How to raise goats involves learning about goat gestation especially if you are raising dairy goats or planning on bottle feeding baby goats.
Dehorning goats is probably one of the most unpleasant parts of raising goats and some people refuse to have this procedure done.
Goat gestation or pregnancy plays a large part of raising dairy goats because this is how goats get their milk supply.
After your goats have their babies, you will have to decide on letting your doe nurse naturally, bottle feeding baby goats, or a combination of both.
Learning how to raise goats can be a great venture that can provide you companionship, food, and even entertainment.
Raw goat milk is the primary reason for raising dairy goats and they can provide you milk for 7 to 10 years. Swiss goat breeds are some of the world's leaders in milk production.
Goats can be raised in hot or cold weather, but some breeds will do much better in cooler rather than hotter climates.
Providing goats with adequate nutrition is one of the most important parts in "how to raise goats" or your goats will be more prone to disease and will fail to reach their full potential.
Late gestation and lactation are critical periods for doe nutrition when raising dairy goats.
Some tips on nutrition are feeding your goat fresh hay or green feeds, having mineral and salt blocks around, keeping fresh water around, and for expecting does keeping a well balanced grain supplement on hand.
You must also trim their feet every few weeks or so to prevent hoof rot.
Goats tend to have more intestinal parasites than dairy cows especially if confined.
Goats immune system requires a certain level of bacteria and worms, but goats have a tendency to have too many parasites. Although the goal is to control, not to get rid of all internal parasites.
When a goat's hair is dull, thin, or coarse it could be a sign of intestinal parasites or a poor diet.
Also, some people choose to vaccinate their goats against organisms such as coccidiosis while others have found it to be a bad decision for "how to raise goats".
Others prefer to concentrate on holistic health care or herbal methods to build a strong immune system against parasites and other invading organisms.
The mating season of a goat depends on where it lives and the type of goat breed. In hot tropical areas near the equator, goats mate year-round.
While goats in temperate regions typically breed from late summer or early fall to late winter. Swiss breeds are known to be seasonal breeders while other breeds can breed year-round.
Sexual maturity can be five months of age or less, but it is probably best to breed a doe when she is at least one year of age.
By breeding her too early, you may stunt her growth and this could lead to birthing difficulties.
A good rule in how to raise goats - is to breed your does when they reach 70 to 75% of their mature adult weight.
Most goats are fall breeders and will come into heat during the months of Sept. thru Feb.
Goats will experience heat every 18 to 21 days until bred. Breeding your doe early in her heat cycle may produce better results as ovulation occurs 12 to 36 hours after the onset of heat.
The signs of heat include tail wagging, restlessness, mounting, mucous discharge, and being very vocal.
During the mating season, glands on bucks produce an oily substance whose odor attracts the does.
If at all possible you should attempt to be present when a doe is breed. Then you will be able to record the exact date that the doe gets pregnant.
At that point you will be able to calculate the due date and be better prepared in case she needs some assistance.
The length of goat gestation or pregnancy will be approx. 150 days or 5 months.
Some signs of labor are ligaments around her tail bone softening, noticeable discharge, doe seeks solitude, or begins pushing.
Goats can have one to five kids. Although, twins are the most common.
Your doe should be bred once a year with a dry period of about two months. This dry period allows her mammary system to repair and regenerate.
Bottle feeding baby goats is one way on how to raise goats. Some breeders prefer this method as it creates a special bond between you and the kid.
If you choose to bottle feed once your doe's milk comes in, milk your goats 2 times each day about 12 hours apart.
You will need to milk her 2 times daily in order to keep her udder from getting too full.
You can then transfer this milk into bottles for bottle feeding baby goats.
During the first day and possibly 10 days after kidding, she will only produce colostrum. Therefore, it might be wise to hold off on bottle feeding for at least a few days.
Babies need the first milk or colostrum in order to get the antibodies needed to build their immune systems. This must be given to kids almost immediately.
Choosing to allow your doe to nurse is how to raise goats more naturally and some people prefer this method.
You can choose to do a combination of milking your doe and allowing kids to nurse naturally during the day.
You would then separate kids from their mother at night when they're about 2 weeks old. This will allow you to milk once a day in the morning.
When you separate the kids from their mother at night, be sure to milk your doe to remove any excess milk. And in the morning, you can milk your doe out completely.
With this method, your doe's milk production will be stimulated by two things. You are completely emptying her udder once a day and allowing her kids to nurse during the day.
Her udder will get full once each day, gently stretching her udder and teats, building the milk holding capacity of her udder and making her teats more milkable.
The kids will still feed themselves and be looked after by their mother. Kids will stay with their mother for several weeks.
Wean the kids when they are about 2 to 3 months old from their bottle and/or nursing.
Your milking goat will produce milk for a lactation cycle which is typically 10 months long following kidding.
Meat goat breeds produce just enough milk for their kids, whereas dairy goats can produce more milk than their young need.
Most goats naturally have two horns which can be in various sizes and shapes.
All goats have horns unless they are polled goats. Polled or hornless goats naturally occur occasionally in most breeds.
How to raise goats to be hornless would require breeding two naturally polled parents, but some have found this genetically unsound.
Females usually do not have as much horn development as male goats.
Removal of the "horn buds" on a young goat or the removal of growing horns on a more mature goats is subject to much controversy and many people prefer to leave the goat in its natural state.
One argument is that horns can act as a cooling device for the goat and fiber goats are often left with horns to help with temperature regulation. Thus, this may be more of a consideration for goats with a heavy coat or goats that live in hot places.
Most dairy breeders use an electric disbudding iron when dehorning goats. This is a piece of equipment that gets hot enough to kill the horn bud when placed on the bud at a very young age before the goats horn bud is allowed to grow. This procedure usually occurs in the first two weeks of life.
I watched a few videos and it looks extremely painful. I couldn't even post a video - it almost made me cry.
If you choose to get your goats dehorned, please use a qualified person to do this job. This will eliminate unnecessary pain and discomfort to your kids.
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