Friday, July 28, 2017

How to Make Homemade Colby

My son and I have started a new YouTube series on cheesemaking. Please check out our first video, "Goat Milk Colby".

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Guide to Your New Goat

Kidding season is approaching which means it is almost time to sell goats. The saddest part for me is when "my" babies are not given a chance to rise to their full potential because of care and management.

I have been working on a quick reference pamphlet to send off with goats I sell in hopes that it will help new goat owners get off on the right foot.

I want something short, simple, and easy to read. Most everything is available online and I am not trying to rewrite it all here. Any suggestions?

Congratulations on your purchase of a Hammock Haven goat. We want your new baby to grow up to be everything we know he or she can be! We have heard it said that a great goat is 20% genetics, 80% management. Here are a few tips to get you off on the right foot.
 Feeding:We have all heard that goats will eat anything. Whoever said that has never had goats! Goats are browsers like deer not grazers like sheep. You cannot throw them out on pasture and expect them to flourish. 
The biggest contributor to your goat’s diet is forage, AKA Hay. The veterinarians at Auburn University taught me early that if there is one place to spend extra money, it is on the hay. Consider it this way, if you feed poor quality hay, you need to make up for the extra calories and nutrients in more grain and supplements, which cost money. If you start out with a high quality hay, they will not need as much supplementation.
 Types of Hay 
Legume Hay: Your dairy goat will do best on legume hay: alfalfa, perennial peanut, or clover. You may have to look outside your neighborhood to find these varieties, but it is worth it. 
Grass Hay: If you feed grass hay, you will need to supplement with a form of legume hay such as alfalfa pellets or Chaffhaye. 
Rye Grass: I would say this is their favorite kind of grass hay.
Bermuda: My goats generally do not prefer this but will eat it in a pinch.
Fescue: Do not feed this hay. It is not good for them and especially causes trouble for pregnant goats.
Other: Mine love a weedy mix of rye and Bahia.
 I use both square and round bales. Round bales can be more cost effective, just be sure they are kept under cover so they do not mold. I like to wrap a cattle panel around mine so the goats don’t play in it. Be sure that all hay is not moldy.
 Mold will kill a goat! A note on feeding kids: Kids are programmed to have rapid growth in the first several months of life. It is important to capitalize on these high-growth months for your goat to reach her full potential. They should gain a minimum 10 pounds a month. 
Grain: All of our goats get a 16% protein goat ration. The amounts are going to be based on your goat’s body condition and the quality of forage they have. Brand, pellet vs. sweet, it’s really up to you. Your local feed store is usually more affordable than Tractor Supply.
Milkers: 2-4 pounds a day based on body condition and milk production.
Kids: 1-2 pounds a day.
Bucks: 1-2 pounds a day when growing or in rut. You can back off some on grown bucks not in rut.
Pregnant doelings: These girls are still growing themselves and need the calories to support their growth and the growth of their kids.
Dry does: Grain as needed based on body condition.
Pregnant does: Continue to grain while milking. Back off as milk production drops. Increase again in the last 30 days of pregnancy.
 Do not let your goat get into the grain, especially the chicken feed. They WILL eat themselves TO DEATH!!! Alfalfa Pellets: These are great to have around for some extra calories, treats, or to supplement grass hay. They are not a replacement for long fiber hay, but I always have a bag around.
Beet Pulp: This will put weight on underweight does. I usually just give it to bucks in rut to help keep them in condition.
Minerals: Again, this is what works for your farm. I always use a loose mineral not a block. Goats cannot get enough from a block before they give up trying. I have used several brands, but like the Caprine Supply minerals best. Fresh minerals should be available at all times. They will get picky and stop eating them if they’ve been left out too long.
Baking Soda: I offer baking soda once a week alongside the minerals to help them regulate the acid in their rumens.
   Parasite Control: If you have a goat, you have worms. Some worm load is normal. It is important that you assess your goat’s condition on very frequent basis. Assess body and coat condition daily. Check to be sure eyelids are pink at least weekly. To learn how to do this, search up FAMACHA Score. There are many great tutorials and videos online.
 When in doubt, bring a fecal sample to your vet. Most vets will do this for around $15.
Parasites are especially bad in warm wet weather. Check condition often. Utilize dry lots and rotational grazing when possible.
 Types of Parasites:Round worms: These are arguably the most dangerous, especially Barber Pole worm. Effective wormers to treat this are Ivermectin, Moxidectin (Quest horse gel or Cydectin sheep drench), and Valbazen. Do not use Valbazen in pregnant does! Give wormers, even injectable wormers, orally for goats.
Tape Worms: If you see segments in their poop, they have tape worms. This is common in kids. It can be treated with Equimax Horse wormer or Valbazen. Do not use Valbazen in pregnant does!
Coccidia: This is the biggest killer of kids. Even if they do not have a symptomatic case, the buggers are causing damage to the gut and robbing your baby of nutrients. I feed all my kids medicated feed up to 4-5 months. Do not feed medicated feed to your milking does.
*****You MUST treat your kids for coccidia for them to reach their full potential!****
Every 6 weeks, do a preventative treatment of Baycox (I buy this on or  Dimethox.
Active cases, treat immediately with Baycox or Dimethox. The kid will usually have dark green or black diarrhea.
Lice: These little blood suckers can be tough on kids. Part fur and check skin frequently. If you see white nits or lice, dust with Sevin dust and comb through. A flea comb will remove most of them. If it’s warm, you can clip the fur so lice don’t have a place to hide. Clean and dust bedding as well.
Mites: Mites require an injection of Ivermectin.
 Shelter & FencingShelter doesn’t need to be fancy. It needs to be dry and to block the wind. Goats HATE to be wet.
You will need a good woven wire or cattle panel fence. Barbed wire is dangerous and will not contain a goat. Electric fencing is best used in conjunction with a good fence. 
Medications & Other Links I am not going reinvent the wheel here. You will need a well-stocked goat medicine cabinet. Lists of medications, and their uses are available online.
I highly recommend you read in its entirely. She has done a great job documenting every facet of goat care. 
There are several Facebook groups for goat care. I like Goat Health and Care. has a lot of good articles. They generally have very a very aggressive treatment strategy.
 You will also need a good veterinarian. This can be a challenge because most vets know very little about small ruminants. Start looking for one, ASAP!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

On Keeping a Buck

Whether you just want milk for your family, or you plan to breed and sell goats, there is one, sometimes inconvenient, sometimes stinky thing you need, a buck.  A dairy goat has to be bred and kid to give milk. To keep that milk flowing, she needs to kid every 1-2 years. 

Bucks can be overwhelming to people just starting out. I didn't keep one the first year I had goats. After driving around taking goats on dates that first year, I decided pretty quickly that I needed a buck.

Pick a buck who will help to make your goats the best they can be, not one simply because he has the parts. Want more milk? Look at his dam and granddams' production. Need to improve certain conformational traits? Look for lines who are strong in that area. Remember, it doesn't cost all that much to have a buckling transported to you from anywhere in the country!

Your buck has one main job, to breed your does, but he will also alert you to when your does are in heat. His aroma, to put it nicely, will bring your does into heat sooner in the fall than if you do not have a buck on your property. Not only that, it is far easier to just throw an amorous pair in a stall together than to have to load him or her up for a date. 

I am not in the business of leasing my bucks or studding them out for "driveway breedings". This is not because I am mean. I have spent hours researching each buck on our farm. They have been carefully selected to fill a need in our breeding program. We have spent thousands of dollars for them, their transportation here, and their feed and upkeep. We have spent thousands of dollars on their fencing and shelter. We spend hours mucking their stalls, trimming their hooves, bathing urine scalded legs, worming, vaccinating, clipping, feeding. We spend the fall tolerating the buck aroma wafting in our windows.

It is simply not worth the time or the risk to offer them for outside breeding.

I will occasionally let customers who buy does from me use my bucks the first fall. That allows them to get their feet wet into goats, discover what they should look for in a buck, and allow me to see some kids from that breeding, since I often have to sell goats I'd like to see kids from just to keep our numbers in line. 

If you plan to keep goats, please keep a buck. One easy plan for new goat breeders is to keep a buckling. Most bucklings will ready to breed your does by 5-6 month old. They are small still, so they are easier to control and aren't as smelly. Buy a nice one, and you should have no trouble selling him when you're done with him. Or you could always eat him when he goes out of rut!

Anyway you slice it, bucks are a necessity. You may just end up liking the stinky boys.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Take-aways From Buck Collections

And I'm not talking about the smell! I am always trying to learn from other goat people. Buck (semen) collection day has yielded a golden tidbit each of the last two years. I may may have to go next year even if I don't have a buck to collect just to listen.

Last year, I overheard that a good goat is 80% management, 20% genetics. I'm not sure it's that great a difference, but management is crucial. If the genetics isn't there, you're never going to make a decent goat into a great goat just by management. But you can certainly turn a great goat into something very bad with poor management.

By management, I mostly mean forage, feed, and parasite control. I have had the opportunity to compare siblings who were raised here versus some raised elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, I am not bashing the new owners, most of those goats looked fine. They just could be more.

Our goats ate well and looked good before I listened to this advice at buck collections. This year we decided to breakdown and just give them the best forages at all times. They go through a lot of peanut hay and alfalfa and have never looked more beautiful.

Another thing to keep in mind, kids are programmed to grow more rapidly than adults. If you aren't giving the kids all the food they need to maximize growth in those high-growth months, they cannot reach their full potential.  Don't forget regular coccidia management and worming. Kids can be carrying a case that is affecting growth without symptoms.

This year's take-away was "The difference between a good goat and a great goat is length". Obviously, that's a bit of a generalization but if you take two structurally sound animals and put them next to each other in the show ring, the long one seems to win most of the time.  I'm going to keep breeding my limousines!

Finally, this wasn't a take-away from collections, but something I learned this year after feeling rather kicked in the teeth by an "expert", trust yourself and your vision. Your vision for your herd may be different than that person's. You may prioritize different things. That's not wrong, just different. 

I have since had several judges validate my vision by placing our animals well at shows. I am angry with myself for allowing the expert to cause a hiccup in our plans that lead to some decisions we may not have made otherwise. I've learned my lesson.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Breeding Season 2016

I haven't found time to blog in the past year! I mostly just post updates on Facebook. It is so much easier to do off my phone. To get pics on here, I have to upload them on the Blogger app on the phone then get on the computer to write the post. It all takes a while.
Breeding season is almost wrapped up here. We have everyone but our March and April kids bred now. I'm not going to get much sleep the first two weeks of February. Most everyone is due then!

After a slow start and some rough looking baby stages, our junior herd sire has turned into quite the looker. I feel bad for ever being worried about him. About half the herd is bred to him and I am beyond exited to see what he does for our kids! You certainly can't ask for more in the genetics department; his dam appraised 94 EEEE and is a pushing 12 years old. His sire appraised  90VEE as a two year old and is half brother to the 2016 National Champion!

Our doelings are growing beautifully. We sent Tatiana and Evelyn to north Georgia to be bred to a couple of my friend's bucks. Katerina stayed here and was bred to Henning. She is HUGE and beautiful. She already has her dry leg. I'm excited to show her again come spring.

We are not taking reservations on Lamancha doelings this year. I am, however, keeping an interest list on milkers and doe kids. We are freshening thirteen and will not be keeping that many milkers next year! We have a few buck reservations available and are taking reservations on our Alpine's kids.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Selling Goats

It sure feels good to be down to a more manageable number of milkers I was milking 12 there for a while and it was just about to kill me. Buttercup, Maddy, and Olivia have left for their new homes. Tansy should leave in a week or so!
I have three milking stands. Going from 4 rounds of goats to 3 has made a huge difference. I think I know where my limit stands now.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Time Flies

If there's one thing there is not enough of these days it's time.

We wrapped up kidding season a couple weeks ago with 15 bucks, 13 does total. I am now trying to make some changes to reduce my work load. We have 2 really good milkers for sale. I also have three wethers and two bucklings available. I am ready for them to find new homes- milking 11 is killing me.

I am still working on updating the new website. I won't be keeping the buck/doe lists on this site current anymore, so please check out for that information. I will continue to update the breeding chart here because the new site doesn't allow for an easy table. I am copying and pasting the html code from this one over there.