Archive of ‘Around The Kebun’ category
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.
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!
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!
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.
How Many Will There Be In Three Years?
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.
The sweet potato is one of the oldest vegetables known to man, is native to Central America and has been grown for thousands of years, starting with the Incas of Peru and the Mayan Tribes. Columbus documented the sweet potato in 1493 on his fourth voyage to South America and the West Indies. The Portuguese traders took the sweet potato to Africa around 1540, and later to India, Malaya and China. The Spanish introduced sweet potato to the East Indies and Philippines. It remains a staple in the diets for some of these nations’ peoples today.
This root vegetable qualified as an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C and manganese . It is also a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Recent research studies on the sweet potato has also focused on two areas of unique health benefit. First are some unique root storage proteins in this food that have been observed to have significant antioxidant capacities. In one study, these proteins had about one-third the antioxidant activity of glutathione – one of the body’s most impressive internally produced antioxidants. Count on these root proteins to help explain sweet potatoes ‘healing properties’.
Planting the sweet potato in beds produces vigorous growth and usually can be harvested fairly easy with a sickle and fed too as a supplement to other forages you might offer your Goats. We have experimented with planting them in the paddocks but the resulting leave growth cannot keep up with the Goats eating them and the sweet potato itself is often dug up and eaten!
You can also harvest the potato and slice it thinly, the thinner the better. Then dry in the sun for at least a whole day. The thinner the slice the faster it will dry out. Feed to your Goats as a snack or treat.
The purchase price of your goats from Australia is only a portion of the total landed cost of goats into Sarawak. Because some of these costs are fixed, whether you import one or many goats, it is and can be much cheaper to put together a larger order, rather than just a few heads. Therefore it is always a good idea to combine your shipment with other farmers to make up the numbers large enough to make it less costly on average. There are other costs that have to be considered and added to the final cost of the shipment.
Your ‘responsibilitie’s as the buyer or importer are usually as follows.
- Faxing these permits to the exporter
- Any fees incurred at your Airport
- Payment 100% prior to shipment unless otherwise agreed
- Collection of animals at Airport
- Clearance of Customs at Airport
- Total responsibility of animals once the aircraft lands
- Transport of goats from Airport to your Farm
Delays caused by you the consignee due to permit arrival or payment delay may incur a further charges for adjisment or flight charges
For most part the costs of the Goat is usually less than the costs of getting them over unless the numbers are big enough to use a specialized livestock air freighter. The cost of the actual Goat will also depend on the breed, bloodlines and quality you are seeking. Make sure that you have some photographs of the actual animals and they (if you require them) have ‘pedigree papers’ or are registered animals, registered as with their respective breed associations and/or clubs.
These are some of the responsibilities of the Australian farm or seller if they are not involved in the exporting itself.
- Selection of Goats to meet all specifications for you the purchaser.
- Ear tagging of all Animals for export
- Protocol management on Isolation farm including all feeding costs etc
- Labour on blood test farm to handle animals
- Yards to handle goats and/or treatments
- Labour to load animals onto the Truck to Airport
- Trucking from selection Farm to isolation farm
- Pregnancy testing of Animals as and if required
- Isolation for up to 7 days is required prior to export to Sarawak
- Weighing of animals and advising of weights to export agent
- Supply and application of internal Worming treatments
- Supply and application of external parasite treatment
- Tag list of all animals same day as completion of blood test.
- Veterinary labour expense at blood test/Isolation farm
- Supply and application of vaccinations
- Blood test expense for all animals i.e. lab expense
- Trucking from isolation Farm to Airport for flight
- Disinfection of truck for transport to flight
Please be aware that a registered animal will usually costs more as the exercise to register the animal with the respective associations also includes a fee payable. You must also be aware that there has been occasions where the goats arrived with registration papers but these were just that, registration papers of that particular goat and no mention or info of the pedigree. There has also been experiences where the goats arrived with pedigree papers but were printed forms with the linage on the farms ‘letterhead’. Registered papers as in a printed record on the farm letterhead is best avoided unless you have had agreed to this prior to your order. Be careful as you might also go through the unpleasant experience of finding that ‘papers’ don’t match with ear tags and even color and age. And of course there will always be those arrivals that came without their promised registration papers.
Example Of Certificate Of Registration
You must do some homework in terms of the farm location too. Some farms are AQIS certified to act as a quarantine facility which will save you some money instead of having them shipped to an AQIS certified facility. Care must be taken also to look into the location of the farm, Australia is a very big place and some farms are located hundreds and hundreds of kilometers from the nearest international airport. You also have to consider where in Australia in the first place. Western Australia is much nearer. A good export agent will be of much help in advising you and at most times will be able to recommend you a good reputable farm.
The responsibilities of the export agent are usually as follows.
- Vet instructions for first treatment
- Vet instructions for final Treatments
- AQIS inspection prior to flight at farm or at airport
- IATA specs air travel crates
- Flight management of entire process
- Post selection to arrival at foreign Airport
- Export license fee and applicable processes
- Audit processes as applicable
- Prepare AWB and fax across to you, the customer for pre-clearance.
- Flight space and freight expense Australia to Sarawak airport
Make sure that you insist on and get an invoice that states very clearly the amount due, terms and conditions. Every verbal ‘promise’ and ‘adjustments’ must followed up in black and white as in with emails or actual documents. As a precautionary measure here I would suggest that you make separate arrangements for payment, keep it separate from the farm/seller and export agent unless you have agreed to combine payment to the seller. It usually takes the export agent one week to make the arrangement from the date your goats have been vet checked and certified to travel. You must allocate enough time to make the payment arrangements via TT. Although Western Union is almost immediate but it might be a hassle for the Australian side as it requires locating a western union agent there more so in the rural areas. Make sure you clear any and all due payment (unless otherwise agreed) before the actual set date for the vet inspection at the seller’s farm. Once this has been done the export agent will make the flight bookings and usually both Malaysian Airlines Kargo and Malaysian Airlines ‘6 Star‘ Animal Hotel will call you to confirm that you are receiving it. Please note that last minute cancellations are sometimes unavoidable and can range from MAS downgrading their aircraft to the shipper purposely stalling for time to combine your shipment with another. Speaking from experience you will also come across export agents that claim to have a groom accompany the shipment. They will insist that a groom (which will also mean a substantial additional markup on your invoice) is needed to look into the needs of the goats during the flight. At most time a groom is not needed. The flight will usually not take more than a total of 14 hours including a short stopover in KLIA before connecting to East Malaysia. Other than that the Malaysian Airlines Animal Hotel will always look into the needs of your Goats during the stopover.
If you encounter any problems you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Commission, the Australian Federal Police or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. However do not expect them to act very fast on your complain, if any. Good Luck!
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You should be Specialized in Ruminants
While there are standards for Goat intake of energy and protein foods which are mainly useful for beginners these should serve only as a rough check for the experienced goat keeper. Problems which arise from Goat mineral needs afflict all manner of Goats and you, the experienced goat keeper and constitutes the principal difficulty of managing high yielding herds.
The Goat being a small ruminant works at a higher metabolic rate hence naturally with greater ‘wear and tear’ and therefore requires more mineral supplements and maintenance. The workings of the digestive tract involves the use and loss of large quantities of minerals in the digestive juices.
The Goat has an outstanding mineral requirement because it has a small body with high metabolic rate with a digestive system occupying one third of their body and producing milk richer than cow’s milk and greater in volume than sheep. Feeding which may seem adequate for other farm stock is most probably deficient for the goat.
Many of us think we know enough after some experience and reading and thus coming up with our idea of what a balance mineral supplement should be. Such commercial mixtures usually serve a purpose at a cost way out of proportion to the value of our Goat. Since it is designed to meet the requirements of cattle under orthodox systems of mineral management, that particular mixture will not be balanced for your Goat. Even commercial mixtures for the Goat may supposedly be balanced but it may just be not that for the individual goat as it depends on its feeding and expected yield, meat or milk. However it must be clearly understood that an excess of minerals becomes a heavy strain of your Goat’s kidneys which is largely responsible for getting rid of any surplus. An excess of any one mineral is liable to make another non-available. A chronic excess of many minerals deranges the workings of the vital processes.
Calcium and Phosphorus are the principal components of the goat skeleton and are essential for the chemistry in a variety of vital functions. Calcium for example is concerned with blood clotting and in the control of the metabolic rate and in nervous control. Phosphorus is needed for the release of muscular energy, for the digestion of oils, fats and for body cell making whether for growth, replacement or reproduction.
Calcium and Phosphorus are deposited in the bone together. If the need for either is needed by the body and the present diet cannot provide for it then both are released from the bones. These two minerals are always associated yet they are opposed in the effect on the body’s chemistry.
When there is a Calcium deficiency in the blood the goat will tend to overdo it. It will eat well, yield well and be very excitable. Then all of a sudden it will collapse. Phosphorus deficiency may take other forms but is always accompanied by a rather dull and apathetic attitude towards life.
In simple terms think of Calcium as the brake and Phosphorus as the accelerator. In those capacities they act on the thyroid gland which controls the metabolic rate and the rate of which Calcium and Phosphorus is withdrawn from the skeleton to serve the needs of milk production or meat development.
Magnesium in small quantities is required in the diet where it is a needed companion and assistant to Calcium in the chemistry of the goat’s body. Some functions of Calcium cannot be performed without the presence of Magnesium. When the Magnesium content in grass falls with the seasonal changes, grass fed goats are prone to Tetany. Apart from this problem lack of Magnesium can lead to general slight ill health.
Now let’s look at Iodine. The thyroid gland which controls the metabolic rate needs a supply of Iodine which in turn is needed for the manufacture thyroxine. If the supply of Iodine is not within its requirements the thyroid gland increases in size to make most of small resources and a goitre is produced. But this is an unreliable symptom and the least important consequence of Iodine deficiency which can and will cause ill health without any or noticeable difference in the size of the thyroid gland which is located in the throat. Iodine deficiency produces symptoms which include harsh coarse dry hair, dead parchment skin, still born and often hairless kids. Coming back to the thyroid gland, the goat’s ability to assimilate vitamin A and Carotene depends on its thyroid activity. So Iodine deficiency bears in its train of consequences of vitamin A deficiency as well which means retarded growth, infertility and low resistance to infection. Compared to a cow the goat has a thyroid gland which is half as big when proportioning bodyweight. The more productive your Goat, the greater will there be a need for Iodine.
Iodine differs from all other minerals in that it is only present in very small quantities in plants and almost entirely available in soil. It is rich in soils that hold their moisture well, peats, clays and humus rich land. Lime blocks the uptake of Iodine from the soil as it suppresses the effect of thyroxine in the blood. Over limed corps should be avoided as with corps subjected to heavy applications of artificial manures.
Copper is needed by the Goat in very small quantities and is needed to aid digestion and the use of iron in the body. The symptoms of Copper deficiency is scours, a dull and staring coat and loss of pigment from the hair giving the goat a washed out appearance. If you do not have access to a mineral supplement that contains Copper you can make your own. The recipe is 1 gm. of Copper Sulphate dissolved in a litre of water to be poured over 3 kg. of Salt. Let this mixture evaporate naturally and when dry add 600 gm. of red oxide of iron. Your Goats should have free access to this.
Cobalt is needed by the Goat to provide the bacteria in its digestive tract to synthesize vitamin B12. This vitamin is the antidote to pernicious anaemia. Lack of it causes this disease and encourages acetonamia and possibly other diseases. Some internal parasites rob their hosts of this vitamin when it enters the body from the digestive tract. The proportion of Cobalt included in commercial trace elements mixtures has proved useless for deficient Goats. Dissolve 10gms of Cobalt Sulphate in 300 ml of water, wet it with 2 kg of Salt and offer to goats as free access. If your goat has anaemia as a consequence of worm infestation or acetonaemia that accompanies a low fibre diet, you can counter this by adding 10gm of the above mixture to the feed everyday for a week. You can notice a chronic deficiency of Cobalt when it is evident by a gradual loss of appetite , wasting and sensitivity to cold.
We may cater for the mineral needs of our goats in three ways, Treating the soil on which (if) we grow Goat food, selecting the species of plants we grow for goat food or by feeding a concentrate of mineral mixture.
To be continued…
The male Goat has a habit of marking anything he fancies with his personal ‘stink’, by rubbing his head on them. What he is rubbing with is his musk glands which are situated in a 3/8 to ½ inch wide band immediately and along the inside edge of the base of each horn.
These musk glands are present in both sexes. As these are activated by the presence of male hormones in the blood, this activity is seasonal in the male and unusual in the female. In an adult, if you remove the normal hair you can see these glands as an area of thickened and glistening skin.
The de-odourization procedure is a simple extension to the debudding technique, the glandular area being scorched by a disbudding iron.
A few animals will have small patches of musk glands on other parts of their bodies and these can be located by nose, but shampoo first and when locating cauterize the same way. A Goat that produces ‘Goaty smelling’ milk can be ‘tested’ by rubbing the suspected area by hand for a few moments then sniffing.