With another winter storm headed our way with two to four inches of snow expected, most Missourians are probably wondering if spring will ever come. At Goatsbeard Farm, we know spring is near because kidding season has begun. On Tuesday, February 26, one of our two-year-old goats, Ras el Hanout, opened the kidding season right on time with twins, one male and one female. By Thursday morning, we already had 10 kids!
We have 40 mature goats and 10 yearlings. On average, each goat will have two kids. That means we expect about 80 kids over the next two months, with 15 -20 more a little later in the season (the yearlings are bred later and kid later, to give them more time to grow up before they get to work).
Kidding season is both a lot of fun and a lot of work. Jenn or another ‘goathand’ check the goats several times a day and assist deliveries when necessary—which isn’t often. Each new kid is given a temporary collar with the name of the mom and the sex of the kid and these details are recorded for future reference. We use newspapers and towels to dry the kids off, and make sure they figure out their first drink. The moms naturally lick the kids to clean and dry them, but we like to help the process along, especially in the cold weather.
Meanwhile all the regular chores need to be completed. During the winter, the goats get grained once a day. We send them through the milking parlor in groups of eight so they can eat their grain and we can check on their health. Any new moms are usually penned up with their kids in a cozy corner to keep other goats from pestering them, so they have time to bond, and don’t have to make the trip to the milking parlor. We make sure each of the new moms has some hay and water and bring her some grain, too. We wait to see that each kid gets up and gets its first drink, and make sure the older kids look healthy and are able to nurse too.
If you find yourself frustrated with the lingering winter weather, just be glad that you are neither giving birth nor being born with only an unheated barn for shelter and hay for a bed. And trust that spring is coming and with it will be a growing herd of cantankerous and adorable new goats.
About the Author
Maggie Maginness worked at Goatsbeard Farm as a morning milker and general ‘goathand’ for about a year and a half. When Jenn asked her if she wanted to milk in 2019, she gave it a lot of thought and finally answered, my heart says, yes, but my body says, no. She was thrilled when Jenn asked her if she would write for the blog and website instead. With a background in biology, education and journalism and a love of animals in general and goats in particular, Maggie thinks the only thing better than taking care of goats a couple times a week is writing about them.