Two years ago I bought our Nubian, Luna, who was already in milk. She was a two year old freshner, meaning that she had just given birth. All went well that first year with milking and her health. But last year came and we spent the entire breeding season running her back and forth to the breeders home (thankfully, they were only 5 minutes down the road) trying to catch her cycle so that his buck would breed with her. It was a very frustrating time.
First, breeding animals is not as easy as just putting them into a pen together. The doe needs to begin cycling, which for Nubians happens around August and lasts until January. This doesn't give much of a window of time. Each time we thought we had a successful breed, the next month she would show signs of heat again and the final time I actually administered a blood test thinking we had won victory, only to get a negative pregnancy test. Second, I found out goats need to be up on their minerals to actually go into a full cycle. I was at my wits end and didn't know where to turn.
I needed answers and quickly. So, I began researching websites of goat owners that had been raising goats longer than I. Two sites kept coming up with lots of information; Fiasco Farms and Land of Havilah. Plus, an excellent book to read is Pat Colby's Natural Goat Care. The overall consensus of information I read lead me to realize that my goats were not only copper deficient but selenium deficient.
The only way to boost copper is to copper bolus - which is where you stick a gigantic pill down the goat's throat for them to swallow. I bit the bullet, bought the bolus gun and tried the pill. YouTube is a great resource for information, but even after watching the videos over and over again, I still didn't get the pill all the way past the back of the throat where goats have some serious molars. Each of the goats had a nice tasty chomping of a copper capsule. Uggh!
Right after this first blousing, I also began administering 1 teaspoon of selenium powder every night. I was in shock; within weeks this is what I saw. Mocha went from a dull, dreary rust color to a vibrant chocolate brown, her coat was once coarse and fried feeling was beginning to have a smooth and shiny character to it and she went into a raging heat within two months (I knew this because Doug was going nuts trying to get into the pen with her).
Deborah Niemann of the Thrifty Homesteader top dresses her copper. Most sites recommend copper blousing every 6 months, but I did find several recommendations that if the goats are in an area where there is much sulfur in the water to copper bolus every 3 months because sulfur inhibits copper intake. This led me to try three months later top dressing the copper. This worked well, but some of the copper remained at the bottom of the feed pan. I think that I will continue to top dress the copper only because it was less stress on this owner and all goats participating.
Fast forward to August and I actually witnessed Luna go into her first heat. It was a very quick one of only several hours, but it was a start. I can now see that the health of my animals is on the right track. Here's hoping she'll be pregnant by the end of the year.
Mocha was actually bred in May to our little Nigerian buck, Doug. I was worried that she wouldn't be in top health for her pregnancy so I did a few things to help her put as much energy into growing healthy babies as she could.
- I dried her up from milking as soon as we got the pregnancy results. Goats can actually be milked up to two months before kidding, according to Fiasco Farms, but like I said, I wanted her putting energy into growing healthy babies, not making milk for me.
- I began administering an herbal supplement that included nettle, spirulina, alfalfa, dandelion and marshmallow leaves.
- I began giving her Diamond V Yeast Culture - It improves digestion, muscle weight gain, litter weights, milk production, conditioning, and even survivability in all the various animals it's been tried on.
My girl, Mocha, is getting bigger everyday. My birthing kit is almost ready. All that's left is to clean out her stall about a week before her due date.
I've seen slight movements on her right side which I'm hoping is those precious babies getting closer to coming out to meet us. The farm kids are so excited to hold some baby goats.
I realize this post went rather long, but if it's helped please let me know by leaving a comment. I would also appreciate hearing any comments on anything else that I need to do to prepare for goat babies.