Tag Archives: Nubian goats

Buck Year Totally

My spring kidding season is over, I think. This year’s score is: bucks 5, does 0. It is definitely a buck year.

This is also a year of mostly single births. I don’t really mind as I hate selling the kids. This is more complicated now since the local internet classified site closed down.

Nubian buckling of High Reaches Pamela
Spots are no surprise on this little Nubian buck born March 12. Both High Reaches Pamela and High Reaches Augustus have spots. This intrepid little boy followed his mother out to pasture at a week old and every nice day since.

Another reason I don’t mind a buck year is that I no longer keep any new herd members. Kidding season used to be a time to look over the kids and decide on one or two to keep. Now I know all of them are for sale.

Nubian buckling of High Reaches Valerie
High Reaches Valerie had twin Nubian bucks on March 21. This one was up and nursing in a half hour, follows his mother into the barn lot and loves sleeping in the sun.

Why would I stop adding to my herd? There are several reasons. Top of the list is my age and that my girls have no place to go if I am no longer able to care for them.

Nubian buckling of High Reaches Valerie
Smaller than his brother, this Nubian buck born March 21 has had a challenging time. He had trouble learning to nurse, got chilled the first night. Sleeping in the sun was just the thing to warm up. He knows how to nurse and practices on any doe who stands still and doesn’t notice him.

My High Reaches herd has been with me for over 45 years now. All of my herd members were born here. They are like family.

A second reason is the amount of work my herd entails. Younger people don’t get it. The work, even if the amount stays the same, gets harder each passing year over the age of sixty.

Nubian buckling of High Reaches Agate
High Reaches Agate surprised me with this little Nubian buck March 23. He was up doing fine when I found him. He has brown liver spots so will probably have white spots in a month or so. In the meantime he is already staking out his favorite nap spots in the barn.

A third reason is being tired. Dairy stock requires care at least twice a day every day all year round. I no longer have anyone to spell me for even a single milking and haven’t for a number of years now.

Younger people don’t get this part either. As a person gets older, they need less food. This isn’t because children grow up and move out. It’s because our bodies slow down. I no longer need a refrigerator full of milk and cheese.

Nubian buckling of High Reaches Rose
High Reaches Rose was supposed to be bred, but didn’t look it. Still, she dropped this Nubian buck kid on March 23. He has bold white markings, no spots with brown highlights. He is curious and goes exploring whenever he can.

For those goat owners with growing herds a buck year is a problem. The main market for those bucks is the meat market.

For me such a year is par for the course.

Read more about raising goats in Dora’s Story and get a free ebook now.

November Kids Arrive

Weather is a battle between fall and winter. Days are growing steadily shorter. Then the November kids arrive to brighten up the season.

My first fall goat kids were accidents. The buck escaped in June. Nubians come in season all year.

I had always arranged for March and April kids as spring was moving in and the weather was warm enough to avoid popsicle kids. My does seem to prefer kidding about dawn. Newborn wet kids don’t do well in temperatures in the twenties or lower.

The weather has changed. Falls are a mixture of warm and cold times. Some of my does seem to prefer having their kids in the fall.

November Kids arrive as a Nubian doe
High Reaches Juliette had a little Nubian doe a few hours before this picture was taken.

And I have a couple of wethers who love to open the buck’s door. They have a knack for knowing when I neglect to latch the spring hook holding the bar in place.

Something I’ve noticed as more November kids arrive over the years is that the kids seem bigger and livelier than the spring kids. Perhaps this is because the does have been eating well all through their pregnancies.

Winter fare is mostly hay. The grass is like standing hay in the field. The acorns and persimmons are gone or too dirty to tempt my finicky eaters.

My does bred for March and April live on such fare. In addition they use some of what they eat to keep warm. The result seems to be smaller kids.

November kids arrive as a Nubian buck
High Reaches Juliette had this little Nubian buck a few hours ago. He is already a challenge for her to keep up with.

Once the November kids arrive the herd seems happier too. As the herd numbers dwindle, they like having those extra herd members.

Winter weather does keep the herd inside more often. However the kids have several places to go where the adult does have difficulty going. And the barn has more room with fewer goats occupying it.

This year two does were bred for November. The first November kids to arrive were a buck and doe pair. I’m waiting on the others.

Harriet has a wild time when her goats kid in “Capri Capers”.

Surprise Kids Arrive

The older I get, the more involved in writing I get, the more I like having things staying nice  and orderly. Another good reason for doing this is so I remember to get everything done on time. Surprise kids don’t fit in the plan.

Nubian doe Juliette's surprise kids
Just born goat kids are wet and trying to decide what is going on. The little buck was born first. he had a leg back and had to be pulled. The little brown doe did fine on her own. Juliette thought maternal attention did fine with her lying down. Temperature makes a big difference in winter births. These kids had warmer temperatures helping them out. Once the kids are dry, they can take a lot of cold.

Very little about my goats stays on plan. In the Ozarks Nubians breed any month of the year and have kids any month of the year. My goat plan calls for breeding in October and November and kids in March and April.

surprise kids buck a day later
With goat kids a day makes a big difference. The little buck is now fluffed up. Due to cold nights he’s wearing a goat coat. It’s a bit big, but the cold isn’t going away before he grows into it. He gets up and down, is thinking about playing and can find dinner on his own.

Every year I do my best to stay on my goat plan. Every year my goats do their best to disrupt my plan.

That brings me to the surprise kids just born. Matilda and Juliette decided to kid either early or late depending on whether I count these kids as part of this year’s kids or next season’s kids.

surprise kids doe a day later
At a day old a goat kid still has trouble operating the legs. Standing up isn’t too difficult. Lying down seems to be. This little doe sleeps standing up until she falls down or is knocked down. In another day she will be an expert with the legs.

November is not a good time of year for kids to be born. November is winter in the Ozarks. It can bring and has brought freezing temperatures, snow and ice.

This November is like a yoyo temperature wise. It gets cold for several days. It gets warmer for several days. Warmer is relative. Cold is highs in the thirties and forties. Warmer is highs in the fifties and sixties.

Matilda is a big goat. She had seemed bigger than usual and slower than usual. I didn’t pay much attention.

buck kid seems awake
This little buck kid was asleep, but heard me and thought his mother had arrived from the pasture. He lifted his head seemingly alert and attentive.

Rain had moved in and stayed. It had rained all day. It stopped in the evening in time for me to go out to milk without carrying an umbrella. I appreciate this as trying to balance milk, flashlight and umbrella calls for more hands than I have.

The goats were eager to come in and eat. There are eighteen now how come through every morning and night. Seventeen showed up.

buck kid asleep
Nubian doe Matilda had not come in yet. Her little buck immediately lay his head down and was asleep again.

Matilda wasn’t milking. My goats are a bit on the fat side. She doesn’t have to come in and eat. Still, I check on any goat that doesn’t come in so I know why.

I found Matilda having her surprise kids. Except she stopped with one black spotted buck kid. I set up a pen in the barn, put Matilda and her kid in it and went in to finish writing my NaNo piece.

In the morning I went out to check on Matilda and do morning chores including milking. Juliette was delivering her surprise kids. She decided to have a black buck and a brown doe. They are set up in a cubby hole in the hay. She is delighted.

I’m glad too. Both does had kids when temperatures were in the warmer cycle. The cold cycle starts up again in December.

To make things more interesting, Rose had triplet bucks and Valerie a single doe. The warmer cycle is their best friend for another couple of days.

For Love of Goats” is for those who love goats and playing with tongue twisters and the sounds of words. Look at the sample pages. The book is available December 7.

Having Fresh Goat Milk

I like milk. To be more precise, I like my own fresh goat milk and use it everyday. Having a steady supply requires planning out when the kids arrive.

A doe produces milk to feed her kids. Dairy animals are bred to produce more milk than their kids require and for a longer period than kids need milk.

fresh goat milk producer Nubian doe High Reaches Silk's Drucilla
Nubian doe High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla posed nicely for her picture, then threw a fit as her twin does were not with her. They came over wondering why their mother was so upset and got their pictures taken. All were glad to be set loose.

Long ago I found I could breed half my does each year and milk the others through the winter months. This does mean milking twice a day, every day, all year round.

The alternative is to purchase a freezer to freeze milk in to last for several months. The goats still need daily care. I milk every day and enjoy my fresh goat milk.

fresh goat milk producer Nubian Doe High Reaches Pixie's Agate
Nubian doe Agate loves attention, but hates being tied up. She is a first freshener and has been milking for a year now. A former bottle baby, she is very friendly and still wants me to go out to pasture with her.

This winter has been trying. Cold spells alternate with warm spells. Even some of the plants are confused as the maples started to swell their flower buds by January. They got blasted by the next cold spell.

It seems to mess the goats up as well. Normally my does have a big heat spell right after the first really cold spell in early September. They stand bawling up at Augustus for two or three days. They wag their tails. They need escort service to come into the milk room.

fresh goat milk producer Nubian doe High Reaches Juliette's Lydia
Nubian doe High Reaches Juliette’s Lydia is positive there is a better way to have her picture taken. I’m thinking the same thing, but haven’t come up with a better plan yet. My goats don’t seem to like posing for the camera.

The rest of the winter the does cycle regularly until they are bred, but at much lower intensity. This winter that changed. Every warm spell, cold spell cycle brought my does into vigorous heat cycles.

Augustus produces that odiferous musk over breeding season. The smell usually starts fading in February. Not this year. He must continue to impress his does and abuse the noses of others.

Each big heat cycle cuts a bit of production from the does I’m milking through. It isn’t much, but accumulates. My supply of fresh goat milk is getting stretches thin.

fresh goat milk producer Nubian doe High Reaches Violet
Nubian doe High Reaches Violet is an older doe. She cooperates with the picture taking, but is not impressed. She prefers acorns to oats. She expects escort service to the milk room most days.

Kids are scheduled to begin arriving in mid-March with the last in early April. This assumes the goats will follow my schedule. Drucilla’s December twin does show they are not overly impressed with the schedule.

Additional fresh goat milk is iffy while the kids are nursing. It depends on who milks first, me or them. They usually win.

The kids should leave in June. Then my kitchen will again overflow with fresh goat milk until November after October bred goats start drying off for the winter.

Find out more about goat milk and milking goats in “Goat Games.”

Eating Snow Makes Goats Happy

Dairy goats need lots of water. With four inches of snow on the ground, the goats are inside and I am hauling water. Except the goats ignored my buckets and stood aong the gym step eating snow.

Snow is cold. Eating too much of it can cause hypothermia. Advice for goat owners is to provide plenty of warm water to their goats.

Nubian does prefer eating snow to drinking water
Yes, I had to bribe the goats to perform. Earlier they were eager to come out and eat the snow as they had just finished their hay. Now they wanted more hay and had no interest in the camera or posing or water at all. One thing about Nubians: they love to eat.

So I do.

And the goats continue eating snow.

I suppose I could confine them to the barn forcing them to consume the warmer water I bring. I did do that the day it snowed.

Soon the goats were bickering. The younger ones were bounding into the milk room and leaping onto the hay. They were racing around the barn upsetting the pregnant does due next month.

I opened the gate. The goats poured out to bask in the sun that was so prominent yesterday.

Nubian doe prefers water to eating snow
High Reaches Valerie preferred to drink water. She is a coming yearling and totally disgusted with the snow and ice.

And I hauled water. And dumped unwanted buckets starting to ice over. I hauled more water to the milk room for those who wanted some after eating their grain. And I dumped half of that.

My goats have eaten snow for years. I don’t know why they prefer it to the warmer water in the buckets, but they do.

As with hay or grain, my goats are picky about the snow they eat. It must be clean, no hoof prints or dirt, definitely no goat berries. Since clean snow lasts only a day or two, eating snow is a short time activity.

Orange Cat drinking from goat bucket
My place seems to have traveling tom cats drop by every few years. They come by and stay. Orange Cat is the latest. Cloudy Cat is disgusted as Orange Cat sleeps in his barn. It is the goat’s barn, but cats take precedence. The cats normally have their own water dish by the hand pump, but it freezes in this weather. Orange Cat likes the goats and shares their water bucket.

The practice doesn’t seem to hurt the goats. Hay continues to disappear from the troughs quickly. Grain vanishes as though vacuums were at work.

My herd is doing fine. My pregnant does are getting wide and their udders are swelling. My milking does still produce milk. I will let them enjoy their few days eating snow.

Finding Goats in Woods

Winter is a dull time for botany. The plants are hunkered down or dormant. Finding my goats in woods makes a walk interesting.

The strange thing about goats foraging in the woods is how they vanish. I wanted to check on the new kids. I knew where the goats had gone up into the woods. I followed the trail.

And I found no goats.

The trail winds across the hill, crosses a couple of ravines and continues back across another hill. Four deer bounded off as I approached the first ravine. No goats.

The leaves were scuffed. There were hoof prints. I saw no goats in woods.

The trail disappeared. I could look down into the big ravine. The herd probably went down and crossed to the south pasture hill. I turned around to start back.

The bare, brown trees were silhouetted against the deep blue winter sky. Dry leaves scattered or crunched under foot. A few green plants hid under the leaves. A sedge with frost yellowed blade tips stuck up.

I remember walking this trail when wildflowers scattered themselves across the hill. This is where I took the shooting star picture on the “My Ozark Home” cover.

But no goats in woods rewarded my walk. I decided to take a side hike up to some big rocks and turned.

goats in woods

Someone is coming, say the goats. They are on alert, ready to run.

The herd stood there looking at me. On the way out I scoured the hills as I walked and saw no goats. Now they stood poised to bolt toward home.

I called and started up the hill. They went back to foraging. Acorns are still thick on the ground here.

Rose, Agate, Pamela and Spring came over for petting. Drucilla warned her kids to stay away from me. She was ignored.

The herd moved on. I trailed behind amused at how goat in woods appear and disappear.

Kids First Day Out

The Nubian doe kids are two weeks old. They run and play, jump up on the gym, the hay trough, the sleeping bench. They want to have a first day out in the big world.

Two weeks old is very young. The herd is going far up the hill pasture hill. The kids will get tired and go to sleep. I won’t be able to find them.

The day dawns cold and frosty, but bright and sunny. The grass is short, easy for kids to see the herd and their mother. The herd wants out even before milking is over.

I could wait until the kids go back in the barn and go to sleep. The frost will melt by that time. If I hide in the house, I won’t hear the goats calling, asking why they aren’t out yet.

goat kids first day out is for exploring

Nubian doe Drucilla doesn’t get much eating done as she tries to keep up with her kids.

Drucilla is a wonderful mother goat. She stayed in almost two weeks with her kids. Most stay in only a week before trying to sneak out the gate. She has a big Nubian voice. Those kids will hear her a quarter of a mile easily. Her kids have big voices too.

If not now, when? How old is old enough? Winter kids have advantages with the short grass and bare branches of bushes.

The goats are calling. They are standing in the barn lot looking at me and at the pasture gate. “It’s a beautiful day to be out,” they seem to say. “Please let us out.”

kids first day out in woods

The goat kids are having a wonderful time going up and down the hills. It’s much more interesting than being stuck in the barn all day.

I’ll snag the kids as they try to go out the gate. I go to the gate with the herd and open it. The herd pours through.

Drucilla has her kids beside her. If I snag them, she will turn around and stay in crying mournfully all day. They are bouncing, so excited at this first day out.

I watch as the three get to the bridge. The kids won’t cross. Drucilla goes back and talks to them. And the three are min the middle of the herd as it winds its way up the hill pasture.

I do want to go out for a walk later today. If I happen to wander up the hill pasture, that’s a good walk.

Mother Goat Care

Winter kids bring special concerns as these small goats need to keep warm. This can overshadow mother goat care.

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla is a big, healthy mother goat in the prime of her life. She doesn’t look like she needs special care. She would sneer at the notion, if she understood.

Nubian doe High Reaches Silk's Drucilla

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla is a big Nubian doe, about 140 pounds. Her coat gleams. her milk is good. She seems in good health. Still, raising kids is stressful so I keep an eye on her.

That doesn’t change a thing.

Long ago the standard advice was to deworm a doe just after she had her kids. The sequestered worms would flood her system due to the stress of kidding.

I followed this for years. Drucilla is glad I don’t now. Instead I have a waiting game. If she appears to have an overload problem, she will eat wormer, to her disgust. If her coat remains silky, her droppings normal, she gets to skip the awful stuff.

Nubian doe guarding kids

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla is a wonderful mother goat. She is constantly on the alert for any threat to her kids. This includes a chicken walking by, a cat chasing mice, me putting on or taking off goat coats and, especially, me picking up a kid to pet it.

One bit of mother goat care I do follow is for milking. Yes, I let my does raise their kids. Years ago I had time for all the bottles and fussing. Now I don’t. Both my does and I are much happier.

That doesn’t mean Drucilla gets to skip milking. Being a Nubian, she would never miss a chance to eat unless she were ill. While she inhales her grain, I check her udder and milk her out every morning and every night.

Nubian doe kids out to play

These Nubian doe kids have their mother well trained. If they want to stay in the barn, so does she. If they want to go outside and play, so does she. If she calls, they ignore her. Sounds like kids, doesn’t it?

The first couple of days, I don’t milk unless the doe’s udder is congested or full. I do take some of the first colostrum and freeze it for emergency use. This precious first milk is produced before the kids arrive and not after. It is important for the kids. I let them have as much as they want.

By the third day, the colostrum is diluted with milk. The kids are still too young to empty a large udder like Drucilla has. I milk the extra out. My barn cats Cloudy, Tyke and Orange Cat are delighted with the bounty.

mother goat and doe kids

This is where Drucilla would enjoy standing to bask in the sun for a time. The kids find this a good place to run and play, for now.

Other mother goat care depends on the doe. Often their hooves need trimming as they were too big to do before the kids arrived. Their kids may need help learning where their meals come from.

My does are kept in a special pen for a few days. this pen is set up with places for the kids to sleep and keep warm. The doe can have extra hay. And the rest of my does are safe from overly protective mother goats.

As soon as the kids are playing, the special pen comes down. There are places for the kids to sleep in peace. And mother goat care becomes general goat care.

What do you do when your new does have kids the same day? Harriet finds out in Capri Capers.

Enjoying Winter Goat Kids

Winter in the Ozarks has its ups and downs this year. A week will have highs in the 30’s, lows near 20. The next week will have 50’s for highs and 40 for a low. That makes winter goat kids an iffy affair.

I prefer March kids. Traditionally March is more settled and warmer. The last couple have been cold, but not winter cold.

Nubian bucks aren’t concerned with when kids are born, only producing them. Nubian does are the same. In the Ozarks Nubian does can cycle all year.

High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla seems to be like her mother Silk and prefers winter kids. And so I have winter goat kids born December 1.

black doe of winter goat kids

The ears have it on Nubian kids. This is the bigger twin doe, independent, inquisitive, loud and demanding.

It was obvious Drucilla was due soon. There was a date on the calendar for early December. Cold moved in and lingered.

Kids are wet when they are born. Below freezing temperatures can freeze them quickly. Trying to tell which day kids will be born has signs that are often wrong.

Suddenly winter got shoved out by fall for several days. I urged Drucilla to hurry up while the weather was kid friendly.

Drucilla ignored me.

The weather was supposed to change Friday night. I laid out towels to dry kids, wrap them and carry them to the house for time by the wood stove. Winter goat kids dry, fluffy and with goat coats on can take a lot of cold.

brown doe kid of winter goat kids

This slightly smaller brown Nubian doe kid got pushed off the milk and needed a bottle boost. She’s doing fine now.

I knew Drucilla would have her kids Saturday morning.

The expected cold front got delayed. Saturday dawned bright and warm. The kids were dry and up when I got to the barn. They had the entire warm day to get thoroughly dry and fluffed up.

Saturday night brought the edges of the cold front. Sunday let it settle in. Monday the twin doe kids had their goat coats on and looked like winter goat kids.

Harriet panics when her goats kid in Capri Capers. One kid is Capri.

Livestock Decisions

My Nubian dairy goats are livestock. They are business. They are also a hobby. They are also pets. That creates problems.

Raising livestock is like any other farming or ranching business. It is supposed to make a profit.

Raising livestock as a hobby can remove the profit requirement. Pets aren’t supposed to make a profit.

spotted Nubian buck is livestock

One thing this Nubian buckling has is spots. He was born March 15 and is disbudded. His mother is High Reaches Agate. His sire is High Reaches Augustus.

Hay and grain are part of raising livestock. Goats love to eat. They are messy eaters. As food just appears in front of them, they can drop some on the floor. More will appear later.

Purchasing hay and grain is expensive. That dropped feed and hay is money ground into the mud.

polled Nubian buck is livestock

Polled goats are becoming popular again. This black Nubian buck, born March 16, is polled. His mother, High Reaches Lydia, is polled.

Goats do get sick. They get parasites such as intestinal worms. Medicines and wormers are expensive.

Livestock requires equipment. I get by with a minimum, but still have hoof trimmers, disbudding iron and other items. Luckily these can last for years with a little care.

frosted spotted Nubian doe is livestock

This frosted gray spotted Nubian doe thinks cameras are suspicious. Whe was born March 15 and is disbudded. Her mother is High Reaches Agate.

Before retiring, these expenses weren’t a big problem. Now the goats must pay their way, at least much of it.

My goats bring in money from milk and selling kids. I’m not a commercial dairy and don’t officially sell milk. Still, other people in the area are like me: intolerant of cow’s milk.

Selling kids is where much of my hay money comes from. My kids are now close to three months old now. They are for sale.

two Nubian does are livestock

High Reaches Rose has a Nubian doe with interesting color patterns. She is black with spots. Her face is half white and half black and has red highlights. she was born March 12 and is disbudded. My older bottle baby is ignoring the camera. She is black with spots. She was born March 9 and is disbudded. Her mother is High Reaches Matilda. There is a fourth doe, a month younger and a frosted black.

In past years I’ve kept a kid or two or three. This made it easier to say good-bye to the others.

Getting older changes things. Raising livestock is work. Each year the work seems harder and takes longer. The solution is to have fewer goats.

My goats are pets. I know each and every one and have since they were born. The obvious solution is to not keep any kids. The adults get old and die. The herd gets smaller.

And saying good-bye to the kids gets harder, especially the bottle babies.

Dora’s Story deals with some of these issues following Dora, an Alpine/Nubian dairy goat, through several owners.