New and aspiring goat owners often tell me that they wish they could spend a couple of weeks with an experienced goat breeder during kidding season. They are worried that they won't know what's normal or when a doe needs help. Although we've been offering internships during kidding season for many years, I realize most people don't have the time to come to our farm for a couple of weeks. That's why I created this online course. It includes all of the information that I give students in our on-farm classes about goat birthing and getting started with kids. Plus, it includes extended videos of the goat births that happened on our farm last winter and spring.
The birthing videos are minimally edited and heavily narrated. You'll see the good, the bad, the boring, and the ugly. We'll start with checking on does who are due. You'll follow me as I check udders and tail ligaments and look at bellies and debate when to move a doe to a kidding pen. You'll be there during early labor and hear how I decide whether to head back into the house or stay in the barn longer. You'll see does in active labor and as they're pushing out kids. I'll talk about what's normal and why I'm just sitting and waiting. And I'll also let you know when I'm starting to get worried. If I do something, I'll explain the pros and cons, along with what I'm doing and why.
Once the kids are born, you'll see how quickly (or slowly) they get to their feet and start nursing. If they don't start nursing in a timely manner, you'll see how I help them get started. And if a kid gets hypothermia, you'll see how I get them warmed up and how I get colostrum into them with syringe-feeding or bottle-feeding. Although most of our kids are dam-raised, I will bottle feed some if a doe has too many kids to feed or if a kid has problems at birth that make it harder to get started nursing. So, you'll see how to get started with bottle feeding, as well as the way that kids change in the early weeks. You'll also see us weighing kids to determine if they're gaining weight at an acceptable rate.
You'll even see a dehydrated kid that had hypoglycemia and how it was tube-fed. You can watch us performing disbudding and castrations, and you'll see how we figure out which kids are polled and which are horned. We also let the horns grow on four of the kids so you can see how fast the horns grow. Basically you'll get to see just about everything that happens in the first two months of a kid's life.
BONUS -- You'll receive a copy of my eBook, Just Kidding: Stories and Reflections on Goats Giving Birth. It includes 17 stories of goat births, from normal to tragic, including two c-sections. If you have an ereader (such as Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc), you can download whichever version works best for you. If you don't have an ebook reader, you can also download it as a PDF, TXT, or HTML file and read it on your computer or print it out. And if you don't want to print it out, it's available in the course to read online. As with all modules in the course, there is a discussion board devoted to the book where you can make comments and ask questions.
In 2002, Deborah and her family moved to 32 aces on a creek in the middle of nowhere to grow their own food organically. With the help of goats, sheep, pigs, and poultry, they produce 100% of their meat, eggs, and dairy products, as well as a large percentage of their vegetables, fruit, and herbs. Deborah is the author of three books, Homegrown and Handmade, Ecothrifty, and Raising Goats Naturally, as well as the ebook Just Kidding. She also teaches sustainable agriculture courses online for the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. She has been teaching Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably since 2013 and Pastured Poultry since 2015.
About Deborah's book, Raising Goats Naturally ...
"With endearing personal stories and laymen's scientific explanations, Raising Goats Naturally lays an enjoyable and empowering foundation for goat-rearing success on the self-reliant farmstead."
- Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm
The curriculum listed below lists all of the modules and videos in the course. Be sure to click on the down arrow to see the complete list.
Each module also includes a discussion board so you can ask questions, which will be answered by Deborah, but you are also welcome to comment on other students' questions.