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Farm Life: Goat Weaning

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Weaning is never pleasant for anyone involved.

For the kid, well, he thinks it’s the end of the world at first. After all, he’s never been more than a few feet away from his mother during his short lifetime. A fact that is very handy for me. If he wasn’t in the habit of following Cinnamon around like he was stuck to her with Velcro, I’d probably never be able to catch him.


Buckling on a leash

Weaning isn’t pleasant for me, either. Mostly because I feel so bad for the kid. In fact, halfway through the first day, I almost broke down and put him back out with the herd.

But Cinnamon? The mama goat? You’re probably sitting there, feeling all sorry for her having her baby taken away, but remember, she’s a goat. Goats aren’t exactly well known for being generous, thoughtful, or caring (it may sound silly to connect any of those attributes to an animal, but let me assure you, goats are completely devoid of these things).

The first morning I took her buckling away, she followed us about 15 feet. After that, she watched us go and bleated a few times. Once we were out of sight, though, well, out of sight, out of mind.

The second day, she didn’t bother following us at all. Just stood there and watched for a few minutes.

The third morning? She didn’t even seem to notice. In fact, that little buckling is a bit obnoxious about his nursing, so I suspect she’s kind of glad to see him go.

No, the reason I say it’s unpleasant for her is that she’s not used to having twelve hours’ worth of milk build up in her bag (although, truthfully, we have yet to go a full 12 hours). That can’t be comfortable.

This particular goat has the world’s tiniest bag (okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea), and she’s producing enough milk to feed a rather large, seven-week-old buckling. Needless to say, by milking time, she’s not only full but leaking – thus, the reason we haven’t gone a full 12 hours between taking the kid off and milking time.


Cinnamon and her buckling earning their keep clearing weeds out of an old fenceline

Good thing she’s not feeding twins, I guess. Or maybe twins just wouldn’t get to pig out as much as this singleton does.

Either way, I’ll be glad when her production adjusts to this decrease in demand. I must admit, though, that I’m sad that it has to decrease; I’d love to be getting all that milk! I suppose that we can hope for her bag to “grow” a bit in the future.

Now, before you think that we’re terribly and needlessly cruel, taking baby goats away from their mothers, think about this;

Sure, it upsets him at first, but think about Cinnamon (his mother) for a minute. I mentioned that he was obnoxious about nursing. Picture this; the buckling runs up to his mama every time he gets the urge for a snack and butts her bag – upward – with his nose so hard that Both of Cinnamon’s back legs leave the ground.

He’s so rough that she tries to avoid letting him nurse. Every time I see him do it, I worry that if he gets much bigger and stronger, he’ll start causing bruises.

I think it’s in Cinnamon’s best interest to give her a break. Better still will be when he weans completely – but he’s still a little too young for that.

And with that, I’n off to take my new pet – the buckling – some fresh water. I have a feeling he’s knocked his water bucket over by now and might be getting thirsty.

And who knows, I might let Garrett into the pen to play with him for a while.

Gotta love farm life.

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2 Comments

  1. I have just separated my twins from mum. She is a min elf goat huge bag of milk. Shall I milk her or will she dry up herself?

    1. If her bag gets too tight, you may want to relieve the pressure through milking, but if your goal is to dry her up, you want to keep the stimulation to produce more milk to a minimum.

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