I brought Luna home the first week in April. A 3 year old Saanen, she had a one week old buckling with her. She was very thin, with a rough coat. She is now of good weight, her coat is lovely, and she looks quite healthy. (Note: this is my first winter with goats!) The goats and pony share a sturdy, new, 3 sided run in shed with rubber matting on the floor. The opening faces south, and wind is blocked (hopefully) by our house and two pine trees that are in front of the shed. This morning was quite chilly, 28 ish or so. Luna was SHIVERING as I milked her. Shivering! It was all I could to not bring her in by the wood stove. I brought her home a fleece lined weather proof dog coat tonight, but how in the world is she going to stand a Maine winter if the first cold night had her shivering? I cant imagine how she fared last winter when she was so thin and poor looking. Please tell me what I need to do to keep her happy. The other two goats seemed nonplussed by the chill. (They did all seem to enjoy the warm water I brought out.)
Check her temp, is it below or above 102.5? Check her penmates as well to see where their temps stand. Is she getting calcium? It sounds like it could be the on setting of milk fever if she is calcium deficient. Did her milk production drop from where it normally is? How was her interest in her grain/hay? Did she only start shivering when you started milking her? Do you have any straw in their pen? Straw is a great insulator which will help keep all of them warmer.
You really need to get her temp though, time is of the essence if she is coming down with milk fever. The first tell tale signs is shivering while milking, lower milk production, off feed (sometimes) and their temp will be below normal and continue dropping if it is not treated right away. I am not trying to scare you, it could be that she just truly is cold. But with a doe shivering while being milked my mind first always jumps to milk fever.
OK, I will check her temp. She was shivering before I began to milk. She gets alfalfa pellets and some dairy pellets while being milked, and hay 24/7. Loose minerals always on hand. Milk production is stable, and she is eating LOTS. I have not had bedding in the shed, but put a bale of shavings in tonight. I added sunflower seed tonight to add a little fat. I'm going out soon to check on them....
Thanks for the input!
How about putting some wood pallets underneath the rubber mats, then bedding it down thick? Might help keep the cold from the ground from coming thru. But not sure if this would work with the pony standing on it if he/she is heavy.
I agree with Goldenwood & Ford Zoo on all the above. Get her temp 1st. Pallets are great to keep them off the ground. We also do deep bedding here for our goats, Michigan winters I imagine are as bad as Maine but our goats usually stay pretty toasty.
Shavings are not enough to keep them warm. We use straw & their wasted hay is also saved for bedding.
Let us know how Luna's doing tomorrow. Supposed to be a pretty cold night again tonight but winter's not here yet.
We toss just tons of hay into the building where we keep the goats and mostly, except on really good days, out goats don't even go outside in the winter. Once it starts getting snowy and deep, which it does here, I don't want to have to go rescue a goat in a 10 foot drift. We have a barn that we just close up except for some ventilation and bed the floor really thick, several bales of hay. We have enough they could almost bury themselves in it, and we also keep the place where they stay small, because small means body heat will keep the room warm. Course we also keep it dry, removing waste, etc. I think the pallets are a great idea and I'm going to do that this year as well! Thanks for that tip!
Hello! I put her in a nifty coat last night and she was toasty warm and not shivering today. Her temperature is normal and she seems fine. Is it possible that she just has a problem with the cold? In early December I will have a cozy little calf hutch that I am going to put next to the run in shed and layer deep bedding in. This will be a smaller space where the two goats and snuggle up and be (hopefully) warmer.
I so appreciate all the caring and information on this forum. You are a wonderful resource!
I agree a calf hutch sounds wonderful. She could just be on the skinnier side from producing milk and the cold bothered her more than normal. I would just keep an eye on her if she does start shivering while milking. I have dealt with milk fever before and it ain't pretty.
OK, so on this topic (and again, thank you all who so generously help us newbies!) I have another question. I am familiar with the deep bedding idea from my poultry. If I bed the shed down with straw, will that not be a major project to clean out later? I am assuming you mean for me to layer on fresh bedding throughout the winter?
Thanks in advance...
~smiles~ You can muck out the shed once per week and put in fresh bedding, which won't be as warm....OR you can just keep piling bedding in there and do a single, major muck out in spring of nearly completely composted, garden-make-happy, stuff.
What provides the extra warmth of deep bedding is that the bottom layers compost through the winter, providing heat to whatever is laying on top of it. By simply adding an extra layer of bedding whenever it starts looking like something that you wouldn't want to sit down in to cuddle up to a goat, then you keep this process going.
The bottom-layer, composting, deep bedding can raise the temperature in a shed or stall as much as 20 degrees. It is kinda like a heater that doesn't need electricity.
To me, that's worth a little extra effort in spring.
Goats produce internal heat from the digestion of long stem fiber, so make sure she has plenty of hay. My goats have been shivering on some recent cold mornings too. I think they go through an adjustment period and get used to the cold weather.
My goats have a warm barn and on a cold morning, they shiver. So do the dogs and the horses. Shivering is a response to cold that actually warms the animal. In the absence of symptoms, I'd say your goat is fine and not to worry about the shivering.
I do the deep bedding method and love it! Yes it is a lot of work to clean it out in the spring...but really it only takes my hubby an hour or so to shovel it out and haul to the manure pile. The key is to find someone else to do it
but really it only takes my hubby an hour or so to shovel it out and haul to the manure pile. The key is to find someone else to do it
LOL. Agreed! It's a giant pain to do alone. DH and I do it together and it's not bad. And honestly, it's a trade-off that benefits the goats. I'd rather be out there mucking three times as long on one early spring day than mucking weekly in the frigid dead of winter.
So I get to put off chores and the goats are warmer!