Updated 1 March 2016
The ENTIRE herd once again tested negative for CAE, CL, and Johne's, September 11, 2014.
The health of our herd and the preservation and longevity of the Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat is extremely important to us.
As herdkeepers, we are charged with the humane stewardship of our goats; an obligation we do not take lightly! We have invested considerable time, energy, and finances in our herd and each goat is as much our livestock as they are our family. We have a close emotional bond with all our animals and that's why we take extra steps to ensure their health and protection.
Before we purchased our goats, we spent several months learning about their needs and care and we are constantly working to improve our knowledge of practical and optimal herd health and husbandry. We've learned a great deal in our first four years and we hope to learn much more. We are very fortunate to have the support of an excellent team of patient, willing, and outgoing experienced mentors and local veterinarians, without which our education and development would not be possible. In recognition of this great gift, we believe in paying it forward and helping other goat owners as best we can. One of the best things we can do to help others, is to set a good example.
Each day we give our best to our animals and strive to achieve still better care. Our daily routine includes carefully handling all animals at least twice daily for socialization, inspection, supplementation (if necessary), and training. Our thorough maintenance regimen helps us promptly identify and treat any illnesses or injuries. This not only helps keep our animals healthier and heartier, but helps minimize our veterinary expenses for preventable issues.
In addition to the aforementioned practices, lactating does are hand-milked to empty twice daily at 12-hour intervals. We have so much confidence in the health of our herd and our milk-handling practices that we always drink our milk raw (unpasteurized) and we have never suffered any ill effects. We weigh each milking in pounds (to the 1/10 of the pound) on an official, certified milk scale, and approximate the volume in ounces. We also record milkings approximately once a month and this gives us an idea of the trendlines in our girls' lactation curves, helping us identify what factors may influence their production. As participants in the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) program through Heart of America, Langston University, American Goat Society (AGS), and American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA), we also have a licensed third party visit once monthly to witness at least two consecutive milkings and sample our does' milk for testing under the Standard (Code 20) program. These records are permanently filed in a public database and we believe this is vital to assisting us in achieving our breeding goals for consistent, high-level milk production.
We feed our goats a premium diet of imported, alfalfa hay, with local brome hay offered as a supplement between meals to keep these browsers occupied throughout their day. They always have free-choice access to fresh, clean water, and occasionally they receive high-quality mineral supplements, Thorvin kelp, whole sesame seeds, Diamond V Nutritional Yeast, and ZinPro. Depending on their lifecycle stage (birth, growth, weaning, maintenance, breeding, kidding, lactating, or recovering from an illness or stress), they may be offered a grain ration custom-mixed here on the farm, but only to supplement calories if they are not maintaining condition without this (very rare, even during pregnancy and winter months). We adjust the ration as needed, but most of the time it is simply whole toral oats grown locally by Bill Krostek in Palmer. We also supplement with copper boluses administered twice annually and selenium and vitamin E (Bo-Se) injections as needed. We also keep our medicine chest fully stocked with emergency supplies and we often consult with our local veterinarians for support. Our favorite treatment is actually prevention and sound management, but we have begun to use varied herbal supplements prepared by master herbalists and so far we are very impressed. It is rare that we have a sick animal and we believe that speaks volumes about our practices and how they work for us.
We routinely test our goats for infectious diseases. The date of their last negative blood tests for CAE & Johne's was September 2014. We also tested the entire herd for Brucellosis in May 2011. Before joining our herd, all adults tested negative while still at their breeders. We have never had signs of CAE, CL, Johne's, Brucellosis, Blue Tongue, or TB. We have had local vets conduct our blood draws and tests in the past, beginning with Dr. Sammy Pittman at Alaska Equine and Small Animal Hospital and Dr. Teresa Beck at North Star Animal Hospital. Copies of the test results for all our goats are available by direct download from the links at the top of this page.
Part of keeping our herd healthy includes maintaining a bio-secure facility. Untested adult ruminants or ruminants that have been in contact with untested, suspicious, or distrusted animals are never allowed on our property. Additionally, we only buy goats from trusted herds and we always quarantine new arrivals.
We have dedicated ourselves to the well-being of our goats, their breed, and their industry and we hope you will join us and adapt similar practices with your own herd.