With us just crossing over into the new year , and seeing the influx of gym members hitting the gym as well as the ever ending facebook posts of people crushing their goals. I think i've honestly already seen enough posts for the year that go like---
Becky posted " omg you guys two weeks into the new year and I can fit into my highschool pant size again!"...
you're a freak of nature Becky.... but good for you...
Throughout my time contemplating and seeing people hit their weight loss goals I came face to face with something I personally would like to conquer and I feel like there are plenty of other people out there that probably struggle with the same things.
1--I noticed a pattern about myself ---- I make bad food choices when I'm busy and in a hurry, I much rather choose something convenient than what is good for me therefore I struggle with will power and diet.
2---I've come to the realization that because I am a Mother, a Herdsman, and a business owner I am always busy therefore I perpetuate this cycle of self sabotage.
3. You guys.... I need to start meal prepping.... and add another thing to my list to do if I'm going to be successful and overcome this awful habit of mine.
This last week I decided to give it ago. On days I had time to cook supper I chose healthy meals and I made extra or I made two meals. I dished myself a portioned controlled plate and froze some in containers as a pre-made meals that I could microwave throughout the week when I got too busy to cook .
It Turned out a lot better than I would have thought so I'm going to share a couple recipes in case you guys are looking for something else to try .
The first recipe we tried was Lemon chicken with broccoli , we both enjoyed this meal but if you love garlic ,which we do- you could probably bump it up a bit. we pair this with some parmesan garlic rice and easily had 5-6 meals prepared
This is the other new recipe we tried at the advice of a family member and this one was a BIG thumbs up by the entire family --- Thanks Michael Koons for the suggestion!
this also froze and microwaved beautifully!
Wish me luck as I start my meal prepping adventure, and I hope you guys enjoy these recipes I posted this week. These meals can be made from farm fresh or market fresh ingredients--- enjoy!
For those of you who don't know us real well or just came here to check out the blog- here is a little back story. We live in central North Dakota about an hour and a half from the Canadian Border, and if you have ever taken a geography class you would know we are located on the plains. It is flat..... we lack trees.. which doesn't do much for us here as far as a wind break. So long story short it can get very cold up here and wicked frigid with no windbreak in the North.
This coming week we are expecting to get a clipper moving in from the north which will cause -50 and -60 degree conditions. (remind me why I live where the air hurts my face?!?!? *sigh*) This can be hard on anyone's livestock and it can be detrimental to those in your herd who may be in sub par condition. So how do you make the call to blanket your goats?
Under normal conditions , I personally do not believe in blanketing a healthy young goat as it prevents them from growing a proper coat of hair . but there are exceptions or reasons to consider blanketing or at least I personally consider. (I will also say----Under normal circumstances, most young, healthy, and properly conditioned goats winter very well even in extreme conditions as long as they have proper draft free shelter with deep straw bedding , a couple of goat buddies to huddle with, and proper nutrition with enough calories for them to sustain body warmth and body condition. )
Reasons to consider when to use blankets or "goat coats"
1. Geriatric animal or very young kids--- kids who are just born in frigid cold / inclement weather may need extra help until they gain the ability to thermoregulate themselves
2. under conditioned or malnourished animal -
If they do not have the proper body coverage it can prevent them from properly thermoregulating their body they can quickly become hypothermic in severe weather conditions ....in severe cold and inclement weather a normal goat will need 2-3x the calories to burn to properly thermoregulate in the conditions mentioned. If they do not have the extra calories to expend it can be very easy for them to lose even more body condition and become hypothermic when their body runs out of fuel AKA calories or fat stores to keep their internal heater running . A blanket can aid them, making it easier for them to keep warm, therefore not making their bodies work as hard or expend as many calories/ fuel/ body stores ---- when they are not expending so many calories/ body stores to keep warm, they are able to keep body condition or gain body condition in the case of rehabbing an animal who is under conditioned. An animal can become unthrifty for numerous reasons- lower in the pecking order, geriatric , sickness/ disease, parasites, if they just kidded out and started to lactate( some does will throw their entire body into milking until they level out) the list can go on and on.
3. Sick or recovering from sickness ---especially when pnemonia is a concern they sometimes lose the ability to regulate body temperature and body temperature can quickly rise with fever and plummet into chills/ hypothermia.
4.they do not have a proper coat ---
this can be because of numerous reasons due to mineral deficiency (especially zinc--- copper can be a culprit for a poor coat too), recovering loss of hair from mites or lice infestation , or maybe was recently clipped due to surgery or a show or perhaps weather changed suddenly going from 60 degrees down to zero (it happens in ND ) or even transferring a goat from a different climate say for example you imported a goat from Virgina to North Dakota -they may need help acclimating while their coat is in transition.
5. if for some reason you have goats and you don't have adequate shelter or if it is drafty and you are expecting extreme weather , this may also give you cause to blanket your goats.
What if they are shivering? Should I blanket them when they are shivering? Shivering is mechanism to get muscles moving and generate body heat. To me that means their body is working----I do not run out and blanket every goat I see shivering but the more they are shivering the more calories they need to burn to keep those muscles moving to generate body heat. I personally tend to increase their grain and feed rations by 2-3 X when weather is below zero --- I continuously Look at their body condition and get my hands on their body to gauge body condition and check the quality of their coat. ---make your determination to blanket after you evaluate your animal.
another little trick....
I have also been known to haul out buckets of hot water, and soak buckets of alfalfa cubes in hot water to make a hot mush to feed my herd on extremely cold days--- the hot water is super enticing to them and heats them up from the inside out and if you keep their rumen full of food and water their bodies will then also keep warm- as the rumen is their heater.
Currently we have a few goats who I would consider geriatric , and it is getting harder and harder for them to stay thrifty & in condition over winter months and I notice they shiver more. (My current dilemma is what inspired this little diddy.) I notice with older goats they can have a harder time thermoregulating --- just like humans ----ohhhh this happens to us too --- you remember grandma always being cold and having to keep the house temp at 80 degrees ? Even with a sweater on? yup good ol grannie lost the ability to thermoregulate guys!!!! and circulation can become poorer....... and with goats we cant exactly bring them inside and keep the thermostat turned up but we can blanket them and we can give them a calorie dense feed,----see now here comes to play what I mentioned above about having fuel and calories to burn to shiver and generate heat??? remember ? just testing ya :) --- when they shiver more it causes them to go through their reserves(fat/ calories) and lose body condition a little faster than say a younger animal who has a easier time thermoregulating their body. So to circle around -we have decided to Blanket a couple of our geriatric goats this winter when temps get below zero and supplement them with a nutrient dense / high calorie feed.
Where and how do you find a goat blanket....
There are companies out there that do make blankets specifically for goats. However when you search them a lot of them are geared towards livestock shows, -----tubes, and blankets that do not pack much insulation. These are best for lighter weather, to keep them clean after grooming and before a show, keep bugs off them and keep them from getting sunburned or overheated. They have their time and place but not really cold weather gear or for inclement weather.
My best bet has been looking for blankets for mini ponies and for blankets / coats for large breed dogs. Personally when I was looking for my geriatric buck, I decided to go with a large breed dog coat , as the price point is 1/2 to 1/3 of the price point of pony blankets.
When looking at blankets you will want to take two things into consideration Denier and fill --- What does Denier mean ? Denier is the fiber thickness of individual threads used to create fabric , when the denier is higher it means the fabric is more thick allowing for greater durability. When looking at fill , the higher the weight number the warmer the blanket will be . Determining a desirable weight depends on your goat's environment and condition of their coat and body. I often refer to horse blanket specifications for ratings on Denier and conditions to determine fill on my blankets/ coats.
For a couple of our eldest goats in our herd we decided to go with Weatherbeeter Parka 1200D , it should have the density and strength to withstand tough wear and it packs 220 grams of insulation as well as the price point was well within our budget. If we find that is not enough we do have some show tubes and blankets they can wear and layer underneath to get by during freeze fest we are expecting(-50 to -60).
I have also had several goat friends mention the Rambo brand and they are quite happy with them as well. some links and references below.
When using blankets or coats, you do not want to put them on tight/ pack their hair down. Their fur when all puffed up traps air and that is their way of creating a natural insulator to keep warm.
Now I hope this helps someone else out there when making the decision on when it is appropriate to blanket your goat for inclement cold weather and what to blanket them with. I hope all your creatures out there stay warm, as well as all you two leggers out there.... cause you know frostbite & hypothermia isn't cool!
stay warm and safe friends!
****Stated within this blog is solely my opinion and not professional advice. Read and use at your own risk, discretion, and discernment. ****
So you want to get some goats………
So lets talk about the planning!
I feel like this is a good topic to kick off my blog especially since we are in the midst of our kidding season. I will be covering a number of topics within this spectrum of doing your due diligence before making the decision to bring goats home.
Ask yourself why you want goats-
Do you just want a cool pet? Do you want one for milk production? Do you want them for meat production? Do you want one to show for 4-h or FFA? Then on top of that do you want to stick to commercial or do you want an animal that would be competitive in a Breed show? Do you think there would be a possibility that your goals may change over the next 2-5 years? Do you plan on breeding? What kind of kids or stock do you want to produce and what do you hope to achieve with them? Would you want registered proven stock or unregistered? What are the pros and cons?
All these questions will help you decide on what kind of stock you would like to start out with and help breeders to pick appropriate stock that we think you will be happy with and will meet your goals or if we don’t have what you are looking for we might be able to point you in the right direction. Goats breeds are very different and versatile , while one animal may really show well or excel in dairy strength might not be meant for meat production or fiber production or reverse. Same thing as a breeder, I don’t want to sell a show quality doe for someone to hide away in their barn as a pet and not fulfill their potential of a show quality doe. Believe it or not most breeders want to see their clients happy with their stock, so let us help you and lets start with what your goals are and what you want to achieve. J
Choosing your goats-
Knowing your “why” will help you to choose the right breed and kind of goat for your own personal goals. If you are looking for Meat Production ,some breeds with higher meat yield would include Boers, Kikos, Pygmies, Spanish, myotonic ---- Dairy goat breeds include, Saanan, Nubians, toggenburgs, Alpines, Sables, Lamanchas, and my personal favorite Nigerian Dwarfs. As far as fiber producing goats there are Angoras that I can think of off the top of my head. There are also people who look at dual purpose goats such as Kinders or Pygoras
Some basic things to consider when choosing your breeds that align with your goals are---- Hardiness, do they do well in your climate? Parasite resistance, temperament, noise level, resilience, do they match up with your kind of herd and barn management? Are they a size I think I could handle? Do I have space, or do I have any restrictions where I live to have standard size livestock or just miniatures?
Do I want Bucks, Wethers, or Does?
Intact bucks (males) make horrible pets, they can become aggressive and urinate on themselves and spray when they go into rut. They should only be kept if you are planning to breed in my own opinion, however you can do your own research and see what conclusions you come to.
Wethers are castrated males. They do not spray or go into rut and are usually of very good temperament. They usually are inexpensive, which is a good way to get started and figure out all the rest of your herd management style, they make very good pets, or they can be raised for meat production. They are very good lawn maintenance (but watch out or they will eat your pretty plant also), or the will clean up your fields of brush and weeds. They also make good companions for other goats
Does make excellent pets but do go through estrus and heat cycles so if not breeding this could possibly be annoying and unnecessary. Does are usually very loveable, most have good temperaments and are good pets and are used for production and milk.
Goats need proper shelter! They need a draft free shelter, one where they can get out of wind, rain and snow, where they can stay dry. If you live in a colder climate, they need deep bedding like deep straw to keep warm and dry. If you live in warmer climates, or in summer months, a deep bed of wood shavings is also appropriate.
If you also plan on breeding you will also need a way to separate your does(females) from your bucks (males) as bucks that are kept with does year round can become very territorial and start ramming--- they can also ram your females so they abort their pregnancies or keep running them so they re-enter a heat so they can breed again, also some breeds cycle year round and it isn’t very healthy for them to be re-bred back to back after just having babies, as well as some breeds can become fertile as early as 2-3 months old and if bred that early it is very possible that they could die from kidding complications. It is best to house them separately boys with boys and girls with girls ---- the exception is when boys are housed with wethers or girls are housed with wethers--
Creating a herd
Since we just talked about who should be kept with who------ I’m going to take a quick pit stop here to explain that goats are herd animals and they NEED a buddy , so if you get one to start with, you actually will need two (minimum) to make sure they stay healthy mentally and socially. Having another goat as a buddy can help prevent a lot of behavioral issues. I personally never recommend keeping one goat by itself and there is plenty of research to prove that ( do your due diligence and look it up ;) ) Goats are very social creatures and if you don’t want them in EVERYTHING or literally crying all the time for someone and you want them to feel safe & warm then you will get them a buddy!!!!
In order to avoid problems with goats getting out and causing issues and also to prevent predators from getting in, proper fencing is a must!!!! It will save you lots of headaches in the long run. We use 5 FT -6FT tall non-climb horse fencing but I have heard of others using panels, or traditional livestock fencing with hotwires. There is an old saying amongst goat herders, If you fence can’t hold in a cat, it can’t hold in a goat. The goats are smart and like to roam so they will test your whole fence line to find holes, places to crawl under, and low fences to jump over. Some of them also figure out how to open certain kinds of quick latch gates.
Proper Hay, Feed, Minerals & Water
Goats are a little higher maintenance compared to other livestock as they are very sensitive to a lack or imbalance of minerals--- They need a QUALITY mineral available to them 24/7 and this is where you need to do your homework and due diligence for the area that you live in YOU NEED TO FIND A MINERAL OR FEED PROGRAM THAT WORKS FOR YOU---- Every area is different and could be lacking certain vitamins or minerals----For example , in my area our water is very high in iron which leeches copper from goats--- so I have to supplement copper more so than some people , also in my particular area we are vitamin E deficient so I have to supplement Vitamin E rich food and supplements High in vitamin E. Also because of the high iron in our water it also causes zinc deficiency , so this key info has helped in choosing what is appropriate to use in my herd -----and just like mineral you will have to do your research and find a quality feed to support your stock and their goals --- for example if your goal is milk production you need a little higher protein & fat content – if they don’t get the calories needed they may not produce well ….. you want to build muscle on a meat goat to finish him you might want to look at a proper feed to get the best meat yield. These are things that most newbies try to skimp on and this is an area that you absolutely CANNOT skimp on!!!!!!!!! Quality alfalfa and grass hays are also key to keeping your goats happy and healthy when they don’t have good pastures available. Ask yourself are you willing to buy from a proven breeder who will help with nutrition program that is already tried and true? or will you be able to take the time to figure out a program and do you have the money to feed these animals properly? Lastly, they should always have fresh water made available to them 24/7 as well.
Figuring out your Barn Management and Herd Management Plan
These are things you just cannot wing. I would have been lost if I didn’t have a mentor when I first started!!! Sometimes buying from a reputable breeder can help you develop a great mentor/ student relationship and they can answer a lot of these questions that you should ask yourself before getting livestock. I would suggest asking yourself these questions and come up with some more planning and again do your research------ How will you clean their pens and stalls? How Often? How do I care for a pregnant doe? What should I have in my kidding kit? What should I have for my at home vetting kit? How do I care for her and her kids after she kids out? Do I live in an area where we have a vet that will see goats? Do I have a mentor if I get myself in a bind? How do I disbud(remove the horn bud) if I choose to? what vaccinations are necessary for my area and what is optional? what should be my deworming schedule and how should I rotate pen space or pastures? Will I test and quarantine any new stock coming onto my property or will I only buy from tested and clean herds? If I decide to breed and cannot sell all my stock that I have for sale, should I send them to the livestock auction/ should I butcher or cull some of them/ or try to continuously sell them for pets? These are important questions to ask yourself whether you need to know maintenance care for vaccination schedules and cleaning pens if you just have pets up to what you will do if you have a whole breeding program.
So overall, we covered some basic questions and points when it comes to keeping goats. We talked about why you would want a goat, questions to ask yourself how to choose a breed of goat, what is required to keep goats including fencing, housing, why multiples are a necessity, acquiring proper hay, feed, and minerals and what kind of questions may help with coming up with a barn / herd management plan. My hope for putting this out there is that this will help people to stop, think, and make an educated decision on getting goats and that it makes them think about important questions and that it helps them do their due diligence & research!
Happy Researching Everyone! Hope this helps you to prepare for your fun furry friends!!! Goats have so much love to give and they deserve the best treatment! <3 :)