I haven’t been off the goat farm for long, but still I’m busy with goat matters.
Last Thursday, I headed up to Pine Island Farm, where Chuda Dhaurali and Karen Freudenberger had a few questions about goats. Specifically, about kidding.
For the last two years, Chuda has taken male kids from Fat Toad Farm to raise for refugee and immigrant communities in Burlington. New Americans accustomed to eating goats in their home countries can enjoy goat again, affordably, and slaughtered according to their traditional practice. By helping Fat Toad Farm deal with large numbers of excess kids, everybody benefits. The only downside for Chuda has been the expense of feeding milk replacer to the kids. Consequently, Chuda wants to experiment with breeding goats and raising a few kids on the farm.
Karen asked me to come and talk about kidding in Vermont in Winter with dairy goats. Chuda’s experience has been with warmer temperatures, so we talked about toweling kids off after birth so they don’t chill and run out of energy before they can begin nursing. I also had to explain some dairy goat downsides to Chuda. Goats in Bhutan have been largely self-sufficient and able to raise their kids on their own. Not so with American dairy goats. For generations, people have removed newborn kids from their dams. Without selection for or against good parenting abilities, dairy goats vary tremendously in their ability to raise their offspring. Some are excellent mothers, others couldn’t be bothered. It’s unclear what Chuda has in his barn, so I prepared him for the idea that he may need to intervene more than he had planned. One last point about dairy goats: the kids instincts tell them to look for the teat very high up on the goat. Dairy goats with large, low udders are harder for the kids to navigate. We all agreed that dairy goats wouldn’t last long in range conditions!
In other news, I’m making great strides in the search for land. I’ll have an update about that soon, plus some pictures of the sheep!