We have experimented with different feeders trying to minimize that expensive hay waste. While some people do use key hole feeders where the goats stick their head in a box essentially, these are the best design to minimize waste. However we have read that is a dangerous design for the goats since they are not able to see around them if another goat has plans to ram them and can cause serious injury. In the first picture in our main barn you can see a metal wall hung feeder. These are great because they do have an open tub at the bottom to catch the dropped hay however these can be very expensive to buy especially if you need a lot of feed space. In the last picture we made some alterations in our hall. You can see on the left side 4 spaces that we used field fencing which is very flexible. This has been working great :D you can pack the hay down and they nibble around the squares and the hay also adds some insulating value to the walls. We originally had some old tires on the wall with a thick dowel rod down the middle to hold a flake of hay in but this was wasting a ton of hay. Were pretty happy with the new design and it's high enough so they wont poo in it. The goats sure do keep us trying new things.
Coyotes broke our electric fence last night in three different places. They are always leaving us signs that they are lurking out there in the dark with tracks and occasional poo piles. We have seen them out there on a few occasions. Thankfully all are kids are secure and we haven't lost any animals to predators all this time. Luckily we don't seem to have foxes in the area. They are the smart and crafty ones you have to worry about. It's so very pretty outside at night seeing every star in the sky but you still wonder in the dark what is out there looking at you. Luckily I check the fence everyday by grabbing the top wire before letting the goats out since it is such a huge area I want to make sure it's not shorted out by tumble weeds and our goats don't end up at the neighbors house dancing on their car. I really need to get a fence tester before I lobotomize myself over time. It's not the preferred method of making sure things work. :p
Our leghorn named "Legs" (We didn't think hard on that name :p) Caught on the voyeur cam laying her egg. She's one of out most dramatic chickens with the heavy breathing and noises however she is one of our smallest birds and lays the biggest eggs so I understand it must not feel to good to give birth everyday. At first I wasn't going to post it because the novelty has become routine for us but I figured not everyone gets to see them in action. The protective wet bloom only takes seconds to dry and usually the hen doesn't make a run for it after laying the egg but "Legs" has always been neurotic and doesn't trust us even after a year of getting spoiled.
Mary Sue at Dewmar Acres has been the best friend to have to help us on our learning journey. There is just so much to learn about raising goats. If you rely on the internet you can't find an exact treatment for anything. Everybody does things differently so we tend to trust her 30 years of experience. Every time we spend time with her we learn something new. While the ladies were doing the pregnancy testing I was shuffling goats in and out, taking pictures and fixing a fence for Mary Sue. I thought I would post some pictures of some of her wonderful animals. She has some pigs and a bull that are ready for processing. They've been raised on goat milk, produce and grass so if you have a big freezer and would like a share of the meat, please email us your phone number and we will pass it on to her to work out a processing plan. I got permission for the photos but I didn't ask about giving her phone number out even though I don't think she would mind.
I wish I had our better camera on hand that takes better video. We let them out into another huge electrified pasture we just finished yesterday but they are a little skittish to go out and this got them acting all fun n crazy. The new barn is still in the works and the free camper our neighbor gave us is going to be re-purposed into an additional shelter for the babies. May have to board some windows up first. We already been gutting the inside to make more room. They shouldn't be using the sink and stove i imagine :p
We just need to get an incubator on the way and were going get our hands dirty in breeding some Rhode Island Reds both for sale and for more egg layers. One of our good friends gave us these two beautiful roosters. We can't wait to get started. In the pictures is "Cowboy" (he has less black) "The Dude" (More black feathers) and our boy "Roo" (aka T-Rex for his looks). He's older than dirt but he does such a good job watching out for the flock. I wish we had some Copper Morans to breed but were going to be on the watch for a new Easter Egger rooster and stick with Rhode Island and Americana's for now.
Is still having the power to make your teenager wear this hat while cleaning the coops as a new form of punishment. At the least it will make me laugh now when he messes up :D He can thank his Grandfather for sending this all the way from a gas station in Washington. This is gonna be fun :D
We had to take one of our newest girls back over to our breeder for a fifth time since she was acting like she was in heat again. This puts her due date to the middle of summer if this was the magic trip. We decided were going to load some of the girls up on Monday for another drive to the breeders. She's having a Vet over to do blood draws for pregnancy tests. We just don't wanna miss that window or we could end up feeding some goats for a year and getting no milk. This is quite the learning experience. You don't even want to know all the stuff we had to get for a birthing kit. I just hope they all do it natural with no problems and we don't have to assist.
If you have free range chickens, this is the time of year for lice and mites. ( Winter... and no worries - they are a poultry and not human strain) Some birds will look perfectly healthy. The best way to look for lice would be by their bum. Mites are harder to see and the best time to see them is in the dark with a flashlight. We use Adams flea and tick plus. It has Precor in it which will kill the eggs as well so there is no need for a second treatment. There is no egg withdraw from Adams (We wait days anyway).
Another option is to treat with Ivermectin. Not sure the dose since there is an egg withdrawal period we try not to use it. Ivermectin even kills worms and it is simply applied to one area below the neck and absorbs through the skin. It's just the price you pay for free range chickens. They can get it from wild birds or any wildlife for that matter.
The only problem with these treatments is that you have to catch and remember witch ones you treated and that can be a pain if you have allot of hens. We place them in a separate yard when they are done. We tried diatomaceous earth in their daily food and I can't say that it really works since we did use it as a preventative.
Here we go again. Were a little low on room for all those babies coming so were making our next, bigger barn. I'm no house building guru but the other two didn't blow down yet ; ) Were planning to make this one with separate stalls. One of our customers has been selling us these great shipping crate panels that work for everything. Between that and deals we landed at farm auctions, the only things we've had to buy new are screws and hinges keeping the cost down. It's a little rough trying to dig poles down into the frozen ground this time of year having to use a pick to get through that layer of frost. The whole area to the left of the metal gate is soon to be an entirely fenced in garden area for the summer. (all free fence panels off craigs list) The electric fence has to be re-routed out to the pasture and the list of work to be done keeps growing. We will post more pictures as it all progresses. It's sure going to be nice to have the extra room. This one is going to have some nice sun roofs we ran across as well. Our first barn didn't have any. After building the small addition off the back of it with one, I definitely see the benefits of that extra light.