Kidding season is the most exciting time of the year at our farm, but also the most terrifying. I try not to think about it – in fact other goat friends don’t even want to talk about kidding season until it is imminent. But I can’t stop thinking about it and preparing for it. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of dairy goat farming.
Starting with the bad, we have to house and love these stinky face peeing bucks year-round. Someone once told me they have a “pencil penis” which allows them to reach and urinate on their faces to attract does. (Insert puke emoji) I hate to say it but I’ve seen this so many times I don’t even notice anymore. But without bucks we wouldn’t have pregnant does and kids.
The bad list also includes cleanup, and lots of it. We regularly muck stalls, but do a deep clean and sanitizing before kids arrive. All buckets, troughs, bottles and stalls are stripped and sanitized.
Lastly on the bad list, we have the end of pregnancy. A goat’s gestation period is approximately 5 months. Surprisingly I find, unlike some humans, the goats handle it quite well. I mean they can urinate whenever they need to, and food and water is always fresh and plentiful. If they are lucky enough, fans are around and they never have to walk far for a snack!
Let’s move on to the ugly. As a mother, I can’t ever call birth ugly. It’s truly a miracle. But I know to some this messy part is ugly. The actual delivery is the most stressful part for us. Will it be difficult? Will a kid get stuck? Is a kid too big? Will we have to help or call the vet? Will the kids all be healthy and normal? Will the Mom be ok? Will we be home for the labor?
We are constantly worried. We stay awake all hours of the night when a doe is in labor. We are there for her through all of it if she allows. Over the years, our children have seen many deliveries. Our eldest is now able to assist when needed. She might be the only kid in her elementary school with goat doula skills, but I hope she wears that badge proudly. By the time each doe has delivered their kids we are exhausted, but then the real fun begins!
Finally, the GOOD! Many ask why we breed goats… well, here is the short of it. We sell raw goat milk and in order to have milk you must breed your does once a year. We also show our goats where they must be in milk. Once the does deliver it’s game on. We are milking and feeding and milking and feeding. The barn is our home! We wouldn’t trade all those hard times for anything!
Kidding season begins here in about 30 days! Stay tuned!