Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
Onion Creek Ranch
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PRE-BREEDING PREPARATIONS

Breeding preparations should begin before does are placed with a buck for breeding.

Do not run bucks with does year around. Breeding does more than once a year results in worn-out dams before they are five years old and poor-quality kids.

Good management practices -- proper feeding, clean water, top-quality hay, clean and dry pens protected from wind and rain, proper bedding materials, plenty of space (no over-crowding) -- are essential to the maintenance of healthy does who in turn will deliver healthy kids. Do not get your does too fat. Overly-fat does have kidding problems.

Spend the money required to set up properly before you start breeding. Here is where the problem arises with too many goat raisers. They seem to think that goats eat tin cans, require no facilities, and take care of themselves. This is 180 degrees out of sync with reality.

Goats are a species that has no natural defenses, are subject to predation, and has multiple births because half of them die from predation or starvation before they are adults. Survival of the fittest may be the rule in unmanaged conditions, but you cannot make any money under those circumstances because you will lose much of your kid production and some of your dams. (See my article on the need for and the pitfalls of using Livestock Guardian Dogs with goats on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. One Tip: Never buy pups and run them with goats.)

So get prepared in advance. The money you spend is going to be far less than you will lose by having sick and dead goats due to lack of preparation. Kidding problems will happen, and they will happen in the worst weather on a holiday weekend in the middle of the night when vets are unavailable and stores either are closed or don't have the items you need.

Even if you reach a vet, few of them know anything about goats and many have no interest in goats. There are less than two million goats in the USA; that isn't enough animals to provide a significant market for vets, pharmaceutical companies, or other suppliers. Establish a relationship with a local vet; you will always need prescription medications and occasional veterinary assistance, including surgical help. More and more medications are going prescription and the most effective medications already require vet prescription. You must prepare yourself in advance of problems.

My website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com has many articles that will be helpful to you. Take the time to read, print, and put them in a binder that you can access when you need help. Subscribe to my consultation service. Unlimited contact with me for help is only $20.00 per month based on the remaining months in the current calendar year. I am not a vet, but I've been raising meat goats full time since January 1990, and I know a lot about goats. I have been hosting ChevonTalk (first on Yahoogroups and now on Groups.io) since 1998, publishing on-line e-magazine MeatGoatMania monthly, maintaining Onion Creek Ranch's site on Facebook, and offering a one-of-a-kind meat-goat education program called GoatCamp™ on my Texas ranch every October since 2001. Details are available on the GoatCamp(tm) page of my website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

READYING THE FACILITIES

Set up kidding and bonding pens so you can try to avoid problems that occur without them. Five-foot sections of lightweight tubular metal with 4 inch by 4 inch panels welded to them and a gate in one section work well. They assemble and break down easily and can be set up in different configurations by removing dividing panels to make larger pens. My kidding and bonding pens were purchased from Northeast Gate Company in Paris, Texas in the 1990's, and I've been pleased with their durability, functionality, and ease of use. Such pens are available at many locations across the United States. Do a Google search to find a seller near you.

Provide appropriate shelter from wind, rain, and cold weather. These requirements differ in cold vs hot climates. The Articles page of my website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com has a Fencing and Pens article that relates to my area's needs. You will need to develop facilities that are suited to your climatic conditions. Create a place with enough space that kids don't sleep so close to their dams that they get injured, smothered, or crushed. A shed with the inside walls lined with railroad ties at ground level and a low narrow bench built above the railroad ties works well. Kids can get off the ground and sleep on the railroad ties, while dams sleep on the bench above or on the ground near them. Do not built a vertical wall in front of the railroad ties; kids will pile on top of each other to keep warm and those in back or on the bottom will suffocate if a vertical wall blocks their escape.

All birthing and bonding areas should be free of ants, flies, and other pests. Ants can eat the eyes, noses, and other mucous membranes of newborn kids, causing permanent damage. Before using ant killer or ant bait, read the labels and talk with your vet about products safe for use around goats. I use Amdro ant bait, but ants aren't a serious problem in my area of Texas, so I don't know how extensively Amdro can be used where ants are plentiful. Buy and have fly traps on hand to place in kidding and loafing areas.

Clean dry hay or straw should be spread on the ground in kidding pens. Do not use wood shavings in kidding areas. Wood shavings get into kids' mouths and noses and stick to the dam's tongue as she cleans her newborns. During very cold or cold and wet weather, I use reflector heat lamps with bulb guards in areas where kids sleep. Newborns and very young kids have difficulty regulating internal body temperature, but they can usually tolerate cold so long as their tummies are full of milk and they stay dry and out of wind. Keep electrical cords out of reach to prevent kids from hanging themselves or chewing on them.

Newborns do not need access to a water bucket for the first couple of weeks of their lives. They get water in their dam's milk. If they don't get enough milk and instead drink water to fill their bellies, you will find them dead from starvation. Water buckets should be carefully placed to avoid very young kids' access to them. Make provision during freezing weather to provide warm water to both dam and kids over two weeks of age. Water is a huge part of making milk, so make sure your dams have access to lots of clean and fresh water. Learning how to THINK LIKE A GOAT™ will help prevent injuries and deaths.

Do not overcrowd goats. Goats require more space per individual than most other livestock species. Goats are like deer; they stress easily. Since goats have very fast metabolisms, they produce large quantities of urine and feces. Overcrowding produces stress and wormloads.

Does need space to bond with their kids to learn their smells and sounds, and kids require the same. Overcrowding leads to filth (concentrations of urine, feces, and soiled/wasted hay) and filth leads to disease and death. Two big challenges to raising goats in any managed herd are overcrowding and problems resulting from improper nutrition.

Purchase in advance of breeding the essential supplies I have listed in another article entitled Supplies & Medications to Purchase Before Breeding Does and Bucks. Every item has a useful purpose. Other articles that I've written explain their usages. Items in the first section can be purchased at Jeffers (1-800-533-3377, www.jefferslivestock.com) or in some instances your local WalMart.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH 1.1.22

Meat Goat Mania
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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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