Friday, May 27, 2016
Goat retirement plan
Now that we've been on the homestead for 14 years, every now and then someone will ask what we do with does that are too old to give birth. Some assume they're butchered, which is what eventually happens to all dairy animals in large commercial operations. But with only a couple dozen does, all of our goats have names rather than ID numbers, and we know the individual personality of each one.
In general, the last time that a goat gives birth on our farm is when she's ten years old. After her final kidding, we continue to milk her as long as she'll produce, which has been somewhere between a year and eighteen months for various goats. Then they are simply left to enjoy their remaining years in the pasture. My first goat died at the age of 14. The retired does now consist of Sherri at age 13, Carmen at age 12, Lizzie at age 11 (Carmen's daughter), and Giselle at age 9. And then there's Lil, who is 7 years old and never been bred because she never grew up. She's the size of a 6-month-old, and I never sold her because I was worried that someone would get the hair-brained idea to try to develop teacup goats. So Lil lives here. I should do a blog post about her someday, as she does have a special place.
Giselle was retired after her c-section at age seven. Although goats can give birth again after having a c-section, it was the fourth time that Giselle had had kidding problems. Normally I have a two strikes rule, meaning that the second time a doe needs help during kidding, she's retired. I made excuse after excuse for Giselle through the years because she has long teats and was wonderfully easy to milk. But I'd be a fool to get her pregnant again.
The photo above was taken a few days ago when we moved them to new pasture across the farm where they can enjoy plenty of green grass this summer.