Saturday, 18 February 2012

Maternity Unit under construction

The does are all due to kid in March so we have decided to bring the old stock box (usually used as a feedstore for the goats) and a disused chicken shed back into use to act as a maternity unit.   They are now both near the house so that I can make checks in the early hours and we can use the electricity from the house to run heat lamps, so that we can give the kids better care.   Last year it was EXTREMELY cold for most of the births causing problems all round.  We just need to decide when they are ready so we can get them bedded down in the kidding maternity wing.

They were all sheared last Tuesday and luckily the weather has been quite mild since then so they have been able to get used to having less coverage.   According to Cedric,the shearer,they double the thickness of their skin within 24 hours to compensate for the loss of fleece.   Does it get thinner again, I wonder?  If not we will end up with very fat goats adding skin layers every six months!!!

The two bucks took a great dislike to each other after shearing - partly  because they did not recognise one another when they had been sheared and partly, we think in hindsight, they spent a couple of hours in the pen next to the females.   We thought this would be OK since the mature ones are all pregnant but of course that young female  kids are also interesting, even though we do not consider them old enough to mate.  Anyway, after some minor fighting injuries and Andy, the whethered kid, limping a lot, we separated the two mature bucks so that they each have a side of the goatshed.  We also sprayed them with vinegar to kill the natural smells which might be stimulating the aggressive behaviour.   As usual, it is a lesson learned and we will know better next year.

The retaining wall at the back of the barn (soon to be house) is all but finished and the steps up to the garden look very elegant.

The chickens are all looking very smart again and we are getting two or three eggs a day now.   Not exactly a mountain, but enough to save up for the occasional omelettes.

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