Friday, December 30, 2011

Testing Your Goat For Pregnancy

How to Tell if My Goat is Pregnant
Barrel sized waistline on Brownie
Oh gosh, it would be so nice if you could just have your doe pee on a stick, wait a few moments and you would know if she was with kid. It's never that easy is it? First of all, there is not a goat-pregnancy-test-strip, and even if there were, I don't know even one single goat who will pee on command.

Then how can I tell? 
1. Draw a blood sample and send it to a lab for verification (about $20).
2. Take your goat to your vet, your vet will use a Ultra Sound machine (about $110).
3. Buy your own Ultra Sound machine (about $4,500).

Well how did they know in the old days, before the fancy testing?
Enlarged Udder
In the good old days and even today on thousands of goat herds around the world visual signs let you know if your goat is pregnant. Some of the signs take a little practice and experience but the others are very obvious.
A. If your doe does not go back into heat after being bred, that is a good sign that she is pregnant!
Ligaments on either side of the tail.
B. Your doe's waist line should inflate after 3-4 weeks of becoming pregnant. That is normally the case. I had a sister-in-law who gave birth to my nephew one day, out of the clear blue sky, we never knew she was pregnant; that was because she was a significantly large person to begin with.
C. Watching and touching the Pelvic Ligaments. As the actual delivery date gets closer, these ligaments get loser. Start feeling now so you know what tight ligaments feel like, when they loosen, you'll know.
D. Udder development will begin after 2 or 3 months of being bred. The continuous enlargement of the udder is a good sign.

You may be interested in reading more on this topic, take a look at these:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

YouTube - Milking Goats

New YouTube Record
This is one of the most viewed goat milking YouTube videos on the net. Neighbors Joyce and Jack just hit the 20,000 viewers mark. I am sure it is their  fine performance that did it. Thanks friends, you are great neighbors and I really appreciate you coming to milk when the Henry's are gone for a weekend! If you have not seen this video, it's worth a 1 minute look. 
kids milking goats teach a kid to milk kids learn to milk goats

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Goats Love Pumpkins, Squash and Melons

Rachel's goats chowing down on left over pumpkins.
Don't throw it, feed it! 
There are many great reasons for raising goats, one of my favorite reasons is because I can recycle so much food that would otherwise be dumped. We keep a large plastic container in our kitchen where all of our scraps (no egg shells) are saved for daily delivery to the goats.

Great Supplement
Left over melons, squash and pumpkins make a great supplement to any goat's daily diet. Like with any other feed item, they will stop eating when full.

Rachel's son Josh milking
A Great Source For Free Stuff
Kansas goat owner, Rachel Ducote, says, "after Thanksgiving many pumpkins are forgotten on front porches.  I asked our neighbors for them and received lots of free pumpkins and squash. They make a great treat! Milk production went up!"

You may be interested in reading more on this topic, take a look at these: 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Goat Training and Tricks

Teach Your Goat a Lesson
It's Fun and Very Useful
There are many reasons for you to teach your goat a trick or 2 and to lay the foundation for a simple method of communications between you and your goat. It is not too difficult to teach your goat to come to the milk stand and return to their pen. 
Other Tricks
With some persistence, understanding and a bunch of goat treats, it's possible to teach your goat almost anything. To dance, jump through a hoop or walk a tight rope with a monkey on it's back. 

Basic Rules
1. Start with young goats.
2. Old goats can also learn.
3. Be consistent.
4. Be firm never angry.
5. Use plenty of treats.

For specific instruction and  the best guidance around about training goats, I invite you to visit our friends at Working Goats. Their methods and philosophy of training are kind, loving and with great joy. Please visit their website.

You may be interested in reading more on this topic, take a look at these:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Make Your Own Goat Treats

It's Easy, Fun and Good For Your Goats
There are not too many goat treats out there for sale. When I go to the feed store, there are shelves and shelves of dog and horse treats, seldom can you find goat treats. I like to reward my goats after milking and always use these goat treats.

Goats Love Sugar
Much research has been done on dairy goats and sugar. Milk production has been found to increase after a ration change that included sugar, molasses, sugar cane or sugar beets.

Phoebe's Recipe 
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 cup cracked corn
1 teaspoon baking soda 

Cooking Instructions 
Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside.
In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in cracked corn. Set candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees C)
Remove from heat; immediately stir in baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. With 2 forks, lift and pull mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches; cool. Snap Goat treats into pieces.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Delivery of Baby Goats

What do I do? My doe is expecting!
There is nothing more exciting than the birthing of baby goats.You don't have to wait for them to learn to walk or to open their eyes like other babies, they are instant pets.
Three Weeks Before Delivery
We always treat our expectant does to 3 weeks in an individual stall with lots of clean straw and a nice place to relax.
The Day of Delivery
It's simple and fun. Be there if you can but remember goats have been doing this for a long time without us humans. On occasion, the mom might need you. Sometimes a baby might need you.
1. Some old but clean towels (great for folding babies)
2. Paper towels and warm water (always lots to clean)
3. Have a camera handy.
After It's Over 
Babies should not be around anyone else but mom (and you, your OK). No dad, aunt, cousin or friend. The baby goat(s) should have complete access to their mom and mom's food. The kids will soon take to the roughage and concentrate you feed to the doe. 
You may be interested in reading more on this topic, take a look at these: 

How Early Can I Breed My Doeling ?

Normally, goats can be bred at 8 months.
1. Goats are sexually active and fertile at a very young age.
2. Some say they become active as early as 8 weeks.
3. Unless breeding is desired, goats at 8 weeks old and older should not be kept together.
4. Item 3 above includes sister and brothers, mom and son!
Some other information you may need:
1. Does have a fertility cycle of between 18 and 21 days
2. Goats have a gestation period of 150 days. 
You may be interested in reading more on this topic, take a look at these:
Delivery of Baby Goats 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Goats Need To Climb

Welcoming Committee
When you visit the Red Fence Farm in Palmer, Alaska you need to abide by the signs. When the sign reads "No Parking Here" it usually means you probably ought not park in that spot. 

 Bedding Down For The Evening
Our goats roam free on the farm during the summer and love nothing more than to climb on your nice car. With properly trimmed hooves, they usually do not leave deep scratches in your paint job.

How Often To Milk My Goat?

Cy milks a Nigerian Dwarf
Goats should be milked twice each day. Milking every 12 hours insures the greatest production of milk and is best for your goat's udder health. Many backyard goat owners cannot commit to milking every 12 hours or are not interested in a large quantity of milk so they allow the kid(s) to continue to nurse part-time and only milking once each day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Henry Milker Pumps

Some folks get excited about money, fast cars or  a big fancy house. Not me, I get excited about a new shipment of pumps fresh off the plane at FedEx in Anchorage . It's a custom pump designed especially for the Henry Milker. One thousand pumps arrived. A fork lift loaded this crate onto my truck......very smart. Since I do not personally own a fork lift the pumps were unloaded 1 at a time once I got home.......not very smart.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goats in the House

Why Must They Visit?
Our goats have the best livestock barn and milking parlor that money can buy. They enjoy a pasture that is second to none and a play area that is the best a goat has ever known. We are fortunate enough to have 5 acres for our animals to roam with an option to visit my neighbor's 5 acres. Our goats say they need more, they would like to come inside the human home, visit my daughter and help her text her friends?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free Henry Milker Give Away

Happy Birthday Henry Milker BLOG
It has been 1 year to the date since I wrote the very first "Welcome to the Henry Milker Blog" post. Thank you to all of my readers. You have logged into the Henry Milker Blog and accumulated 15,897 page views in the first year. That's not bad for an Ol' farmer who can barely spell barley.

Free Henry Milker
I'm so excited about making it to the "paper anniversary" that I want to give something away. I don't have much so I'll just give away a Henry Milker. It will include the 1 year warranty and free shipping (even to my international friends).

How To Enter
It's simple. Just add a comment at the end of this posting.
1. You may enter only once.
2. Leave your e-mail in case you win.
3. Everyone in your family can enter once.
4. Your neighbors, friends, co-workers can enter once.

How do you Win

On Halloween night, at midnight, I'll put all of the entries into an empty mayonnaise jar and walk across the field to Bubba's house and ask him to draw the winner. I'll post the winner here and email the lucky person right away.

And the winner is..........What fun, we had 26 entries and lots of great comments. As soon as I can get a reply and a shipping address from anonymous below I'll pay-up and send a Henry Milker. Maybe anonymous will give a name and take a photo of the new Henry Milker in action.
Anonymous said...Congulations on 1 year blogging! Great Contest giveway a Henry Milker. On Our family farm with goats, pigs, donkeys, horses, and cows many times we could have used a Henry Milker! Always bottle feeding as needed, WOW! a Henry Milker would save me time and money. No more over priced powdered milk replacers!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Keeping Goats in the City

Raising Dairy Goats In The City

Do you have what it takes to raise dairy goats in your backyard? I bet that you do and I would like to get you started on raising your own healthy goats and producing all of the goat milk and cheese right in the city.

Check to see if goats are OK. Many major metropolitan areas have recently passed new city laws to allow for the raising of goats. Just call your city office and ask.

Enough space in your backyard? You will need a fenced area that is about 20 by 20 feet. This area will need to include a dry place for your goat(s) to eat and sleep. An area in the pen that is protected from rain and snow for feed will be also necessary.

For more information on raising goats:
Selecting the Breed
Feeding Hay
Goat Barn
Goat Care
Life Span
Milking Stand
Trimming Hooves

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Buying a Dairy Goat - Part 1

10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Dairy Goat

Considerations for you to ponder before becoming a dairy goat owner.
  1. What is the life span of the goat you are about to purchase.
  2. Who will milk your goat when you're gone for a weekend?
  3. What breed or size of goat should I purchase?
  4. What type of goat enclosure will be required?
  5. What plan do you have for feeding schedules & feeders?
  6. Do you have access to quality roughage - hay?
  7. What can you provide for a shelter from the elements?
  8. Do you have a milking stand?
  9. What will you use for a fresh water supply?
  10. What equipment will you use to milk your goat?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heated Water Bucket - How to Build

Beat The Freeze In Your Bucket

I could have done what I do every Fall and go to the feed store to buy heated buckets and all sorts of commercial heating devices "ready made". After spending several hundred dollars in the past years for anti-ice, frost free, sinking, floating and a whole variety of other commercial devices for keeping water a liquid and not a solid for our 5 horses, 8 goats and 23 chickens I just had to try to build my own heated water buckets. 
Most of my readers know that I often try to save a dollar when I get a chance. After searching a bit I found a very inexpensive heating element used to warm an auto engine block, a "plug-in freeze plug heater". It looked to be just right for our Alaskan winters, many sub zero days. I already had the buckets,I just needed to add the heat. A tight fit hole-cut in the bottom of the bucket, a water tight seal and I was well on my way to warm water for my animals all winter long. There are some cautions in building your own.The first is, do not plug this thing in with no water in the bucket, it will melt right through. The second is, you will need to plug this device into a time clock or thermostat or it will actually boil the water. I put 4 water buckets on 1 electrical system and plugged it all into a timer to save energy and to keep the water temperature at the optimum.

Other shorts you may enjoy: 
How To Build a Hanging Hay Feeder
Don't dump your livestock tank heater
Goat Water System
How to Build a Milking Stand
My goat is getting shocked at the trough

Friday, September 16, 2011

How Can I Tell If My Goat Is In Heat?

Our goats start coming in heat when the sunlight gets shorter in the fall. In Alaska, we are loosing over 5 minutes of sunlight each day (September) and all four of the Red Fence Farm does are showing signs of being in heat. The doe will act and sound different than normal when in heat. The constant bleating and the wagging of the tail (flagging) are the most dramatic signs of being in heat. In addition, their milk production slows and their appetite wanes.   When a doe in heat gets close to a buck, she will also stand close to the fence nearest the buck and not move. Take a look at one of the Red Fence Farm Nigerian Dwarf does in heat.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Buying a Goat For Milk

Raising Milk Goats
There are a multitude of considerations that need to be taken into account before selecting the very best milk goat for yourself. I will assume that you are not reading this article because you are interested in starting a goat dairy or any sort of a major milk producing endeavor. I am also guessing that you are interested in a goat for your backyard or maybe a small herd of goats. The good news is that the choice of breed is purely a personal one. Past experiences indicate that the breed of goat a person starts with will end up being your favorite. Having said that, I have to admit that I have switched breeds. I was initially hooked on the Alpine, I still have Millie that is too old to breed or milk but she is a wonderful part of our Red Fence Farm. I have switched to the Nigerian Dwarf breed and am very happy. The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat of West African origin. Dwarf goats are gentle and lovable and they breed year round. Kidding is always an exciting time; the babies are truly cute and cuddly. They weigh about 2 pounds at birth but grow quickly. Dwarf does can have several kids at a time, 3 and 4 being common. They can also provide a surprising amount of milk for their size. Among the dairy breeds, Nigerian Dwarf goat milk has the highest levels of butterfat, making it so creamy that it’s often preferred over cow’s milk. Nigerian Dwarf milk has about 10% butterfat, as opposed to about 6% for other breeds. Since butterfat is what gives milk its sweet flavor; it’s the sweetest, richest milk of all the dairy breeds. 

Other shorts you may enjoy:
Does Your Goat Milk Taste Like Your Goat? 
How to make Goat Cheese? 
The Henry Milker: How Does Goat Milk Taste
Buying a Goat For Milk
More breeds of dairy goats, take a look.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goats Grazing

Goats have a long standing reputation of being able to eat things that most animals will not touch. This makes goats one of the very best natural weed trimmers and bush whackers around. Goats are often referred to as "little cows" that eat what cows will not. Goats will walk through succulent green grass and go eat the weeds. Goats raised for meat are much better suited for grazing and clearing land than are the dairy breeds.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goat Water System

I believe I have used almost every type of container there is to provide my goats with fresh, clean water on a consistent basis. I now use hook-over buckets. I have placed the containers in the corner of the pen, at the far end, I have even hung them from trees with a rope. None of those worked to my satisfaction. Goats can make a mess of their water really fast. I caught my big buck grabbing a mouth full of hay and soaking it in the water. After it moistened to his liking he would then remove it (most of it) and eat it. What a mess. I now have all of the goat water containers on the outside of their pen. I am able to clean and fill very easy now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How to Dehorn Goats

Removing Scurs From Goats

This particular job is not a one-person event so I called on David Quilinderino to provide some muscle. One of the toughest jobs on our farm is "horn duty". I do not like disbudding baby goats, nor do I like removing horns that were left to grow naturally on older goats and I most dislike removing scurs from goats. Scurs are not full horns but partial horn growth. They usually occur when a part of the horn bud remained after disbudding the goat as a baby. It happens all of the time and is a normal chore if your raise goats. Scurs tend to curl as they grow, usually headed toward the goat’s skull. It’s important to keep scurs trimmed on a regular basis, they can become uncomfortable for the goat and dangerous if left to grow without trimming. Making sure the goat is held steady is necessary when working on the head of the goat. A milking stand works very nice for this purpose and helps the goat feel most secure. There are a variety of tools one can use to remove the scur. I normally use a wire saw so I can accomplish the cutting by pulling instead of using a saw that cuts by pushing. I have heard of an electric dremel tool being used. I am sure it can be a real time-saver but I am not confident enough in my ability to hold the goat's head still to use a power tool. On this goat, a hacksaw was used on Mattie's scurs. Mattie is a Nigerian Dwarf, 6 year old buck and dreads scur removal as much as I do. Just a little blood, a few goat screams and it was all over.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Keeping Goats For Pets

Just Get One
If you are considering a goat as a pet, you have a friend in me. Don't just dream of it, don't over plan, please don't over think it, just go get one or better, get two goats. Much is written about the milk production of goats or their ability to keep your backyard free of brush. Little is said about the absolute joy of raising goats for fun. I do enjoy the milk, cheese, butter and soaps I get from my goats and I love the fact that they keep my backyard mowed for me but I must admit that I most like just having them around.We have a little farm in Palmer, Alaska. When we have visitors, the goats become the instant magnet. There are chickens, horses, ponies, bunnies and cute little puppies but the goats are always the number one attraction. I cannot remember going to a petting zoo without seeing at least a couple of goats. People love goats. There are many breeds of goats to select from but my personal favorite is the Nigerian Dwarf as a pet. They are curious and their friendly nature make them wonderful companions. Goats are herd animals so I really could not recommend having only one lonely animal; a pair of goats is always a better idea. Their care is not complicated; fresh water, some roughage (usually hay or grazing in your backyard) and some sort of grain (I use cracked corn mixed with rolled barley). If you are interested in more information please visit these Henry Milker blog posts:
Feeding Hay
Goat Barn
Goat Care
Life Span
Milking Stand
Trimming Hooves

Monday, August 8, 2011

Goat Milk For Wildlife - Even Kangaroos

We have new friends in Queensland, Australia. They wanted a little assistance in getting a Henry Milker. It started with a short email, "Dear sir I am a wildlife carer and we have a goat we use the milk for feeding our 17 baby possums in care at the moment. We care for many wild animals that need our assistance. We are members with the wildlife group and also with the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) . We care for everything from frogs, lizards, birds and kangaroos. We are on call 24 hours a day everyday of the week everyday of the year." Across Australia, RSPCA shelters receive more than 144,000 animals every year. While a large proportion of these animals are cats and dogs, RSPCA shelters also offer sanctuary to horses, livestock and a wide range of wild and native animals. Red Fence Farm donated a Henry Milker to Denis and Kristy. When they learned of the donation, they quickly replied "We have 2 new possums that have come into care today and call one Mike and the other one Henry (after a very special person) We can not thank you enough for you generosity we are so overwhelmed by it ."

How to Build a Goat Milking Stand - The Henry Milker

One of the most common concerns from new goat owners has to do with the goat milking stand. I have milked goats while they stood on the ground, or on a bale of hay or while standing comfortably on the "Henry Milker" milk stand. The stand is easy to build. I have released detailed, professionally designed  plans and photos at a very low cost so everyone can build a goat stanchion that will allow for the best chance of goat happiness and easy milking with the Henry Milker.       CLICK HERE TO SEE PLANS

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What is the Life Expectancy of a Goat?

Goats can live to be about 10 to 12 years old. Some goats live much longer. I knew of a goat to live to 20 years old, now that's an old goat. The old goat belonged to my neighbor. Most does will live longer than the bucks usually because they receive better care. Pictured is a 9 year old, Missy, from New Zealand. She just delivered 4 beautiful kids.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Henry Milker Makeover

New Lids Top Off the Milker

I will admit, it doesn't take much to get the Henry family excited out on the Red Fence Farm in Palmer, Alaska but have to tell you, the excitement level was running above normal when the brand new Henry Milker lids arrived today! Over 1 year of discussions, design, prototype development, finding an engineer, a mold maker and a manufacturer. The very first milkers were shipped out today with the new plastic lids.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How Does Goat Milk Taste

Guest Author - AK Ben
Is Goat Milk Better Than Cow Milk?
I had the opportunity to visit the Henrys' Red Fence Farm in Palmer, Alaska. I've heard so much about Phoebe and Lindsay and their horses, and Mike about his goats that I had to make the trip and see it all for myself. I'm on vacation from another country. I am not a farm boy and wanted to know as much as possible about the 5 acre operation at the little farm and most importantly, I wanted to discover how the fresh milk tastes directly from the goat. It is a common misconception that goat milk tastes bad. People believe that it tastes "like a old billy-goat." To my very pleasant surprise, this is not true. If goats are properly fed and the milk is handled and stored well, there will not be an off-taste. Mike says, "milking into a closed system, like with the Henry Milker, prevents the milk from becoming tainted with all sorts of outside elements and debri during the milking process." When folks first taste fresh, clean goat milk they are expecting it to taste different, but to their surprise it tastes just like cow milk, only better.I recommend it! AK Ben

Other shorts you may enjoy:
Does Your Goat Milk Taste Like Your Goat? 
How to make Goat Cheese?