Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What do you do with the old goats? "Jack's Goat"

Photo by Nancy Chandler

The mama pictured above is "Jack's Goat".  Jack was about 14 and worked for us in the summers, milking goats.  When he decided he wanted some goats of his own to show in 4H, we picked out two of that seasons nicest kids to give him.  He might have paid for one and gotten one for free, or traded work for them... there have been a lot of transactions since then so I don't exactly remember, I just know that he got two GREAT kids and then did a great job of raising them and showing them for a couple of years.

Like a lot of young people, turning 16 and starting to drive completely altered Jack's priorities and he sold many of his goats.  He offered one he had gotten from us, back to us and we bought her.  I'm not sure what he had named her, but to us she was always "Jack's Goat".

She was a beauty!  Big, flashy, correct.  Lots of milk and beautiful kids.  AND she would adopt orphaned kids and raise them as her own!  (I mentioned this in the "Goatie" blog:  We have milked her for five or six years now and Jack milked her for a season or two before we bought her.  She was the big boss doe for years, coming first into the milk stand, pushing other does out of her way.... but now younger does want to push her around....

Finally, this year, her milk is drying off mid-season, she's not as sleek and well-conditioned as she used to be and her appetite is off.  We pulled her out of the milk string, wormed her, gave her some selenium, put her on the finer hay we use for kids, and put her in a stall to rest up a bit, letting her out to graze with the kids during the day.  We also gave her some probiotic paste to stimulate her rumen.

As soon as we are sure that she's not sick, we'll put an ad up on Craigslist or answer someone's ad for a "brush goat".  When I talk to prospective buyers, I always ask:
  • do you have shelter?  They need shelter from wind, rain and sun.
  • do you have good fences?  I'm not a big fan of staking goats out.
  • what are you looking for in goats? milk? meat? pets? brush eaters?  
  • are you aware that you have to feed them besides letting them eat brush?  dry, quality hay and grain.... winter forage is not nutritious enough....
  • do you know you have to worm them, vaccinate them yearly and trim their hooves?
Hopefully, we'll find her a good home where the demands on her will be minimal, where she won't have to go thru the physical challenges of kidding and milking, where she'll get to just finish out her time pleasantly.  She may not survive another winter or she may live for five more years but she'll do better in that setting, where she's not in a big group competing for everything.