Thursday, March 4, 2010

Estrus Irregularities

I've been studying my goats and particuliarly Leta. She is quickly growing more round, definitely pregnancy. I fed her some beet pulp yesterday and when her head was down her belly was accentuated. A major shifting accured to the right, leaving her very lopsided and we know that tummies don't do that without help. End of April possibly beginning of May I figure for a due date but I'll have to look up her breeding dates to get a more accurate time table. And since I've been breeding her since Novemeber it puts a big question mark into the due date. She needs to start making some bag if it is going to be April but we'll see.
As for Pudge, I'm not sure. I'm leaning toward her being pregnant since she is a grouch about hopping on the milk stand and she is pudgier than normal. Chicory on the other hand is due to come in estrus today if she isn't pregnant. On th last possible estrus cycle we left for my mom's birthday party and so she could have cycled later that day or the next but she wasn't cycling when we drove off.

I took chicory over to the buck's fence across the way yesterday since I didn't want to misread that she was coming into heat. Time is of essence to get her settled. Nothing, they weren't interested in each other and Chicory didn't even wag her tail once. I'll do the same thing twice today and tomorrow to make sure. The young buck is much smaller than her in size being only just barely a year old and so whether she was covered properly is in question.

This whole goat estrus mess up has given me great pause to think. After Linda's comment that it could be copper that was causing the estrus cycle mess ups and sulfer that was causing Leta to creak in the knees I've been watching them closely and thinking. But I haven't had the opportunity to do any serious reasearch. I was having one of my not so good health days yesterday and so I had some down time and I spent it on the Internet looking for the symptoms of the lack of copper.

In adult goats they have a poor appetite, weight loss, diminished milk production, and sometimes diarrhea. A paler rough hair coat is often the most visible sign of lack of copper but how much paler can you get than white? That symptom was only going to do me any good if it happened with Chicory, the black Nubian. If you look at the picture you can see that a pale rough coat is hardly Chicory's problem.
Oh no! white around the eyes. Wait, I already have that Leta seems to say.
An inefficiency also causes white circles around the eyes. Well, my goats being white already have white circles around the eyes and all over the body. That wasn't going to help either. The part that caught my attention was that they sometimes have continual estrus cycles, short cycling, coming into heat repeatedly, and have trouble conceiving. That I could relate to. Though I now suspect Leta took the first or second time I took her to the buck, she continued to cycle. It also said that they will have delayed shedding of their hair coat but the animals are just now showing hints of loosing their winter hair so that symptom isn't much help yet.

The part that really concerned me was that they retain their placenta and the kids can have hoof deformities, bent legs, immune problems which includes pneumonia, mange, or other fungus type problems, and lice infestations. Now I suspect that Leta is pregnant, I have to get on the move to cure the problem before it is passed on to her kids.

Further study into goat nutrition led me to selinium which also can cause estrus cycling problems. As for the sulfer it did say creaking knees, and Leta's creaking is growing to the squeeky dry hinge stage. Worse than ever before. I figure I'll try to cover all the bases so I ordered some acidfied copper sulfate from the goat supply catalogue and I'm headed over today to pick up my oldest granddaughter so I'll stop by their feed store to survey the mineral salts. I think I'll also bring home a mollases lick tub. You know the kind with lots of mineral good stuff in it. It's suppose to be okay for goats and I figure molasses has sulfer in it. I've also got some good powdered vitamins for animals in the basement that I usually start giving about six weeks before the goat's kid so I'll start that.

Further more research says that older does have a tendency when they grow older to not be able to utilize our food efficiently. That's a no brainer actually since humans do the same thing and I've watched lots of horses, cattle, sheep, and goats grow less thrifty as they age. It just came as surprising wake up call when my dependable does started having trouble. I hadn't noticed how long I'd really had them until they had trouble and I looked up their ages. Chicory, the Nubian, is the new kid on the block being two years old next month and she looks great but my older does are obviously going to need some additional help. She can't help but get in on the program too as I'm not taking any chances with her.

If you're wondering yes, I'm still getting a new goat because I'm sure this will be Leta's last year. She didn't milk real well last year and she has never been as healthy as my other goats. Pudge can still stick around if she changes her attitude and straightens around health wise. Her days are numbered though being ten years old.

As I've thought back what I've done different leading up to the breeding season, the only thing was a change in where I purchased my hay. We had to buy some from a different rancher to fill in until ours was baled and then we spent a while using it up. Different ranch, different soil. I did notice a change in the condition of our goats on it but they were at that time getting grain and being milked. When the hay from our usual hay guy came, I combined the two, to up the goat's conditioning. Obviously I should of just switched and given the other rancher's hay to the beef and horse and not the goats. That new hay might of cost us a bit less but in the end it will cost us more with nutrient supplements and possibly trouble during kidding. It has definitely caused it's share of frustration.

When someone tells you goats can eat anything, they're ignorant. Goat's nutrition is simply different. They can eat things cattle, and horse can't and get by but the same can be said the other way around. My horse and beef did fine on the hay but the goat's lost weight. The neighbor's horses and cattle are eating it and doing fine.

So I'm doing a condition rating on my goats today and Ill let you know how they're doing. I can see Leta is drifting downward and I want to take the time and get my hands on her and really check her out thoroughly. Her protruding belly may be misleading me on the level of her condition. Our children showed goats, beef, sheep, pigs, and poultry at fair for the sixteen years when they were in 4-H or FFA and always did very well. You have to learn about conditioning to stay competative and we were pleased when judges publicly pointed out how well our animals were conditioned. I know what to look for in the different species but how to explain it to you I'm a little iffy on so I found a good explaination at the Washington State University site and I'll go take pictures to assist in my explaination. The conditioning also naturally changes during the different periods of pregnancy and lactation so different levels are exceptable at different times but that's information for another post.

Before I close, I want to say a big thank you to Linda for sending me on a new Internet search and pointing me in the right direction. I've found many blogs in different states that treated their goats routinely for copper insufficiency and one site said Arizona had lots of problems with it. I wouldn't know.

Oh there are other problems in this area of the country but copper difficiency I havent heard about. Selinium on the other hand is a Golilocks mix of too high, too low, and just right depending on what plot of land your referring to around the county. Earl, an old rancher use to say that if you have stock you'll never quit learning. He had been telling me about the year an unsettling number of his lambs were cyclomped, one eye in the middle of their head. It was traced back to a new kind of weed growing in abundance in the pasture. Wish I could remember what it was. Other years it would be something else that he'd never dealt with before and so it goes if you raise livestock you had better love learning.

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