We have been wondering, “Is this a false pregnancy?”. Here’s the answer –baby. Tilly, is a yearling. The first pregnancy ended early in a spontaneous abortion. I saw blood and nothing else so it was early. Could of been the buck hit her wrong or just something wasn’t right inside. It doesn’t matter unless it happens again.
I waited for several weeks until she cycled and took her to the buck which had been moved to his own pen. I did not see her cycle again but 2 1/2 months before she should be due again, we had to start milking her. Correct that. I had to start milking. Hubby only milks in an emergency. Her partially developed udder was so full she was moments away from dripping. What was that? I first milked only to relieve the severely engorged udder. Surely the flow would naturally stop since that wasn’t often. Nope, it increased. I emptied it every other day, once a day. Then needed to every day. With her supply increasing slowly, very slowly. I went to twice a day because I was about positive she was having a false pregnancy so why not increase the milk demand, which increases the supply. I could not feel a baby which is usually pretty easy for me. Thirty-five years of raising dairy goats. Must have been because of where the baby was.
Note the majorly tipped rump. It will slant down before birth to allow a better exit. Also the tail head will loosen and hers did, causing a ridge down the top of the hip but not until the seventh of July. She gave birth on the eight.
Tilly was milking less than Buttermilk, her twin sister, but quite a bit for a false pregnancy or so I thought. What do I know. I’ve never had an animal have a false pregnancy. In came July when Tilly was coming due, if she was pregnant. Still the milk did not increase but she was a bit fatter. Not much. Just fatter than her sister which gave birth in April.
I was pretty happy with them both since they were on pasture and no hay. They do get some grain when they come in to be milked. Not that much. Just enough to keep them happy while I quickly milk. To keep up the weight, health, and milk production on pasture and only a little grain when milked made me pretty happy as before I’ve always supplemented with hay even in the summer months. This was just like animals did in the olden days. All this manufactured feed came in after WWII and they have people convinced their animals can’t live without it. They are now proving dogs / cats etc. are living substantially shorter lives. I wanted to go back to the old days even if production is not quite as high. I really don’t need that much milk anyway. The kids are doing well too, actually better. I think it is because they were started at an earlier age with pasture and have conformed quickly. I do the same with rabbits and feed from the get go on hay, not commercial feed unless the weather is super windy and I then might cheat. Not often.
At first the goats were a bit skinny until their systems adjusted but that did not take long. The old goat on the other hand just did not transition so we have her on hay and a fat supplement. I keep reading about how people think you have to have baking soda free choice. You don’t. Baking soda is for stomachs that are messed up. Like in a feed lot. They use tons of it for animals because their stomachs were not designed to eat that way. The masticating of grass naturally releases pH balancing chemicals. I just learned that. Hay does the same but not as much because it is a faster process to eat it. Grain, not much at all. So if you are using manufactured feeds, even those designed for goats, the processing means a shorter masticating time. You may very well need baking soda free choice.
I say, let’s get goats back to basics. How they were designed to live. It’s less expensive and better for them. That is what I’m doing. Seriously, look at Tilly, does she look like she’s hurting and she produced milk and was pregnant while just eating pasture. Now of course it has to be good pasture and ours has lots of variety of plants growing.
My Tilly milked 1 1/2 quarts of milk a milking before giving birth and was pregnant feeding off of pasture. Buttermilk milks a half a gallon a milking or more as a yearling and I’m not good about milking on time etc. so the production rate is reduced. I just don’t need the stress or the amount of milk three goats can produce. That is a conversation we are having. I might raise a calf for sale each year and sell it in the fall to use the money to buy a steer to finish off every few years. We shall see. I just have too much milk and not time to make cheese.
I bottle fed the other kids this year because it worked out better. I am letting mom, Tilly, raise this one. Each time is a case by case decision. Becky, the baby, refused every bottle style I offered and she was hungry. I was not about to force feed her when it would work out better for me if mom raised her. I just was not sure how much colostrum was in the milk so I wanted to get some from the freezer down her. That did not happen. I’m selling Becky anyway and possibly the mom. I figure the frequent demand will help develop Tilly’s milking hormones which will finish developing her udder size.
A long, long, long, time rancher told me that no matter how many years go by, something new will come along you have never dealt with before. He saw a year where a bunch of his lambs were born with three eyes. Another year where they had five legs. They named the lamb with five legs and the fifth leg which was long enough that it would lean on it from time to time, Five-val. All due to eating certain weeds at just the right stage of pregnancy.
I always remind myself. Animals don’t read book so why should they follow what’s written? Tilly certainly did not!!!