29 April 2008

After two stifling hot days we had an awesome storm

22 April 2008

Two Angora goat kids born this afternoon !

Angora goat birth - yellow kidWe weren't due start kidding for another five days, but Nadia one of our more mature sensible ladies chose a day when the air was humid - ideal to help keep her lubricated in the case of a difficult birth.

Fabrice announced about 4.30pm that the birth was imminent and we rushed down to see a kid already born and the second one well on it's way.

The kid's back legs you can see in the photo are yellow and that's caused by a breakdown in red blood cells creating a pigment called bilirubin which is eliminated in the stools inside the amniotic sac. This "jaundice birth" happens to goats once in a while - as it does in many human babies ! After the kid has been licked clean and has started to feed from his mother he'll recover completely and be perfectly white like his sister.

Angora goat cleaning her newly born kidsWe let Nadia stay in her chosen spot to clean her kids and "talk" to them in that lovely way they do, then after an hour or so we moved the little family to the safety of the pre-prepared "nursery" where the dam can be fed and cared for separate from the rest of the flock to bond with her kids.

Once kidding starts in earnest we have several of these little spaces and they're used until the next lot of kids are born - by which time I feel like a National Health nurse moving patients out because we need the beds!

Newly kidded Angora damWe've checked that both kids are suckling well because it's very important for the kids to drink the colostrum which has the mother's anti-bodies and protects the newborns from disease until they develop their own immunity.

We've been very fortunate to have had two work experience veterinary students here in the past to help us with kidding and amongst other things, they explained that the kid's stomach can only absorb the colostrum up to 24 hours after birth and the absorption is at it's highest at up to six hours so we try always to respect that delay.

We also check that both nipples are being used and that's easy to do because the "plug" in the hole should have gone and the nipple should feel soft and floppy and the milk should flow easily. If we suspect that a nipple isn't being used, we clear the plug and persuade the kid or kids to suckle from that nipple. That's easier said than done of course !

Here is a photo of the two placentas shed about an hour after the second birth. For identical twins there's only one of course but it's nice to see that the placenta has come away clean and for the time being the dam should have no more bleeding. If you suspect that the placenta is still inside the doe or it's damaged and she's still bleeding, contact your vet to discuss what to do. After a week or so the doe should have a slight show of blood coloured mucous which is normal and shows everything's as it should be.

I'll finish this post later - I just have to go and check how they're doing. (Again) ;-)

Here's a short video I took just after the kids were born. In it you can hear the lovely sounds they make and you'll understand why we had to move them to a clean shed!

Day Two

When the little yellow male kid was searching for milk, I noticed that he had a funny way of walking and a closer inspection showed that both his back feet were turned under.

The first time I saw this I was devastated and thought that the kid was crippled. I spent hours rubbing and moving the joint to coax it to become normal and within a few days it was fine.
I found out later that it could have been a lack of selenium which caused this fault and that it's quite common but none of the goat books I had mentioned the problem of crippled kid's feet.

We now always give our goats a lick with added elements especially for pregnant females and we rarely have this problem but it's something to always look out for when the kids are born because it hampers them in their search for their first drink of milk when they need all the strength they can muster to get on their feet and find the doe's nipple fast. Some kids with this condition have to be lifted and held while they nuzzle around and once they've had a good drink, you may have to repeat the process a few times until the kid's strong enough to do it for himself. Thankfully, this little kid's foot corrected itself the day after he was born.

Feeding newly born kids with the doe on her sideThese twins were born early this morning and the doe - a first kidder - just left them and refused to clean them so we took them into the house to warm and clean them up and give her a rest from their squealing.

That can be counter-productive as the doe may not recognise them as hers after they've been handled. In this case it was essential to save their lives and when we took them back down to her she refused to let them near her. If a doe won't feed her kid or he can't feed himself for whatever reason, rather than pushing him under the reluctant doe and struggling on your belly, it's easier to lay the doe gently on her side and place the kid next to the nipple. Kids hate having their heads pushed, so tickle the back next to the tail, pushing at the same time. If that doesn't work put the kid's lips right next to the nipple and squeeze out a little milk to let him taste it. I have also been known to make a kid scream and shove the nipple in his mouth while it's wide open!

If all else fails,and the kid's too tired and floppy to have sucking reflex, then you can consider feeding with a tube - but make sure that he gets colostrum first - ideally from his own mum or another goat from your herd (It freezes well) or from another local animal. If you've nothing else you can buy a commercial colostrum mix.

We kept these three together and she's now feeding standing up but has to be held, but she's at least started talking to these little fellows and I'm sure tomorrow all will be well.

Like all kids, these two's first faeces are sticky and black, changing after a day or so to a consistency and colour of yellow egg yolk. Check on this regularly for the first week or so to make sure that it doesn't clog up the kid's anus. Some mums clean their kids well, but if there are twins it's often difficult for her to keep on top of the job and you need to do it by gently easing off the sticky mess just after it's dried a bit. Don't let it get too dry or it will stick in the kid's hairs and removing it in one piece is uncomfortable for the kid. If it's really dry break up the mass and remove it gently bit by bit.

If the weather's warm be extremely vigilant about fly-strike. Flies buzzing around a kid are always a warming sign! Hot sticky kids bums are a favourite spot for flies to lay their eggs and of course unless they're removed the eggs hatch and the maggots start to eat the kid's flesh. A horrible thing to happen which is so easily prevented by a watchful eye.

11 April 2008

...those Artichokes weren't there yesterday !

Hmm, they weren't there yesterday

These Globe Artichoke off-sets are in front of a Virginia Creeper and Honeysuckle hedge which will provide a dark background for the Artichokes which I'm going to leave to flower. I cut back the hedge a few days ago to keep it under control and I'm sure the chickens are a bit put out by the changes!

As well as starting to plant out the vegetable plot, I've been clearing up the garden and Fabrice has been helping by cutting down a few trees which were past their best or taking up space between nicer trees. Two of our pals came over to give us a hand cutting and pulling out the roots of brambles - and they left with a lot of cuttings and lots of scratches!

This tree was straggly and next to a huge compost heap which was too rich for it's roots and it had become diseased. Next to it are two Twisted Willows and the parting of the tree now means that the Willows (which I stuck into the ground as cuttings about five years ago) can now be seen from a distance coming into young adulthood.

I've cleared away all the weeds and brambles from under the Willows and given them a good layer of mulch and the chickens will keep the area weed-free until I'm ready to put in some suitable ground cover.

I brought these Tulips back from the UK and they're such a wonderful colour - I do hope they like it in this spot and flower like this every year !

Pinkish orangy tulips that I'm so glad I planted, originally uploaded by hardworkinghippy.

7 April 2008

Fabrice wearing his Angora goat wool sweater (dyed with walnut husks) with the goats in the woods

4 April 2008

Our ladies in waiting - kidding will start in a few weeks

The gestation period for goats is about 150 days, but I've been keeping goats for about 17 years and there are only about 40% who have kidded on the "right" day.

Now, I calculate the gestation from the day they were serviced by the male and add five months and take away one day in the winter and three days in the summer - although it's rare we kid then - but we have on the odd occasion when we've lost a kid or if a very good goat has miscarried we let her have a late service.

So, Puck arrived on the 27th November. We kept him apart from the girls for the first night and the next day so he could have a bit of a rest after his journey.

Suzie our milk goat came into season as soon as she caught a whiff of the billy.
I wonder what she's whispering in his ear in this photo ?

The next day we separated the girls we wanted to get pregnant by Puck - the ones with the best fleeces, easy temperaments, good confirmations, and good mothers and within minutes of being put into the same field he was the life and soul of the party, the new boy on the block and the man of their dreams all rolled into one !

We like Suzie to be the first to kid because we save some of her colostrum and freeze it just in case we need to give some to a newly born kid who has lost her mum, or who is weak and can't suck properly. We also use Suzie's milk for the kids if we need it and we take some for ourselves too.

Unfortunately, she came into season again three weeks later, so I don't think she's pregnant. If not, it's time to start looking for a new milker. We'll see.

So, once the goats are sheared it will be easy to see their udders filling out and keep a close eye on any girls who look as though they're ready to kid. I'm so looking forward to it and I'll try to remember to take my camera so that we can share it with you!

3 April 2008

The Bee man cometh...

The Bee man cometh..., première mise en ligne par hardworkinghippy.

A friend of our keeps his bees on our land and visits from time to time to make sure they're OK.

I kept bees in the UK, but I've got too much to do here to keep bees too and of course as he gives us the odd pot of honey from time to time ...