Alchemy Acres
Tip of the Month

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We're well into Spring, and now we're looking at another long, hot Summer. Here in Tennessee, that means two things. First, we have to remain vigilent to make certain that the goats remain relatively parasite free. We worm the kids and the buck at the beginning of each month. We use Safeguard, Zimecterin, or Valbezon wormers. The does are wormed every other month - half the herd one month and the other half the next month. That way we always have a good supply of drinking milk. If we were to have a parasite problem, however, I would gladly sacrifice the milk supply for the good health of the does. We worm the milking does with Safeguard, as there is a much shorter withdrawl time (from the milk) for the Safeguard. Then just before the Fall breeding, we sock the does with either Zimecterin or Valbezon wormer.

The second thing that concerns us is the increasingly hot weather. Nubians are capable of surviving in both hot and cold weather, but we can certainly make their lives much more pleasant by grooming them at this time. This actually serves a number of functions. Not only will the animal be more comfortable in the hot, humid weather, but it also gets rid of the last vestiges of that ratty winter growth that just won't seem to go away (unless you brush the bejabbers out of all your animals). It also gives the keeper the chance to examine each animal carefully for lice, dandruff, or fungal problems such as ring worm or "the Creeping Crud". The grooming allows the keeper to treat any incipient skin problems and to keep his/her goats healthy and happy. Of course, we want to wait until the weather has really turned warm. That way, we don't have to put coats on everyone to preclude pneumonia. For us in Tennessee, that usually means grooming in mid to late May.

We use Oster A5 clippers with a #10 blade. There are other makes of clipper which I'm sure would do the job. The idea is that you have a durable pair of clippers that offer interchangeable blades so that you can have a fresh blade in the unit while you're having a spare blade sharpened. Sharp blades make the job more pleasant for the goats, and keep the groomer from going bonkers. We generally drag our stancheon under a big maple shade tree so that every one concerned is as comfortable as possible during the whole procedure. After the animal is secured in the stancheon, we start clipping around the head and neck. We've found it easier to do the tougher areas first while the animal is still fresh and at ease. Some people groom the whole head and face, but we choose to do the back of the head and up under the chin. The rest of the face is feathered into the close-cropped areas. The hair on the face is short anyway, so does not need much grooming. And the goat stays happier this way. Next, we clip around the feet and legs. These areas can be somewhat difficult if the goat is tired and cranky, so this, too, is done promptly. Then we clip the belly and under the legs. Finally, the back and sides are clipped. One thing I should probably mention is that you should clip against the grain of the hair for a nice short clip, and with the grain of the hair to feather into a non-clipped area (i.e., the face). The tail receives special attention. We clip the tail completely right up to about 1" of the tip of the tail bone. We then leave a little brush on the tip of the tail. You may wish to "square" the tip of that brush if you plan on showing the animal. If you do plan on showing the animal, you should groom your animal at least one week prior to the show date. Two to three weeks are even better so that the animal has time to grow a slick coat and look his/her best. I'm assuming that most of you who read this are grooming your animals so that they feel better for the summer. In any case, once we've got our goat clipped, we take him/her over to the water hose, wet him/her down, and then shampoo and scrub the goat thoroughly. This gets rid of any dandruff and the built-up grime from lazing about the stalls. Wash your animals when its warm outside, so that they don't catch cold (or worse). Make certain that they have plenty of time to dry off before it gets cool at night. Most of our animals really enjoy their bath - particularly the buck. Yes - don't forget your head "honcho" when you ladle out the love and care. Your buck probably needs the cleaning more than anyone else in the herd, and mine certainly enjoys the attention. After the bath, I swab my newly-skinned cherub with SPF 30 sunscreen so that he/she doesn't get sunburned. Light-skinned animals are more prone to sunburn than are the dark-colored animals.

You probably won't want to groom any more than one or two animals a day. That way, both you and your charges will remain a lot happier (and in my case, saner). We generally groom all our milkers, first. They are the hardest workers, after all, and need all the relief from the heat and humidity they can get. Next we do our grubby, stinky buck. That usually is the only animal to get groomed that day. Finally, we groom the kids. They really don't need it. They have plenty of energy, and the heat doesn't bother them. But they look so much nicer, and I can see their overall conformation so much better when they're all "gussied up". I guess it all boils down to the fact that it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see my animals all "dolled up" and grazing out in the front field. And I take much satisfaction in knowing that they're healthy and as comfortable as I can make them.

Next month, I'll regail you with the story of my first goat show.

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Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest