goats as well. Minis would be somewhere in between.

So much of feeding bottle babies is intuition and individual decisions. I’ve tried to pinpoint specific weights to give you an idea of how much to feed, but the best advice I have is to watch your babies and their activity level/overall behavior. Well fed kids are bright, alert, active and constantly exploring the world. Kids who aren’t feeling well will be just the opposite, standing around, lethargic, crying out or frantically seeking milk. Always go by what your kids tell you over what an article online does.

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Day 4 of No Kibble

We soaked barley overnight in a mix of goat milk, water and the juice strained from plain cooked white beans.  First thing this morning, I scooped a scoop into each house dog’s bowl and they both ate it without any trouble.  This cereal had a whole quart of goat milk instead of yesterday’s pint, plus the bean broth.  It also had no vegetables or herbs in it yet, so I’m not sure which factor convinced the house dogs to try it.

I had intended to feed the barley mix only to the big dogs, so there wasn’t enough for the house dogs too.  I added their portion but in oats instead of barley to the barley mix, then a pound of organic peas, raspberry leaves and turmeric.  The smell of this stuff is incredibly appealing to me, but not to anyone else.  I wonder what my body is missing!

When we do our next pallet order of minerals, I want to save up enough to buy a few bags of Thorvin kelp to add to the dog food.  Kelp is something Levy advocates to use every day and it’s what we feed the rest of our animals (New Country Organics minerals contain a large portion of kelp).  I’m also looking forward to being able to harvest enough nettles this year to carry them through year round, but right now we have only a tiny amount left.  Come on, spring!
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Physical Traits of an Easy Hand Milking Goat

In the world of dairy goats, you’ll hear such descriptive terms as “butter soft udder texture,” “plump teats” and “open orifices” to describe a hand milking udder. In an online world where words must sufficiently explain such a complex experience as milking, we often fall short of really telling readers what the udder is like. This article attempts to break down the individual traits that come together to make a doe an “easy milker” versus a doe you might want to keep as a pet instead.

I remember my first purebred Nigerian doe. I bought her as a 3 day old bottle baby and fell head over heels in love with her. She grew into a petite beauty, a light buckskin with a characteristically mellow personality and the most ridiculously tiny teats I’d ever seen. Finally, I understood the somewhat laughable term, “kitty titties.” All my dreams of enjoying the renowned sweet, creamy milk of Nigerians were dashed upon my discovery of that udder.
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Day 3 of No Kibble

The house dogs definitely do not like the rolled barley. The midday feeding was largely ignored. I tried to snap you a photo of Winston the German Shepherd’s imploring stare when I put his bowl down in front of him, but he sidled up to lean his head into my belly, the serious begging, so I couldn’t get a picture.

The mix this morning was only a pint of milk; increased bottle baby demands and a hellacious cold snap decreasing supply is making a hard time of things. We’re defrosting last year’s frozen milk for tomorrow’s dog food.

I mixed up barley, milk, water, flaxseed oil, nettles, dried yellow summer squash, fresh carrots and an egg for each house dog and topped it with a slice of sourdough. It sat largely untouched for most of the day.
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Day 2 of No Kibble

We’ve begun feeding our dogs an exclusively homemade diet; no kibble. Read the first part here.  I’m going to try to update regularly for the first month or so or as long as there’s anything noteworthy to add.

Yesterday marked the second full day of no kibble.  The LGDs were quite hungry and excited for their morning oat cereal and they ate it down quickly.  The house dogs also ate it quickly.

The evening meal brought some changes.  Being the second night, we weren’t feeding meat so they got another round of cereal.  We had gone to the feed store earlier so this meal was rolled barley instead of our human rolled oats.  The texture is thicker and doesn’t appear to soak up liquids as well.  We also included more vegetables.  It was not well received by anyone, but the LGDs ate it quickly enough.  The house dogs took longer and there was a little bit left over this morning when we woke up.
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How Much Does It Cost to Produce Goat Milk at Home?

milk photoAmong the many reasons for raising your own milk at home is the expected cost savings.  I see remarks in various goat groups about how much more home raised goat milk is costing people, so this article is an attempt to break down the costs of raising your own goat milk to see where the money goes, which allows us all to make educated decisions on how to better manage our goats from a cost perspective.

I wrote an in-depth breakdown of our personal costs to raise goats.  The end result is that we need to sell about $480 worth of kids per doe per year to break even.  This includes total operating costs, such as labor, farm insurance, fencing, feeds, etc.  Rats!  There go my dreams of being a professional goat breeder! 😀
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Cost of Making Homemade Dog Food

We’re still in the early stages of being 100% kibble free and making our own dog food, so I’ll continue to update this post as the details become clearer.

Prior to making the switch, we were spending $4.55 per day for dog food, which gives us quite a bit of cost to work with.  If we pay the same amount but feed them homemade food instead, I’d count it a win for the health benefits.

How Much To Feed Per Day?

Juliette de Bairacli Levy says a healthy collie adult should eat 2 pounds per day with this method.  Collies average 60 pounds full grown.  Our four dogs average 66 pounds, but LGDs eat less for their weight than other dogs their size.  We’ve been averaging about 6 pounds of kibble per day (fed free choice) before switching so I’m basing our current rations on that and will adjust both the ration and this article if things change considerably.  Levy also mentions dogs eat less on this diet than on an “unnatural diet.”
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Our Journey Begins: Ditching Dog Food

For years now I have wanted to get away from kibble in my dogs’ diets.  It is unnatural, laden with chemicals and filled with things we wouldn’t necessarily choose to feed ourselves.  I have a six year old German Shepherd who, after having mandatory vaccines to be boarded one year, has suffered off and on with skin conditions and nervous issues.  He is sensitive to foods and has never seemed to regain full health after his ordeal.  It is mainly for him that we are finally jumping into feeding dogs naturally, with no kibble.

The thing that has held me back from making this move is the many conflicting recommendations on how best to feed dogs homemade food.  On one end of the spectrum you have the raw camp saying that dogs must only eat raw meats, bones and offal and nothing else.  On the other end is a personal hero, Paul Gautschi of Back to Eden fame, who is feeding his dogs only fruits, vegetables and eggs all grown on his property.  His dogs are sleek, healthy and vibrant, a sure testament to the fact that dogs do not need meat to thrive.  With so many opinions, it’s easy to get caught up in indecision.
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When to Separate Kids Overnight for Milking

By the time kidding season rolls around, the kids and I are all but salivating over our favorite goat milk products. Caramel consistently tops the list, but one thing is certain: we’ve missed fresh goat milk for the past couple of months!

When those kids begin to arrive, it’s a balance between the kids’ needs, the milk quality and our own eagerness to begin tasting fresh milk. I see a lot of people asking around this time how long they need to wait before separating kids overnight, so I know we’re not the only family looking forward to milk!
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Calculating Grain Costs for Goats

We buy grain in bulk from local feed mills. It saves a lot over retail at the feed store, but the tradeoff is that we spend more time handling the grain and drive longer distances to get it. We have been going twice a year now, but I’d love to get bigger storage bins to allow us to make one trip per year. That the peas are in one town and the oats/barley are in another just complicates things.

The current mix, which changes based on availability and sometimes our whims, is 3 parts barley, 1 part field peas and 1 part black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS).

Our most recent purchase put the prices as follows:
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Costs of Raising Goats

Our methods change frequently, so while these costs are accurate now, by next season we may be doing things differently.

One thing is for certain no matter the method: raising goats is costly!

January begins kidding season, or it has the last two years anyway. The does are wintering in the barn and eating free choice second cutting alfalfa at $70/ton. Our price is drastically lower than market value because we buy at cost from a relative. Market rate is about $175 a ton.

We winter about 6 months out of the year, so I figure 180 days of feeding hay at a rate of 4% of body weight per day per goat. An average adult Nigerian weighs 75 pounds, so 3 pounds a day, or 540 per season. I round up to 600 pounds to account for increased eating during late pregnancy.

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