This section of the website holds articles on everything you need to know about keeping pets and livestock. Choose from the menu on the left to browse our articles.
Boars reach maturity around 6 months of age although this can depend on feeding levels and management. Usually they are not used for service until 7-8 months old. A boar courts a female by chasing her around, nuzzling her head, flanks and genital area, sometimes drinking her urine. He frequently pushes or leans on her to see if she is approaching standing heat.
We all know of fat cresty-necked ponies and horses that are prone to laminitis (tender feet or founder).
Mud fever (greasy heel) and rain scald also known as dermatophilosis are all too common in horses in New Zealand.
Goats that have chewed their way through the dry herbage at many gateways over the summer need as much holiday care as any other animal in the family or on the farm. People need to go and check their goat each day, over the holidays and ask someone to check the animal when they are away.
Do you think the easiest way to keep your verge tidy might be to get a goat? Don’t be fooled - it takes a lot of time and effort to look after a tethered goat properly.
When you shear a sheep or a goat, you remove its weather-proofing. After all, a fleece is warm when it's cold, it prevents sunburn on clear sunny days and it's windproof and water-proof. So shearing leaves sheep and goats very vulnerable to the elements. Here's some advice on how to keep your stock happy after shearing.
Females, crias, weaning, identification, selection for transport and behaviour.
Not a lot is known about the requirements of goats for trace elements like iodine, selenium, copper and cobalt. The diet of goats on lifestyle blocks is restricted to what we offer them, and their diet is more likely to be deficient in some elements than a diet of natural browse. In that case, are lifestyle block goats at risk of deficiency diseases?
Some of you keep your goats for their milk, either for home supply or as part of your farming business, and some of you choose to keep your goats indoors for some or all of the time, either for milking or perhaps to protect them from rough weather or to help control worms.
In parts of the North Island, barber's pole worms (Haemonchus contortus) have been the cause of a lot of goat ill-health this year, and many goat owners will have suffered losses as a result of this nasty parasite. In this article, we explain what the disease is, and how you can make sure you don't have problems with it in future.
With today's more fertile sheep breeds, inevitably there are more lambs born, which everyone thinks is a good thing.
Fibres start to grow in the foetus from follicles in the skin.The first to develop are large coarse fibres from primary follicles, and finer fibres follow these from secondary follicles.A typical group of these follicles would be made up of three primaries and 20-30 secondaries in a mohair goat. Birth coats are rich in coarse fibres but are shed at about three months old leaving fine fibres from the secondary follicles to produce the first fleece. Fleeces generally become coarser with age as the primary follicles continue to produce and shed coarse fibres, especially during spring and autumn.
If you have to euthanase a goat of any age, it’s important to study the Code of Animal Welfare No. 19 on “the emergency slaughter of farm livestock”, because the process can be very dangerous for the operator, and you may end up being prosecuted for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to the animal.
Angora goats are not usually dehorned although the horns are usually tipped (the last 1cm of horn clipped off) as they can be extremely sharp. Horns can be tipped with hoof shears or secateurs. Sharp horns can be a nuisance and a danger to humans in both kids and adults, but they have the big advantage of making catching and holding goats easier. Kids can be dehorned with a hot iron before they are a week old but great care is needed.
Every spring a new group of people get the urge to rear 'a few calves' to make some extra income. This is despite the many others who could tell them that there's very little profit in it. Here are some points for a very simple system for anyone who plans to rear calves for the first time. The KIS principle is vital - keep the job simple.
If your goats are not doing well, there are many possible causes. The obvious ones are under-feeding and worms, but if you rule these out, what's left? Here are some of the possibilities - selenium deficiency, iodine deficiency and Johne's disease. Also Marjorie looks at the most common poisons, plant and chemical, which could kill your goat.
In 2008 the drought in New Zealand was producing pasture with low nutritive values. This meant that supplementary feeding of goats may be necessary in some areas to maintain growth rates and milk production, meet the requirements of pregnant does or even just maintain the welfare of goats depending on the situation and use of goats.
The signs of skin disease are usually fairly obvious, with itchiness, or hair loss, or scurfiiness or sores, or reddening or some other change in the appearance of the skin. Sometimes though the long hair of Angora goats can hide developing disease, giving you a nasty surprise at shearing time! As with all diseases it pays to be vigilant to spot the early signs of disease, and this means hands-on inspection, not just eye appraisal.
When giving injections always get veterinary advice to make sure the products are appropriate and you know the correct procedure. A loaded syringe can be a dangerous weapon for both you and any helpers. If anyone does get injected, then seek immediate medical help and take the product with you to the doctor. Keep your tetanus vaccinations up to date too. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter for storage and use of the product.
Thirty years ago leptospirosis was one of the most common zoonoses in NZ with over 400 human cases a year, mainly in dairy farm workers. In recent years the widespread vaccination of pigs and dairy cattle has reduced the number of human cases to fewer than 100 a year. However there are still plenty of infected livestock on farms.
Future goat farming in New Zealand is based on pasture feeding, and as world grain prices have gone crazy less of it will be fed, and it will be fed more carefully. The problem with “pasture“ as a feed is that it varies in quality and quantity every day of the year. It goes from low DM, low fibre, high protein and high digestibility in spring and autumn, to low protein, high DM, high fibre and low digestibility in the summer. Balancing all this to meet the nutritional needs of the stock at different times of the year is often described as more art than science.
This last part in our series on dairy goats considers keeping of one or two pet goats of a dairy breed. Hand reared pet kids can be useful on the lifestyle block to help with weed control, but often they end up being tethered by the roadside and this article discusses some of the pros and cons of this.
Goats don’t have a split upper lip like sheep so don’t graze as close to the ground. They are classical browsers and are used successfully by farmers to graze out weeds and avoid chemical sprays. Offering goats a wide choice of feed can cause problems as they may for example take a liking to feeds of low nutritional value when you want them to put on weight.
No matter how much we love our goats, we have to subject them to some unpleasant procedures from time to time, like disbudding, castration and ear-tagging. These are inevitably painful, but they are usually short and sharp, and of course they are only carried out to make it easier to farm the goats well.
Making sure you can find goats where you left them has been a challenge for herders since domestication. Although goats are not classical “follower” species like sheep, if one finds an escape route the whole herd will soon follow. Some goats are born to be escapologists and they can lead to disasters on steep hill country when one finds a hole in the fence in a hollow, and the rest of the mob push up behind it waiting their turn to follow ending up in a massive smother. So having good fences in the correct locations is the first priority of goat farming.
Keeping goats in can be a challenge for the farmer! They don't just have to be kept behind fences, they sometimes have to be individually restrained for various procedures, the flock has to be yarded from time to time and the goats have to have secure shelter and housing to protect them from the elements. All this can be difficult, but fortunately dairy type goats generally adapt well to life on the hobby farm. Sheep facilities are generally suitable for them, although adaptations are beneficial and effective shelter is imperative. Here we discuss these issues - physical restraint, shelter, housing, mustering, fences and yards, and mixing goats.
Part three in a series on Angora goat health and disease looks at lameness and sudden death. Practically every goat farmer has to deal with lame goats at some time or other. It's a common problem, particularly on wet land and when the horn on the feet becomes overgrown. The most common causes of lameness are foot scald, foot rot, foot abscess and arthritis.
NZPork, the organisation funded by New Zealand pork producers has important information for all owners of pigs. Please read this carefully and take very good care to ensure that any risk to your pigs, and therefore New Zealand’s pig herd, is minimised.
Scouring (diarrhoea) is common in Angora goats. The first sign of scouring is usually soft wet dags under and around the tail. "Worms" or gastrointestinal nematode parasitism is not just the most common cause of scouring, it's by far and away the most common disease problem of any kind in Angoras.
In New Zealand, Highland Cattle have traditionally been a breed that has been embraced by lifestylers.
"Disbudding" of calves and kids means removing the very early developing horn base to prevent horn growth. It's a procedure carried out routinely for management reasons, but it's potentially very painful, so it should be carried out as humanely as possible.
There are particular welfare issues associated with goats, because of their sensitive nature and inquisitive personalities! Compared with sheep and cattle they need much more protection from the elements because their fleeces are not as waterproof.
When considering the state of health of a sheep, it's a great help to know its liveweight.
Let's hope you never have to deal with rhododendron poisoning. The signs in sheep and goats include spectacular vomiting and intense pain. A few hours after eating rhododendron, the animal is in agony, rumen heaving, and it's plastering the shed walls with green vomit.
We use population genetics to study complex economic traits that are controlled by many genes.
What is animal breeding all about? We keep animals for many reasons, and it’s a great mistake to think that making money is always the top priority.
Goats have no top teeth and instead have a hard dental pad that their bottom incisors bite against. You can estimate the age of goats by the age at which the milk teeth are replaced by permanent incisors. They get new ones in pairs working from the middle outwards.
There are plenty of goat welfare issues. Footrot a major problem with goats and is difficult to cure once established. The answer for chronic cases is to cull them. Many goats now have internal parasites (worms) that are resistant to all drenches.
Feral pigs (Captain Cookers) are farmed on small blocks and the Kunekune is also popular. These pigs grow more slowly and have much fatter carcasses.
It’s tempting to think that you can make money from pigs by feeding them kitchen scraps and garbage. Pigs will love this diet, but they won’t grow and reproduce as well as when fed correctly balanced diets.
Housing costs money, and to reduce costs, many pig farmers build their own, ending up with eyesores that annoy and stink out the neighbours. The rooting and wallowing of pigs around their accommodation does not help the scene. It’s important to decide what stock will need housing and what sort of housing they’ll need.
Pigs are den-living, home-loving individuals with a poor herding response. They dislike being moved, especially from dark into bright light. In panic they will scatter and race back to their den (pen) -even when it’s burning down!
If you have pigs on your lifestyle farm and they are well fed with a comfortable free-range lifestyle, they are likely to be relatively healthy and content. But there are a few health problems you should know about They are the ones that are most likely to occur, and knowing a bit about them and taking steps to prevent them is the best health insurance you can have.
Profit comes from keeping a productive sow that regularly weans good litters that grow well to slaughter weight with no deaths. That’s the main objective. It’s also important to make sure pigs have a friendly temperament and have no physical defects.
Most gilts (young females) show their first oestrus between 170-220 days old, which is usually around 90kg liveweight. Age and not weight limit puberty in modern strains of fast growing pigs fed high energy diets.
Pregnancy in pigs is 115 days (3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days) with a range of 110-120 days. Pigs will breed all year round, but if kept outside their fertility drops in the darker months of winter.
AI in pigs is now regularly used around the world. The advantage for small pig breeders is that it avoids the costs and inconvenience of keeping a boar.
Mixing pigs can cause a lot of stress, especially if they start fighting. Mix 3-4 sows and their litters before weaning.
Pigs urinate and defaecate at regular intervals during the day, except for a lengthy rest period between 7pm and 6am when their day starts. Pigs are naturally clean.
The time may come when you are faced with having to kill a pig, whether slaughtering for food or euthanising an old or sick animal. This article explains what you need to know.
Many farmers are running out of pasture for their sheep and cattle and they are wondering what to do about it, because there’s not a lot of supplementary feed around.
The fireworks displays around 5th November will be noisy, colourful and dramatic. Most people will love them.
You might well have heard of Johne’s disease, because it’s a common problem in ruminants. But even if you’ve heard of it, you may not know much about it.
Have any goats on your farm died after losing weight steadily? Did they develop severe diarrhoea? Did their condition worsen over a period of weeks or months?
Johne’s disease is a particular problem in cattle and deer for several reasons. It causes slowly progressive and incurable scouring and weight loss leading to death or euthanasia.
Most animals on the farm will be lame at some time or other, especially the animals that live to a good age like horses, ponies, donkeys, dairy cows, pet goats and sheep.
You know how uncomfortable it is when you have a stone in your shoe, or an infected toe-nail? Then you can imagine how painful it is for your horse or pony when he has an injured or infected foot.
Practically every farmer has to deal with lame livestock at some time or other. It’s a common problem in goats and sheep, and it can be a problem in cattle. Occasionally it’s a problem in deer.
Yes, it’s a mouthful, but “neurological” just means “relating to the central nervous system”, and the central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. So neurological signs in animals are the clues the animals give us that there is something wrong with their brain and/or spinal cord.
Abortions can occur at any stage of pregnancy, although usually only mid to late-term aborted foetuses are big enough to be noticed.
In late pregnancy and early lactation, ewes and cows are under great metabolic stress. Their foetuses grow fast in late pregnancy, and after giving birth they have to produce a lot of milk.
Hypomagnesaemia is relatively common in cows in heavy lactation and on lush pasture (inadequate energy intake and low magnesium content).
Milk fever in beef and dairy cows occurs most often in high producing older cows within 48 hours of calving, but it can occur several weeks before or after calving. Ironically predisposing factors include high calcium or phosphorus in the diet in late pregnancy.
When cows with metabolic disease go down, it may be difficult to get them on their feet again - they become ‘downer cows’. Usually the initial cause is milk fever, then either grass staggers or acetonaemia can develop as well. All three can occur together.
For just about as long as animals have been farmed, they’ve been routinely subjected to several surgical procedures that make it easier for their owners to manage them - and they make life easier for the animals too.
Most male cattle, sheep and goats are castrated while they are young, to make their management easier. It goes without saying that castration can be a very painful and distressing experience for the animal.
Disbudding of calves and kids means removing the very early developing horn base to prevent horn growth. It’s a procedure carried out routinely for management reasons.
Foot problems can affect all sorts of animals at any time of year and should be treated promptly. Animals need to be able to walk to access food and shelter and an animal in constant pain is not going to thrive.
Cattle, goats, sheep and other ruminants have no upper incisors - they have a hard dental pad and their bottom incisors (eight of them) bite against that.
When farm animals develop acute pneumonia the signs are dullness and difficulty with breathing (heaving sides, rapid breathing, head low and extended). Sometimes their elbows are pushed out, sometimes (but not always) they cough. But often affected animals are just found dead.
When giving injections always get veterinary advice to make sure the injections are appropriate and you know the correct procedure. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Various pathogenic bacteria are present on the surface of the skin and these may produce infection if injected with the medication.
Gastrointestinal worms (in the stomach and intestine) are without doubt one of the biggest threats to the health and welfare of grazing animals in New Zealand. Internal parasites live in the stomach and intestines, and they lay eggs, which are passed out in faeces and hatch into larvae.
Most adult round worms live in the gut of the animal, (usually the small intestine) where they suck the animal’s blood, reproduce and shed eggs that pass out in the faeces on to the pasture. When conditions are favourable (wet and warm) the eggs hatch and the larvae climb up the pasture plants and are eaten again by the animal.
Drench (anthelmintic) resistance is a huge and growing problem on livestock farms, particularly with sheep and goats. If you have drench resistance on your farm it means that some of the worms on your pasture and in your sheep or goats have developed resistance to a particular type of anthelmintic, so drenching with anthelmintics in that drench family will not be effective in getting rid of these worms.
Vaccination of ewes against the clostridial diseases such as pulpy kidney and tetanus is good insurance against losses in lambs, because lambs are passively protected by antibodies in their mother’s colostrum for up to 3 months.
Iodine is another vital nutrient and a trace element, and although deficiencies are not as common as those caused by copper, selenium and magnesium, deficiencies can still occur in a few areas.
Drench resistance is a real threat to future worm control in goats, sheep and cattle. About 80% of milking goat herds and 65% of sheep flocks may already be affected, and on some goat farms, resistance to all three drench families has been recorded.
Signs may appear from as little as half an hour to as much as several hours after poisoning.
Access across farmland to public waterways and hunting grounds has long been a custom in New Zealand. Lately though, with the increasing awareness of sheep measles, sheep farming landowners are taking a much sterner approach to this public privilege.
Working dogs are valuable animals and often have accidents a long way from a veterinary clinic. What you do after an accident may not only save the dog's life, but it can also hasten its recovery. First aid is all about sustaining life and preventing things getting worse before you get professional help.
There are too many dogs housed in cold damp kennels and a few unfortunate dogs have no shelter at all. Animals suffer just as much in cold damp winter condition as humans do.
There are no such things as dog problems! All the problems are "dog-owner" problems. That's certainly the clear opinion of the great majority of dog experts in New Zealand and overseas.
Your dog is a good and faithful companion. Whether it is a working dog, a guard dog or a household pet, it is an intelligent animal with the potential to be a real asset on the farm.
Farm dogs are usually very intelligent animals and willing workers. They learn quickly, they can think for themselves, they are very active and they are easily bored. When they are well cared for they are sleek and glossy, bright and happy, and an invaluable asset on the farm. But they need proper attention. If they don’t get it, they’ll be thin, smelly or nervous. Sadly there are too many farm dogs in this category.
Apart from helping to keep your dog fit, regular good quality exercise will help prevent boredom and the bad habits that often go with it, like persistent barking or continual pacing.
If you have pigs on your lifestyle farm and they are well fed with a comfortable free-range lifestyle, they are likely to be relatively healthy and content. But there are a few health problems you should know about. They are the ones that are most likely to occur, and knowing a bit about them and taking steps to prevent them is the best health insurance you can have.
The term ‘BIT’ is like the term ‘HORSE”. A HORSE can be a mare, gelding, stallion, colt, foal etc,
This month we shall take a look at the PELHAM. Most people think that the PELHAM is more severe than a snaffle - but is this so?
The application of the plain, ordinary and supposedly simple egg-butt snaffle cannot be discussed until the way the bit should fit into the horse’s mouth has been looked at.
Last month we discussed some of the reasons why the simple, mild egg-butt snaffle is not simple or mild
There are a variety of reasons for an older horse developing the dreaded problem of the tongue over the bit
Sometimes, when we go to purchase a horse, everything is perfect except for one or two things
The tom-thumb snaffle is an ordinary and commonly used bit that comes with a range of built in bad-habit developers.
This month's topic is the kimblewick, a bit that may also be known as a Spanish snaffle.
All horse owners will have to deal an injured horse sooner or later, and those of you who have experience of this will know that it can be quite a drama.
In this article, we follow on from the emergency conditions considered in Part One (Cuts and other wounds) to deal with colic, tying up, blocked gullet (sometimes called ‘choke’) and the horse caught in an electric fence.
Accidents and emergencies happen to many horses sooner or later, no matter how good your paddock and stable management is. So if you have horses it’s always wise to be prepared.
Some ponies, and some horses too seem to live on the smell of an oily rag! How can they eat so little and stay so fat, and why are they so prone to developing laminitis?
When driving or moving horses give them somewhere to go. Position yourself behind the driving line. If you move left the horse will move right. More movement from you (either quicker, closer or sharper) will produce more movement from the horse. Keep your adrenaline down.
Here is an idea for a simple inexpensive horse pen. The openness of the pen and all round vision helps keep the most highly strung horses calm - as they can see their mates a few paddocks away, and everything else that is going on.
If horses are to be covered, only light covers should be used, and the horses should have access to cool shady areas for relief from the heat.
Winter pasture in most parts of New Zealand is not an adequate feed for a horse - even to maintain its body weight.
Many horse owners don't seem to realise how hot it gets below a winter double rug along with a neck rug and head cover.
Those of you who have goats will know they are not the hardy creatures many people think they are. They are fastidious eaters, they need good shelter, they are very susceptible to worms and Johne’s disease, their feet need trimming regularly, and the Angora-type goats that have continuously growing fleece must be shorn each year.
Foaling outsisde (under lights) - the better option in a mild climate or foaling in a stable - the better option if there are complications.
Gestation in the mare tends to be around 342 - 345 days after last service by the stallion, but can vary from 315 - 370 days. Mares do tend to follow a pattern so if your mare foaled a fortnight late last year, there is a strong possibility she will do the same this year.
Injury Prevention Research Centre Fact Sheet 32, December 2000.
New Zealand 1993-1998
To prevent problems, it is wise to have the cheek teeth of ponies and horses rasped regularly, perhaps once a year or so, by a veterinarian or a horse dentist.
Horses are herbivores like cattle but are not ruminants. They eat a wide range of pasture plants and weeds.
Assume that all garden shrubs are a potential danger to goats. Some plants cause delayed poisoning as well as immediate poisoning eg ragwort and St John’s wort.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, a tethered goat must be provided with adequate feed, water and shelter. A goat is not like a sheep and does not have a fat layer or wool to keep it warm.
The tethered goat causes more welfare complaints to MAF and SPCA inspectors than any other animal, and winter is the worst time for this neglect. People should remember that a goat is not a sheep!
Throughout their lives, goats are very susceptible to worms in their stomach and intestines. Big worm burdens cause ill-thrift, weight loss, diarrhoea and even anaemia and deaths.
Goats are a flocking species but they don’t flock as tightly as sheep. Feral goats are hard to muster as individuals (especially males) keep breaking back and prefer to escape rather than stick with the mob. Sheep stick with the mob for safety unlike goats who seem to more keen to take a chance on their own.
Goats are seasonal breeders coming into heat in autumn with the declining daylight. Goats reach maturity at about 5-6 months old but well-reared milking-breed kids can show heat earlier (4 months) so they have to be watched to avoid too-early mating.
Sheep have generally very good vision. The position of the eye allows for wide peripheral vision – with each eye they can span some 145° with each eye.
Sheep are seasonal breeders and ewes are stimulated to cycle by the declining daylight pattern in Autumn.
A few hours before lambing, a ewe will move away from the main flock to find a quiet birth site.
Hogget lambing is regularly promoted as a way to increase income, but results have been variable in the past.
Wool merchants are getting hot under the collar about people packing wool when it’s damp.
Every year, usually after the holidays in February and sometimes later, the owner of a lifestyle block with a small flock of sheep will realise that it’s that time of the year again.
Docking removes most of the lamb’s tail to prevent build up of dags on the wool around the sheep’s back end.
Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) now recommends that sheep are fasted prior to shearing
Lifestyle blocks are unfortunately a great place to find sheep decorated with dags.
Mating hoggets can be quite profitable if done properly, but it has severe pitfalls which have be taken care off.
Before you get the rings out to castrate your lambs this Spring, decide if it’s a wise move to turn them into wethers.
If you get things wrong, you’ll end up with poor weaners that will be poor hoggets, and these in turn will make poor-performing ewes over their lifetime.
Rearing a pet lamb can be a great experience and it’s especially rewarding if you’ve saved a young lamb from starvation and exposure.
When a ewe is preparing to lamb, she’ll try to find a quiet spot for a birth site.
Natural coloured fleece is sought after by handspinners, but the quality has to be right.
The day you are offered an orphan lamb or kid to rear for school pet day - you have to be very hard hearted.
The day you are offered an orphan lamb or kid to rear for school pet day - you have to be very hard hearted. You must ask the question - "has it had colostrum from it's mother, or from any other source which would be an adequate substitute"?
New Zealand is well advanced in slaughter practices in all meat works, where cattle, sheep, goats and pigs are electrically stunned before their throats are cut severing the carotid arteries.
If you buy calves directly from the farm where they were born you can see the conditions they have come from. You can check all sorts of things, such as the way calves are handled, the smell around the calf yard or house, the consistency of faeces and so on.
The very young calf is described as "monogastric", ie. it has a single stomach like pigs, poultry and mankind. This is designed to digest milk.
Twins in cattle are not common- about 1 set in every 4000 births. Some dairy farmers find they have a run of twins in some seasons and these are difficult to explain.
Protecting your valuable future money earners is a vital part of your animal health program.
A light-hearted view of life from the calf’s viewpoint – but with a serious animal welfare message.
Farmers who have scouring calves that are passing blood should not assume it is Coccidiosis.
If you have not reared your yearlings you will have to organise time to buy from the market or a reputable calf rearing enterprise.
If you have not reared your weaners you will have to organise time to buy from the market or a reputable calf rearing enterprise.
Once you start looking at cattle you need to choose the option to go for. Here are some things to take into consideration:
When to remove a calf from her dairy cow mother is often debated as an animal welfare issue.
Farming bulls for beef is a major business. It provides lean export beef (grinding beef) for the USA hamburger trade.
Cows will breed all year round and are not as affected by the day/night pattern (photoperiodicity) as sheep, goats and deer.
Cattle digest fibrous feed in their 3 fore stomachs – rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum which is the true gastric stomach.
Adult cattle sleep very little. The sleeping pose is all four legs tucked under and head turned to face the rear.
Cattle evolved into about 260 different breeds, types and varieties in different parts of world
Simple Condition Scoring for cows - learn these seven points to feel on the cow.
Primitive cattle needed horns to fight off predators and to sort out social ranking within the herd. Bulls needed them in their death fights for the 'king' bull status.
Bloat in cattle is caused when grass is growing rapidly and clovers are coming away, as these feeds contain natural foaming agents that generate stable foam in the rumen.
Well-grown heifer calves are capable of becoming pregnant from about 6 months of age. Bull calves can be fertile from about the same age.
When bulls start to become territorial and difficult to handle it’s tempting to assume that putting a ring in their nose will solve the problem.
There are many reason to try to do without a bull on your block. They are generally expensive to buy - if you buy a decent one.
Cows with low magnesium run the risk of loss of production, going down at calving with “grass staggers” and death, at a time when you can least afford these losses.
Livestock can usually cope fairly well with either rain or wind or cold temperatures. When two or more of these conditions occur together, livestock can quickly become chilled.If they get so cold that they shiver, their requirement for feed increases hugely, and if they don’t get extra feed they soon lose weight.
Watch out for nitrate poisoning when the autumn rains come. This is when stock eat the fresh new “autumn flush” pasture that grows after a long dry period. It is usually worst with new grass, but can happen on old pasture too. Nitrates are broken down in the animal's rumen and cause death through reducing the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. The animal actually dies from oxygen starvation, and it can be very rapid.
Despite welcome rain over the past few days, many areas of the country remain in the grip of what has been described as the worst drought ever. Because of the extremely dry conditions, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is advising small farm owners to seek help and advice if they have any problems with the condition of their animals.
How many stock should you carry on your block? This is not an easy question to answer. This is because the feed supply varies from day to day in quality and quantity, and so do the nutritional needs of the stock.
Angora goats are believed to have originated in the mountains of Tibet from where they spread to the Angora province in Turkey. There were five types each with different fleece characteristics but these were merged over time into the mohair goat recognised today.
Getting started is often the most difficult part, as some major decisions have to be made. These are mainly controlled by available finance and the time you are prepared to wait for results.
You cannot do worthwhile recording and breeding to improve flock performance unless all animals are identified. This ID must be unique so that no two animals have the same identity.
If you keep goats you are bound by the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The details of good practice under this law are set out in a number of animal welfare codes that you should be aware of.
Goats (Capra hircus) were among the first animals to be kept by man. Goat remains (or those of their early ancestors) 10,000 years old have been found in central and West Iran, and domestic goats have existed in other parts of the world for 8,000 years.
What are the main types of disease problem in Angoras?
Compared with other farm animals, goats are relatively susceptible to internal worms, which can cause scouring and ill-thrift. Angora goats tend to suffer more problems with their feet than sheep, especially on lush pasture, and this causes lameness and ill-thrift.
If you keep goats you are bound by the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The details of good practice under this law are set out in a number of animal welfare codes that you should be aware of.
What to buy depends on what’s available at the time and what the current market is like. If mohair is out of fashion, then does will be a lot cheaper than when fibre prices are good and people are talking about an approaching boom!
Goats are seasonal breeders coming into heat in autumn as daylight declines. They reach maturity at about 5-6 months old but well-reared milking-breed kids can show heat earlier (4 months) so they have to be watched to avoid too-early mating.
You cannot do worthwhile recording and breeding to improve flock performance unless all animals are identified. This ID must be unique so that no two animals have the same identity. No system of ID is ever perfect, as there are always problems with permanent tags being pulled out on fences, and temporary marks on fleeces fading or being shorn off.
New Zealand sheep farmers, shepherds and research technicians over the years have shown amazing innovation in developing practical ways to make field recording easier. This article looks at tagging adult goats with both plastic and brass tags and tagging kids in wet weather and in fine! The article also looks at the common causes of recording errors.
The finding of MmmLC in a dairy goat herd in July 2001 led to a disease investigation undertaken by MAF, because MmmLC was previously considered exotic to New Zealand. The conclusions of the investigation were that MmmLC has probably been present in New Zealand for some time, and given the movement of dairy goats between herds, that many herds may be infected.
This eight part series deals with the care of goats of the dairy breeds such as Saanen, Nubian and Toggenburg. It will consider only goat farming on lifestyle blocks where a few goats are kept for hand milking or as pets. It doesn't attempt to describe the complexities of commercial dairy goat farming - that is a specialised business. Goats of dairy breeds are generally good animals to have on the lifestyle farm for many reasons...
Dairy goats, like meat and fibre goats, need good feed. If they are pregnant or lactating or both, they need up to three times their basic maintenance ration. Yet they are fussy eaters and if they are to be healthy, happy and productive, it's important to know what to feed them and how much.
Pasture is the main source of feed for goats in New Zealand, and the general principles of grazing management for livestock apply: Make efficient use of pasture by reducing wastage and improve pasture quality by managing pasture growth properly.
Milking goats provide milk for the family, even butter and cheese, at little cost. The down side is the time and effort it takes to manage does and their kids, to train the does to be cooperative and to milk them at the same time in the same way every day.
Goat milk is popular because it is more like human milk than cows' milk is. It's suitable for a range of dairy products and is particularly good for making cheese.
Hand milking goats is not an easy procedure. Before does can produce milk, they generally have to produce kids, and that means you have to manage the mating process, pregnancy, kidding and the day-to-day farming of the does and kids as well as the milking process itself. This article by Dr Marjorie Orr looks at mating, pregnancy and kidding in dairy goats and covers dealing with weak kids.