goats

Our Ladies

Three of our Ladies enjoying the Summer sunshine

 

One of the most special days on the Ffarm so far,

16th July 2006 finally saw the arrival of our foundation herd of 20 pedigree British Toggenburg goats, all the way from Monach Farm in Cambridgeshire.  Delicate & elegant as deer, in a variety of shades of chocolate, 7 were goatlings (aged 12+ months) with the remaining 13 kids born earlier that year (some still being fed a bottle of milk per day). 

In September, they were joined by a young stud male of the same breed, Hetherton Merson, a wide-eyed innocent who was very much bossed around by the goatlings when he first met them as they were considerably bigger than he was!  However, undeterred, he successfully wooed them – with the result of 8 lovely, healthy kids, born in March 2007.

Our Stud Male - Hetherton Merson

Our Senior Stud Male - Hetherton Merson (we have three Stud boys altogether).

Our first kids were born at 7pm on 1st March 2007 – our fourth Wedding Anniversary and St David’s Day, a very special moment.  Over the next couple of weeks, the six Mums gave birth to a total of eight healthy kids – four boys, & four girls – although we made the mistake of not taking the kids off their mums, early enough; leading to the unfortunate ‘double whammy’ of not only some teat damage from sharp little teeth; but also to reduced milk yields from the Mums, who were only producing enough milk to ‘supply on demand’ & so not realising their full milking potential. 

Mum (Monach Wallflower) is a formidable milker.

Firstborn of the Cariadfach Herd, Aeronwy: Mum (Monach Wallflower) is a formidable milker.

We then had a further five kids, born to four more new Mums, in  mid-July 2007.  We learned our lesson from the first batch, & didn’t make the same initial mistakes again; to the benefit of all concerned.

2008 was our second year, breeding pedigree British Toggenburgs.  We had twelve exquisite female kids & retained one stunning male for the future of the Herd; having already sold a few males & tragically lost others – some to unfortunate accidents such as getting wedged under a hurdle or a multiple leg fracture; & some, to a dreadful, savage virus which killed several  of the boys although any subsequent Post Mortem examinations proved frustratingly inconclusive – it was, apparently, “just one of those things” (but no easier to come to terms with, nonetheless).

2008's little girls

Some of our 2008 girls - the future Milkforce.

Thankfully the virus took none of the girls; & although they’re now all happy, healthy, playful & up-to-date with their latest vaccinations, they haven’t grown on as well as we’d like.  However as we don’t put them to the male until they are fully up to weight & certainly never, before they are 18 months old, this shouldn’t be a problem – Merson’s daughters tend to start a little diminutive & then ‘put on a spurt’ during their second Spring!

And now we are into Year Three of our breeding programme; & the babies are coming, thick & fast….we have about thirty to kid during Spring 2009 so are expecting the patter of many cheeky little feet, not to mention plenty of sleepless nights.  Wish us luck – & lots of girls!

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27 Responses to goats

  1. joan taplin says:

    What a wonderful farm! Kay sent us your website and I know all heer goats will be happy there. Can’t wait to hear from her about her trip to you.

    Happy and fruitful New Year to you and yours!

    Best wishes,
    Joan Taplin

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Croeso, Joan –

    & a very Happy New Year to You, too. We certainly found it amusing that just after the goats arrived safely, Channel Four saw fit to broadcast a training video, especially for us…..Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’! Ha ha!! Needless to say, we watched it avidly…..not sure I was any the wiser about caprine behaviour as a result though. But at least we “always look on the bright side of life!”

    Best wishes,

    Jo.

  3. susie6 says:

    Hi Jo,

    Still finding my way around your site, what pretty goats you have.

    Susie from Carrick Farm

  4. concern Farm says:

    Dear sir/MadamWhile surfing i came a crosscheck your farm and i got impressed with your goats , though i don;t which breed among the breed you have to be suitable for Africa , am Ugandan with a farm in Uganda.May you please do give me the response accordingly with the prices .yours.Abraham.

  5. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Welcome, Abraham –

    I have passed your details on to the British Goat Society who deal with international exports & are therefore best placed to help you including advice on the best breeds for you. Good luck!

    Best wishes,

    Jo.

  6. OMG, they are so adorable, and I have goats! Mine are Pygmys and I’ve not gotten the nerve up to breeding them yet (because I don’t have the room to grow and thus will have to eat the kids as meat). So, that plan still sits on hold. I do make cheese though, so milking my goats one day is in the long term plan (don’t tell them yet).

  7. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Don’t worry,

    goats are (allegedly) easy kidders 95% of the time; this year, we sailed through with no problems at all although last year (our first – typically) we had a couple of challenging births. In fact the sheep are far more of a problem to lamb, than the goats have ever been. However we managed to successfully kid those problematic cases; & the mums & babies all thrived thereafter.

    And cheesemaking is the most wonderfully therapeutic experience…..plus if you love cheese, the results are absolutely delicious, too!

    Anyway good luck with your breeding programme – I’d say “go(at) for it!” – & get some payback for all those hours you’ve spent foraging for browse whilst your ladies have been directing orders & doubtless gaining hours of amusement from your exertions.

    And don’t worry about potential problems: here in the UK there is a woeful lack of knowledge amongst the majority of the veterinary profession regarding goats in spite of the fact that it’s the biggest ‘growth industry’ in British dairying; more often than not we also have to cope ourselves as frequently the vets have far less experience of the caprine species than we do, ourselves. And this was publicly acknowledged by an eminent vet at the recent UK Dairy Event – so there we go….!!

  8. Funny you should mention the lack of vet knowledge…I have seriously considered vet school and to specialize in goats (partly for that reason!).

    The other side of the goat breeding program equation is we would need to build much bigger housing for them and possibly erect a much bigger, cougar proof, fence. I think the place would have to look like, and possibly be like, Fort Knox. There are days when I really envy those of you who farm in a less wild place! I love it, I seriously love the wilderness here, but there are days…

  9. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    We have fox problems here, lost several lambs which was awful as I didn’t put them out of the barn until they were well grown.

    But there have been rumours of big cats in the local area….so maybe we too have cougars or similar? I can appreciate what a worry that must be for you though. And like you say, having to erect all that fencing is an extra expense & might make the place feel a bit enclosed. Still, I suppose if it protects the animals…..

    Good luck with the home veterianary – betcha if you took the qualification, you’d be in great demand with your neighbours!

  10. You know, I’m keeping your page open on my computer simply because I love the photo of the gals, and am having so much fun making my way through your site. Now, if only I could find the tasting room…

  11. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    …alas, if only we could send you the lot, without all those lovely flavours melting after too many hours of air travel….!! Give it another couple of years & I’m sure the eco-boffins will have sorted our eco-packaging ergo international distribution problem – as we’d love to send you something to keep you cheerful regardless of cougars, bears etc…!!

    Meanwhile I haven’t updated our Blog’s last few days’ archives as we’ve been flurryingly busy here (plus working – like you – against the Fall’s soggy rains) – so please bear with us, I’ll catch up ASAP.

    Jo + Wales’ Wildest Caprine Menagerie!

  12. Tino Udroiu says:

    we would like to receive any informations on saanen goats breeders. I am interested in purchasing 300 kids this spring. Thanks and warm wishes Tino

  13. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Hi Tino –

    We only have British Toggenburg goats here, so cannot help you. However if you email Christine Ball at info@goatgenetics.com she should be able to help you as she manages the majority of worldwide exports from the UK – & of course should be able to point you in the right direction, if you’re based here.

    And if you are based outside the UK I’m not sure about exporting in the Spring – most breeders only start kidding around February/March therefore I would imagine wouldn’t be happy to commence exports until June/July at the earliest, when the kids are weaned. And depending on where you are, there could be an issue with importation owing to the fact that the UK is designated a BTV Protection Zone….good luck, anyway.

  14. Nasir Shah says:

    I am interested to buy some goats. Would you please let me know the addresses of Dairy saanan Goats farms

  15. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Sorry Nasir,

    we don’t keep Saanens. I suggest you click the link to the British Goat Society (under ‘Livestock’ on the RHS of this page) & consult their website – you will find plenty of information on UK breeders there.

  16. A very brief hello to say that Shiraz gave birth last night. It was not so easy as Fatty-fat’s delivery and I had to assist. I woke up to her screaming her head off. Nothing like that to get your heart pumping!

    The short story is it was triplets and they have all survived (well, at least they were all still alive when I left them, having brought her out some molasses tea before coming back in to get some much needed sleep).

    cheers,

    HDR

  17. The good news update is I just witnessed her eating the last of her placenta (yeah) and all the afterbirth is gone, nothing left hanging at all (unlike another goat we could name!).

    But, she is not letting the little fellas eat (she’s got three tenors). She is head butting them away (right from the get-go she did this).It is as if she is blaming them for the pain she was in!

    How long do I let this go on (if indeed it does, I’m hoping it will work itself out and she’ll let them feed once she finishes cleaning up her placenta)?

    And, if it looks like she’s never going to let them eat should I hold her and let them feed off her?

    Thank-you so much for talking me through all this! You should get a 2009 medal for virtual goat husbandry lessons.

    cheers,

    HDR

    • LittleFfarm Dairy says:

      “Hiya HDR –

      & congratulations on Yet More New Arrivals! (shame they’re all boys though). At least that’s all the kidding out the way for you, for another year….imagine what it’s like when you’ve got 30-odd on the go! (& for me it’ll be 50-odd next year; plus the ewes to lamb as well – if we’ve still got ’em).

      Firstly, if you had to intervene in the birth, you’ll need to give Shiraz an intramuscular antibiotic injection. We’d normally give a dose of Pen-&-Strep (dosage bodyweight dependent, of course); our favoured injection site is into the back leg muscle (being careful not to hit the sciatic nerve). Basically think about where your bum would be….& shoot!

      Next up, meals for the boys: they really should have that all-important colostrum within a maximum of six hours, no matter how much Mum objects. We have found this year that a fair few of the first-kidders completely ignored their babies, initially; but soon got into the routine once they understood what was going on.

      As this is your first time dealing with first-feed kids & an uncooperative doe, I’d suggest getting someone to hold her for you as you work. That way you have both hands free to manage the kids, whist the other person restrains her. It’s easiest if her head is facing a wall & her flank is against it; that way she won’t be able to dance around so much. And you’ll need to be extra-careful. As I recall Shiraz is unpolled: one wrong toss of the head & she could have your eye out….nearly happened to me past year when treating someone else’s goat (ouchie – never again).

      Your Blog post on impriniting was very interesting; & this is an aspect of it I’d recommend you do, immediately. Before trying to latch the kids onto Shiraz’s udder, take some milk off her yourself & put it into a feeding bottle. Whilst kneeling, put a kid between your knees with his head facing outwards; gently use finger & thumb in the blank space at the back of the lower jaw, to open his mouth; & insert the rubber teat, gently stroking his throat to persuade him to suck, if he’s unwilling. He should however quickly get the hang of it – especially if he’s hungry! That way at least you know he’s had some of that vital colostrum; & he should be comfortable with the feel/taste of the artificial teat, should Shiraz either prove an unfit Mum or you decide to take the kids off to have some milk for yourself, further down the line. And if after a few minutes he’s unwilling, give up; pop the milk in the microwave for a few seconds & try again (young kids especial, demand that the milk is hot-&-fresh, out of Mum; it needs to be pretty warm…!).

      Our ‘rule of thumb’ is that the kids should have roughly 450 mls/15 oz milk, 4x per day for the first month; second month, 3x per day; third month, twice daily; fourth month; one 450 ml bottle per day.

      In the meantime I introduce hay & a bit of feed, after three or four days, for them to play with (you’ll soon see them picking up stuff of their own accord!). It’s especially important to keep things clean & offer clean feed, at this point: kids do all their exploring with their mouths & it’s easily for them to pick up contamination & pass it into Mum’s udder at this early age; a very common cause of mastitis.

      I gradually replace the more tempting ‘sweetie’ feed (i.e. a tasty coarse ration with which I supplement the Milkers’ mealtimes for appetite & palatability) with lamb creep feed, which is a high-protein diet & helpful to maintain condition & healthy growth in goat kids, too. However if they odn’t have access to pasture you will also need a supplementary mineral lick for them which includes some copper, as sheep feed doesn’t contain any (poisonous to ovines).

      Meanwhile to persuade the kid to suckle, rub a boy’s nose on Shiaz’s teat & persuade him to open his mouth using the technique above, whist supporting him forward (i.e. not backing off the udder) with the other hand (try doing this alone & with only one hand to do three jobs – & you’ll see what I mean about a challenge..!).

      Anyway, I digress: it may take a couple of days – or even longer; but Shiraz should eventually agree to feed her kids. It’s in your vested interest to persuade her; as otherwise it’s very labour-intensive for you not to mention you can forget a social life! Typical feeding regime is first feed, 0630; second, 1130; third, 1700; fourth, 2100. And into that you have to add bottle prep & bottle cleaning/sterilisation – eurgh.

      In our ‘busy’ kidding periods I don’t quite know how I survive; I seem to lurch from one round of feeding, to the next with scant time to draw breath – let alone do the raftload of other work – in between. But I am usually feeding around 50 kids, 4x per day, at that point…!

      I’d certainly recommend you either purchase or make a bottle rack so you can feed several kids at a time – they’re a godsend. But I’d be cautious about buying over-the-gate feeders; they can be a complete waste of money as the teat apertures are so darn fiddly to assemble & difficult to clean. There are some good ones on the market; so if you’re interested get in touch & I’ll recommend one suited to your needs.

      Her need to clean up the placenta whilst instinctive, isn’t going to change her attitude towards her kids; she evidenty finds them tickly & irritating although as her udders swell with milk (& as she has triplets they will, quickly & alarmingly – hence you MUST get milk off her somehow or she could well end up with mastits) she might concede to let them suckle if she’s sufficiently tired & also finds this a form of relief (I suspect this is what happens with awkward young does, in the wild).

      Ohh yes, & check for meconium – the first faeces – very important. You’l see the mother licking the kid’s back whilst s/he feeds, inducing a rapid tail-wag by the kid; this stimulates the kid’s digestive system to process the milk more effectively. If we’re bottle-feeding we always tickle the kids’ backs, to induce this important response.

      And check everyone’s ‘bits’ are in order (& check that your little girl doesn’t have any ‘fishtail’ teats – which could also be a serious problem if you’re contemplating breeding from her/ milking her in the long run).

      Sooo – sounds like these boys, already have names….! My only question regarding Fatty-Fat’s kids is, shouldn’t their names begin with a ‘G’ rather than an ‘F’? As F-F herself is a ‘F’ by naming her kids & any from successive kiddings all with the same letter, it’s bound to cause confusion further down the line. SO if this year’s kids’ names, started with a ‘G’; then next year’s with an ‘H’ &-so-on-&-so-forth, you’ll be able to keep a more accurate track of your gene pool. Especially as I suspect the Three Tenors will be working hard to supplement some superb gourmet dishes, somewhere down the line….?!

      Incidentally a friend of mine is experimenting with some superb goat dry-cured salami & several Parma-type, air-dried haunches of chevon marinated in various combinations of delectable herbs, spices & natural cure. If you’re interested I’ll try & put you in touch for a few recipes – albeit under her strict rules; she certainly wouldn’t allow you to publish her treasured secrets on the Internet….!

      Meanwhile – as ever – you know where I am; if you need me. Glad to be of service! 🙂 “

  18. Hey Jo,

    Good news, Shiraz is coming along with the kids! I did have to wrestle with her most of the day, but I just witnessed her let them feed on her own accord, hallelujah! So, they finally have full bellies and are no longer screaming and all laying together like a happy family. It sure was scary though in the beginning. She actually hurtled those little fellows through the air! I thought she was going to kill them.

    My assistance was with getting them out of their sacs and breathing. Thankfully, I didn’t have to help with the birthing part at all. They all would have suffocated though had I not been there because she didn’t have time (or any interest) in cleaning them up, they just kept coming. Once the third one was out she immediately turned around and head butted it! Yikes.

    So, it is a happy ending to the long day (no wonder you’re exhausted at kidding time!!!). Of course, I’ll be keeping an eye on them to make sure she’s really taken to them, but all seems well in the world finally.

    As for the naming, I really didn’t know how to do all that. I was just thinking I’d keep the names the same letter so I’d know who belonged to who. Alas, a proper lesson in the record keeping should be in order! Of course, on my little scale it is not so important at this stage. BUT, I would like to get my head around your system because of course now I’m even more inspired to get serious about goats! I will be eating Shiraz’s bunch, so the names don’t matter much there. We’ve decided to go along with the Iranian theme (Shiraz being a city in Iran) and called them, Sinbad, Soltan, and Surak.

    As for the recipes, I would love to be put in touch. And yes, mum’s the word on the secrets!

    I’m going to put this reply on my blog as well because you’ve given such a lot of good info here that others might need/want to have access to it.

    Hope your short handed day went well.

    HDR

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  23. jenny aggutter says:

    wow what do you do when your not dodging the rain in wales?

  24. izzy says:

    i live in wales and i have a field and i would love to have a baby goat, do you have any? i have to say all of your goats are great;)

    • LittleFfarm Dairy says:

      Hi Izzy,

      unfortunately no kids available at the moment – plus we only ever sell them in pairs as they are herd animals and it would be cruel to do otherwise; and we don’t sell our female goats as we need them to produce the lovely milk for our gelato! In order to keep goats, you’ll need to have a CPH (County/Parish/Holding) Number to ensure you are registered with DEFRA and your local Animal Health Authority, before you can keep any livestock on your land.

      Incidentally goats need more than just a field, though; they also require clean, airy, draught-proof accommodation to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. Unlike sheep their coats do not contain lanolin, so it’s important to ensure they have shelter in case it rains. It’s worth considering that they are browsers rather than grazing animals – so if you wish to keep your hedgerows intact and alive you’ll need to make sure your fencing is sufficiently robust (and never, ever tether a goat – it’s neither fair nor safe!).

      I suggest you join a local Goat Club (either Welsh & Marches or the South West Wales Goat Club, depending on where you are) so that you can learn a bit more about these wonderful animals before “taking the plunge”. Not only will you have loads of fun and learn a lot, there will be plenty of people either with goats for sale or who can put you in touch with a reputable breeder to ensure you purchase healthy, happy kids. Expect to pay around £125-£350 per kid from BGS-registered, health-status pedigree stock (scrapie monitored, CAE/TB-free)….if that seems expensive bear in mind that pedigree puppies and kittens are typically priced at around £600; and they don’t produce milk for wonderful homemade butter, cheese, cream, yogurt & ice cream (to name but a few delicious dairy foods).

      So they are worth every penny!

      Best wishes,

      Jo.

      Hope this helps –

      Best wishes,

      Jo.

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