BARBADOS BLACKBELLY SHEEP IN SNOW

It is really amazing to discover the versatility of this ‘tropical’ breed of sheep, the Barbados Blackbelly. Jack Gowler has his farm in Pincher Creek, Alberta Canada and I am amazed to see them thriving in Snow!

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Thanks Jack for giving us permission to use your photo’s.

RAIN SHINE EVEN ON VALENTINES

I am noticing how hard it is it is so very important to keep yourself from crying in good spirits while slogging like a dog working. Farming is the biggest mental game I have ever had to endure play. The grass is not always greener somewhere else, as much as my mind would like to tell me that. Come rain, shine or Valentines the animals living beings at the farm have to eat.

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Happy Valentines All!

THE TORCH GINGER

Having always preferred taking a holistic approach towards treating the Goats i was more than eager game to try out using the Torch Ginger (or Bunga Kantan in Bahasa Malaysia) as a remedy for those runny noses sniffles that occurred amongst some of the Goats. I was told this by an old elderly Indonesian Goat farmer some time back that this was what he used.

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Flower In Bloom

I added only ONE stalk (600gm – 720 gm) which was shredded and mixed with the other greens for 6 Goats. This experiment proved to be rather successful as only 10 days down there was practically no more sniffles. The Goats seemed to like it and I later included and also added ONE stalk of the flower when and if there was one in bloom.

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Patch Of Bunga Kantan

Now we have started to plant more and have had to stagger the ration as this plant takes ages is very slow growing. Hopefully we will have enough to maintain feeding the whole herd in a few months time. Meanwhile i must confess that i have been asking around and raiding anyone’s garden who has any. Strange thing is everyone seems to not even use the buds for their cookinganymore. Sign of the times i suppose when most are too lazy not bothered to cook at home or come up with excuses neither adventurous in trying out recipe’s and prefer to eat out.

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Young Buds

BREEDING GEESE (PART 1)

Geese in East Malaysia are kept mainly as watchdogs, weed controllers, deterrents to snakes, as pets but rarely for their expensive meat. If they are kept for their meat then the breeding stock should be selected for their expected genetic ability to produce quick-growing, early-maturing goslings with compact meaty bodies. You don’t want to waste your time should only keep breeders that will be profitable are not too fat, select only healthy examples.

Keeping records will be very valuable when selecting for egg production either for the purpose of natural brooding or artificial means. From your records you will be able to select which should be slaughtered culled or sold off. From our records we have recorded an annual production of between 45 to 55 eggs from our Chinese Geese. Please make sure that your selected breeders are at least 1 year old before letting them do the wild thing mating. Geese can be kept for breeding until they are around 10 years of age, but male geese Ganders reach the limit of their fertility at around 6-8 years of age. The length of time breeders are kept depends on their libido performance. It may be necessary to replace birds after only four breeding seasons. With our Chinese Geese we use one male goose Gander to about five Geese.

Provide your Geese with swimming pool pond as they like prefer mating under in water. The swimming pool water is usually only necessary in the breeding season. It not improves the chances of a successful mating but helps in conditioning the geese and help keep them clean, which in turn helps to keep eggs clean.

Geese are choosy selective in choosing their mates and once successful matings have been established, will remain together for life. If the birds are allowed to select their mates, it is best to put more than the required number in a pen until the selections have been made. In the event of having to change mates, run the separated birds as far from each other as possible to prevent the birds fretting. Sometimes a male goose Gander will be a choosy fella not mate with one or two of the females, which mean fertility and the hatchability rate will be lowered.

If the male goose Gander shows equal love attention to all his mates then he is probably mating with them all. To test if the matings are successful, remove females from the gander one at a time to test his reaction. If he does not throw a hissing fit is contented and not concerned, then chances are he is not mating with that particular goose. If, however, the Gander appears that he wants to hiss you to death agitated then he is most probably mating with her.

Where it is desired to ‘force mate’ Geese, remove the male goose Gander from his ladies and add the new females to the ones he is already mating with, to enable all females to first accept each other. After a few days, reintroduce the male goose Gander to his ladies.

If flock matings are practiced, male geese Ganders will want to show who is boss may fight, but no serious damage will occur if they are evenly matched. Any continually subjected to bullying should be removed from the flock so too should Geese that wander around on their own as their eggs will be infertile. There will be less fighting if ganders selected for breeding have been reared together from young.

Because goose breeds will successfully do the wild thing mate with usually no more than three females plus being only seasonal breeders, you must consider the cost of maintaining a flock as it will be can be expensive when breeders eat you out of any profit consume a large amount of feed.

Overseas, AI techniques are now being used successfully. While AI naturally requires more additional work, it does do also mean that fewer male geese Ganders are needed in a flock, and semen and fertility can be easily evaluated. We know nuts have yet to experiment with any AI techniques hence are unable to provide any further information.

There are a number of breeds you can consider. Here in Sarawak we only have access to Chinese Geese. There are two colour varieties of this breed, the White Chinese and the Brown Chinese. Both originated in China and are smaller than the Toulouse or Emden (sometimes spelt as Embden). The Chinese is distinguishable from other geese by the knob or protuberance on its head.

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Our breeding sheds are very cheapskate simple. A skillion roof provides shelter and we use large flower pots placed on the side for nesting boxes but it is essential that the yard be completely enclosed. For us it also avoids the Geese wandering about placing their shit ‘deposits’ everywhere on the concreted areas and also provides easier management when needing to catch them for examination.

A layer of wood shavings or padi husks on the floor will help maintain dry conditions. Geese tend to shit a lot foul their sleeping quarters, so damp and wet litter must be removed frequently, more so in tropical weather like ours. Yard size is determined by the amount of space available and the method of management and feeding. As a guide, a yard should allow each goose 2 m2 of ground space. The size of the yards will be governed to a large extent by the number of geese to each shed. Each breeding flock need not be confined to a separate shed and yard. Provide each shed with nest boxes, even though some geese will make their own nests in the litter on the floor.

THE CHICKENS NEED A BETTER HOUSE

I was looking at my crappy the disgraceful the old chicken house and was thinking back to my friends 5 star accommodation he just set up for his lucky chickens. I think mine are long long overdue need a better house.

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OLD MAN SIDI

We used to chat ever so often in the late evenings in between the fence, myself and Pak Sidi. Talk the usual mostly village gossip, who got married, who had a big fight, who had a baby, who sold what land to who, which of his relatives he hated, which he thought were worth his time, whose chickens got stolen, you know how some very old men ramble on. I never knew just how old the old fart was he was but he was a young man when the Japanese invaded Kuching. He laughed when telling me how he was whacked on the side of his head slapped for not bowing down to the Japanese soldiers as they passed by. I did not see the humor in that. Then one fine day he kicked the bucket and joined the underground movement passed on.

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He and the missus lived in this simple hut for more than 5 decades. No electricity, no piped water, and only the last few years with a logging track main road to town, before that it was a 4 hour boat trip to town or a 3 hour trek over Gunung Serapi. to reach the main road. Talk about the simple life, living off the land with his goats and cattle which long gone (sheds were burnt down) before I met him. He told me he was just too old to bother except for his chickens, ducks and vegetable patch.

 

His small abandoned neglected plot of land is for sale. The son came and asked me if I was interested since we share a common border. I just might accept the offer because I sometimes do strange things just for sentimental reasons. I just regret never having taking a photo with him. And i am slightly cheesed off as the old fart he never bothered to say goodbye.

TREATING SIMPLE DIARRHEA

Diarrhea is a symptom of serious health problems in goats. Before treating your Goat for diarrhea, it is essential to determine the cause? Diarrhea-controlling medication could make the situation much worse. Slightly soft stool is sometimes just the Goat’s body’s way of ridding itself of undesirable products through the purging effect of diarrhea. If the scouring is slightly soft stool, just let it run its course.

But today I am just going to answer your question as to what works for me (in emergency cases) in ‘treating’ sudden diarrhea, by that I mean the very watery type. I will try my best to and find time to write at length on this topic.

charcoal-pill

I use activated charcoal pills. I figured that if it worked when i had the runs for me, it would work for my Goats and so far it has worked but I have to admit that for the past 6 months I have only had to use it on 2 occasions. Both times I crushed 2 pills and diluted with a tablespoon of water before using a syringe to force it down the Goat 3 times a day and the only feed they were given was forage. The diarrhea went away on the 2nd day.

WHEN YOU NEED WORMS…

I always thought that setting up a ‘worm farm’ would be a simple exercise here in Kuching. Not only having a highly beneficial composting system with worms that would eat all most of the kitchen scraps turning them into a rich soil conditioner, it would also save me some sweat the effort in burying, not forgetting ‘saving’ and ‘recycling’ the overripe or squirrel damaged fruits on the farm?

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The search to establish the worm farm started a few weeks ago and you would have never guessed how difficult it is to even source for someone locally who had some worms, worms with cool names too like African Night Crawler,Tiger Worms and Red Wrigglers. But the cost of the worms? Every answer for a price (all from the mainland, West Malaysia) came back with a shortness of breath pricing ranging from RM160 kilo to RM450 per kilo with minimum orders up to 500 kg? What am i going to do with that much? No wonder even home composting systems are not available here. I am absolutely dumbfounded BUT from the looks of it there is tremendous market potential.

TRYING OUT PADDOCK D

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A few months ago we started work on Paddock D. Today we tested it out with the latest batch of Jamnapari Doe’s from last June’s drop. Just to test out any weakness in the fencing. It looks very good so far.

THE MANLY GOAT

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Breeding idiosyncrasies can work both ways. I have a buck whom I discovered to be shy fellow. Early during my last breeding season I had placed him for the first time with some does which were on heat. Over the next 2 days I observed him waiting for him to get to work, you know do the natural thing. Nothing happen! He was more interested in what was being served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thinking that he was not sure of himself being in a new environment I moved him back to his pen and placed a doe on heat with him after he settled down for a day. Again nothing happen.

Next I had his semen examined just to make sure he was fertile and not shooting blanks. The result confirmed the fact that he was in excellent health and fully fertile, in theory he was ready. Now I had to figure out what was going on in his head that was interfering with his breeding abilities. I was worried i just might have a gay Goat.

On the next occasion I choose another doe on heat and place her with him in his pen. I sat down and settled down to find out what was problem. After watching the proceedings with this rather amorous doe, I came to one conclusion in the first hour. He was just too scared of the doe. Why? The answer is simple.

Being a buck which was selected from a very young age to be groomed and developed as a stud, the only friends he had was us, us as in humans. Staying alone in his pen with only us to fuss and take care of him he got so used to recognising us as his friends, as a part of his herd. That plus him being a virgin untested with no exposure to mating does it was no wonder when he felt intimidated by does who suddenly wanted to become up close and personal.

The next time I had a doe on heat I brought him out of his pen. I next held on to the doe while he walked around, initially ignoring her, and got used to her. In twenty minutes he, after much lip curling and sniffing, suddenly he got randy figured out what was his mission all about. I did this repeatedly several times with him, every time holding on to the doe and letting him be the boss and do the bossing. I am happy to report that he is just raring to go whenever needed and every time his mission accomplished.