Monday, March 23, 2015

Dam Raising Kids

Let's talk about dam raising kids. Most of the dairy/ show goat world pulls kids at birth and puts them on a bottle. Maybe it's just me, but I did enough middle of the night feedings with my human twins. I am happy to let the goat moms take care of that job.

Dam raising has several advantages. It takes less time and effort, my dam raised kids have overall been healthier, had fewer problems with parasites, and have grown better than their bottle raised counterparts.

Dam raising also comes with its own set of challenges. It is certainly not a "leave them and forget it" kind of system. Take Opal (pictured below) as an example. Opal is a first freshener and gave us a single doeling, Jade. As you can see in this picture, Jade prefered Opal's right side all day that day. To keep Opal's udder even, I milk her out twice a day, even if it means I am only getting a quart of milk out of her.

Left alone, the kid would continue to favor the soft side leading to permanent lopsidedness of her dam's udder. Starting around two weeks, I lock all the kids away for the night (12-13 hours) and milk their dams in the morning. This gives me plenty of milk, and allows the udders to be used evenly each day. Mothers of singletons require extra attention. Jade will probably be locked up at night around 10 days.

I want an udder that can stand up to many years of use. I have heard that kids can be rough on an udder, but in my mind a good udder should be up to the task. Take 8-year old Konstance, she has raised many sets of kids. Even before I had her, care was taken to make sure she stayed even and now at her advanced age, she has a lovely, productive udder.

Here is the other side of the spectrum. Trixie came to me this way. Somewhere along the way her udder became quite uneven. She still is a very productive doe.
I try to keep their udders well moisturized to keep the skin flexible. Watch that kids have not bitten teats (it's happened a few times) but usually with some use, the skin gets stronger is able to take it better. Be ready to intervene if things aren't going the way they should.

With some care and attention, I believe does can raise their own kids and have udders that are just as beautiful as their counterparts.

1 comment:

  1. Great post!!
    We let our does raise their kids as well and share the milk :)
    Much easier.