What does it mean to Freshen a Goat?
As our Florida Summer comes to an end - it is a great time here at Sunshine Farms
to "Freshen up" some of our Dry Goat Ladies.. So we check our herds to see whose turn it is for "Date Night" with the the handsome Bachelor of their choice. Call it Procreation, Replication, or Proliferation; goats do it too and they do it well.
Time to Freshen Up Ladies !
The term "Freshen" is a Dairy Farming Verb that refers to any Milking Animal, and it means "to Begin Lactating" or to produce Milk. For a Goat to produce Milk, she first has to become pregnant and deliver. This Season promises cooler temperatures, which is the perfect time for Mating Season.
Breeding Season is upon us
This time of year is much less exciting than kidding season, but they go hand in hand for obvious reasons. It’s a natural act, but that doesn’t mean that the conscientious herd owner can’t intervene just a tad to make things run smoothly. On a Dairy Farm it is highly advisable to have a plan of who and when so that your whole herd doesn't Freshen all at once. Of course we work with nature and have to wait until the signs present themselves before we can choose who gets to visit whom for a romantic 2 mins.
Goats like to breed in the fall when they notice the temperatures dropping, usually from late August to early January. The shorter days can signify to the animals that it’s time to get busy if they want those spring babies. Most of our Goat Ladies go into heat, ( called Estrus), roughly every 21 days. They can breed while in Estrus for 12-36 hours.
The Gestation Period for most all breeds of goats is 5 months. The Goats that successfully breed in September, are expected to be delivered in February.
How long do Goats stay in Milk?
The average length of a Goats Lactation period can range greatly and depends upon the Breed and Genetics of the Milking Animal, Most Dairy Goat Producers have a planned length of Lactation, with the standard being at or near 305 days.
On our Farm, we have the unique opportunity to visually notice the individual milking plateaus and declines in volume of the Milk each of our goat ladies provide. Because of this we are able to have an individualized plan for each Milking Goat that reflects their past records in milk flow which will determine their plan for future lactation periods.
We have this great opportunity because we are a smaller operation and we are one-on-one with each Milking Lady on our team milking them by hand two times each day. We have noticed that no 2 Goats are cut from the same cloth - so to say - each Goat has individual milking period restrictions.
We monitor their health and weight as well as measure the amount of Milk they give us.
This is vital information in determining their individual nutritional needs during their lactating period. Many factors play into how long they will remain to be "in-Milk".
Some of our Ladies can give us milk for multiple years on the same lactation without exhibiting any weight loss or other health issues, where others may only be able to offer their milk to us for a shorter season. Each Lady is an Individual, and thorough record-keeping is a requirement for running any size farm.
Our Young "First Time Fresheners" will generally keep their place on our Milking Team for 6 months or more, regardless of the volume of their milk .
This time period gives that new Udder and Teats time to develop into Healthy Organs that they will need for future Lactations.
Our more Seasoned Milkers will generally stay on our Milking Team for 12-18 Months, each valuated according to their individual needs. Each time a Goat Freshens, her udders will enlarge with new colostrum and milk that will accommodate the needs of the number of children she produces.
When the time comes to "Dry-Off" a Milking Lady,
it is done slowly over a period of a few weeks. Once Dry, that special Lady gets to enjoy a much deserved season of rest - time off of the Milking team to relax and regenerate in the open fields. We have found this to be the best way to allow the rebuilding of their individual bodies in preparation for their next Lactation Season.
The term "Dry Goat" refers to a dairy goat that is not currently Lactating.
She is absent of Milk in her utters and is currently Not on the Milking Line or Nursing Children.
Last month we noticed that a few of our Dry Goats were exhibiting signs of being in Heat or Estrus ( ready for breeding )
We added our Saanen Buck named Chili ( top Left ) and our Toggenburg Buck named Adam ( top Right ) to their field for this very purpose. The Ladies were very excited to see them. We will drawl blood after 40 days of exposure to these gentlemen and send it away to the Lab in the mail. We plan to post the pregnancy results on our Main Webstore Home Page so you can follow along with us.