SORRY DUCK'S

I had to get 12 Ducks ready and dressed yesterday morning to fill up the very first orders for the Chinese New Year. Asking around, there was hardly any one who had the guts any experience with slaughtering Ducks (but all said they loved eating Duck!) as I really would have preferred someone else do it. The internet gave some suggestions like here which ranged from wringing their necks (basically breaking their necks) to lopping off the heads with an axe over a chopping block and running over their heads with the car!

Eventually I just held them down one by one by leaning using my left knee on them, head in left hand with the knife, a very sharp one, in the other. It was not easy feeling their eyelid’s flicker in your palm and struggle through the whole process. It felt all the more personal this time what with feeling the animal struggle and breath its last whilst you held on to it. I think i have slaughtered my first and last Duck’s.

GONG XI FA CHAI!

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Wishing All A Happy Chinese New Year As We Welcome In The Year Of The Ox.

MR. & MRS. CHINESE GEESE

Mr. & Mrs. Chinese Geese have new additions to the family.

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All are doing well.

BREEDING YOUNG DOES

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In theory young Does can be ready to breed by the time they are 4 months old. But you will want to wait until they are at least 8 months of age for breeds like the Katjang. However you must realise that when and if you decide to breed at such a young age you should consider that such young does bred are still growing kids themselves and will need very close monitoring of their feed rations. You must also play close attention to their overall condition as they progress along their pregnancy.

Maturation of any Doe will naturally vary by their genetic/breed background. You cannot expect a smaller breed like a Katjang to be bred to a Boer of a similar age of let’s say at 10 months. We usually let our kids grow up and age until at least 12 months before breeding them in their 2nd year. Talk to the breeders and farmers in your area and I can tell you that there will be mostly different answers.

You will have to then use your own best judgement and common sense to make a decision based on the size and maturity of your own does.

THE NEW BARBADOS KID

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Our first kid of the year Barbados Blackbelly Sheep kid born in the very early morning of 1st January 2009. Weighing in at 1.67kg. What a fantastic start to a new year! Happy New Year!

DUCKLINGS MOVED

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We had to move the ducklings to a safer place this morning. Mama Duck was bringing them swimming to the pond every morning and evening. There has to be some big snakeheads in there but wondering where they came from in the first place as the pond were last stocked with Talapia. There were 14 and 3 days later there were only 9 left!

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REVISITING BOER BOK STUD

We will soon be getting to follow up on our last visit to Boer Bok Stud in WA Australia. Beth, Alan and Peter were very kind and generous enough to offer us some of their Boers to help improve our bloodlines here in Sarawak. The visit to them in Busselton was a real eye opener and an excellent learning experience. I got to watch their Boers eating leisurely on their green pastures while it was raining and it was very cold! The opposite would happen here in East Malaysia. They would be bleating and running for the goat houses at the slightest sign of rain.

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Happy Doe’s

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Very Nice Example Of A Red Boer Buck

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More Happy Expecting Doe’s

BARBADOS BLACKBELLY SHEEP FARM

Here is a video taken by a friend BajeBob in St. Thomas, Barbados at Genuia Gogg & Kendal Plantation, Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Farms. Thanks BajeBob!

Genuia Gogg Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Farm

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Kendal Plantation Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Farm

Once Again, Cheers Mate!

THE THREE YEAR CYCLE

Most newbie goat owners don’t have the idea of what really goat raising and even more so goat farming entails. They might see some goats at a visit to a farm, come across some goats at an agricultural fair, listen to someone who probably knows nuts about goats explain the income potential, or think they look cute too and soon they have bought a few. More often too they have never had any experience raising livestock.

Then soon like the proverbial rabbit those few goats become ten then twenty-five and in a matter of two to three years there is a huge herd.

Don’t kid yourself, having a lot of goats equals a lot of work. Not only does it mean the daily housing cleaning, which does not mean just sweeping the floors, but also means scrapping bits and ever so often water jet cleaning more so for elevated goat housing like here in East Malaysia. Then you have to do those maintenance odd jobs, regularly clear goat poop and perhaps make organic fertiliser. Next comes looking out into the goats health, reading up on goat raising and health, treating goats and the list goes on. We have not even begun to think about milking, making goat products like soap and supplying meat, corresponding with buyers and the chores never seem to end! Do you even have to bother mentioning those time wasters who come unannounced and expect you to be entertained to answer each and every question relating to goat farming and all you have in your mind are the chores that’s left to be finished? Of course this would be a whole new different scenario if you are a gentleman farmer who have staff to do all the work for you.

I have a recurring nightmare. It starts with me looking at my watch and its 6am, walking tiredly to the goat shed hearing them bleat a racket. As I enter into the sheds all the goats have their mouths gaping so wide demanding they be fed. Their bleating becomes louder and louder and ends with me run running screaming away from them. A friend shared his personal nightmare where he too walks into his goat shed but his goats have huge bloated udders and they are screaming to be milked.

Lots of goats also mean that there are lots of feeding and other costs like veterinary bills and maintenance. Many goat keepers often find the costs increase to way beyond to what we would normally spend for the family entertainment or hobbies. Sometimes goat farming might start out as a family endeavour but more often the responsibility eventually falls on one person. You will be spending more time out on the sheds and paddocks whilst other family members are having ‘better things to do’. This only will naturally bring on ill feelings within us.

Within a short time (the average goat owner stays in goats for three years) you will start to think that goat keeping does not seem like the great idea it initially was. It’s back breaking work, long hours, financial unrewarding and pretty hard on the family and wallet. It’s decision time. Get rid of the goats, decrease the workload, increase the financial returns or improve the divisions of labour?

Sometimes at this point some people decide (rather illogically) to go into a goat related business. They choose to sell goat milk, make cheese or goat soap, sell goat meat or other goat related money making endeavour. Soon not only are they pumping more money in and putting even longer hours into their goat’s but they are pumping even more money and hours into their goat related business.

To stay in goats for the long haul we must not only find ways to decrease the work and financial outlay but also keep the family as a whole committed to this hobby which has turned into a business. The first way is to keep the numbers to a minimum. Defy the ‘breed like rabbits’ syndrome.

Only keep as many goats as you can handle. The number will depend on you and your decision if you are going to be working by yourself, with family members or other help, and still have a life besides goats. This will help you in many ways. You will work less, you will spend less, you will argue with your family less and you will enjoy your goats more.

Don’t ever think that if you decide to increase your goat numbers you will make everything better. You will most probably gain some efficiency and per head reduction in average costs but at most times for most people more goats mean more work, more costs and more disharmony. Keep only as many goats as you can afford. Since at most times owning and keeping goats is a hobby, consider having goats the same way as you would consider yourself having an entertainment budget.

One mistake you should never make is to turn your goat hobby into a paying job just in order to justify a larger herd. In the first place many of us have never run a business nor have we worked for ourselves. Whatever the business, being successful will depend on our knowledge on business planning, accounting, marketing and a host of other skills which we do not naturally have. You yourself know that statistics too show that the majority of new businesses fail.

The next thing you must demand of is in the efficiency of your everyday goat chores. Analyze your feeding, cleaning, milking and other labour intensive chores. Minimize effort, maximize efficiency, be process oriented. Write and note down everything. Decide which are the most labour intensive. Then decide chore by chore how to decrease your effort. Perhaps some form of equipment help you and can you afford it? Implement those changes. If you have maximized the efficiency of your chores and still being overloaded then it’s high time you reduce numbers or get help.

Consider the total whole big picture which means more than just goats. When we look at what owning goats really entails it is pretty obvious why most people stay in goats for only three years or less and why those who stay any longer often end up working harder, spending more money and suffer from strained relationships, family or otherwise.

We can and should continue to enjoy our goats and still have a happy fulfilling real life too. But this can only happen if we keep goat numbers to within our means and capabilities, introduce and maximize efficiencies and allow family members become involved as and how they want to be. For most of us owning goats is a hobby and like a hobby should remain within the framework of our family, friends, giving pleasure and teaching us responsibilities. It is only with this way that we can make keeping goats as part of our life for a lot more longer than the average three year cycle.

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How Many Will There Be In Three Years?

PICKING THE RAM

This is when we went to select between 2 Barbados Blackbelly Rams some weeks back. We want to expand our herd but quality specimens like these are pretty hard to come by in Kuching, Sarawak. These were the descendants of the original imports that were made by MARDI many years back.