Deborah Niemann

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since Jun 11, 2015
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We moved to the middle of nowhere from the Chicago suburbs in 2002 to start growing our own food organically, and we've never looked back! We produce 100% of our meat, dairy, eggs, and maple syrup, as well as lots of fruits and vegetables!
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Recent posts by Deborah Niemann

Sounds like she is a precocious milker. It's not that unusual, and it's not a big deal. You really should not milk unless you plan to keep milking every day. If you just do it now and then, she could wind up with mastitis. There is initially a plug in the teat so that bacteria can't get in there, but once you pop out that plug, bacteria can get in, so you need to keep milking to essentially keep flushing the pipes.
I have seen a couple of older studies on tobacco, and they either show that it doesn't work or that it doesn't work very well.

And I want to add that there we know there are some very negative effects of tobacco on all mammals. It's a long story but I happened to wind up with a couple of goats here that had eaten cigarette butts regularly when they were living in the city, and they gave birth to the tiniest kids that I had seen in years, and one of them gave birth to two dead kids and two live, although one of the live kids never gained weight and died within 4-5 days, even though we were bottle-feeding him, so we knew he was getting enough milk. I actually found a study on animals eating cigarette butts, and they have a lot of nicotine in them, which has the same negative effects on goats and goat fetuses as it does on humans and our babies.

Copper oxide has been shown to kill barber pole worm in more than a dozen studies, and it's safe to use in sheep, which are much more sensitive to copper toxicity than goats.

I have fed my homegrown wormwood to goats with a heavy wormload, and it reduces the number of worms, depending upon how much the goat eats. It doesn't kill as many as commercial dewormers though, so it may or may not actually make the goat feel better. I've had mixed results, in other words.

Carlos Gomezvelandia wrote:HI everyone..
So you got 2 baby males coming with Momma ...  I'm curious about what other Goat experienced permies here would say, I have always heard males should be "processed" asap and maintain only females, lots of people I've read elsewhere are always bashing males, I'm hoping someone here could talk about their experience having males... I've always thought to keep things in balance and natural there should always be at least 1 male in any herd of any animal, but lots of people seem to have problem with male goats in particular.

The other thing.. once these males become mature, wouldn't they be getting "too interested" in their own Momma?
Hoping someone could give some advice on male goats, or perhaps point out to another thread where it has already been discussed at length?

If the males are castrated (wethered), this is not a problem.

Katy Whitby-last wrote:Deborah, I read your article and I'd be interested in how you manage the calcium / copper balance. We are in an area with high molybdenum because of high rainfall and I feed a goat specific mineral. However, we need to feed quite high levels of calcium as some of my milkers are producing 2 gallons of milk per day which I expect could inhibit uptake of copper. We don't have any signs of copper deficiency but I would rather avoid a problem before it arises.

Just watch the goats. I understand a lot of does need a high calcium diet, so you just watch them, and if they start to show symptoms of copper deficiency, provide additional copper in the form of copper oxide. I prefer copper oxide because it has a much wider margin of safety than copper sulfate.
If you only have a few animals, the easiest way to do it is to sell the whole animal to a customer and deliver to the locker for processing. You will get a lot more money doing that rather than taking them to the sale barn. If you sell meat at a farmers market or to stores or restaurants, you have to have a license to sell meat, which complicates matters considerably and isn't worth it unless you are selling a lot of meat. I wrote more about this topic here:
I would not recommend buying goats from Craigslist or the sale barn in the US. Maybe this doesn't happen in other countries, but I've heard too many horror stories of people buying sick goats from those places in the US. There are some goat diseases that don't have outward symptoms until it's too late and then your whole farm has been exposed. For example, Johnes lives on pasture for about five years, so you would not be able to bring in any sheep, goat, or cows to your farm for five years if you had an animal with that disease. Here is more info on that:

The breed you get really depends on whether you want a quart of milk a day or a gallon or two, as well as how many goats you want to have. Keep in mind that you must have at least two because they are herd animals. Alpines and Saanens are for those who want gallons of milk every day. Nubians give a little less but have higher butterfat. The highest butterfat is in Nigerian dwarf milk, but they only give a quart or two a day. Here is more info about Nigerian dwarf goats:
I just saw that someone said that NDs don't handle cold as well as European breeds, and that is definitely not true. We're in Illinois, and my goats have never had any issues with the cold at all. In fact, my 15-year-old doe survived the polar vortex with 25 BELOW ZERO for 36 hours this past winter! That was NOT wind chill. That was real temperature. And I've had more does give birth than I can remember now when it was below zero. You do need to have a heat lamp and blow dryer to get the kids dry ASAP at that temperature, but they do fine. However, you'd need a blow dryer for any breed when it's below zero. I've seen standard sized goats that had half-sized ears due to frost bite because they didn't get dried off quickly enough after birth.

Here is more info on learning to milk:
Whenever you bring in new goats, there will always be drama, but it is usually short lived. I have more on that here:

Does usually get along great with their offspring forever, but you said the doe is coming with two bucklings and that you would wether one. What about the other one?
I'm surprised someone at UC Davis would tell you to get a blood test for copper before bolusing. The vet texts say that blood tests are not reliable for copper levels. A liver test is the only one that's really accurate. And if they said "not too high" then it was probably fine. I don't remember the exact numbers any longer, but there is a fairly large buffer between normal and toxic.

Are your conditions more likely to cause deficiency or toxicity? If you have sulfur or iron in your well water and feed alfalfa, then deficiency is most likely. The only case of toxicity I've heard of was a farm where the soil was deficient in molybdenum, which is incredibly rare. Here is more info on that:

Years ago I read a published case study on a few goats that got copper toxicity, and they had been consuming a cattle mineral with 3000 ppm copper sulfate, which has a much smaller margin of safety than copper oxide, which can be safely given to sheep. How much copper is in your free choice loose mineral, and how much copper is in your goat feed?
You simply use a different technique to milk NDs and other goats with smaller teats. It is not necessarily harder. I complained endlessly my first year with NDs because I had milked a cow before. However, once I figured out that I couldn't use the same technique, I actually prefer milking NDs to bigger goats. We've had NDs since 2002 and also had LaManchas for about 10 years, and I actually found the NDs easier to milk because there were several techniques I could use for milking them. With the LMs, it just basically squeezing with all three or four fingers, which meant my hands got tired really fast. With the NDs, I could switch between milking with (1) thumb, pointer, and middle finger, or (2) thumb, middle, and ring finger, or (3) rolling my thumb against my pointer finger. So, when one finger gets tired, I just switch to a different combination of fingers and thumb so that the stress gets spread around my hand.