Deborah Niemann

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since Jun 11, 2015
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books chicken goat pig sheep
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

Lack of appetite can be caused by nutritional deficiencies. What brand of mineral do you have available? Block, bucket, or loose? What exactly do you feed? I've only heard of one goat herd that has dairy goats that produce well without grain, and they've worked on breeding for that trait.
10 months ago
If you have tons of lush grass, they will eat it. But in the fall when the grass stops growing, they start rooting. The other thing is that if they smell nuts, they will root. So, they root around all of our trees that produce nuts, which includes oaks and hickories here. You can see the rooting stops at the edge of the tree's dripline.
10 months ago
Sounds good to me, and I have both AGH and hair sheep. The sheep are easier, but I do love my AGH pork, so I can't choose between the two myself. You would have to supplement the AGH with a little grain. I've seen people try to raise them on pasture alone, and it was not good.
10 months ago
I tried this many years ago when we were new, and my does got insanely skinny. I have only heard of one person doing it, and she said that she can't do it with goats that have ever been fed grain. If they are born on her farm, and they never get grain, they do just as well as the does getting grain. But if they came from somewhere else and she tries to stop feeding them grain, their production drops and they lose weight.

I don't normally feed grain to does in pregnancy until they are within a few days of kidding, and then I just start giving them a tiny amount to get their rumen used to it again, so they'll be fine with it when in milk. If they are getting fat, that means they will probably have some big babies because those calories have to go somewhere.

Here's a post I wrote on grain during pregnancy: https://thriftyhomesteader.com/do-goats-need-grain-during-pregnancy/
10 months ago
You can NOT tell if it's CL based on appearance, and it is very sad that any vet would say that you could. You have to have it sent to a lab and tested. I agree this look more like the jaw, and as such, I would have just left it alone, although I would have kept her isolated until it was gone, if I did not want to have it aspirated by a qualified vet and sent to a lab for a definitive diagnosis.
11 months ago
It's true that sheep don't do well in traditional electric fencing because they can go squeeze between the strands. ElectroNet is a completely different product though. It's an electrified net, so the sheep cannot go through it. Although our Shetlands will go through old-fashioned electric fencing without batting an eye, we never had any issues with them going through the ElectroNet.
You can't really keep chickens and sheep together because the sheep will eat all the chicken grain, and if they eat too much, they'll get bloat or enterotoxemia and could die.

Chickens have to have poultry netting because they can walk through the holes in the ElectroNet for sheep and goats.

I don't like using poultry netting with sheep and goats because lambs and kids can get tangled in it because of the vertical strings. The actual sheep and goat fencing has plastic struts instead.
If his twin didn't make it, I wonder if they were premature? The only time I've had a kid that couldn't stand for two days was if it was premature or suffered severe hypothermia and almost died at birth. Since this one is mostly fine except for one leg now, I'd rule out selenium deficiency, which is systemic. He might not be using that leg because the tendons are flexed the wrong way. You could try splinting the leg to stretch it in the correct position. If a kid is born like this, I've seen it correct on it's own within a few hours of birth. If not, splinting it usually helps. The one time that we did it, the splint fell off after about three days, and the kid used the leg normally after that. Basically, use something like a popsicle stick and tape it to the back of the leg so that the ankle is forced into the correct position instead of being flexed backwards.
Trees and bushes ARE good food. Google "goat landscaping," and you'll see that people are making money with goats clearing overgrown areas. You don't need to plant goat food. You already have the ideal goat buffet. The only thing I've actually heard of anyone planting for goats was willow trees because they grow so fast, but I can tell you from experience that goats will kill willow trees that are less than a few years old, so I'm not sure how that ultimately worked out.

You didn't ask about lactation but since someone else brought it up -- I will say that lactation is only draining on a sheep or goat's body for the first two months, which is when their production is at its peak because they're feeding babies that are growing so fast. Even if babies continue to nurse -- or if you're milking them -- they will start to regain body condition and should be in great shape by four months. I've personally milked goats for as long as 18 months and one doe for three years, and they all became overweight after a year in milk. Lactation is actually far less demanding on their body than growing babies and giving birth. This does not negatively affect their life spans either. I continue breeding them until age 10, and milk them for as long as they'll produce milk after that, which is usually for more than a year. My does live to 13-14 years old, which is about average.

Rotational grazing is very popular. We move our layers behind our sheep in a rotational grazing pattern. You just don't want to leave the chickens in a space for so long that they kill all of the grass, which I've seen some people do. Then they say it doesn't work because it kills the grass. Indeed, that is NOT the way it works. Humans need to move the chickens more frequently. I'm assuming you'll be using Salatin-style chicken tractors, so they will be moved daily within a space where the goats stayed for a week.
Goats are herd animals, so you need at least two. However, the bucks and does need to be kept separate so that the does are not getting pregnant too often. Also, if you want to milk the does, you don't want them to stay with the bucks because the bucks will rub on them and make the milk stinky. So, you need at least two does and two males. Some people start with a buck and a wether as a companion, but since it costs just as much to feed a wether as a buck, some people start with two bucks. If you plan to keep a doeling, then you'd have to buy a second buck to breed her to anyway.

The type of fencing that works best will depend on whether you get standard size goats of Nigerian dwarf or miniature dairy goats. You should also do rotational grazing for best pasture utilization and also as a natural method of parasite control. http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2016/03/4-benefits-of-rotational-grazing.html