Well, not all the time. Honestly, checking on them every 3-4 hours is getting old. And the hour long feeding at midnight is killer (especially when you have a normal day job). It is definitely taking a toll on our sleeping habits. We teach our kids to drink from bottles after a few days of nursing colostrums from their mothers. This way they become comfortable with us from the get-go. They still have relationships with their mothers, but they don’t recognize milk comes from them once they know it comes from us. This saves us the time and stress of keeping separate herds all year.
As an added bonus, it helps the dairy stay up on its milk quota. We feed the kids their mothers’ milk, just with us as the added step in between. But it keeps the milk from contamination. And this gets the mothers used to a routine, plus their udders aren’t torn to bits by little teeth, which I’m sure they’re thankful for. This system has worked for us in the past, and we hope it works this year, just with more goats than we’ve ever had before.
In a nutshell, if conditions are good, male offspring will be in abundance. If conditions are poor, female offspring will be the majority. Why? Good question. They (I suppose “they” would imply scientists or researchers) studied Red Deer and when the weather was nicer, food more abundant and prospects looked good for the species, they gave birth to males. This way, all those bucks would compete for mating rights, ensuring the best genes were passed on.
When the weather was poor during mating season, food was scarce or what have you, the deer produced more females because they felt times would be tough, and in order for their species to survive, they needed as many child-bearing bodies as possible. You only need one male for so many females, so having less males didn’t matter, there would most likely be enough for breeding, regardless of gene quality. They just wanted to survive.
So according to this hypothesis we took excellent care of our does. We fed them well, made sure they had sufficient shelter, and gave them great living conditions. So yippee for us, we did the right thing but in the end it sabotaged our female herd count. I guess this year will be the year of goat meat. Which should make the local market/restaurants happy at least.
And to make everyone happy, if you would like to come see these cute cuddly guys while they are infants, with their furry faces and high-pitched bleats, come on over. We are always open to visitors (or volunteers for mid-night feedings). But just be warned, boots are highly recommended—cute things poop too.