What’s the least you can do?

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If there’s one thing I hear far too often, it’s the phrase, “What’s the least I can do?” Perhaps not said in so many words, but it’s frequently there, lurking between the lines.

Folks will ask me about fencing, and when advice is given, often they return with questions about a less expensive – and less safe – type of fencing.

When shelter is discussed, I am asked about the bare minimum one can provide their new pets. I encourage people to look less at “cow and goat” hay and more at the top quality horse hay and forage. I gently remind locals that wooden milkstands and shelters may be cheaper, but will rot and be useless far more quickly than a pricier metal option.

And of course, the infamous buyers who want a colorful bred to the hilt doe in milk that will produce enough for their family, but unfortunately they only have so much to spend . . . can I help them?

In the majority of cases, these requests and questions do not come from a place of miserly cheapness, but a desire to be frugal, something one can totally understand in this day and age. One might feel that if they can cut costs in some areas, it will save money for the care of the animals, or possible vet needs.

However, it’s far more expensive to be frugal in the long run in certain cases, and goats happen to be one. Where you might save money purchasing the less expensive fencing option, you’ll spend it twice-fold repairing and replacing over the next couple of years. That pallet housing, though cute on Pinterest, will soon be rotting in humid climates, if the goats don’t manage to break it into pieces.

The $50 Craigslist goat, though cute and a great deal, will rarely be tested for disease and has an unknown background. I’ve had and have everything from the free rescue goat to the $600 royally bred goat, for I love them all, and I can confidentially say that it costs just as much to care for the cheap one as it does the expensive goat, and the better bred goat always comes out in the lead on production, while a cheaper goat may end up a sunk cost in the end.

There is nothing wrong with saving costs, and being frugal – that is for sure! But it’s also important to know where you can cut costs. The best things you can do is learn to handle the majority of basic vet care on your own – vaccinating, disbuddding, hoof trimming, drawing blood – you can learn to do these things.

Mix your own feeds and minerals, or join a co-op to buy in bulk if you can. Instead of paying a premium price for a spray to cure that pesky rain rot, hit the dollar store and buy some off brand mouthwash – it works fabulously against any fungal infection. You can even mix up your own mild teat dip with dish soap and bleach.

Don’t overpay for goat-sized boluses when you can pay less for the cattle brand and repackage into inexpensive gelatin capsules easily purchased on Amazon. It takes a little more time, but especially as your herd grows, the savings add up.

There are a hundred small ways to save money, but when it comes to the key points of owning goats, paying more in the beginning for fencing, shelter, equipment, and stock will pay off in the long run – and not just in monetary value. It will save you headaches, heartbreak, frustration, and irritation.

When it comes to goats, you should never ask, “What’s the least I can do?” but “What’s the most I can afford.”

Artwork by Mindy Van Tassel of Minxed Arts

 

 

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Goat of the Month – January 2016

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Happy New Year, my goat friends! We’re diving into kidding season right now, and this month’s GOTM is the lovely K-N-S Farm JuneRose!

 

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JuneRose is out of K-N-S Farm True Hope (the goat who started our farm) and by the very handsome Pace County Roadhouse Blue.

 


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She also had a sister, the very strange doeling we called “Not Quite Right.” One of the strangest things I have experienced, NQR rejected her dam from the moment of birth. She got to her little hooves, still soaking wet, and ran away! She also showed several other strange behaviors, and never fully bonded with her dam. At around third weeks old, I found her dead. I still wonder what exactly was wrong with her.

 

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JuneRose went to live with a lovely young couple who became good friends, along with a handsome red wether I procured from Honey Doe Farm to keep her company. She returned to my farm to be bred to TooMiniGoats J Texas Blizzard and then returned again to kid out, producing the now famous face of our farm, K-N-S Farm Minx.

 

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At one point before having her first kid, she had an unfortunate encounter with a dog that left her unique – now she only has one ear! It hasn’t affected her and she does just fine, and has even risen in the ranks around here.

A year later, when her owner’s plans changed, JuneRose returned to my herd.

JuneRose is absolutely a doe who has a forever home with my herd, even if I was to majorly downsize. She’s earned her place here by being a great milker, a wonderful mother, and a fabulous little friend.

 

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There’s No Denying Juliet

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Oh Juliet! If there is one single goat who takes the prize for “Most Stories About Me” it’s Juliet by a landslide. No other goat even comes close to having caused as much mischief as she has. Her escapades alone could fill a small novel, but we love her dearly, and at this point, she is our most senior doe and has been with us the longest. She will always have a place with us, no matter how many shenanigans she gets up to.

 

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It’s tough to decide which of Juliet’s story is the best, but I do know which was the most amusing – and the most popular! The story of not only Juliet’s illegitimate child, but her theft of someone else’s kid as well!

After Juliet produced the beautiful Moonstone, I was satisfied and decided to experiment a little bit with her genetics. I paired her with The CCF5 William the Conqueror and she was hand bred. She did not cycle again, always one to easily settle and become pregnant, and five months later, I expected to see some lovely little Nigerian Dwarf kids. Perhaps they would finally be the same beautiful blue as their dam – a color that still eludes me. Perhaps they would be cream like their sire. Part of the fun with Nigerian Dwarves is never knowing what one might get.

However, I honestly did not expect what I got.

It was a sunny morning when I went out to the barn for my first morning check. As usual, I located and scanned the kidding records, looking to see who had kidded in the hours I had slept after my late night shift. Seeing Juliet’s name, I was a little disappointed to see she had a single buckling, but since I already had a nice doeling from her, it wasn’t a big deal.

I made my rounds, inspecting each of the kids and dams to ensure all was well, and eventually found Juliet in one of the kidding stalls, snoozing next to her newborn. I picked him up, and then frowned.

This was not a Nigerian Dwarf kid.

 

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He was a Mini La Mancha!

I was gobsmacked – how in the world had she managed to get in with Aslan? Because there was simply no denying it. The buckling was his spitting image, yet had his dam’s blue eyes. This was not a case of mistaken identity! Aslan, a purebred mature La Mancha buck, was so large Juliet could run beneath his belly with ease. How in the world had they managed this – especially since they lived in different pastures!

 

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Well – in the end, still not a big deal. A fun story. I scratched Juliet’s head and moved on. A week later, her little buckling went home with a wonderful family who fell in love with his cute little face and friendly nature.

As the does often are, Juliet was distressed at the loss of her kid and called for him. This is one of the more unfortunate parts of my job, but reality means it has to happen. The majority of does forget about their kids by the next day, their attention turned instead to their now full time gig at the Dairy, and are just fine. Knowing Juliet would follow the same path, as she had before, I went to bed without concern.

The next morning, I followed my routine. Kidding season was coming to a close, and now I was focused on selling and teaching the first fresheners what it meant to have a job. All was well and I was feeling content when I noticed Juliet standing, chewing her cud pleasantly – with a kid busily nursing beneath her belly.

 

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I admit it took me aback for a moment – hadn’t I sold him? Yes – I certainly had! I wasn’t going crazy quite yet. At least not that kind of crazy, as far as I know. I walked over and picked the buckling up. He looked extremely similar to Juliet’s original buckling – right down to the grey fur, the blue eyes, and the cute Mini Mancha elf ears.

It took me just a moment to place him – he was one of Panda’s three kids. She herself was a Mini Mancha and had been bred to Aslan (on purpose). One kid was a stunning orange and white doeling who would remain with our herd, and the other two were bucklings – both of which looked similar to Juliet’s.

I couldn’t believe it – she had gone and stolen someone else’s kid! While it was not unusual for them to share, and eventually even allow whoever pleases to nurse, they generally do not go out of their way to steal – at least not here! Why steal when you can barely escape the horde of kids running about? Amused, I gave the buckling back.

Panda was likely relieved to be left with just two kids, as she never attempted to reclaim the buckling. I allowed Juliet to keep him, as everyone seemed content.

However, there is just no room on the farm for extra bucklings, and he was eventually sold. Juliet seemed to accept this with good grace.

And started nursing her year old daughter again instead.

 

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Apple Blossom’s Surprise

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You all know how much I love to talk about the goats, and every single goat that has entered my life has had at least one story, so I’m going to do my best to write a few of them down for you folks to enjoy!

I’m starting with one I promised to share, a story that shows so clearly that no matter how experienced you are, goats can still fool you.

We were in the middle of kidding season, and Apple Blossom was sick. The delicate La Mancha doe had bad scours, an upset rumen, and a fever. I was thankful that she had obviously slipped her pregnancy early on – not only did her teats cling straight to her belly with no bag full of colostrum between them, but she was so thin she could have slid through the slats on a wooden pallet.

Not to mention that I had personally palpated her, placing one hand in front of her under and pressing upward, searching for that heavy uterus, filled with fluids and kids. After years and handling hundreds of pregnancies, I was confident in my ability to discern a pregnant doe from an open one – at least most of the time.

However, goats love to knock us down a peg or two when we grow too arrogant in our skills, and Apple Blossom took this opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson about assuming.

It was quite a beautiful afternoon, and I was in my usual place, on my knees beside a laboring doe, sleeves rolled up and hair tied back. Crown Royal was faithfully pushing out twin bucklings with nary a grunt and I was mostly spectating, when I heard a sound behind me.

I turned, not overly concerned – this time of the year, it was not unusual for several does to kid at once, and some of my most amused memories are of running from one to the other to ensure that all were progressing normally. But what I didn’t expect was to see Apple Blossom, down on her side, with two forelegs sticking out!

I raced over and grabbed hold, too concerned about Apple Blossom to stop and marvel at this turn of events, and assisted with the birth of a black doeling. I had to pause to wipe away foul smelling scours off all three of us, hurrying to the hose to wash my hands the best I could before returning to check Apple Blossom for any more kids.

I didn’t need to – I returned to find a second doeling, just as pitch black as the first, writhing in the hay. I stripped the amniotic sack from her and started to rub them both down as Apple Blossom lay unhappily in the bedding next to us. Realizing that she needed immediate attention, I scooped up both doelings, who were now attempting to walk and find a place to nurse, and took them to my house, where I settled them in a warm spot to dry.

 

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I returned to poor Apple Blossom and gave her everything I could to keep her comfortable, warm, and help her regain her energy after the surprise birthing. Before I finished, however, I stopped by Crown Royal, not only to check on her and her two healthy bucklings, but to fill a bottle with her abundant rich colostrum, that golden liquid that the doelings desperately needed if they were to grow up healthy. When I had done everything I could and separated Apple Blossom to a private warm place to recuperate, I returned to inspect these unexpected doelings.

I was shocked to see that both were absolutely one hundred percent healthy normal sized La Mancha kids. I would never have believed that a doe as ill and thin as poor Apple Blossom could have carried and delivered kids that looked as good as these. She must have given every bit she had to them, to bring them into the world.

 

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I finished cleaning them up and fed them the warm colostrum, which both drank greedily, tails wagging. It wasn’t long at all before they were bouncing around my house, gleeful at being alive. Apple Blossom recovered well from the birthing, and though she had no milk, we returned the doelings to her and she was happy to mother them and clean their little bottoms as we bottle fed them.

I was able to place all three of them, along with some of their friends, in a wonderful home, where Apple Blossom thrived away from the hubbub of a large dairy herd, and her doelings grew into beautiful does. It does my heart good to know that they are doing well, and to see pictures of them as they grow. What more can any breeder ask for – even when the kids are a surprise!

 

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Apple Blossom and her two daughters (now named Pansy and Petunia) taught me that one can never know what will happen next, and you can see why this is one of my favorite stories.

Special thanks to Jana Wayne for providing updated pictures of Apple Blossom and her daughters.

 

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Goat of the Month – December 2015

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It’s only proper that our first official Goat of the Month is K-N-S Farm Catnip, one of the first goats to carry our farm name. (The honor of first belongs to K-N-S Farm The Lady Sif)

Catnip is a lovely little doe, one of the 2014 crop – the last of the Blizzard kids. Her dam was Honey Doe Farm Gypsy, one of the very goats who helped connect me to the Honey Doe Farm herd. When I brought home Gypsy and her friend Yumi several years ago, the naughty things immediately escaped and went on the run.

 

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We searched and searched and searched! Gypsy was found first, over a mile away, rescued from dogs by good Samaritans. (Yumi was found two weeks later, over ten miles away!) Relieved, they soon settled into our herd. Gypsy produced several beautiful kids for me, including Catnip, and was a fabulous milker. We later lost her to an accident.
catnip3Catnip herself shows a lot of the same personality of her mother – perhaps not the most friendly goat, but not wild in any way. She just prefers to do things on her own terms. Like her mother as well, her wattles are uneven – one hangs higher than the other. It drives the part of me which loves symmetry crazy, but it’s a fun little quirk.

 

A very beautiful doeling, Catnip went through a rather ugly stage – the frosting around her nostrils often mistaken for crusty discharge – but came out of the other side looking just fabulous. She is expecting her first kids by Harlequin BJ Papaya Pie in January and I will surely consider keeping a doeling, if she sees fit to produce one for me.

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The Goat Keeper’s Shame

fsdfgRecently, I lost my two Nigerian Dwarf bucks, Khan and Pappy. It happened nearly overnight – first Khan, who laid down in the evening after grazing with his friends and died. Utterly baffled and heartbroken, I patted the heads of the two remaining bucks, the La Mancha Dominic and Pappy, only to come out the next morning to find Pappy dead as well.

Neither showed any signs of illness – not once during the several times a day they are checked on was one standing alone, away from the others, or standing hunched. No coughing, or scours. Both had come to me for pats and had appeared bright eyed and their usual selves within hours of their deaths.

Khan’s cause of death remains inconclusive, but an examination of Pappy’s body confirmed pneumonia. With the wild swings in weather – cold and rainy one moment, hot the next, it is a common ailment in our location and we are no strangers to it. We are assuming this was the cause of Khan’s death as well.

Many of you will understand the feeling of helplessness. What did I miss? What did I do wrong? The guilt was overwhelming, and then came the shame. How could I have let this happened? Failure is not something I have ever handled well, a remnant of a troubled past.

Both Khan and Pappy came from the same breeder, a woman I greatly admire and consider a friend – in fact Khan had been a gift, born the same day my home and my life was in smoldering ruins. I had only purchased Pappy this year, and he was the best (and most expensive) goat I’ve purchased yet. What would she think when I admitted that I lost both of them? How would she ever trust me to purchase another of her valuable animals?

The dread I felt in admitting to not just my employers, but the world, that I had failed was indescribable. I could hear the whispers of others now: “Who is she to give us advice? Who is she to claim to provide the best care, when she let both her bucks die?” I felt like I was being punished for making it through our horrifically wet (and therefor parasite and pneumonia filled) spring with such success.

My employers, just as well worn to the goat world as I am, joined me in my grief for our lost boys. Through our tears, we traveled the last few days, looking for anything we could have done differently. On our farm, there is no blame to be laid – only the question of how we can do it differently next time. That only left the Internet – others might scoff at my hesitation, but others do not realize that I consider my Internet friends very real friends indeed.

But I made the choice long ago to make our farm fairly public – sharing it on Facebook and Youtube, among other places. Opening our lives so that I can share our experiences to help others. So I squared my shoulders and confessed my sins – I had killed our bucks.

The outpouring of support was amazing. Both my goat friends and my goat admiring friends gathered around to offer their condolences, give advice, and join me in my grief. They lamented the loss of such a promising young buck with me. They grieved the death of a solid friend who joined the farm with me after the fire. Just thinking about it, and everyone who joined me online in this time, brings fresh tears. Which just won’t do – it’s hard enough to see the screen as it is!

The point I am trying to come around to is the shame every goat keeper feels in this instance. We all have experienced this – goats find fabulously impossible ways to die, and hide their illnesses until the last moment. It’s something I know well – I have even consoled others during these times, reassuring them that we all go through this. We have all lost kids and adults to freak accidents, and strange illnesses, and terrible mistakes. We have all cried and felt ashamed. We have all been there.

I understand. We understand. And you’re never alone. We do this because the rewards of keeping goats far outweighs the heartbreak they give us, but it never gets easier. I remember the name and face of every goat and kid I’ve lost. But now I don’t grieve them – I remember them, I celebrate their lives, and I thank them for the lessons they taught me.

Overfed and Underexercised

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It really comes as no surprise to me that the majority of goats that I lay hands on on other folks’ farms are overfed and under exercised. Most goats, especially in the dairy and pet communities, are confined to a pasture or pen and fed free choice hay, often accompanied by grains and alfalfa.

Depending on the breed and state (pregnant, in milk, etc) many goats are grossly overfed. A dairy goat should not carry excess weight on the body – goats are naturally lean creatures, build to be pure wiry muscle to cling to clifftops and leap from edge to precipice. They can ill afford to be weighed down by what I call, “chicken cutlets.”

Granted, they’ve come a long way since we domesticated them, and many goats (especially those little fatties among the Miniature breeds) carry excess weight through out their lives with little issue. It’s important to know, however, that an overweight goat is an unhealthy animal, just as an overweight dog, horse, or person is as well. Once you are seeing subcutaneous fat on your goat, know as well that his or her internal organs are being encased in fat, as that is the first place it shows up in our caprine pals.

Overweight goats will suffer problems with their joints as they age, and may suffer arthritis. Does will have more trouble conceiving when bred, and problems with kidding. The rate of cesarean section risk rises and you can even experience horrible problems like rectal prolapse.

Poor little Mandarin, pictured below with her mother Panda, suffered a rectal prolapse due to being overweight. As a kid she was so heavy that her rectum began to protrude when she lay down – sometimes up to five inches in length! We had to put a stitch in her anus to hold it in place and allow her muscles to gain some strength. A miserable time for her – thankfully it worked and she has suffered no more problems!

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With some goats, it seems like they grow fat on thin air, as our Miniatures often do. Here, we do not grain heavily, and during most of the year, our does’ primary diet is browse, accompanied by their complete morning and evening milking rations. This along with the large amount of pasture and wooded area they roam to browse means the majority of are goats carry little excess weight and are in excellent physical health.

This translates to better overall health, and I am confident that this is the reason for the almost non-existent cesarean rate on this farm. With on average one hundred does kidding out every year, both Nigerian Dwarf and La Mancha, there has literally been only one cesarean – an underaged doeling who was carrying a massive single buckling.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true of our kids – they tend to run quite heavy, as we do dam raise the majority of our kids. When left with unlimited access to their dams plus free choice hay and browse, they often gain entirely too much weight for my tastes. Thankfully, the majority never become extreme like poor Mandarin did, and the unlimited food plays a massive part in the strength of our kids and their excellent growth, which I take a lot of pride in. By the time they become yearlings, the majority have been weaned and have returned to a proper weight, or close to it.

So how do you tell if your goat is fat? There are score sheets one can follow, that are the same basic guidelines among every animal species we keep.

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Another quick method is to grab the skin and fat behind your goat’s elbow – the “chicken cutlet!”

If you have a chicken breast instead, then you may have an overweight goat.

I know that some folks will disagree with me, but I prefer to see my girls a little on the lean side – perhaps not quite a 2, but a slightly lighter 3. I simply find that they are healthier. But of course, these are only my own opinions, my own findings, just as everything on this blog is. Living down in the Texas heat, there’s little need for animals to carry excess weight, while further north, I’m sure stock appreciate a thicker layer when winter comes!

What works for one person may not work for another, but we all must share what we learn so that we have all the options to discover the best way to care for our animals.

Whoops!

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Unfortunately during the website relaunch, there was an error with the blog’s back up, and it was deleted.

Thankfully I was able to salvage several posts, but lost many images and of course, everything else.

 

A total bummer, but never fear! We’re back again, with a new URL (we have returned to the www.knsfarm.com domain) and a new look.

 

Goat Behavior – The Referees (OP: 5/2014)

I’ve got a great one for you guys today. You all know how much I love goats, but is it just the way they look? Their affectionate qualities? Their milk?

I love goats because they are fascinating. There is a shocking lack of research and information about their deeper behaviors, and every day that I spend observing them teaches me something new. I am exceptionally lucky to be able to work with such a large herd that is allowed as natural a life style as possible.

While this video isn’t the greatest quality, as it was taken with my cell phone, it’s clear enough to show a behavior that I (and others living here) have observed multiple times. We call it the Referee behavior.

Goats have a very complex social system and hierarchy. There is a queen goat (often more than one in a large herd) and then it filters down to the young does, who are low on the totem pole. I have noticed that twice a year – breeding season and kidding season – does will get into more scuffles as they jockey to improve their position – which also means that their kids will enjoy a stronger position in the herd.

Herd rank determines when/where a doe gets to eat, drink, and even come into the milk room.

Goats challenge each other with body language and of course the famous head butting. Pawing and blubbering like a buck often accompany these disputes, usually by the more dominant doe.

I was separating the milking herd into the holding area when a pair of two year old first freshener does began to challenge each other for a better position within the herd. The tan larger doe is Butterscotch, and the smaller white doe is Marshmallow.

They were battling for some time before I noticed the older does starting to move in, and grabbed my phone and began to video the first part. You can observe right away that more goats have become interested in the dispute and they begin to push at the two battling goats, trying to discourage the fight from continuing.

At one point Blue Ceder even begins to become aggressive to the pair, butting and shoving them away until they are separated, with Sweet Pea pushing at Marshmallow.

After I had moved them both into the holding pen for milking, they took up where they left off, and I began to video again.

This time I was able to video the majority of their dispute, and once again, when it shows no sign of either doe giving way to the other, the other goats move in and begin to attempt to separate the foes. From the start, Rumble is standing with them, with Blue Cedar nearby, observing the dispute.

They start with gentle requests that the goats separate, inserting their heads and bodies between the two. You can observe that this doesn’t work – these two goats are determined to hash this out.

Watching the battle itself is interesting enough – the more dominant doe (Butterscotch) even blubbers and paws at Marshmallow on several occasions in an attempt to reassert her dominance and get Marshmallow to back down. They move from place to place, headbutting and pressing their heads together, until they begin to upset the entire herd.

At this point Blue Cedar becomes more forceful with the two, and other does like Toshi, Chattanooga, and Rumble step in once more.

Marshmallow gives way multiple times but continues to turn back. Blue Cedar again moves in and begins to become more aggressive, headbutting Marshmallow in an attempt to move her away.

At this point, Chattanooga, Zinnia, Blue Cedar, and Rumble have moved in and are standing with the combatants, separating them. Marshmallow insists on pushing the issue, until both her and Zinnia hit Butterscotch at the same time. At this point, Butterscotch becomes aware that she has been outmatched, even though Marshmallow had help.

This is the breaking point. Marshmallow has won, which she demonstrates by shoving Chattanooga and then walking away.

Interestingly, the does surround Butterscotch and rub their scent on her while Marshmallow makes her way back to her sister, where she will settle down until it’s her time to milk.

This ended up being one of the longest and most intense examples of this Referee behavior I have witnessed. I have seen, more times than I can count, a mature doe standing with two (or more) juniors or yearlings who are scuffling for position. They eventually separate the group if the conflict doesn’t resolve itself, though it goes much quicker when they’re pushing around smaller, younger does.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I do, and I do hope that I am able to document and share more behavior with you in the future.

Product Review – Electric Hoof Knife

(Unfortunately the images for this review were lost during the blog’s move)

 

As any goat owner will agree, any product that will make our work easier is well worth it!

About a month ago, I came upon the Electric Hoof Knife and was intrigued. While it’s not actually a knife, it’s what amounts to a hand held angle grinder. A simple enough concept; having used an angle grinder on horse hooves before, I was interested. I had to stop using a regular grinder due to the bulky weight of it – it was just too heavy and large for me to easily use, even though it made hoof trimming easier.

I showed the Electric Hoof Knife to the dairy owners, and it wasn’t long before ours arrived.

I am not affiliated with the makers of the Electric Hoof Knife at all, just a goat owner reviewing the product for everyone else!

First and foremost, I have to say the customer service is excellent. While I didn’t personally speak with them, the farm owner spent some time on the phone discussing the product before ordering. It’s always nice to know there is a real person on the other end of a product, eager to answer any questions.

Our Electric Hoof Knife arrived, along with a carrying bag, instructions, eye protection, a medium disc (the course disc was backordered and will be arriving shortly), and a tool for the item.

The grinder is very lightweight (about 1.2lbs) and easy to hold, even with my very small hands.

I installed the grinding disc and began trimming feet. With around 150 goats to trim, it gets hard to keep up, even when keeping them on a constant rotating schedule. Even using sharp quality pruner type trimmers, the strain on our hands is immense. Especially for us, who also use our hands to milk, “speak” in ASL, and heaven knows I use a keyboard more than anything else in this world.

So hand/wrist strain is always on our minds.

I found the grinder to absolutely have a learning curve – I recommend practicing on a bit of wood at first to get a feel for how it works. It doesn’t cut – it grinds down the hoof. It takes a layer at a time, which I find to be much safer than traditional trimmers, which can easily take a chunk out of the hoof on accident. It is still possible to draw blood if you grind down too far, but if you’re using caution, you can see when to stop long before you would cause injury to the animal.

Wear gloves and the eye protectors! Do not use this product in an area that is not very well ventilated and a face mask is recommended. I absolutely do not recommend you use the Electric Hoof Knife without gloves and eye protection. It throws a great amount of dust and hoof particles around, and it’s quite easy to slip, especially when just starting out, and have the grinder brush against your hands.

I wasn’t able to take a video (although the website has several accurate videos), but here are two examples of before and after.

 

I have to say, I really liked the results. It can be difficult, using traditional trimmers, to get a very smooth sole of the hoof. The Electric Hoof Knife makes it easy. No more crevices or anything of the sort where dirt, feces, or stones can lodge. Trimming back the toes and the heel are quite easy.

I found once I got the hang of the product, the best way to hold it, the trimming went quickly. About the same time it takes me to use pruning shears. I have no doubt that it will eventually end up being a much quicker method as I become more habituated to using it.

The Electric Hoof Knife isn’t overly loud – none of the goats showed any concern when it was switched on. The vibration is minimal and none of the goats behaved any differently than when I trim with traditional tools. I did experience some hand fatigue from holding it, but that disappeared shortly after taking a break, unlike the lingering pain in the wrist that comes from using pruning shears.

It is recommended that you clean it after every couple of trims. I found that tapping it against the side of the stand gently knocked free a lot of dust, and the rest could be brushed off with my hoof pick brush. And when they say it creates dust, it certainly dust!

On the whole, I really like it. While expensive, the tool appears very well made – although we’ll see if it holds up to near constant use! If I desire, I can purchase the horse discs from their store and use the same tool to trim my horses’ hooves. It does a great job and does it quickly, with minimal strain to my hands and wrists.

I can easily see myself purchasing one of these for my personal use when the time comes, both for my goats and for my ponies.

UPDATE September 4th 2014:

We’ve now had the EHK for many months now, and I have no major complaints. It has enabled me to correct improperly growing hooves in several goats. It’s easier to get in between their hooves and on the edges than it would be with traditional trimmers. We’ve used it quite heavily – with almost two hundred goats, hoof trimming is a constant chore.

I continue to recommend this tool and have shown it off during our Dairy Day events and spent much time answering questions about it. One of the biggest questions is about the amount of heat it puts on the hoof. So far I’ve not noticed anything more than a little warmth on the hoof, even on long sessions when I am working to correct a poorly grown and shaped hoof.

We have also used the EHK to cut through and remove scurs that were growing dangerously near the goats’ heads, as well as notch horns for the banding process. We almost exclusively use the “coarse” disc at this point.

 

UPDATE August 20th 2015:

I have now been using this tool for a long time and continue to recommend it to my friends and fellow goat keepers. I have had no issues with it, and it has enabled me to improve a lot of the feet around here.