If you’re looking for DIY options this summer, you might want to check this out:
If you’re looking for DIY options this summer, you might want to check this out:
Ok, I’m not being inflammatory deliberately. It just seems that every time this issue comes up anywhere, it gets heated. My plan is to talk about our horns this year why we did what we did, and (as always) how CUTE the babies are.
First of all, lots of people disbud and lots of goats live their lives with amputated horns and seem to do ok (we have no real way of knowing whether they miss them or not but the ones I have don’t appear to be suffering for it – except maybe in the back scratch department).
I also want to say that I understand some of the reasons people disbud. The most compelling reason for me is not my safety, it’s theirs. I have had a gorgeous Icelandic ram caught by his spectacular horns in the fence. Fortunately I’m a frequent checker on my animals and found him before he’d died.
Now, years later, most of our fences are smaller and there is far less likelihood that anyone would get a horn caught (dairy or fibre animal). The one place we haven’t yet redone is the boys run therefore, all of the not polled boys now are disbudded. The girls run should be all super small no climb so Gita is remaining horned.
She is a bit of an experiment but as I was looking at pictures of horned Nigerians, I realized that their horns look very much like my horned Icelandic ewes. And exactly like the horned Icelandic and Norwegian goats I covet. So, we left her intact.
My issue with disbudding is how quickly the horns start on some kids (but not always – more on that later). If the horns start in right away, then you’re having to make decisions about them before you really know what the animal will look like. Why does it matter? Simple -why disbud an animal you’re going to eat? I won’t sell a pet quality intact male and I won’t sell a pet quality doe in most cases. This requires me to decide on their horns way too early (in my opinion). Anyway, my other feeling was that I had some 4H people interested and I know they need disbudded dairy goats to show. So, I did disbud. And then I disbudded the one horned, wethered pet we’ll be keeping in case he ends up in the boy run with the more open fence.
I have to say that contrary to what people suggest, I had the vet do it. When it comes to animals and injury/pain and vets, I think there is a lot of misunderstanding out there. And it’s easy to believe them – especially when taking an animal to the vet comes with a bill. I admit that although I felt that I wasn’t in any way over charged, it is a tough thing to swallow. For me though, it’s just part of caring for my animals. Anyway as a result of the vet visits (yep, plural), I’d love to debunk a couple of those myths.
First of all, the fact that anyone (animal or person) who receives a huge burn to their head and a few minutes after is playing isn’t proof that it’s not causing them pain. We know that in moments of huge, life threatening pain (and I would say two 1000 degree burns would be included in that) the higher and mid level functioning of the brain literally shuts off leaving all of the energy for the lower level functioning. This is the primal part of the brain that keeps us alive when we are in danger. It’s the part of the brain that can watch a grizzly chomp on your arm, not feel any pain, and think “as long as he doesn’t get the artery, I should be ok.” It’s the same part of the brain that can, after a traumatic injury like a bear eating your arm or a fall resulting in a catastrophic pelvic fracture, have you walk out of the bush, seeming to be unharmed. It’s the same thing that happens when a deer who has been hit by a car and now has two visibly broken legs will start trying to get up and run on the stumps (yep, a gross visual but even worse in real life, I assure you). There is no time to think about the pain, the brain has shut down everything except ‘this is what I need to do right now to be safe’ primal response. It’s also why people will involuntarily urinate in an emergency – the brain is making sure all systems are 100% online for survival. It’s also the same part of the brain that allows a mum to lift a car off of a child or do other things that the body just wouldn’t do except that it has to.
It’s not until your brain gets the message “it’s ok, you’re safe” that the pain and immobility will start. I could get into a whole big discussion on the whys and hows (it’s the kind of thing I work with a work) but I think for most people, it wouldn’t be that interesting.
Suffice to say that simply seeing an animal get up and walk or play after such a burn isn’t evidence that the burn didn’t hurt.
Now I want to be clear. I don’t think people who DIY disbud are cruel. This is new information and lots of people who don’t work in my field don’t even know about it. Those who might don’t necessarily buy it. Also, people are swayed by myth two…..
Myth Two – the vet. I encountered two myths about the vet. The first is that the needle to sedate the goat is far more traumatic than the quick, at home disbudding. And the second is that the vet can’t possibly be competent at disbudding.
To address the first myth:
Well, I have no taken a bundle of goats to the vet for castration and/or disbudding and I have participated in both myself as a DIYer. I can say, without a doubt, that no, the goatlings didn’t have more stress at the vet than the DIY ones (see the above picture). The only really stressed one was the one who is a bit wild and didn’t want to be touched by yucky humans. He was going to be stressed whether or not he went to the vet or had the DIY treatment.
To address the second:
I have had goats disbudded by vets in the very distant past without any problems. And now, we’re a month in with no signs of scurs. And there is no question that they’re neutered (unlike when we banded and hoped we got everything but…). So, while it could happen that they’ll scur, so far so good. And, there are no shortage of DIY scurs in the world as well too.
There is kind of a third myth and that is that the goats don’t do well with the anesthetic. I learned that the generally used anethetic for goats isn’t a reversible one and so you have a long waiting period for the goats to come out of it. If you didn’t know that, you could be really worried that literally, hours later, the goat is still out.
All of mine did just fine – although they slept for a good long time.
If you are going to disbud, please do consider your vet. Of course, whether it would be a good choice for you and your goats depends on a lot of factors, not the least of which is the quality of your relationship with your vet. With my vet, he’s pretty straight ahead and we have a great relationship. He told me he does few disbuddings, why he was doing things the way he was, and pretty much every step of the procedure (both for the disbudding and castration).
I also feel really strongly about pain relief. Not only were the babies knocked out but they were given a bolus of pain relief that would last 24hrs – long enough to get healing started.
Overall, I was entirely happy with the disbudding by the vet. Yep, it cost me something but it was so very worth it.
So, my apologies for the confusion. I did say $400 for mature and intact animals and $250 for the wee ones. $150 for wethers (unless they are companions for a solo buck or doe).
You know that a pressure canner can cook but most of the time, you don’t want to can in a pressure cooker, right?
I have had a few people asking so… I thought I would just do a quick post. We will have babies for sale this year but I haven’t competely decided who yet. All intact animals will sell for $450 and I will be taking deposits just as soon as I decide who, for sure, to sell, who to leave intact, etc. I don’t want to take deposits and then disappoint someone.
I know there has been interest in our stunning herdsire. I will not be leasing him (sorry) but may decide to sell him with his companion wether.
It’s tough deciding because there are so many good babies worth keeping back. I will have at least one gorgeous, blue eyed buckling for sale. I think the mahogany buckskin but…. just not sure. They’re all so stunning.
We haven’t decided whether to put any of the young ladies up for sale either.
Gita and Thor may be available.
So, Athena’s babies were teeny and for the first 24hrs I was checking on them every 2 hrs. Yes, I mean through the night as well. In fact, through the night most importantly. Especially for poor Gita. At 1lb 4oz, she didn’t have a lot to keep her warm. And poor Athena, to have triplets for your first time!
So, the first day and night passed without event. The babies mostly slept the whole time (not an exciting time, like many human babies). By the next day, they were up and about a bit.
So, with everyone nursing and doing what babies are supposed to be doing, I could be a little less worried. Bit of course, I wasn’t letting my guard down. These guys were different from the Icelandic lambs I had had before. The lambs were up and running in minutes and of course, once they were cleaned off, they came with a bit of a wool coat.
When I went out for the 11 pm check, all was well… or was it? It seemed that Gita was shivering. The temps had dropped and more than that, a cool mist had rolled in. Well, so much for sleep. I set the alarm for two hour intervals and went to try to sleep.
Now, you might be wondering why I didn’t step in at that point and it’s a reasonable question. For me, it’s best if mums and babies can sort things out themselves. I know she wasn’t super cold, she was curled up with her brothers, and mum had been attentive. I didn’t want to interfere unless I had to. Premature interference by people is, in my opinion, a huge problem across the board when it comes to livestock. We want to feel part of things so we’re quick to pull babies instead of letting mums do their work, we interfere and feed them food that’s not best for them because it’s what works for us, we micromanage their parenting, etc.
I also knew that two hours would be fine. Even if she got really chilled, I could warm her without too much trouble. It was damp and cold and while I’d be uncomfortable sleeping out without a sleeping bag, I wouldn’t come to harm (that’s part of how I gauge these things).
Yep, that’s her two hours later at the 1 am check. It didn’t hurt my feelings at all.
At the 3 am check, we watched a show while she got warmed up:
And then, once the shivering had stopped, she was ready to explore.
At the five am check she was curled up with mum and sleeping well so I left well enough alone and slept blissfully until 7:30.
The morning brought a warmer sun and a fresh day, as well as a bit more size on the young lady. I did check every two hours but she was doing ok:
So, other than stumbling out every couple of hours to check on them, I had little to do. When all was well at the 3am check, I decided to turn the 5 am alarm off and slept right through to 7. Bliss.
All the while Rosebud the Cranky looked on, irritated by the little beings around here and massively pregnant herself. An established mum who is known to twin, I was expecting her to go any day. I just hoped that I would get one full night before she did!
Up next – Athena’s babies continue to grow and explore (and irritate their mum). Rosebud continues to grow in size and eventually…
So, on Tuesday, I was home alone and as the sun was setting, the goats were all hanging out with me in the yard.
was expected to kid first.
Keep in mind that Nigerians off go 143(ish) days. That’s even a bit faster than pygmies (who tend to 145 days). Knowing this, her earliest expected date was May 13. Well, because she is likely the world’s mot perfect goat (sorry to my other goats but really, she is), I started keeping a closer eye on her over the weekend. Why, if the 13th was her EDD? Well, I have had the privilege of being at many human births and we know that the E in EDD is the most important word to be mindful of. It means estimated or expected. Humans go early and rather than take a chance, I thought to keep a weather, but not interfering eye out.
Sure enough, by Monday she was getting more affectionate, even for her. First timers often do get more affectionate and want whomever they trust to support them.
So, while my goats come when I call, Athena was seeking me out, leaning against me, and generally acting like a puppy. In my experience, that’s more than a sign of just being in late pregnancy but, her back end didn’t look like much was going on so, I knew babies would still be a while. If she wasn’t with me, she was off on her own, staring. This can also be a sign that babies aren’t far away, however, in my experience, closer to term it’s also accompanied by quiet talking to the babies and that was something I hadn’t yet seen.
On Tues, as we sat outside watching the full moon rise, I noticed a bit of mucous on her pooch. While that is often a sign labour is around the corner, it can occur up to weeks before so again, something that tells me to keep an eye out for changes but no guarantee.
Just the same, because I’m that way, I sent the boys off to their own run (hence, Goats of Sorrow) and I set an alarm to go and check on her at 3 am.
Well, at three am she was a bit unsettled but more than happily eating when treats were offered but had more mucous with a bit of arching. Not so much that it was an obvious contraction but definitely something was going on. Curiouser, and curiouser.
Morning came and I checked on her again. I don’t (yet) have birthing stalls. My experience with Icelandics was that they did best pasture lambing and for some reason, in my brain that extrapolated to mean the goats would too. I do know these goats come from pasture lambing so… while it’s not the worst decision, it’s not one I would repeat.
Anyway, I put down fresh straw in all of the places she’d been reclining wanting to (hopefully) ensure she had a secure and tidy bed beneath her and, not seeing anymore real progress, headed off to work.
Of course I’m a worrier so I whipped home at lunch. Her water had broken and while she wasn’t super laboury, she was definitely in active labour. Honestly, I would have said early active labour because she didn’t seem to be working that hard.
I ran inside to make lunch to take back to work when I heard a serious goats scream. Now our house is crazy sound proof. When my mother in law slipped on the ice and broke her arm, none of us heard her even though she was about 10 feet away. I’m not sure how we did that but most of the time it’s a good thing. And clearly, that was a primal scream that came from Athena for me to hear it clearly inside the house.
So, I ran outside and there she was, walking around. Well, that didn’t add up at all. It sounded like a delivery sound but here she was, still massively tummied, no more discharge than before, and nibbling at hay alternately with pacing. Strange. Although I thought to go back in, I paused and decided to have a little look around.
Sure enough, nestled into a little bowl created by a stump, and next to the water bucket I had thankfully picked up and put on an overturned tub, was a teeny (and I do mean teeny) beautiful baby.
And yes, I was feeling really relieved that I remembered to put the water bucket it up the night before. Phew!
So, expecting a single (Athena is a first freshener), I was a little surprised to see Athena not interested in the baby. I cleaned off the nose and mouth and grabbed an old wool sweater to rub her off a bit. Now, a little bit of rubbing off is ok but I left goop on key places (like the top of her head and her bum/rump). And I didn’t touch her with my hands anywhere except when it was too fiddly to liberate her mouth using the wool sweater. I didn’t want to take a chance of mum thinking she smelled too much of me to be her baby. With a first freshener who has no track record, I am super fussy about it.
While I was watching, Athena finally started pawing. I brought straw to her and she settled back in. After pushing for a while (ten minutes? I don’t know, I was watching her and videoing), I saw a black nose and one hoof. Great, one hoof. I didn’t dive right in (and neither should you – we intervene far too often in birth in general) but repositioned myself to closely watch the delivery. Now I started timing. Another few pushes brought no more of the baby which was starting to concern me. I felt along the outside (if she was a human, it would have been her perineum I was feeling) to get a sense of how big baby’s head was. I could really feel her straining but not a lot of baby progress. I took my finger and ran it along the side with the hoof showing applying a fair amount of pressure.Still no progress. I took my right hand and using the backwards L made by my forefinger and thumb, I applied pressure to that side. That pressure can give her something to push against without risking her health.
One more push and out came a massive boy, along with a healthy squirt of birth products. One more contraction (which I thought would be the placenta) and a white boy came three quarters of the way out. She was exhausted so I did help gently manoeuvre the rest of him out, mindful not to put any pressure on the placenta or her. Another buckling. All three were adorable, completely different looking, and healthy. Yay! Not so yay for my work clothes (because I didn’t get changed before hurrying out to her) but whatever, they’re washable.
That’s the birth story. Stay tuned to read about their first 24 hours.