How I Clean the Milk Machine

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Fill 2 gallons of lukewarm water and run through. Dump out.img_3372.jpgFill 2 gallons of hot water and add 1oz “Dairyland Chlorinated Pipeline Detergent”; run through.

Scrub inside of stainless milk bucket in places not covered by solution. Take off rubber gasket and swish in solution; scrub inside of lid.

Dump out, making sure to pour from both sides.

Repeat steps 2-4 but with ½ oz “Dairyland Milkstone Remover and Acid Rinse” and twice a week use 1oz per 2 gallons instead.

Hang hoses to dry and shine stainless steel milk bucket with white vinegar before placing it upside-down on drying mat. Total time: 15 minutes.

*I buy the chemicals in 5 gallon buckets and re-use the smaller jugs. I calculated the price and it’s actually less costly than using bleach/dish soap/vinegar. And I have the added security of knowing the chemicals are safe for the hoses, approved for milk sales, and our milk lasts 10 days in the fridge.

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New Barn Floor

Our new doe barn has a dirt floor. Since it was summer, we hosed down the dirt and let the goats compact it with their hooves. That didn’t work. The fans created a dust storm and when they shoved each their hooves dug up my hard packed floor. We debated the cost of decomposed granite, looked into the honeycomb forms with sand used for muddy horse areas, and priced stall mats. In the mean time rats discovered our new barn and dug holes, muddied water buckets, and left the soft dirt covered with little flower-shaped foot prints of all sizes every morning. Big river rats that dig holes the size of ground hogs!

We decided to try an experiment just to see if it would work. We bought big roles of hardware cloth to line the bottom. That involved rototilling, digging out about 6″ of soil and laying several rows of mesh. We used “J clips” to secure the pieces together so that the rats wouldn’t dig up and through. That worked- the rats furiously dug holes each night all around the outside perimeter but couldn’t get in. The goats enjoyed their clean water and I slept better not having to worry about listeria.

After leveling the soft silt, the next plan was to get barn lime from Tractor Supply. For $3.39/50lbs it’s a steal and the crushed limestone is safe for sensitive udders. We started with about 12 bags, mixing it into the top layer of the dirt floor. We wet that, tamped it and added another 6 bags to dry out the surface. The goats continued to sleep on sheets of plywood and up on chairs.

It didn’t take long to dry and harden and now I would say it is almost identical to decomposed granite. Absorbing urine and providing a hard surface, it’s easy to clean with a soft broom. I sprinkle lime on the wet spots each morning, which helps with odor and dries the area. Temporary kidding stalls will be bedded with straw but the main doe area will be lime dirt floor. Eventually we plan to build sleeping shelves, but we do not plan to use stall mats or straw on the main floor. There’s minimal dust and so far it’s working out great!

Milk Room Tour

Our Milk Room is a work in progress and there’s a list of stuff that needs to be finished, but this is what we have so far. It’s usable and I love how bright and cheery it is.

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Here we see the milk stand with the vacuum pump for the milk machine underneath. It’s plugged into an outlet with a switch so I can easily flip it on and off. There is a “mud rug” on the deck to provide a non-slip surface and it’s nice to be able to take it outside and shake it off. The “Dutch” door goes to the does’ barn. I keep the top part open while milking so I can keep an eye on everybody. There’s a mini fridge/freezer with medications and supplements, ice for disbudding and frozen water bottles to cool down the milk quickly. And there’s a fan for when the temp gets in the 90-112 range in the summer.

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The cabinets are filled with everything from syringes to herbal supplements. There’s a kitchen scale, bathroom scale, disbudding iron, Oster clippers and blades, measuring cups, iodine, etc. I keep a drench syringe, zip ties, caribiners, a thermometer, a stethoscope, etc in the drawers. On the counter there’s supplements I give daily (Diamond V yeast culture & dolomite), treats, a container of scissors, hoof clippers, pliers, and at the far end the stainless bucket for the milk machine. It sits on a dish mat and hiding behind it are my dish gloves and long-handle scrub brush. The far cabinet contains a small water heater with the reverse osmosis filters and pressurized tank. On the floor I have the chemicals and buckets for cleaning the milk machine.

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Here’s a better look at the sink area but also part of the shelving with bins. There are a dozen bins with organic alfalfa pellets, organic dairy pellets, organic chicken feed, kelp, diatomaceous earth, Redmond salt, goat minerals, etc. The extra bags are piled on the floor. Up on top there’s bins with kidding supplies, towels, baby bottles, goat sweaters, show leads, etc.

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Here you can see the hoses and inflations for the milk machine hanging to dry. The white board is where I write the “menu” so that if anyone else has to feed, there’s no confusion as to who gets what. I also have breeding dates and other notes written there. The sling for the baby scale is hanging on the back of the door along for a hook for my rain coat/winter jacket. Then you can see extra feed bins, udder wash, paper towels, teat spray, etc. There’s strip cups and disposable gloves in the drawer, and a hanging scale for weighing milk and babies.

You are welcome to e-mail if you have any questions about what something is, where I got it, how I use it, etc.

 

There Goes the Garden…

I thought they weren’t supposed to eat nightshade plants! I tried to tell them… but there’s no stopping 7 goats that just discovered the garden. Good-bye Roma tomatoes. Good-bye eggplant. Good-bye sweet peppers, zucchini, and crookneck. Need to come up with a better plan for the winter garden. I’ve seen nice hoop houses with bent PVC and covered with wire fencing and plastic to make a green house. Watching them rip the heavy-duty tomato cages out of the ground, I’m not sure that would stop them. Might need one of those motion-activated predator sprinkler set-ups!

Nigerian Dwarf Colors

One of the many reasons why people love Nigerians so much is because of the endless color possibilities. There are several solid colors (cream-gold-red and chocolate-black) and several common color patterns (buckskin, chamoisee, swiss-marked, etc) and then there is the white over-lay which mixes it all up a bit. Some colors/patterns are dominant and some are recessive and some create a combination. If you want to study more, check out Coat Colors and Nigerian Dwarf Color Genetics.

After 11 buckskins, Acorn gave us a black baby. We thought we had one 4 years ago but she turned out to be a dark chocolate, so this one was quite a surprise. Black is a recessive allele so it takes one from the sire and one from the dam to show up in offspring. Because Clark’s dam was black, we know he has a recessive black allele hiding behind his dominant buckskin. Although Acorn looks like a solid chocolate under her white, she’s actually a chocolate buckskin, which is why she and Clark have so many buckskins. Side note here- because she is a chocolate buckskin and he’s a black buckskin and they both have a black recessive, they should have 75% buckskins with a black cape and 25% with a chocolate cape.

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Anyway, we didn’t realize Acorn had the black recessive allele; we thought she had a chocolate instead. So the big question was where did she get it? She doesn’t have any close black relatives. Acorn’s dam was chocolate and her maternal grandparents were chocolate and a light buckskin. Her sire, Castle Rock Cleveland Sage is gold and his dam was chocolate and his sire, Castle Rock Tanzanite was gold. But… his sire was Castle Rock Guy Noir, who was black. Found it! 5 generations back and passed as a hidden recessive just waiting to meet up with another recessive black. Knowing this, there is a 25% chance Acorn and Clark will have black offspring, but we’re at about 10% at this point. And one more interesting thing is that Firefly’s little black and white baby got her black color from Firefly, obviously, who got the recessive from her buckskin sire. Sly Farms Catching Fire got it from his dam Sly Farms Catalina, who is black and is guess who’s daughter? Castle Rock Guy Noir 5 generations back. Fun!

 

 

 

 

Non-GMO Goat Feed

titleMost of the alfalfa, corn and soy grown in our country is genetically modified. Growers plant GMO crops so that they can spray the whole field for weeds and insects, which means that most goat feed is not only genetically modified but also sprayed with a cocktail of toxins.

In reading the Small Ruminant Research journal, I came across a 2015 article that proves that GMO feed may not be so good for goats. In the study, 60 does were fed either GMO soy or GMO-free soy for sixty days before kidding. The does’ milk was tested; data from the babies was collected.

The does fed GMO soy had significantly lower antibodies, fat and protein in their colostrum than does fed non-GMO soy. This is important because the babies need those nutrients and the immune protection from their mother. The babies from the GMO soy group had 40% lower antibody levels, weighed less, and were significantly smaller when measured at the chest and withers, at one month old and at slaughter.

So we can see that feeding non-GMO concentrate to the pregnant does gives the babies a better start in life. We still don’t really know what feeding large quantities of GMO alfalfa, corn and soy to goats over a period of ten years might do to their bodies, but we do know that whatever they eat goes into their milk. Transgenetic DNA fragments were found in the babies of the does fed GMO soy, so if they’re drinking it, so are we.

Many of us buy organic for our families but not for our goats. Organic feed costs more and isn’t readily available. Before we got our first dairy goats, we were drinking raw organic cow’s milk, so I’m not going to all the work of raising my own goats just to drink tainted milk! I choose to feed my goats organic alfalfa pellets to ensure that it’s not GMO, to avoid the toxins from the herbicides, because pellets take less space to store, and because there’s zero waste. I also choose to buy Modesto Milling’s organic soy-free dairy pellets. Of course I want the best milk possible for my family, but I also like the health benefits that my goats receive.

http://www.smallruminantresearch.com/article/S0921-4488%2815%2900052-8/abstract

Goat Probiotics and Vitamins

Because of the sudden weather change yesterday, I checked all 9 noses and doled out Vitamin C “just in case.” The next morning I had a sick goat on my hands, and with a perplexing set of symptoms. I called the vet and was told to bring her in. Aspen ended up on antibiotics and anti-ulcer meds, among other things. I continued to give her vitamins and probiotics throughout her treatment.

Whenever I have a goat that is a little bit “off” or actually sick, I like treat with vitamins and probiotics in addition to whatever the situation calls for. Vitamin C for immune system and mucous membranes, Vitamin A with D for lungs, Vitamin E for immune system and lungs, B Complex for stomach and a bunch of other things, plus probiotics for gut flora. I tend to dose those all separately but just recently I re-read the label of my Goats Prefer Probiotic Powder and realized it had everything in it, and in much larger doses. It easily dissolves in water with a yummy orange flavor that the goats love. The label says to drench or top dress basically any time something changes- feed, weather, travel, kidding, antibiotics, etc.  Goats Prefer Probiotic Powder costs half as much as Probios Powder because the canister is actually filled to the top, so 90 servings run $12.99 at Tractor Supply. It doesn’t involve injections or prescriptions, and is readily available and easy to dose.

Feed Your Backyard Goats For Less

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Even if you don’t have acres for pastures, you can get creative and grow vertically. Our goats prefer trees and bushes because their deeper roots provide for the higher mineral needs of dairy goats.  The most common question we get is “Are they good lawnmowers?” Our usual answer is “Nope, but they’ll destroy your roses!”

If you’re going to let them out, be careful to remove all of the poisonous plants and fence off young plants you don’t want destroyed such as young fruit trees.

The many different plants offer a smorgasboard of nutrients for them, and  they get their exercise roaming from tree to bush, nibbling here and there. The following is what is on the menu in early October.

redwood

olive leaves

coastal live oak

grape leaves

roses

grasses/weeds

fallen apples

photinia (red-tipped bush)

pear tree leaves

orange and lemon tree leaves

We are planning on planting several more trees and vines to continue to provide year-round browse that we can cut and carry. More on that to come.

Goat Books

We planned Goat Day at our local library for the K-2 after-school program. The kids learned about different kinds of goats, goat behavior, and what goats eat.  After listening to Gregory, the Terrible Eater, they got to taste goat cheese, draw about what they like for dinner, and snuggle our baby goat. I think Pinecone recognized they were little ones like her and she wasn’t nervous at all.

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There are some wonderful books for extended learning about goats, beyond the typical goat care references.  Pat Coleby’s Natural Goat Care  and Dairy Goat Judging Techniques by Harvey Considine are two of the best I have read so far.

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And there are some lovely books written for children that adults enjoy too.

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Billy Goats Gruff, anyone?

Dairy Goat Genetics

Don’t you wish you could choose a buck for a particular doe that would “fix” a trait on that doe herself? I know, right? If only it were that easy…

My daughter’s animal science textbook listed the hereditability of traits for all different types of livestock so I pulled out just the dairy goat info, and then after searching the internet to see if I could add to it, I found the same chart I just made on the ADGA website. Apparently anything over 15% is worth paying attention to and once you get above 30% you have a good chance of carefully improving your herd. But still, if you think about it, a trait that is 30% hereditable means that you should have a 15% influence from each parent. So where does the other 70% come from? It’s a mix from grandparents. So when looking at that pedigree, get to know the grandparents as it seems they contribute more than the parents do!

Time to choose a buck!

Dairy Goat Trait Heritability
Stature 52%
Strength 29%
Dairyness 24%
Rump Angle 32%
Rump Width 27%
Rear Leg Angulation 21%
Fore Udder Attachment 25%
Rear Udder Height 25%
Rear Udder Arch 19%
Medial Suspensory Ligament 33%
Udder Depth 25%
Teat Placement 36%
Teat Diameter 38%

Wiggans, G.R. and Hubbard, S.M., Genetic evaluation of yield and type traits of dairy goats in the United States.  Journal of Dairy Science 2001.