In April, we had three goat kids born. Adi had two baby girls (does) and Alex had a little boy (buckling). Though the weather was cold for Adi's birth, all went well. You can read about Adi's birth here.
Alex kidded about a week or so later. She had her baby in the middle of the night, so I came out at 2 am to find her licking off the cutest brown buckling ever. It was warm that night, so with few interventions I let her do her thing and went back to sleep.
During the next day, however, I noticed that the kid was not sucking from one half of her udder. I tried milking out the teat, and got nothing. Examining the end of it, I couldn't find a hole for the milk to come out. When I squeezed rather hard, a few drops of milk came out- but they came out the side! I thought perhaps if I gave it a little time, the buckling would work on it and get the milk to come out. As the hours passed though, he was still not sucking and that side of the udder was getting huge. I knew that mastitis could be a problem- goodness, maybe it was already a problem- so the next morning we decided to have the vet out. I am all for DIYing things, but clearly the goat needed some help that I couldn't give.
I was a little nervous about the vet coming out. What if I was doing something drastically wrong with my goats? What if it was too dirty in the kidding pen? What if I had been feeding the wrong thing or something? My fears were unfounded though. The vet was a very sweet (and very pregnant!) lady who had worked on a goat farm and had a lot of experience with goats. She looked at the end of the teat and also concluded that it couldn't be milked out of. "Hmm..." the vet pondered a moment before giving her answer. "She has what's called a 'blind' half. Unfortunately this side of her udder can't be milked, so the body will reabsorb what's in there now, and from here on out it will be permanently dry."
So, if Alex ever has more than one kid, the others will have to be bottle-raised. The vet told me to check her temperature to watch for fever (a sign of mastitis), and she also gave me shots to give Alex under the skin for the next three days, as a preventative measure. She showed me how to give the shots in the neck, which was a huge confidence-booster for me. It's probably not something I would have tried without someone there to show me. She also shared some general goat care information.
So, that was our vet visit. It cost about $45 for the visit, $40 for the checkup, and $10 for the medication. I learned that you can also bring your goat to the vet and save that first $45 (however, Hubs was using the truck the day that she came out so it wouldn't have been possible this first time). Good to know.
Thankfully, all of the kids and both moms are doing great. I love watching the kids jump around and play with each other. When people come over we always have to show them "the kids". Their latest trick is head-butting with the chickens. It's their way of asserting dominance, which is funny because the chickens are all they can be dominant over. :)
In the last couple days, I've started milking Adi in the morning. Right now we are getting almost a quart every day. We separate her and the kids at night, which gives some time for her to produce milk for us. Then after I milk her in the morning, I let the kids out and they all go out to pasture together. The kids follow their mom around less and are becoming more independent. BOY are they growing fast! I try to spend some time every day holding and petting each one so they become friendlier. About the only drawback to dam-raising is that the kids aren't as friendly as bottle-raised kids. But I love how healthy the kids are, and not having to worry about digestive issues, coccidia and other housed-goat problems.
One of our last things to do is separate Barry the buck before we put Adi and Alex back in with the other goats. We've chosen to put Barry and another wether out back, and stake or tether them on pasture. We only have three paddocks right now, so it will be helpful if two of the goats are eating brush out back. I still have research to do on safe staking and tethering, but we did find a little goat shed for the Barry & friend to sleep in at night.
Once again, the chickens are pulling their own weight, plus some. Spring has brought an abundance of eggs. In April I sold 22 dozen, and we kept more than enough small pullet eggs for ourselves. I have yet to clean out the rooster collection (if you know what I mean...). And again, no deaths this month. I couldn't be happier with my chickens!
We didn't buy any feed in April, for chickens or goats. I did find myself scraping the bottom of the barrel though, and for the last few days I resorted to shelling corn that I gleaned last year. May will definitely have some feed costs.
Total income: $44.00
ADGA Registration (farm name & membership)- $50.00
Tattoo kit & dehorner- $122.90 ($32 for the tattoo kit, $79 for the dehorner, plus shipping)
Cattle panels- $60.07
Vet visit- $94.88
Bottle nipples- $10.90 (These were out of stock EVERYWHERE, so we just ordered them online. I'd highly recommend buying them out of season so you don't have to pay the shipping charge.)
The Goatkeeper's Veterinary Book- $4.71
Total expenses: $343.46
Net profit: ($299.46)
Honestly, I don't expect our expenses to ever be this high again. The book, bottle nipples, cattle panels, dehorner and tattoo gun were all one-time purchases, as was part of my ADGA costs. The vet visit was kind of random (genetic disorder... seriously?), plus in the future I will probably take the goats IN to the vets, thus cutting any vet bills in half.
I will have to factor in a $20 ADGA membership renewal for next year, as well as $10 each for any doelings born that I want to register. If I have one $50 vet visit per kidding season (unlikely, but just to be safe), I'll still come out ahead by selling the kids.
Goats About to Break Even
This month I'll start advertising my little doelings. The going rate for registered Nigerian Dwarf doelings seems to be anywhere from $250 to $500 each. I will probably sell mine for around $350 each. I'll also put Buffy (the boy) up for sale for $50-$100. If all goes well, selling the kids will cover ALL goat costs for the entire year ($224 feed, $300 April one-time costs, plus $226-$276 wiggle room). This means FREE milk for me, and no pressure to sell fiber or soaps right away.
Ultimately, this is what my little hobby farm is all about: free food, plus a little extra money to play around with. I am loving my goat/chicken/garden/orchard mix, and don't have plans to buy more animals... for the time being. ;)