Three-Day Backyard Dairy Goat School
Cost: $375 plus GST per person.
How to Milk a Goat – Hannah learns how to milk a goat. If a 5 year old can do it so can you! Start by washing and drying the teats with warm soapy water. Use a natural soap that won’t dry out the skin of the teats. I use Aurora Farm goat-milk soap! Holding the teat in the crook of your thumb and index finger. You will need to squeeze out the first couple of squirts into a separate bucket to be discarded. I give it to the barn cats or farm dogs. This process is called “striping” and it cleans out the teat from any bacteria that may come from the barn. Now you can get your good milk pail out and get started milking. Don’t forget to use your whole arm and shoulder muscles. If you only milk using your hand muscles, you won’t have enough strength and you could develop painful and permanent damage to your hands and wrists. Keep on milking until there is no milk left. You can gently massage the last few squeezes out. Make sure you take time to observe how the goatling babies nurse from their mothers.
A Gentle and Healthy Herd – It’s a great joy to interact with a herd of goats who are gentle and healthy. Goats love to interact with each other and with people. This social atmosphere is the heart of a good dairy herd. Healthy animals will live longer, reproduce with ease, have less illness and disease and make the very best milk. If you keep your goats horns, you give them the best chance against any potential predators, be they dogs, coyotes, lynx or whatever is in your ecosystem. Make sure they have enough room to play and climb. They will love to have larger pastures in the summer but as long as they have good shelter and something to climb on. In our cold winter climate they need insulated shelter with a deep straw bedding and must be completely sheltered from the wind.
Trimming Hooves – Goats hooves have to be trimmed usually between 2 and 4 times per years. Side-cutters, tin snips or special hoof trimming tools that can be purchased at agricultural supply stores. This is a good task to have a partner help hold the goat. When you hold up the foot and examine it, you will see that it is in two parts so there are 4 sides to trim on each hoof. Look for the natural line that is the pad of the foot. You will trim in line with the pad. Don’t forget to trim the front tip of each of the two hoof sections. You will have to trim the baby goats hooves by the time they are 4 months old.
Giving Needles – If you need to give a needle yourself to your goats, it’s good to be able to do it with confidence. Don’t wait until you need to do it before learning. With the help of your vet, you can use a saline solution to practice giving needles. There are two ways of giving needles: inter-muscular (IM) or subcutaneous (subcue.) Both needles are usually given in the same location which is above the spine but in the neck muscle. The inter-muscular needles are given directly perpendicular into the muscle. The subcutaneous needle is given underneath the skin. You might need to give an anti-biotic, a dewormer, a vaccination or a supplement. Our vet Dr. Dave Snell from Central Veterinarian Services gives us a hands-on tutorial.
Drenching – Drenching simply means giving a liquid orally. Use a large syringe without a needle and with a long tapered end. You can buy this from an agricultural supply store or from your vet. Fill the syringe with whatever liquid you are giving. It could be supplement, dewormer or medicine. Practice this often with each of your goats so that you and your goats are comfortable with it. It’s best not to have to fight with your goat when you need to do it most. It’s best to do this with a partner holding the goat. Once you have practiced you will be able to do this by yourself. Use molasses and warm water to practice and your goats will love drenches evermore.
The Baby Goats of Aurora Farm – Springtime is a joyful time at Aurora Farm with the birthing of many baby goats.