Goat Diaries, Part 4


Emily Houdyshell, Writer

This week’s article was meant to be an article about new baby goats. Unfortunately, the mother that was due a week ago still hasn’t had her kids, which is very disappointing. So instead of that, this article is going to be about a different baby goat that we bought when we still lived in Iowa.

We used to go to a lot of animal auctions when we lived in Iowa, and more often than not we would come home with a new goat. This time around, we brought home four baby goats who were about a week old. They were so young that they were kept inside the house and they were bottle-fed about every six hours. But the bad thing about auctions is that they can put a lot of stress on young animals, which makes them more susceptible to diseases.

About a month and a half after we got the kids, three of the four of them had died from a combination of allergies from the auction and Clostridia, an overeating disease. The fourth one was named Dotty, and she was in bad enough condition that we were sure we were going to lose her, too.

Right around that time, my mother had gone out to the pasture and discovered that one of our young does, Viola, had been bred without us realizing it. It really worried us because she was too young to have kids safely, and we had planned on waiting another year before breeding her. About a week later, my mother went outside to check on the goats and found Viola in the barn with a stillborn kid.

Viola was brought inside so that we could check on her, and my mother wanted to milk her to save some of the colostrum. Colostrum is milk that the does produce right after giving birth. It is the first milk that the kid will drink, and so it contains a lot of good antibodies and nutrition.

We realized very quickly that we could give some of the colostrum to Dotty. It was hard to tell whether or not it would help her, but we tried anyway. It was a good thing we did, too. As soon as we ran out of colostrum, we started milking Viola so that we could stop feeding Dotty with milk replacer and start using the real thing. It only took about a week before Dotty started finally getting better.

Eventually, we were able to show Dotty how to nurse straight off of Viola. It took a while for the two to get used to each other, but once they did, they stayed bonded for the rest of the time we owned them. It was really lucky that the timing had worked out just perfect, making all of this actually possible. They ended up sort of saving each other, and seeing them together always made all of us happier.