So many blog posts rolling around in my head, so little time to actually write them down...
And that would be due to kidding season! Last year, we had 51 kids born between February and the first week of June. Because kidding went late, I was still bottle feeding in August (not terribly happy with that). So, I decided to try something different- for 2010, I wanted to have the majority of my kids in February and March. I figured that I could just sacrifice the month of February to kidding, then catch the rest of the does who didn't settle for March kids, and hopefully be done with bottle feeding by the time show season rolls around. Instead of having most of the does kid in February, it was more of a 50-50 split between the two months. I will have to see how I feel once everyone is weaned before I will really know if I like this system better than spreading it out more. For one thing, we only have so much room, and having all our kids so close together means that we're a bit tight for space. It also means that I am talking with more goat customers in a shorter amount of time, which limits how much time I have for other things (i.e. making products for my business, sleep, blog updates, dog training, etc.). But, that is for another post- on to the results of kidding season!
Between February 4 and March 30th, 65 baby goats have made their way into the world here at Castle Rock Farm. We've had 33 doe kids and 32 buck kids, with lots and lots of broken buckskins. I'm very happy with the structure of many of the kids, especially the improvement in rump width, flatness, and height of thurls I've been aiming for since our 2008 Linear Appraisal. So far, I think we're retaining about a dozen doe kids and at least one buck kid- good thing I got the herd down to just over 40 members before kidding season started!
I've heard from several other breeders that the 2010 kidding season has been a difficult one, and we've not escaped that. Just a few days before she was due to kid, we lost our dear MCH-PGCH Castle Rock Once Ina Blue Moon 2*D to pregnancy toxemia, which was ultimately caused by undetected tooth problems. Two weeks later, I was devastated by the loss of ARMCH-PGCH-CH Esperanza WS Sara *D due to complications from kidding. Both does were not only exceptional show animals, but had wonderful (in very different ways) personalities. I still notice their absence in the barnyard and in the milk room every day. I am fortunate to have five Sara daughters, and many more granddaughters in my herd, but I always have felt incredibly lucky to have Sara and it will take an exceptional doe to fill the hole she has left.
Last year, I only freshened one 2008 doe kid, so it has been a while since I've seen first freshening udders on the farm. I have to remind myself not to judge capacity or teat size for the first few weeks on these girls! It's been interesting to see all these little first fresheners and to finally get to see what Barnaby, Guy Noir, and Sky Walker put on the ground. I have to say, I'm happy with all three guys so far! Barnaby seems to have put some nice rear udder height and MSL on his daughters, Guy Noir has improved MSL, lateral attachments, teat placement, and overall structure on his daughters, and Sky Walker has improved udder height and placement on his daughters.
My milking string is currently 21 does strong, which means I really need to get a new stanchon so I can milk more than one doe at a time. I also need to start milk test again now that I have a milk tester on hand. If I'm going to be milking these girls through till Christmas, I should get some milking stars too!
This June, we'll also be participating in Linear Appraisal, a great program we did in 2008 where goats are judged against the score card on many different traits. I found this to be a great source of information when we did it previously, and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes this year.
This morning, I disbudded the last sets of kids born...for now at least. It looks like we'll have at least a couple more sets of kids born in May and possibly a couple of 2009 kids freshening then as well. Those 2009 kids I didn't really mean to breed- mainly because I didn't want to milk more than 20 or so does, but if they did settle (I think I can see little udders forming on them), I'll be totally okay with the resulting babies.