Sunday, February 27, 2011

The first step in making GREAT cheese...

Is having happy goats.  These girls took advantage of some recent sunshine to come out of the barn and enjoy a little fresh air.  So "herd health management" is our current focus.

Most of these girls are pregnant (we hope they ALL are) and due to begin kidding in the next few weeks.  Today we have a work party scheduled.  The entryway into the milking area hasn't been used in a few months and has two inches of mud (actually worse than mud, liquified goat poop) accumulated.  We will scrape down to the gravel underneath and take wheelbarrow loads of muck back to the greenhouse beds.  Next month I'll rototill this into the soil after it's dried out a bit.  After the walkway is cleaned up, we'll begin bringing in the goats for prebirthing worming, yearly vaccinations, hoof attention and a shot of BO-SE.

We vaccinate within a few weeks of kidding so that the kids born will gain some benefit from the vaccine as well and then will require only two shots (at 2 weeks of age and then a month later) instead of the three shots normally required.  This vaccination is for enterotoxemia or "overeating disease" and basically helps regulate the naturally occurring flora in their rumens, and tetanus, an organism that will enter any open wound.  The worming is something we do four times a year.  Doing it now will also give the kids an advantage of early protection.  And the BO-SE is Selenium.  Selenium is a vitally required nutrient that normally comes from the soil through the vegetation they eat but our western soils are deficient so we must provide it for them in other ways.  David regularly gives them a mineral salt with selenium in it but we give them a little added boost via subcutaneous injections right around breeding time and again right before kidding.  It helps in the in uetero development of healthy kids and helps newborn kids have good muscle tone.  "Floppy kid syndrome", where a newborn kid just doesn't have the strength or muscle tone to stand, find mom and find the teat to nurse, can usually be traced back to selenium deficiency.

So, the first step in wonderful cheese, is literally, shoveling out the goat poop later today.  At least the cold will keep it from being too mucky.  Spring time on the farm!

Photographer, David Lygren, points out the male Maremma Abruzzi guard dog, Vito, in the back of the pasture, watching everything and guarding his goats.  David says he's back by the barn because he doesn't like the camera.  He's so wonderful.  lol David or Vito?  both.

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