Day in the Life – ‘Kidding-around’ with a goat farmer

DayintheLifeHi! My name is Anna Haupt and together with my husband and three young children, we run Teal’s Meats – a provincially licensed butcher shop on our farm in Haldimand County, on the north shore of Lake Erie in Ontario. I also raise a small herd of registered Boer goats on our farm, Springvalley Boer Goats. I enjoy showing, sell breeding stock to other producers and process our market animals for sale through our butcher shop. Our summers are extremely busy serving our butcher shop customers, so I like to kid out (giving birth) my does (female goats) in the winter months when I have a little more time to spend in the barn.

Today on our farm…

Goat Glossary
Colostrum = The first milk that any animal (including humans) produce after they give birth. This milk helps to pass along the mother’s immunity to disease to her offspring.
Doe = Female goat
Kid = A newborn goat
Udder = The udder is the mammary organ that secretes the animal’s milk. A goat’s udder has two teats.
The day started at 5 a.m. I did a quick check in the barn before heading to the butcher shop to stuff about 800 lbs of fresh sausage destined for our local grocery stores. It will be delivered, packaged and fresh on the shelf before lunchtime. During my barn check I notice that one doe has really uddered-up (preparing milk for the newborn) during the night and I know she will kid out very soon.

After finishing in the butcher shop and getting my two-legged kids on the school bus, it’s back to the barn to feed, water and bed the pens with fresh straw. My doe is now in active labour so I quietly move her away from the herd into a freshly bedded pen. I quietly wait close by as she gets down to business pushing.

Within minutes she has her first kid, a big buck (male) kid, and she starts licking and cleaning her new baby immediately. In this cold weather the doe needs to know enough to get her new kids dry and up on their feet quickly. Little bodies lose heat fast. Within the next half hour my great momma easily pushes out two more kids and expels the afterbirth.

Since it’s so cold, I help her dry off the kids and get them placed under a heat lamp. All the while, the doe licks and talks to her kids, bonding and encouraging them to get up and start searching for her udder. It’s vital that these babies get colostrum – the doe’s first milk, full of energy and important antibodies that will protect the kid from disease until its own immune system starts to work – as quickly as possible.

A Boer meat goat encouraging her new born to find its legs under a warm heat lamp.

A Boer meat goat encouraging her new born to find its legs under a warm heat lamp.

I dip each kid’s navel with iodine to help disinfect and prevent infection. I also weigh each of the new babies. These weights are important for keeping track of growth rates. I want to keep only the fastest-growing and hardiest kids as future breeding stock.

Next each kid gets an ear tag for identification. The tag has the kids’ individual number and the year letter. The letter for 2015 is “C” and every registered Boer goat in Canada born this year will be identified with the letter “C” making it easy to tell the age of an animal with a glance at her tag.

With these new kids all looked after, it marks the end of a pretty good morning here. Not every birth that happens here this season will go this smoothly. There will be complications and difficult deliveries. But no matter how many babies I see born, it truly never gets old.

Anna, Mark and their children at their farm and butcher shop

Anna, Mark and their children at their farm and butcher shop

With all the births that we see on the farm, sometimes I think we forget that seeing new life brought into the world isn’t something that other people get to experience on such a regular basis. It really is a miracle every time and the best reward of all is a barn full of healthy, bouncing and content mommas and babies.

You can follow Anna on Twitter @tealssausage and Facebook as Teal’s Pure Pork Sausage. The farm and butcher shop can also be found at www.tealsmeats.com.

 

We’re blogging about Canadian farmers. Each month, we’ll feature a different farmer on www.realdirtblog.ca to show how diverse our Canadian agriculture industry is!

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