Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kidding at One Year Of Age

 Frequently, goat owners tell me they don't breed their does until they are one and a half years of age because they want them to gain their full size. Yet, they also tell me, "Wow, your does are as big as mine or larger at the same age." This is said when they are young and after they have kidded at one years of age.
Do I push grain to get them to grow? No, my two doelings in a pen, one nine weeks old and the other 3 months old are just getting a pint a piece of a grain mixture once a day. Their grain is an odd combination of sunflower seeds, beet pulp, COB, goat chow, and wheat screenings. Along with a modest amount of grain, they get all the orchard grass/alfalfa mixed hay they can eat. Just as variety is not only the spice of life but a variety of foods is essential to a healthy human diet. So too it is for animals. A broad mixture of foods helps insure that the animal can gleam a broader spectrum and of nutrients along with each food being higher in one vitamin or mineral than another.

Goat owners can't site the fact that my kids are growthy because I wean late for my kids are wean at two months of age, if they are ready. Florence, a triplet, on our three year old doe, Chicory, was and Meagan, a single, on a yearling doe was not. Size had nothing to do with it for they are both growthy. Meagan was still nursing quite a bit off her mom and so I placed her with Florence in a pen next to her mom. I have been letting her mom, Contessa, in twice a day to nurse Meagan and as I'm now seeing her mother push her away more and more and Meagan not need her mom as much, I'll begin to let Contessa in once a day and then eventually as warranted, none. 

Compare in the picture above mother and daughter. The doe on the left is Chicory and she is three. The doe on the right is her daughter Contessa and she is one years old.
Contessa had a single her first year just like her mother did. Chicory has gone on to have triplets the last two years. I'll admit that I back off the grain just a few weeks before I breed the doelings to drop their nutrition level a little in order to encourage a single kid. All my does go on to have after the first year, twins or triplets. A few even twin the first year but I'd rather they didn't. Both yearlings this year had singles.

Looking at the shiny healthy coat, you'd have to admit nutritionally, kidding didn't hurt Contessa one bit. So if you were to ask me why I kid at one year of age. I'd have to say because of my feed program which includes a vitamin and mineral supplement, and a copper supplement three times a year, I don't see a difference in waiting the extra year to gain more growth.

Also I don't want to wait another year with a disc bulging every other one down my back along with being over fifty years of age, I'd much rather wrangle a one year old doe onto the milking stand her first few weeks of training than a hefty two year old.

I gain financially as I have a kid to sell in the first year and I have milk. I also suspect that my does milk more when they are two years of age than a doe who didn't not kid their first year.

If my goats were raised exclusively on pasture, I'd most likely wait until they were one and a half years of age to breed, depending on their size. Then again, I wouldn't have the amount of money invested in them like I do in my situation.

So dairy goat owners, are you one of those who waits until their dairy goats are one and a half for breeding or are you in the same corral as I am? If so why? You might just change my mind.

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