Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raising Goats for Dummies

I have finished writing Raising Goats for Dummies and am working on the edits now! The book will be out in February. It's a great book for anyone who is new to goats. It tells you how to choose your goats, what you need to take care of them, basic ailments, goat behavior and even how to tan a hide, process fleece into yarn, milk a goat and turn it into cheese and become more self-sustaining with goats.

Between the "Dummies" book and Goat Health Care you have most all the reference materials you need for taking care of your goats. Both cover all types of goats.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Little Goat (owners) Beats Big Business

Here's a story about Jamaican goat owners who had been promised forage for their goats as part of an exchange that let Alcoa mine their land. Alcoa decided to cut and run - probably figuring the little guys wouldn't/couldn't do anything about it. For their unethical actions they now will pay. Hooray! One for the little guy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three Tasty Treats for a Goat Garden

It’s not too late to plan a garden for your goats. The goats will even help you grow it with their composted manure! Three essentials for the goat garden are pumpkins , sunflowers, and carrots.

Goats can eat the pumpkin plant and also the seeds, which are full of protein, iron, phosphorus and B vitamins. You can simply crack them open and put them around the pasture for goats. They will store well for 2-3 months for a winter supply.

Sunflowers are a favorite of goats and chickens. When the seeds are still soft, you can take the whole plant down and put it in the pasture. The goats will eat the stem, leaves and the tasty flower. Another option is to dry the seeds and add them to grain or use them as a treat. Sunflowers contain phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamins A,D, and E, lecithin and lots of protein. The seeds contain are also rich in vitamin E and B vitamins.

Goats love carrots. Carrots are full of vitamin A. They are also known to help control expel worms, fight acid in the stomach and aid in liver function. The juice is believed to have anti-cancer activity. Finally, carrots provide good roughage for goats.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mother Nature Got Their Goat

A news story in the Chicago Sun Times reminded me of the phrase "got your goat," which allegedly refers to someone stealing the goat friend of a racehorse, causing it to lose the race:

The quintessential old goat: Oscar, the Arlington Park racetrack goat known for his calming effect on skittish horses, died peacefully in the arms of his owner, Dee Poulos, last Thursday.

Goat gab: Oscar, who loved children and Tostitos tortilla chips with a hint of lime, was 15.

A goat note: The day before he died, Oscar visited each horse in the barn. "He'd never done anything like that before," said Poulos. "We figured out later that he was just making his farewell tour of the barn to say 'See you later, guys.'"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Saga of Blondie

I recently started watching the television show House and was astonished by the way that the doctors on the show use the “shotgun” approach to medicine. They make what they consider the most likely diagnosis and then begin to treat it, then change the diagnosis and treatment as tests come in or if the treatment is not working or is making the patient worse. I found myself in a similar situation (sans the high-tech) with my goat, Blondie, last week.

Blondie, a two year old Oberian doe who is feeding 3 two-month-old kids during the day, and me in the morning, developed “the scours” (diarrhea) and was not acting her normal self. I suspected parasites and treated her with kaolin pectin and banamine (a painkiller) and gave her some roughage—salal leaves. I examined her feces under the microscope and found no parasite eggs. She improved and was chewing her cud that afternoon.

The next morning when I got to the barn Blondie had severe diarrhea—all over the place. I feared enterotoxemia at this point (even though she was current on that vaccination), so I gave her 12 cc CDT antitoxin, more kaolin pectin, electrolytes, more roughage (adding blackberry leaves), banamine, slippery elm, and free choice baking soda. I wondered whether I had made a mistake on the fecal, so I gave her Valbazen (dewormer) just in case. By evening she had seriously slowed her eating and drinking.

I called a goat friend, Teri, who reminded me that my book Goat Health Care mentions that vitamin B is good for digestive problems. They had used it on their goats and it had really helped. So I gave a B injection.

By the next morning Blondie had no diarrhea that I could see (not pooping at all!) and had stopped eating and drinking. Nothing appealed to her. I gave her more banamine, syringed in some Red Cell, another shot of vitamin. More electrolytes. Some probiotics. Still no response.

By noon she looked thin as a rail, with sunken eyes. Her gums were grey and she was severely dehydrated. She was slightly foaming at the mouth.

Blondie is my most valuable milk goat and now she was wasting away. I contemplated subcutaneous water injections as well as syringing electrolytes, but quickly realized that that kind of torture might not even win the battle. So I call the vet and asked him to come out and put in an IV. Fortunately he was able to arrive within a half hour. (I learned that it’s best for a goat to get sick right after a holiday because they leave time open in the schedule.)

He put a catheter for an IV into Blondie’s neck. She got a liter of Ringers Lactate, with added CMPK (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium) and vitamin B. Then he syringed some probiotics with yucca into her. When the IV was done he taped up her neck and showed me how to give more fluids, if needed. I gave her the second liter that night. He said I could give some penicillin if I wanted.

Day four she had diarrhea again, but not as bad. I started her on penicillin after talking to the vet about whether it might be bacterial. I continued the probiotics and kaolin pectin. Also cut fir branches, salal, blackberry leaves and rose. On the vet’s recommendation I let her out to browse. That evening I tried some straw for roughage and she couldn’t get enough. She had become active and vocal.

The next day I finally saw a cud and the diarrhea was abating. She gradually got back to normal over the next few days, her milk production got back to where it was, and she looks healthy.

We still don’t know what triggered it. The vet believes it may have been a mushroom or something else she ate in the field. No other goats got sick.

I am almost happy to have her wake me in the morning now, yelling that she wants to be milked again (i.e., she wants some grain).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rhubarb Almond Coffee Cake

With my rhubarb plant growing like crazy after the rain and sun, and this beautiful weather that has been keeping me in the garden, I had to make a rhubarby treat. Try this!

Rhubarb Almond
Coffee Cake Cake
• 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

• 2/3 cup vegetable oil

• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

• 2-1/2 cups flour

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 cup goat milk

• 1-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

• 1/2 cup sliced almonds

• 1/2 cup white sugar

• 1-1/2 tablespoon melted butter

• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

• 1/3 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 9 inch baking pans.

2. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla together until smooth
. Combine flour, salt and baking soda: add to sugar mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth. Stir in rhubarb and almonds. Pour into prepared pans.
3. In a small bowl, combine white sugar and butt
er or margarine. Stir in almonds. Sprinkle topping over batter.
4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

Now sit down, make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Homemade Electrolytes

If you have a goat kid that is dehydrated or needs to have a temporary alternative to milk due to scours, or an adult doe with ketosis, but have no commercial electrolyte powder available, try this homemade electrolyte solution:

1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp Lite Salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 oz corn syrup

Add warm water to make 4 pints and mix all ingredients well. Give a standard-sized dairy goat one pint, a mini dairy goat 1/2 to 3/4 pint, and a nigerian dwarf or pygmy 1/2 to 1 cup of the solution 3 or 4 times a day (every 6 hours). Have the goat drink this mixture or use a feeding tube, if necessary.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Intentional Community: Goats and People with Developmental Disabilities

I found an article today about an intentional community in Israel that includes two of my favorite kinds of beings: goats and people with developmental disabilities:

People born with mental deficiencies, or those afflicted later in life, are usually handed the short end of the stick. Facilities to accommodate needs and to help one cope in society are improving, but they fail to give those in need the advantages that “normal” people just take for granted. But not at Kishorit, a new village built on the ruins of a decaying kibbutz, in Israel.

A new model for treating the mentally disabled based on the Israeli commune idea has emerged over the last decade from the ruins of a crumbling kibbutz.

Called Kishorit, the village in northern Israel has become a utopia for about 150 people with varying degrees of mental handicap, who have all found a home for life.

Some have autism, Asperger’s, or schizophrenia, but as much as they can, they are all steering their own careers, social time, family life, and destiny. They don’t focus on what disability they have, but on what they can do.

Members run and operate a TV station, and create films, they’ve built the largest organic goat farm in Israel, possibly the entire Middle East....

To read more about it, see Kishorit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Goat Predators: Men

I used to believe that the worst predators against goats were packs of dogs. I am starting to question that, as I read the news about goats every day. Reading the news has led me to believe that the worst goat predators are actually teenage boys and young men. Nearly every week I read about another goat being strangled, decapitated, shot, tortured, sexually assaulted (yes, that’s right) or killed in some other way. This appears to happen about 10 times as often as a dog attack on a goat.

Here is a small sample from the past month:

No dog attacks on goats were reported during this time.

This is how budding serial killers get their start: with defenseless animals. After they have mastered that they move on to children and then adults.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at this violence directed toward goats, since the US military is using LIVE goats as stand-ins for prisoners, maiming and then killing them. Great role models.