Our first concern is feeding. In summer, they can graze in our pastures while in winter they are in the barn eating hay. They also are fed grain (twice a day when necessary). Minerals are an important part of their diet so they have free access to a selection of ones that are good for goats (including salt and kelp). And of course, there is plenty of fresh water for whenever they want a drink.
In winter, some of our goats (does and bucks ) are inside an enclosed part of the barn until spring. The younger goats are with the llamas in another part of the barn, one that lets them go outside to eat hay. Since it is an open barn they can choose if they want to be inside or out, wherever they are comfortable . (We are actually making renovations in our barn because our herd has grown (it is now around 60 goats) and we need to make some changes. We will share more about this with you in a future post.)
Then there is the constant upkeep and management of the animals.
As we feed them in person at least once a day, we can watch them closely for any signs of illness. For instance diarrhea or difficulty breathing (an early symptom of pneumonia) are easier to treat (and are likely to have better results) if they are spotted early and we react quickly. This daily contact insures that we always know what is happening with each animal.
We also have to deworm regularly, check for lice (especially on the Angora goats, very bad for their fleeces !); if we find any lice we have to treat them really fast otherwise the fleeces would be damaged. Sometimes we have to do a little haircut until the next shearing.
There are different ways of doing this for different breeds and ages of goats. The angora goats have bodies similar to a sheep. Their spine is more flexible than other goats spines. (This flexible spine is why we can shear them when they are sitting.) Kids (baby goats) also still have flexible spines so they can also sit. The goats that aren’t angoras have their hooves trimmed while they are standing. Our small milking station is perfect for this because it restricts their movement and makes it a bit easier for us.
So here we are trimming hooves:
Fanny takes care of the kids (baby goats) and I do the adults.
First we trim the front hooves, then the hind hooves.
So that is a quick look at another part of caring for goats and life on the farm.
In future posts we want to share more with you, things like:
our daily routine when they get their grain, milking the goats, bottle feeding our baby goat Coeur (her name means heart in French),
and Coeur’s story needs a post all its own, (one that tells you about her and her friend Cashmere).
Let us know if there are other things about our goats and their care that you would enjoy hearing more about!