I separated one of the pygora goats, Fiona, as well as my Nigerian Dwarf, Adi, into a kidding pen in anticipation of having baby goats.
During the middle of March, my pygora goats got a haircut. Shearing was less complicated than I thought it would be. With the help of a friend, the job was done in a couple hours. We ended up with about five pounds of raw wool.
A few days later, Fiona up and died on me. :(
I have not seen any of the goats in heat lately. If my calculations are right, Alex should be due to kid in the middle of April, and hopefully Robin is due at the end of July. Weird timing, I know... I've had some trouble with her coming into heat again and again, and hopefully this is the end of it. If it turns out that she's not bred, I'll wait until October to try again.
Egg production has been up, thanks to the warm weather. I'm collecting about a dozen eggs every day. This allows me to sell 4-5 dozen each week and still have enough for the two of us to eat. It's optimal!
Thankfully there have been no deaths in the chicken department. However, I've noticed that some of the roosters have been fighting with each other. One of my goals for April is to clean out some of the rooster collection, if you know what I mean, and put them in the freezer where they won't fight so much.
We didn't buy any chicken feed last month (since we buy several bags at a time). However, I know that our chicken cost is about $30.00 per month. The chickens are officially supporting themselves AND turning a small profit!
The goats are another story though, especially this time of year. They are still eating hay and grain, but have not had any kids yet! This means no milk and no money. The goats are still costing me $31.00 per month in feed, and are not yet bringing an income.
Total income: $40.00
Salt block for goats- $5.00
Flea & lice powder- $6.49
Goat feed- $17.59
Fiber processing- $65.00
Total expenses: $94.08
Bottom Line: -$54.08
The Cost of Fiber
One HUGE thing you'll note on my list of expenses is the fiber processing. Last week I sent all of the fiber to Zeilinger's Fiber Mill (in Frankenmuth) to be dehaired. The dehairing process includes cleaning, carding, and all the other stuff done to wool. Unfortunately I could lose half of the weight after processing is done (wool is sold by weight, so less weight = less money for me). If all goes well, though, it will come back to me in "clouds"- little puffs of wool that can be spun into yarn or felted.
The fiber processing was a lot more expensive than I thought. By the time you pay for shipping TO the mill ($10), processing ($65), and gas money to go and pick up the wool ($20), the cost for my fiber is up to $95.00. If I get back 2.5 pounds of finished wool and sell it for $8.00/oz. (the going price on Etsy), theoretically I'll still make a profit of $225, which is more than enough to pay for the goats' keep for a year.
However, currently I have no market for the fiber. As I learn more about spinning and dying, my hope is to find a good market for the wool, but until then the pygora goats will have to be supported by Adi's goat milk soap, the chickens, or farmers market sales (produce & baked goods).
My plan for shearing the goats in the future is to do an autumn and spring shearing, but NOT send the fiber to be processed until I sell the stuff I already have. It doesn't make sense to spend $100 every year processing fiber that I can't sell. Until I sell or use all of my 2016 supply, I will just stockpile the wool each year. The good news is that fiber never goes bad! Plus you get a discount for sending in more lbs. of wool at a time.
If you don't count the cost of fiber processing, pygora goats (like any other goats) are pretty low-cost animals. My monthly cost of keeping a goat is almost $4.00 in the winter (November-March), and $1.50 during April-October; about $32 per year. So in order to break even with the pygoras, I'll have to sell 20 oz. of wool ($160 worth of wool products/goat babies).
If the chickens keep up their current egg production through September, they'll be giving the goats a $10 subsidy each of those months. This would cut my total yearly pygora cost down to just $90. And in all reality, the goats will probably receive subsidies from the garden, my baked goods and Adi as well, until I get the fiber sales thing figured out.
Til next time,