Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Latest Friday AM article

The Secret Life of Goats

With goats on the silver screen thanks to Mr Clooney I thought it was time to bring them to print media. We have goats at our farm to supply fresh milk at lambing time to feed any orphan lambs or ones not getting enough from their mothers. This means the goats need to have their young three to four weeks before the sheep so they are in full production with enough milk for their kids as well as spare for any lambs in need. This requires knowledge of goat reproduction cycles and careful planning with a calendar to ensure timely arrival of kids and milk. With an October breeding the goats will birth in March and our sheep start in April, so all will be well.
We have Toggenburg goats, the oldest of the Swiss breeds. They are hardy milk producers who have good winter coats and do well here in Canada. Their downfall is they tend to mature later than other breeds. We were using a very young buck and I had some concerns he might be “firing blanks”. So thirty days after the last day the buck and does were together our Veterinarian came armed with an ultra sound scanner and pregnancy checked the does. They were all empty (not pregnant). What were we to do? We wanted to keep our Toggenburgs pure but there were no Togg bucks for sale, and the thought of using a Heinz 57 buck from the stock yards was totally out of the question.
It was time to get into the “oldest profession” and rent a buck if there was one available. After phoning around I found “Charles” was ready, willing and able as he had finished his work for the season and was ready to go freelance! I drove to Lumby where he lived to negotiate the deal and pick him up. The exchange was done under the barn light (white, not red) and we loaded him up in the back of the truck. $100 bucks for one buck seemed expensive, but divided over forty five days and six females I could see we had a bargain! Charles has had a good Holiday season, forty five days of good food and good company, but like all good things it comes to an end, and as the contract is up I will drive him back home to his owner. The girls all seem quiet and content so I hope Charles has done his thing. We will have to wait till early February when our Vet comes again with his scanner to check both the sheep and the goats to see who has been naughty and who has been nice (or maybe both). Even if the goats are pregnant the delay in the breeding date means they will birth after the sheep. Any orphan lambs will have to have milk powder until the goat milk arrives. To ensure we do not have a repeat of this fiasco I have a buck ordered for next Fall, kind of like a mail order groom.
With my experience in goat match making and seeing how the internet has gone maybe its time for me to launch Eharmony for goats, a one stop shop for caprine partners!

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