Best time for kids to be born?

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Jillis, Jan 10, 2007.

  1. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,680
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2005
    Location:
    Northeast Kingdom of Vermont
    Someone said something to me today that I was surprised at.

    She said that having kids born in winter was better for them and made them hardier!

    And not to ever use heat lamps! It would weaken the kids.

    I live in northern VT, and it gets REEEEEEEEALLY cold hereabouts!

    I had some hypothermic kids in my bathtub for a spell last winter...
    had heat lamps and a tarp over a stall with 10 babies in it and it wasn't enough, I had to use an electric heater in cage too! I sure wasn't going to let them tough it out at 30 below zero!

    So this year I am breeding for babies to be born in April, May and June. I do have one doe due mid-March but that's because I never saw her in heat before and wanted to strike while the iron was hot. (It worked, she's as big as a barrel ALREADY!)

    What's up with this idea? She got it from a very well-known (and somewhat opinionated!) breeder of champion Nigies that a lot of herd is from or is derived from that is in Maine. This breeder also says don't provide too much weather protection for your animals or you'll breed the hardiness out of them. She has a sort of "survival of the fittest" mentality.

    Opinions? Ideas? I'm open, but scratching my head!
     
  2. Caprice Acres

    Caprice Acres AKA "mygoat" Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    12,668
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Location:
    MI
    I've always heard that winter/spring babies are stronger/healther than summer/fall babies. However, I will always have all my does kid in summer because I'm just 16 and still going to school. I'd rather have my does kid when I don't have to take a day off (though my two alpines are due march and april, and then I have an accidentally bred mini due for the end of may...) From now on it will always be summer, if I can help it. I haven't noticed a problem with summer kids. They act the same as the rest of the kid goats I've ever seen. I know there are more diseases supposedly prominant, but none have fallen ill so far, though my herd isn't huge and I havent bred for long. I think it mainly has to do with management practices. I don't think it really matters when they're born but how clean/well they are raised.

    Also with the heat lamps, they are mainly used in extreme cold and during kidding; To keep the kid from chilling while being dried. But use them as little as possible; They can catch your barn on fire and aren't good for goats; They aren't made to adapt to heated housing!
     

  3. gryndlgoat

    gryndlgoat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    567
    Joined:
    May 27, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Our babies are born February/March here and it is plenty cold up here in Canada. We never use heat lamps or any extra heat in the barn, but we do take precautions to keep out drafts. Lots and lots of deep straw in the kidding stall and a plastic dogloo doghouse full of blankets for the kids to crawl into. I was worried last year that the singleton kid born in Feb was going to be cold without any siblings to curl up with, but he did just great. They spend most of their time in the doghouses or curled up next to Mama if she lays down. I have only been present for one actual birth so far- the mamas get the babies dried off and into their shelters without anyone getting hypothermia. They really are pretty tough little guys.

    The nice thing about winter- no FLIES! Having butchered in the summer, I can just imagine what all that birthing gunk would attract in May or June here. No thanks.
     
  4. Wendy

    Wendy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,312
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    SE Indiana
    I will go along with that. Mine do much better when born early in the year. I have most does due in February this year. I have less problems with cocci & worms when they are born during the cold. I do not use heat lamps on mine. They go in a stall bedded down in deep straw.
     
  5. goatkid

    goatkid Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,133
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Montana
    We don't raise our babies under heat lamps. We make sure they are dried off and get their colostrum. We keep the goat house strawed for warmth. I bring any babies that seem to be struggling into the house for a few days. Babies who are to be bottle babies and are born in cold weather live in the house for up to 2 weeks befor moving to the baby pen, which is not heated. I don't usually have babies born in January. My first goats are due Feb. 28. These are my older, more experienced does. First fresheners dont kid until April or May.
     
  6. AllWolf

    AllWolf We love all our animals

    Messages:
    1,402
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2005
    Location:
    VA, KY & TN Line
    Here we do not have kids born in the HOT summer because of Cocci and other viruses are really bad. We have kids born between Feb/March or April only not later. Lots of people do have kids born in the heart of winter but it can be really bad on both the mom and kid goat.

    But as I have always said everyone does thing different. What might work for them may or maynot work for you.

    Good Luck on your goats. :)
     
  7. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,680
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2005
    Location:
    Northeast Kingdom of Vermont
    Thanks for the informations, everyone.
     
  8. pyrnad

    pyrnad Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    I do not use heat lamps either. My goats kid in a big stall in the barn, which is quite warm. If it gets toooo cold, I can turn on the heat(yes I have a heated barn). But I only turn on heat as -10 or below to keep the water from freezing in buckets.
    The kids all sleep together, or curled up with their moms.
    I have never lost a kid to cold weather. I try to have my first batch of kids in January and Fabruary. I have 4 kids now and they are doing fine.
     
  9. DocM

    DocM Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,314
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    NW OR
    I have kids born from early Feb through to the first week of June. Shrug - I will bring bottle babies in the house and I've used lamps in my kid pen if it's really cold - heck, they're babies. If they're dam raised, no lamps, mom keeps them warm enough, they can nurse on demand. Don't see any noticable difference in my early or late babies. I start breeding after the Oregon State Fair and bucks have no access to does after end of January so there are no hot weather babies (June is still jacket weather here). The only advantage is that some Jan/Feb kids will be big enough to breed their first fall. That doesn't matter to me because I hold a majority of my does over as dry yearlings.
     
  10. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,680
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2005
    Location:
    Northeast Kingdom of Vermont
    Again, thanks! I bred a lot of my older girls the earliest...And I will be breeding the girls that were born last year in early February next time they go into heat, sometime this month I expect.

    Then I will be done breeding.

    I just rebred a couple of goats.

    So, the latest I will have babies will be in June.

    I use tarps and lights according to my observations of the babies. When we had some prolonged temps of -30 for over a week at a time, they got very still and just seemed cold---tails clamped, not much movement, hunching. These were babies that were over a month old, 12 in a large inside pen. The heater pulled them through. I brought 2 inside when they were a month old, this was in OCTOBER, because they were hypothermic. We had a sudden drop in temps and I didn't realize there was a draft from the window to the chicken coop to the kidding stall. They lived in my tub for 3 days until we cut the drafts and tarped their stall.
     
  11. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,246
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    Location:
    Missouri
    I like to have kids born in January/February/March because they do better as a general rule than later born kids. We rarely have much of a spring here, it just gets HOT and fast. So earlier born kids grow better. Of course thats what I *like*.......This year its worked out to where I will be having kids from January through June.... :flame:
     
  12. collegeboundgal

    collegeboundgal -Melissa

    Messages:
    924
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    springfield, MO area
    I also think about what the kids will be eating. when born early in the year it gives them time to develop the other stomachs to eat the brows with. so if born in feb. by april/may (spring growth of plants) the kids are able to brows for some of their nourishment which = less feed bill for you. (also, cold helps keep the cocci numbers down)

    -Melissa
     
  13. Blue Oak Ranch

    Blue Oak Ranch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    256
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    One thing, if it's cold, feed them more roughage (straw, grass hay, alfalfa hay, dry tree leaves) rather than grain. Dry roughage fires up that compost pile the goat has in her rumen, and will heat up the goat. Grain does the opposite - too much and it can lower body temperature. This may not directly affect small babies, but nice warm does will warm up a barn! Older kids should be eating hay and straw.

    I make sure my girls get a fresh couple of flakes of straw before nightfall when it's cold - they eat what they want and then sleep on the rest.

    Cheers!

    Katherine
     
  14. Jim S.

    Jim S. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,963
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Mine are born February and October/November. The Feb. kids usually are born into 25-35 degree days. It's a meat herd. I do not use ANY help to kid at all unless mama is in unnatural trouble. The kids are born in a small pasture and nature takes its course. I do not even own a heat lamp.

    My favorite keeper goat is a girl who almost looks casual as she drops her kids, then matter of factly cleans them up and resumes calmly eating as they get their first milk. That is ideal...she's a keeper.

    On the extreme opposite end is one who is a difficult kidder or needs help to kid, seems unconcerned about the kid post-partum, wanders off from it, and winds up giving me a new bottle chore for the next several weeks.

    I have bottle-fed foundering kids before, but their mama takes a trailer ride to become meat as soon as she recovers from birth. I am strict on this. I am not hard-hearted enough yet to actually go with the folks who say those kids are better off euthanized, although I have seen in some I retained an appalling lack of will to thrive and continuing troubles including lagging the herd performance and early death.

    The moment they suck that bottle, they are a loss to my operation and an additional weight on the herd, which must make up for that loss by generating more money. So I see the point about euthanizing, and I do not out of hand condemn those who do it. I can't actively kill them, but bottle kids DO automatically become terminal to my farm. They are weaned, raised and sold for meat. AND at a steep loss, all costs considered.

    I absolutely agree that too many goat owners are breeding the hardiness out of the animals. There have been articles written about this. In the meat industry, pampered savelings are passing undesireable and uneconomically feasible genetics on in herds.

    I cull against bottle babies, triplets and hard-kidding nannies because they do not pencil out if I am in the business to make a profit. Which I am, when I can. I love all the other bennies of goats, they are so cute, I like to pet them and etc., but it must be a business for me. Thinking of it as a business first also actually improves the herd by establishing very quickly a standard for performance.

    In Nature, goats have multiple births precisely because they die a lot. The weakest kids die in Nature...period. Or else they grow just enough to be predator food. All this strengthens the herd's genetics by eliminating individuals that drag on the herd. It keeps them from then having a couple dozen defective kids of their own and passing on undesireable characteristics.

    The good farmer, in my opinion, does his or her best to mimick Nature in the herd by weeding out weakness and encouraging strength. The fate of the individual animal is always subordinate to the herd. This in turn is rewarding because of less labor, less financial input, and greater potential for profit. The herd also actually becomes stronger and stronger as your standard for it strengthens.

    In this holistic model, every action taken beyond routine daily maintenance and care of the herd is an indicator of less than perfect efficiency. So the less work you must do to keep your herd maintained and in good health, the better you are performing. The less money you spend on the herd to keep it healthy and performing, the better you are doing.

    It's really hard for breeders to do this, by and large, because of the huge prices fetched for purebred animals. The economic bias in the breeder market, in other words, is the exact opposite of the bias in the commercial market where I farm. For example, I have seen purebred Boers that went in the low thousands that do not have the conformation of my nonregistered Boers, some of which I bought for as little as $50. The money bias in the purebred business tends to run against weeding out bad genetics, though reputable breeders always do. Those breeders have the best interests of future herds in mind, rather than their immediate pocketbook.

    That's also why it pays, as a buyer, to know what you are looking at in a goat and whether it will fit with the herd you have.
     
  15. Sweet Goats

    Sweet Goats Cashmere goats

    Messages:
    2,023
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    CO
    I try to kid mine out in about Feb. I have two reasons. 1. show. If you have babies in May or later, they really don't have a chance agains the goats that are born in Jan or Feb. They seem to be placed lower in the class becasue the judges always seem to say "they need to grew a little more to compare to the others". I don't kid in Jan becasue it tends to be our cold time (sometimes), like today the high is 11 degrees, and it will be getting worse through the weekend. Reason 2. we raise Cashmere goats, if they are born a little earlier, they tend to have more fiber come show time, so the judges can see the covering they will have. I had a baby born in July this last year, and he doesn't seem to have near the fiber the others do. (mom got in with the bucks without me knowing).