Off grid goats

in #unplug4 years ago

When we live off grid, so do our animals.  We don't have the benefit of having lots of electricity, so we had to come up with some work arounds when it came to our goats.  Our goats are Saanen/Nubian/Alpine cross.  We have them for milk production so they are not beefy goats.  In fact, they look skinny like an old milk cow.  But when goats kid out, the baby kids don't deal with the cold weather very well.

The solution was to hold off on the breeding until November/December time period.  If we allowed breeding to take place in August or September when the rut starts, we could end up with January / February kids.  Around here, there is a real risk of -35C weather at that time of the year.  Way too cold for baby goats, even if they were in the barn.  But if we can hold them off until November/December, then we are looking at April / May kidding.  Much nicer weather.  

But goats are curious, smart animals.  We have one that knows how to open gates and they can jump fences too.  So at times we cannot control breeding as mother nature's power is great!  A couple years ago we had a goat deliver her kids in January and one of them caught a chill.  If we don't warm up the kid right away we would lose it.

The good news is that we were able to save her and she is now a mom herself.  Her name is Sophia.


We kept her by the stove for a few days. 

The risk of intervening like this is that the mother usually abandons the kid.  Carey has been really good at getting the moms to re-accept the kids.  But once in a while we do have to bottle feed if the re-introduction does not work out.

If you have goats or want to get into them, the website we like best that helped us learn how to look after these amazing creatures is Fias Co Farm.  They have an amazing website with lots of knowledge.

Once the kids are a few days old, they seem to be able to handle the cold better than a new born.  But we still keep an eye on them.  We don't have many born in the snow any more with our change of strategy.  These pictures are from when we first got the goats and before we made changes to our protocols.  

Keep in mind that goats are perpetual three year olds.  They are smart, get into trouble and are difficult to train.  They have all day to work on things, so they will challenge even the most patient off grid enthusiast.  But we love them despite their quirks and we enjoy their milk too.

Goats are not grazers, they are browsers.  What that means is that they will eat grass like cows and sheep, but they really want the tree leaves, bark and other shrub type food.  They are more like a deer or moose than a cow or sheep.  We found if they are just on pasture, that they have a tendency to get sick and milk production drops.  But when we feed them trees, they are in heaven!  We also found that they prefer warmer water than cold water, especially in the winter.  They will survive by just eating snow, but if we can warm up the water for them, they are much happier and will produce more milk as a result.  

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about our thermal mass stock tank heater.  Click on the link to revisit it as it is our off grid solution for keeping water warm during the winter without electricity.  This was helpful for us and really helped the goats out as well.  

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Omg that little goat in the sink!!!! Soooooooooooooo cute awwwwww!! Almost makes me like goats...almost...the perpetual 3 year old thing is what keeps me from even entertaining the idea of raising them. They really annoy me!! Plus, like you mentioned, they are incredible escape artists and they eat everything!!

Though that cheese I saw of yours last year....seemed pretty convincing that goats may be a good idea!

Omg that little goat in the sink!!!!

That was my fav part too. I now want a goat b/c of this post ...

I must admit, they can be frustrating, but they are very loving animals. They will lean right in for a pet and some of them will follow you around the yard everywhere. They love flower beds and gardens, so efforts have to be made to protect the food and beauty. My mother-in-law has protective fencing up in front of her house to protect her flowers in the summer.

In the end, the relationship teaches us a lot. That is why we do it right! The kids are adorable and I love them all. The cheese is amazing too! We will have babies again this spring, so if anybody wants to get a goat ... ;) hahaha

The cheese is amazing too! We will have babies again this spring, so if anybody wants to get a goat

omg, this is happening too fast .. lol

I would need to spend a summer with you @wwf so I have all the tricks of the trade figured out beforehand. Also, I need to find some land to steward first. I doubt raising a goat in a condo would be wise.

Yes, condo boards tend to frown on barn yard animals being tenants as well!

Now that's a pic I'd love to see FTG and his baby goat :) :) :)

LOL, here's a sneak preview

ftg-holding-lamb.png

hahahaha. Beautiful! Hey, if you want to come out and spend a week here, for you the gate is open and consider the invitation sent! Lots of hard work and lots to learn!

@wwf, wow! Thank you sooooo much for the invite. I am grateful and will try to do so once summer returns. Me and cold weather don't get along too well since my natural habitat is tropical.

You are welcome. My natural habitat is winter, so I'm in my element right now. I really suffer in the heat. I could probably move further north and be just fine with it all! I look forward to seeing you this summer.

BWA HAHHAHAHAA This is the JOY that you brought me!! Foooookin killin' myself over here hahhahahaaa!!!!

bwahahahaha. This thread is brightening my day. hahahaha

lol :)

Really made my day :) I'll be chuckling for hours, hahaha, I was not expecting you to come through for that one lololol!!

The Struggle is REAL!!

This is awesome!!! Bahahaha

I read a book titled Goodbye My Subaru, about this guy who decides to go from city life to homesteading in New Mexico. The stories about his goats are pretty hilarious. I think it was a rose bush that was like the one decorative plant on his homestead and he liked it and the goats wanted to eat it, and the lengths he went to to keep them away from it (that perpetually failed)...

We had Pelibuey sheep which are more a kin to goats than not. They are very smart and do act like they are perpetually three years old. One morning I found one in my kitchen eating the fresh bread that I had made for lunch! Wee did have to get rid of them as they were eating everything, bark, leaves, my garden, and even cactus plants. A handful of these critters can clean pick a homestead in less than a week.

Wow. Not a good way to see fresh bread go. We had ours free ranging for a few years. When there is one or two they stay around the yard. But when our herd hit 15 or 20 we would find them 1/2 mile away. Fencing is like child's play to them. So when they get particularly interested in being else where, we stake them in a nice green patch of pasture. Winter keeps them home though!

What we are trying to figure out is how the little critter managed to open the door to come in! lol

The same thought crossed my mind, but I dismissed it thinking you had a fairly open door policy on your domain. hahaha I've watched one of our goats literally use her lips to unlatch a locked gate and walk out. So now we have to latch and tie the gates to keep her in. Smart they are and they have ALL the time in the world to figure stuff out!

Isn't that the truth! That's how people get into trouble too. Too much time on their hands!

Indeed. Great point. When living off grid, spare time means resting, but also thinking about the next project and how to pull it off!

Awww I love the little goat taking a bathe in the sink! It’s cool that they get along with the chickens

Actually the goat was too cold and near death. To save its life, we had to heat up her body, so we soaked her in a warm sink. It took a while, but she started to come around and we saved her life. We don't 'bathe' our goats, only in a life or death situation to warm them up when it is really cold out and they chill easily.

Well I’m very happy you managed to save it’s life. She’s a cutie

Great work sir upvoted you

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