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Why We Raise Goats The Way We Do

Goat Milk Stuff is a family run goat dairy and we are proud of it. We raise dairy goats for milk and not meat. We bottle raise our babies for their health (see below) and sell any extra animals we aren't keeping for 4H, show herds, homesteading herds, pack goats, and even therapy goats. 

I started Goat Milk Stuff because I believe that goat milk is a nutritious food that is wonderful for people. But a goat dairy is a lot of hard work. And that's ok because I believe people should work. I believe children should work. I believe animals should work. I believe life is more satisfying when people and animals are given a job to do.

I don't believe in pets. I have dogs. They are guard dogs. I have cats. They are mousers. I have rabbits. They give me manure for my garden for fertilizer. I have chickens they give me eggs. I have 8 children. They love learning and working hard on the farm. All of my animals and all of my children are well-loved and live incredible lives.

I also believe in profitable small farming. I believe dairies should be limited in size and am not a fan of mega-dairies. I believe confinement dairy is horrible which is why my goats are on grass and in the open air, under blue skies and sunshine.

I do not apologize nor feel at all bad about earning a living, supporting my family, supporting my animals, and supporting multiple employees through my farm. My animals live incredible lives that they enjoy.

Why We Facebook Live our Goat Births

We spend hours and hours filming and responding to comments online for one main reason - we want to educate others. And if that education can help other goat farmers to save the lives of their goats, that's even better! Goat farming is a hard and lonely road. Vets who have experience with goats are few and far between, and bad advice from vets has killed more than a few of the baby goats that we've sent off to new homes. 

Why We Bottle Raise

We spent our first several years as goat owners, allowing the moms to raise their kids (dam raising). We had mixed success with this. Some did really well and some didn't. We eventually started bottle raising to eradicate a goat disease (CAE) from our herd. We had intended to go back to dam raising after the disease was eradicated. But we couldn't deny the results. Both baby and mama goats were healthier and happier when we bottle raised.

So even though bottle raising costs us more time, money, and goat milk (yes, the bottle babies drink more goat milk than dam raised babies), we go through all of that effort for the health of our goats.

The babies get their individual mom's colostrum and then they get the goat milk from the herd. We use whatever goat milk the babies don't drink to make our soap, cheese, and other goat milk products.

Here are a few more reasons we believe bottle raising is for the best for our herd (we would never tell another goat owner what is best for their herd):

  • Bottle raising prevents CAE, a goat disease that kills goats.
  • There is no "runt" because we make sure each baby gets all the milk they need.
  • The mother can't ignore or hurt one of her babies because she prefers the other.
  • Triplets get all of the milk they need rather than the stronger two taking the majority of it (since the mothers only have two teats).
  • Bottle raised babies are friendlier, which is important when they grow to be a 200+ pound buck.
  • Bottle raised babies are less stressed around humans, which is important for dairy goats.
  • Our does (the moms- like deer) don't have good mothering instincts. If you watch the videos, you'll notice that most of them ignore the babies. 
  • We would have to separate them at some point, whether at birth, or when weaning them at 2-3 months old. We believe it's kinder to do it before they are bonded, rather than listening to them scream for each other for days to weeks when they are older.

For more information on each of these bullet points, you can read our article on Why We Bottle Feed Baby Goats.

We monitor our mama goats very closely for signs of stress. Our mother goats don't cry, they don't pace, and they eat.  If they stopped eating or showed any signs of major stress, we would re-evaluate.

If you watch our videos, you'll notice that the mothers barely pay any attention to their babies. They are quite happy to have their molasses water and go back to their herd. 

Goats need food, warmth, companionship, and love. All of our baby goats get that from us or from their herd mates.

Why We Assist In Delivery

Many goats are capable of delivering their kids on their own. But many aren't. When humans go into labor they are checked internally by an obstetrician or midwife to make sure everything is progressing properly and safely (and I know this because I've had 8 births including 2 intentional home births with a midwife). They do this because they care and want healthy outcomes.

And so we also check our goats internally to make sure everything is progressing safely. We don't artificially induce delivery. We don't do anything to speed up delivery. We are simply doing everything we can to make sure we have a safe delivery.

We have an article telling the story of why we assist with deliveries, but here is the short list:

  • Our closest reliable goat vet is just over three hours away. And so it's important to prevent any birthing problems because if a goat needs a c-section, one is not easily or quickly achieved. And by the time we reach the vet, we will have most likely lost the kids and possibly the mom.
  • We check that the kid is positioned in a way that is actually deliverable.
  • If the kid is not properly positioned, we help rearrange the kid so mom can actually deliver.
  • You can make things much easier for your does by making sure the kid is properly positioned before the baby is pushed into the birth canal in a position that is not deliverable.
  • It's easier to fix a problem before it becomes a problem. Two tangled kids in the uterus are easily untangled. Two tangled kids wedged into a birth canal that is swollen because the mom has been pushing for so long are not easily untangled, and could already be dead.

We will always do everything in our power to make sure that our goats are safe. By the time a goat shows signs of being in distress in labor, she's already gone too far and should have been helped before. 

Not only has assisting our goats saved the lives of many of our goats, it has also saved the lives of goats in other herds as well. That's why we share our experiences on Facebook Live.

"If not for you all my baby would have died it's feet were out but head back. I saved her and mom. I was raised not to go in let stuff happen. Not going be like that any more here." Lynn Bailey

"After watching a few of your deliveries last year, my friend who raises fainting goats now goes in and assists with ALL her deliveries...hasn't lost a kid or mom since." Christie DeSmet

"I've been following ya'll for several years! I've learned a lot about goat care from ya'll that I use with my goat herd!!!" Elizabeth Johns 

"I just have a small group of goats and I have even learned from you. Thank you! I’m looking forward to my goats coming next month. I feel like I will be more prepared. I was worried when I first saw your video that you guys were jumping in too soon and doing a lot of pulling, but I have changed my mind after watching how patient the boys are when they help." Kris Gilbert

"I delivered twins at 11pm last night. Thank you for all your helped a lot. Your guidance and information made for an easy birth. I use to just let things happen but noticed I was losing babies from them taking so long. Now checking and making sure of proper placement is a wonderful tool and great information." Donna Duquette 

"Great job saving mama and kids. I lost a doe last week, missed her going into labor found her struggling with the kids head out and no legs... kid was gone and we lost the doe a few hours later."  June West (after watching a video where we delivered a head first baby with no legs presenting.)

We hope that explains why we do what we do. If you still have any questions, please just ask them. We'll be happy to answer.

PJ & Crew