Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How we Bottle-Feed Goat Kids

Carter using my finger as a pacifier. :)
I repeat this often in posts because I feel passionately about it. We only bottle-feed goat kids as a very last resort; when, for whatever reason, the Mother can't and the alternative would be starving kids. Our reason for this is simple. It is what is BEST for the kids. Period. Goats have a herd hierarchy. Bottle-babies, removed from the herd and raised with people, have a hard time adjusting to that. We have seen kids bullied and have lost yearlings because they were not fully accepted into their herd. I am not saying that this always happens, but it does happen- and it doesn't need to. Mothers teach their young goat manners and protect them when necessary. Secondly, kid-replacer is a suitable substitute for their mother's milk, but it is not the BEST nutrition for goat kids- their Mother's milk is. It contains the right blend of nutrients and is fed in the right amounts to goat kids. I have yet to see a case of floppy kid syndrome in a dam-raised kid. (I am sure there are exceptions, but I have never seen it.) Finally, rows of milk bottles lined up in a board without any kind of contact is.... cold. Sterile. I imagine it saves time and does the job of giving the kids nutrition and nothing else.

I am not saying our way is better than how some commercial goat dairies raise their kids, but I think there are benefits to being hands on with every kid where bottle feeding is necessary. And, I think keeping kids with their Mothers until they are weaned is a kinder, more humane practice than selling kids early.

This is how we do it...

Benton playing on Bailey. She is so patient! 
Carter and Benton are just 2 days old and took to the bottle immediately. We use a regular human baby bottle. Other nipples and styles are sold and some people prefer them. We have purchased Prichard type bottles and nipples, but in our experience, human baby bottles work as well, are inexpensive, easy to clean, and our kids prefer them. These kids will get fed 4 oz of goat's milk every 3 hours around the clock. We increase the amount of milk at each feeding to coincide with the weight they are gaining. The rule of thumb is 4 oz per 5 pounds every 3-4 hours. In time, as the kids' rumens develop and they are eating hay and browsing, we will increase the time between bottles until they are getting 4 bottles each day. When the time comes that their rumen is developed and they can eat hay and browse exclusively, we will wean them until they no longer drink milk. Bailey is with her kids while we feed them. She cleans them. She mothers them. We are only providing the milk but the kids are Bailey's to mother. (Ok... we provide some cuddles, scratching and appropriate people interaction. It is too hard to resist those faces! Besides, we do want them to be comfortable around people and friendly. We just also want them to BE goats. ♥)

Thanks for visiting with us today. (And tolerating my soap-box rant.)
Sonja ♥

Monday, February 26, 2018

Homestead Pictures

Bailey has made little progress, but also has not deteriorated either. We're still giving her medicines to help her to recover from birth. These include penicillin, vitamin B, probiotics, and banamine. Additionally, today I went ahead and gave her a dose of dewormer hoping to get ahead of the eggs that usually hatch just after a doe kids. With everything else against her, she doesn't need to be fighting off parasites, too. Her scouring has not resolved yet. I spent an hour this morning thoroughly cleaning off her udder and under her tail. She did not seem to mind it. I know I feel better when I feel clean.

The kids are doing well and are behaving as bouncy kids should. They are eager for their bottles through the day. We have already increased from 3 oz every 3 hours to 4 oz every 3 hours. We will continue to increase as they gain weight.

Here are some pictures I snapped this morning. I am hoping to catch some video tomorrow, but Kristen and Meaghan are away on a well-deserved vacation to their grandparent's house this week. Video is difficult to manage one-handed, but we'll see what I can manage. For now, I hope you enjoy this peek into this morning...

Bailey is still letting the kids nurse. Benton is getting a drink. 

Carter needs another bath! 

Bailey's udder is HUGE. I am using warm compresses to help alleviate
the discomfort until the milk absorbs. 

Benton's favorite spot. 

Bath time! 

Boris and Anya have become friends. ♥
Thanks for visiting with us today. See you again soon!
Sean & Sonja ♥

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bailey Kids (finally!) WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

For the past several weeks our family has slipped into a functional, (but ultimately unhealthy) sleep schedule. Because of the cold and the potential complications with Bailey kidding, we have been checking on Bailey every hour around the clock. After the first week, Kristen and Meaghan pitched in and offered to take the 10 pm to 2 am watch, which helped immensely. Still, we have all been waiting impatiently for Bailey to go into labor. About two weeks ago, Sean excitedly announced that there was a discharge from Bailey's vulva. Losing the mucus plug is a sign that we are getting close. But, though her udder filled and her belly dropped, nothing happened night after night.

Friday night we started our routine dance. Sean and I headed to bed around 10 pm and the girls began their watch. We set our alarm for 3 am. Some nights I fall asleep as soon as my head touches my pillow. I woke to Sean, "It's time." Sean said quietly. I thought he meant that it was 6 am and time for us to get up to get ready for a soap making class. "Not yet." I answered and settled back to sleep. "Sonja, Bailey's kids are coming. It's time." THAT woke me. We already had our kidding kit in the barn, so it was just a matter of grabbing boots, coats, and camera.

Meconium stained first born.
In the barn, Bailey was laying down and her kid's nose was presenting in the "bubble". If all went well, her first kid would be born within the hour. The first thing we wanted to know was whether the kid was in the proper position. As its nose protruded, we were expecting to see hooves along the sides or underneath. When more of the head was delivered and no hooves were present, Sean sprayed lubrication on my gloved hand. Slowly I eased my hand inside with my fingers held together (Never enter with fingers splayed. That is very dangerous.) to feel for hooves. My hand immediately hit a hoof. Good news. Slowly, I felt for the other hoof along the other side, but I didn't feel it, only the shoulder. That meant one leg was in the correct position, the other was laying back along the spine. Not a perfect presentation, but the kid could be born this way. I added gentle traction to the hoof I could feel and to the kid's head. As Bailey contracted and pushed, I helped pull the kid slowly until the shoulders were delivered. I left the rest up to Bailey. Within minutes, she delivered her first kid.

Being born is tiresome work!
The first thing Sean and I noticed was that there was fecal matter present in the sac and the amniotic fluid was definitely yellow. Meconium in the amniotic fluid does not necessarily mean that the kid is going to do poorly, but it is a sign that there was some fetal distress. It is important that we watch for joint ill, lethargy, or difficulty breathing which could indicate respiratory issues over the first few days. If signs present, we'll call in our veterinarian. I helped clean off the large bits of gooey membrane from the kid and then placed him on a clean puppy pad in front of Bailey so she could do her part in cleaning her kid. I took pictures and chatted with Sean while we waited for the next kid to be born.

The second kid presented within a couple minutes. We could clearly see the hooves of both front feet in the unruptured amniotic sac. We waited to see the head present. After about 10 minutes, both hooves protruded about 5 inches but there was no head was in sight. Concerned that the head was turned backwards, Sean sprayed more lubrication on newly gloved hands and carefully I felt inside to see where the kid's head was. Just inside, the head was there, facing the right direction. Good news. We waited a little longer and the nose presented and within minutes the second kid was born. The amniotic sac did not rupture during birth, so I opened it and helped clear the fluid from the new kid's nose and mouth before placing him near Bailey's head for her to clean off her kid.

Good job, Bailey!
While Bailey met her kids and cared for them, Sean and I cleaned up the soaking wet puppy pads and towels. Sean grabbed some grain and fresh water in case Bailey wanted to eat or drink. I took pictures and video and sighed in relief that the kids were alive and so was Bailey. And, that we might get some sleep again (At least until it is Rachel's turn to kid.)

Once the kids got their legs under themselves and began to stand, we helped them to latch on in turn on Bailey's good side. It took a little practice, but they both got a drink before we left the family to bond and we returned to bed.

A little backstory for those who didn't know. Last year, Bailey kidded twins. Since she has kidded before and mothered beautifully, we didn't worry too much about them. Once we made sure they could latch on properly and were drinking well, we left Bailey to care for them. There was a problem, though. Bailey developed a severe form of mastitis, an infection in her udder. Though we used the medications penicillin, Today (Cephaprin Sodium) and then Tomorrow (Cephaprin Benzathine), had the multiple abscesses lanced by our Veterinarian and gave pain meds, Bailey's left udder was severely damaged so that scar tissue blocked access to any milk production. We dried her off and over the course of the last year have fought with several on-going infections that spread through her body. Her kids from last year suffered, too. Franklin contracted pneumonia four times over the course of the year, nearly dying on us twice. His brother, Kurt did die. We had NO plans on breeding her ever again. She had other plans.

When we discovered that Bailey was going to kid this season, we were worried for her health and that of her kids. If she had twins, they would have to share one side of the udder because the left side produces milk, but there is no way for it to pass through the teat. Based on the poor production of the right side, we need to be watchful that the kids are getting enough milk from it. If they are, great! The right side will stop producing in time and the kids can be reared sharing the right side. If not, we needed to be prepared for that. I had frozen colostrum from last year's kidding season. And, I have frozen milk from our final milking in December to feed the kids until Rachel kids. Then, I can milk her and feed the new kids. We only bottle feed if absolutely necessary. It is really not the BEST thing for the kids, but it is certainly better than the chance of them starving to death without interference.

This is all we have been able to collect. :(
Back to the present... Sean and I were both able to milk about 2 ounces from the working side of the udder. It was not much, but we were hopeful that under the laws of supply and demand, Bailey would produce what she needed to in order to care for her bucks. When we checked on the family at 9 am, Sean was only able to get a half an ounce from the working side. No need to jump the gun, the kids might have already nursed and emptied the udder. Bailey developed scours in the hours after kidding which made her backside and her private pen a mess. While Sean cleaned Bailey and her stall, I brought the kids inside to wash off the dried fecal smears and introduce them to Kristen and Meaghan. I warmed 4 oz of colostrum and gave them each half by bottle-which they took to easily. Then, the boys fell asleep, cuddled with us.

We thaw colostrum in a double
boiler until warmed.
When Sean came inside, I suggested we keep the kids inside for a couple hours to give Bailey's udder time to fill up. The plan was that Sean would milk her out after 2 hours to see how much milk she was producing. If she was producing 6 oz or so, that would be a good sign. Sean returned inside with a mere half ounce of colostrum. Not good news. I added it to another package of colostrum from the freezer, warmed it and fed the kids another 3 ounces each. We returned the kids to Bailey. She may not be producing enough milk, but she is their mother and has shown a desire to clean them and sleep with them. So long as that continues, we'll not pull the kids.

Over the next 24 hours, the kids each ate 24 oz of colostrum from bottles and Sean attempted to collect colostrum from Bailey. Each attempt yielded no more than half an ounce of milk. Bailey's scouring (diarrhea) had not resolved by morning. Because the kids were born coated in meconium and Bailey was showing signs of developing mastitis again in her left udder, we injected penicillin, vitamin B (for energy and to stimulate appetite) and banamine orally (to help with the pain of an engorged udder). We also gave her pepto bismal to help ease her scouring. The kids were covered in dried fecal matter, so once more, we brought them inside to clean off. We let them stay inside with us to eat and dry off (about 3 hours) and again, Sean attempted to get milk from Bailey. Again she only produced about a half of an ounce.

So, this is our plan for now: We are applying warm compresses to Bailey's udder every three hours, when we are also cleaning off any fecal matter that is on her back end. Tonight, Bailey enjoyed half a dark beer (helps with probiotics), and did not enjoy, -but needed- Probios paste (helps with probiotics), an antibiotic injection, pepto bismal orally, and vitamin B. She has all the hay she wants 24/7. We want her to produce milk, but we also want the left side to dry up. As any woman who had had a child understands, there is some pain involved in engorged breasts. We are trying to alleviate that, too. We hope that in time, the left side of the udder will stop producing milk and the swelling will come down enough to allow the right side's passages to open to allow more milk to reach the outside. At the moment, she is HUGE, but only drops are coming out of the right side. If that happens, great! The kids are still trying to drink from that side. We're hoping that helps, too. In the meantime, we are bottle-feeding the kids 4 oz each every 3 hours around the clock.

Carter & Benton
As for the kids, they are showing no signs of distress. They are both alert and active. Both take the bottle without trouble already. They are making loose milk poops and urinating normally. We expect they will grow to be healthy additions to our homestead. And, one last thing, we promised to reveal their names... These lads are named Carter and Benton. This year's naming theme is the television show ER, since that is what we have been watching on our "down" time in the evenings.

Here is a short video of them both minutes after their birth and 6 hours later~

Thanks for visiting with us today. :)
 ~Sean & Sonja

Toms Calling and Adding Muscovy Hens

Today is a spinning-my-wheels kind of day. I have a list of things that need doing as long as my arm and absolutely ZERO inclination to start any of them. The cure would be to simply pick a project and start it. Simple, right? It surely would be, if I had any motivation to put thoughts into action.

Part of my funk is Mother Nature's ridiculous mood swings! Yesterday was a gift; 60 degrees and sun. The snow and ice thawed to bare ground in spots through the yard. The geese and ducks were in heaven, playing in the open water of their small pond. Turkeys are beginning to have loud disagreements with one another over who is going to make babies this season. And our lovely flock of free-loading chickens are beginning to lay eggs again! The goats took advantage of the unusually warm day to venture into the pasture to soak up some sun. This morning we woke to temperatures in the single digits. Seriously. These 50* shifts in temperature are getting old.

I took advantage of the warmer weather to spend some time outside and took some pictures to share with you all. Our group of turkey hens sat to one side of the porch while the boys had a discussion. The loud disagreement between Aquila and Lazarus made me smile. It was a sure sign that Spring is on her way. We have high hopes of hatching a couple clutches of turkey poults this season. Of all the birds on the homestead, the turkeys are my favorite. Because they are used to us (and because they have never had cause to fear us) they are quite tame. The toms tolerate being handled; several of the hens absolutely love it. They are usually content to sit in a lap and be petted. :)

On the goat front, Sean woke me at 6 am to let me know that once again, Bailey had a thick discharge coming from her tail end. "Finally! I think today is the day with Bailey. Do you want me to stay home?" he asked. That was good news. We haven't enjoyed a decent night's sleep in nearly two weeks. "No. Go ahead to work. Bailey kids easily. I can handle it." I replied, relieved at the prospect of sleep somewhere on the horizon. Sean left for work.

I checked Bailey through the morning, waiting for her contractions to begin. They did not. Not only that, but the discharge stopped and disappeared within the first hour of my watch. I checked on her each and every hour, hoping that she was indeed, in labor. She was not. Another sleep-less night anticipated, but such is homesteading.

Ilsa (left) and Anya (right)

Sean and I visited a neighboring farm, Lone Spruce Farm in Dedham, Maine. Our mission was to purchase two female Muscovy hens to be companions for Boris. This winter has been very hard on the animals. While the Mallards and Black Swedish ducks have borne it well, we lost our Muscovy females. It makes us sad, but more importantly, Boris has been lonely for the past month. When we saw an advertisement for a couple young hens, we answered it. And, so it is that Ilsa and Anya have come to join our homestead. Until the weather breaks for good, for their safety, they are being housed in the downstairs portion of the bunny hutch in the potager garden for now. This will allow them time to become comfortable with their new home and its other residents (including us), to learn where the food comes from (again, us) and where the water is, and to settle in before being let loose to roam as they want to in the duck yard. We hope that they will choose to lay eggs and hatch out a nest or two of Muscovy ducklings this year.

Thanks for visiting with us, Friends.
Sean & Sonja

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why Our Homestead Wants a Security System

Sean and I have had several conversations about getting a wireless camera system for the homestead this year. We want this for several reasons. With another kidding season upon us, along with attempting to have hard due dates for the does, we must check the barn around the clock to be able to assist should a problem arise. And they do.

* Breech births
* Kid too large to be born normally
* Kids born in the freezing cold temperatures can quickly succumb to hypothermia
* Accidents
* A mother in distress

These are just some of the things that can go wrong. Things happen. You do your best to mitigate the chance of them and deal with them as best you can when they do. Having a working camera system in the barn, coop, and buck yards would go a long way towards the good-health and well-being of both the animal residents and humans on this homestead. Getting up every hour or two through the night makes for a sleep deficit that is starting to take its toll on Sean and I. It just is.

Then, there is you. We want to be able to share live footage and video. Not every minute of every day. This is our home and we don't wish to live inside a fish bowl. (Though 99.9 % of you are delightful, there are those who would message me every time a goat poops in their stall. Seriously, poop happens. It gets cared for regularly, but not every second. We don't need multiple messages alerting us to it but I digress... ) There are many times we invite you in, to be part of what we do. It would be lovely to have a camera (or several) to turn on inside the barn for when we want to share a live kidding with you. Or, we want to leave a feed on of goat kids playing and napping. Maybe you would enjoy watching the pasture as the goats browse in the woods and play on their equipment. With wireless cameras, you could even join us in the gardens or as we construct fencing.

Finally, there is the thought of security; both from predators that might attack our animals and from people. We live in a rural community, but the times are a changin' and we must be ready to meet those changes.

There are many systems on the market. Because our homestead is spread out and running cords is not feasible, a wireless system would be best. Because we want to use the systems inside barns where dirt and dust do occur, we want a system that can stand up to some wear and tear. Because this is an investment in our homestead's future and we are too poor to buy cheap, we want a quality system. Because we want to be able to invite you into our world via the internet and live feeds, we need a system capable of doing that.

We found the system we want to buy. It runs about $600 once we purchase all the add-ons that will allow us to be able to stream it for you.

To buy "wants", not "needs", we often host sales or try to save money in other ways to pay for it. Neither Sean nor I use credit cards. We buy as we can, build as we go. And, we are thankful for all we have. To fund this project, starting today, we are going to run a series of FLASH SALES on our Lally Broch Farm Facebook Page. If you aren't already a fan, please visit us and give us a "like" and a "follow". The first sale is going to feature our popular Bee's Wax Wraps™ and select pieces of original Eggshell Jewelry. Other sales will follow until we reach our goal of being able to purchase this system. The First FLASH SALE is up and live HERE.

As an extra thank you for helping us reach this lofty goal, after you purchase an item, comment on whether you would like to be entered into a drawing for (1) a seat in one of our fun, educational Soap Making Classes, or (2) a guided Hiking with Goats experience, or (3) a Grain Bag Tote filled with homestead goodies. We will be drawing one name for each of the three bonus prizes.

Keep your eyes peeled for the first of the Security Camera Fund Raising Sales in the next 24 hours. They will be posted only on our Facebook Page. 
Thanks for visiting with us, Friends. We are thankful for your company.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Prepping for Kidding Season

Well, Surprise on us! Bailey may beat Rachel to kidding! Overnight she has grown an udder and "dropped". She hasn't lost her mucus plug yet, but her lady bits have grown swollen and are getting ready to deliver.

(This is a recent video of Bailey and her recovery. Notice how round and healthy she looks. No lumps or scabs anywhere on her. The infection resolved. This was shot in Mid-December. It has taken many months to get her looking this way.)

This is not good news. Bailey has spent the last 9 months recovering from a massive mastitis/staph infection that caused her udder to be shredded. Multiple visits to our vet happened where multiple cysts were opened and drained. She has been on antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, and steroids and *finally* was getting to the point where she was healthy enough to rejoin the herd as soon as the weather turned. We had not planned to breed Bailey again. Keeping her locked, separate from the rest of the herd so she could fully heal has not been an easy decision, but the alternative was to have her put to sleep. We could not risk her infecting the rest of the herd. But, she has such a personality and affection for people. Even as sick as she was at the height of her illness, she always perked up when we came into the barn and pulled herself up to get scratches and love from us. She wanted to fight and we gave her the chance to do that. (Alternatively, as unpleasant as this decision would have been, if she began to decline to the point where she had no quality of life and was in pain, suffering, we would have made the hard call to end that.) As best as we can work out, Master Jareth had other plans. One of our 2-year old Nigerian Dwarf bucks, he escaped the young buck pasture and was found in the horse stall inside the barn last fall. Apparently, he also made it into Bailey's private stall. Bad, bad goats!
This was the beginning of the damage.
The infection spread and got far, far worse.
One Concern is that Bailey's udder might be so damaged that she won't be able to nurse her kid(s). If that is the case, we have colostrum saved in the freezer if she kids before Rachel does. If Rachel kids first, and the timing is right, we will use the fresh colostrum from her if we need to. (If the timing is not right, we will still use Rachel's freshly frozen colostrum as it will be higher in nutrients than what we saved from last season.)
Another concern is that Bailey may relapse under the strain of kidding and caring for the kids. We want Bailey to be as healthy and happy as she can be. Hence the decision to never attempt to breed her again. We will do everything in our power to support her and hope that she has a successful kidding.
This little monster was the cause
of the mastitis. Good thing Frankie
is still adorable! 
And, she may. She has kidded here before- each time gifting us with healthy twins. She is an attentive mother- when she is not riddled with an infection. So, we wait and hope that things will be okay. We will not be using facebook's "Go Live" feature when Bailey kids. We need to focus on her and those babies. But, we will attempt to "Go Live" with Rachel's kidding. She has always kidded well and needs little assistance from us, if any. If you are interested in watching Rachel's LIVE kidding make sure you check into our
FB page for updates. Kidding happens fairly quickly, so do be prepared. :) Thanks for visiting with us tonight, Friends. Sean & Sonja ♥