Kate Downham

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since Oct 14, 2018
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goat homestead wood heat
I'm a quiet goatherd establishing a permaculture homestead on old logging land at the edge of the wilderness.
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Recent posts by Kate Downham

I've now ordered the giveaway copies and they should be arriving for the winners in the next couple of weeks.

For anyone that missed out on winning a copy - I have paperbacks and hardcovers available (as well as the ebook) on most online bookshops including Amazon, Book Depository, and the ebook here on Permies. Whenever someone buys a copy of my book (or requests that their local library order it in), it helps me to implement exciting permaculture stuff on my land.
You could also try cutting out goat pellets and all grain for a while and seeing what happens. I personally try to avoid feeding grain to kids, and use it only for pregnant or lactating does. Soaked grain is more easily digested than unsoaked.

Pellets are really bad for a goat's digestive system, it could be that in small amounts they're fine for most of your goats, but your 'canary' goat could be reacting to the pellets.

Seaweed/kelp might help as well. Or possibly dolomite lime (you might need to put a small handful down her mouth in case she hasn't figured out how to eat it free-choice). Apple cider vinegar in the water, or as a drench, is usually a good idea too.

So many good suggestions in this thread already, it's really good that you noticed the more subtle and early signs of sickness, and I hope you will find some way that resolves it.
I mostly add it to soups and stews. As a side dish, I really like it cooked in the fat leftover from frying sausages or bacon, I think fat and salt compliment kale really well, onions and garlic do too.

Recently I made cabbage in a roux/cream/cheese sauce and it was really tasty, I think kale would work well in creamy cheesy sauces too. Maybe kale gratin, from kale and garlic cooked in cream or roux sauce, sprinkled with cheese and then broiled or baked until the cheese is lightly browned.

There's a Spanish dish I make with silverbeet that would work with kale - fry up an onion, and some bacon or chorizo if you have it, stir through the greens, add some toasted seeds or chopped nuts and some raisins, if you didn't have meat then you can sprinkle through some smoked paprika and salt at the end.

Colcollan is an Irish dish with cooked kale mashed into potatoes with plenty of butter.

Kale could be dehydrated and then snuck into other dishes and drinks.
1 day ago
Welcome to the forum : ) there is so much knowledge and experience posted on here, it is a great place to learn and share
1 week ago
I hope you'll keep us updated.

It is a tough choice as there are pros and cons to every breed and every breeder. I think a lot of the information on Nigerian dwarfs comes from the USA where there are more breeders, and more of them breeding for milking qualities, than there are in countries fairly new to Nigerian dwarfs.

You're likely to get the same amount of milk (or more) from the free goats than you are from high yielding Nigerian dwarf ones, and there is that risk that the NDs will not give much milk, or that by the time yours are kidding there won't be much demand for their kids as pets.
Congratulations to the winners, and thank you Permies for hosting the giveaway!

Thank you to everyone that's posted thoughtful questions and posts, its been a good experience getting to talk about goats with other permies that also love goats and permaculture.

If I've missed responding to anything and you'd still like an answer, feel free to post a link to your post here in this thread to get my attention.

If anyone would like to support Permies and get an eBook copy of my book at the same time, it can be found on the Permies digital market here: https://permies.com/t/111481/Backyard-Dairy-Goats-ebook
Your free ranging situation sounds similar to mine. I have a small herd of dairy goats and keep them without any fences, and they wander about a bit, but they always come back when it's milking time or treat time, and if there's a comfortable undercover place for them to go at night that's close to the milking area and treats, then they go here at night, and then go out browsing during the day. To do this successfully I think there needs to be a time of adjustment for them to get used to where home is, and where the treats are, so if you can set up a small fenced area with a shelter for them, they can stay there for a while until they've settled in and get used to getting treats at certain times of the day.

Kidding time can be a bit more stressful with free range goats, and can involve a lot of observation of them to work out when one is going to kid in the next few hours, and observing which direction she goes off in. Alternatively at kidding time, one free range goatherd I know keeps the goats that are very close to kidding in a paddock near the house so he can keep an eye on them - this is what I'd like to do eventually.

Free ranging a small herd doesn't really do much towards clearing brush, and higher numbers will lead to them eating their favourite plants, leaving the rest, and possibly compacting parts of the land. Most people who want to clear brush will concentrate their goats over a smaller area, and then quickly move them on to another area by using portable fencing. I don't really mind that my goats are not clearing brush, as they are producing food and spreading manure on land that would currently not feed other animals, plus I love goats, milk, and cheese.
For meat, we go to the butcher once every week, get enough meat for a big pot of stew/curry/soup, and reheat every day until we've eaten it all. This works fine even in summer, as long as I'm strict about bringing it to the boil every day. For the rest of the week we eat vegetarian foods or preserved pork. Bone broth made and reheated this way keeps well too. Recently I kept a curry for nearly 2 weeks this way, I wonder if the spices in it helped to preserve it as well, although the weather is cold at the moment, so this may not have worked in summer. I use enamelled cast iron pots with tight fitting lids, so there's no way for things to contaminate it in between heatings.

Roasting meat or cooking sausages one day, and then cooking up the leftover meat in a stew the next day works well too, and this stew can then be reheated for days afterwards.

Dairy keeps well in an unheated room in winter. Adding yoghurt or kefir to cream helps it to keep well, and instead of it going bad, it turns to créme fraiche. Salted butter always keeps better than unsalted. Ghee is a good way to preserve butter for longer. Raw dairy keeps better than pasteurised.
1 week ago
Is it a special goat to you? If you want to keep her, you could experiment with changing her diet. I found my goats hooves grew faster when they were eating mostly lucerne, now that they're eating mostly trees and scrub, I don't need to trim as often. Have you tried getting someone else to hold the goat's leg still while you squeeze the shears with both hands?
I would find out a bit more about milk yield and lactation length from the Nigerian dwarf breeder. Here in Australia, dwarf goats are bred for size, and not many breeders know what their goats are like for milking.

Are people where you live interested in other goat breeds as pets? You may not get as good a sale price for the kids, but other breeds may be cheaper for you to begin with too. If you don't mind someone else butchering them, then you can sell them to people who buy kids and raise them for meat.

Another option if you don't want to have to butcher the kids is to get goats that are good at milking through for many years after kidding once - here in Australia, British Alpines are best known for that, but my Toggenburgs are good at milking through too.

Full-size goats eat more than dwarf goats, but their milk yield is often higher too, and you might just be able to borrow someone else's buck when you need one rather than having to feed one there all year.

Which dairy breeds are easiest to find where you live?