rabbit-colony-11-15-18

Our Vision for the Sustainability of Our Goats

I like to dream about what the future holds for our little farm and the most important livestock we raise on it, the goats.  I love all of my animals, but goats are my special pals.  In terms of sustainability, they have the potential to give life to not only their kids and mine, but also to the chickens, pigs and dogs.  If we can successfully provide their needs here on what we can raise, we can use their outputs to create sustainable food for the other animals that call Little Avalon “home.”

While I thought it would be fun to share this with you, I think it’s equally important for me to put these ideas into words that I can look back on as we progress through this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how things look a year, or five, or ten from now! Continue reading “Our Vision for the Sustainability of Our Goats”

rabbit-colony-11-15-18

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.

Continue reading “Nigerian Dwarf Bottle Feeding Schedule”

rabbit-colony-11-15-18

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.
Continue reading “Physical Traits of an Easy Hand Milking Goat”

rabbit-colony-11-15-18

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! 😀
Continue reading “How Much Does It Cost to Produce Goat Milk at Home?”

rabbit-colony-11-15-18

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!
Continue reading “When to Separate Kids Overnight for Milking”

rabbit-colony-11-15-18

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:
Continue reading “Calculating Grain Costs for Goats”

rabbit-colony-11-15-18

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!

Hay
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.

Continue reading “Costs of Raising Goats”