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Rick's Ramblin's
By Rick Skillington, County Director Marshall County

Each year as we get ready to wean kids, some of the most productive does in the herd have to be culled because of Mastitis. It appears that the doe that has the problem is usually one of the best does in the herd. Many times, it is usually a doe that has raised a really good set of twins. Several times a year, I get calls from producers that he saved a "really good doe" and now that she has kidded, she has a set of twins and only one half of an udder to try to feed them. When this happens, the producer must decide whether to let the doe try to raise them herself and have two sorry kids or to pull one off of the doe and raise it on a bottle. Either way, the producer is going to have to take a decisive reduction in income on that doe. Her are some things for producers to consider when weaning kids.
Let me start out by saying that there is no way to completely control Mastitis our of a goat operation. This is especially true when a high percentage of the does have some dairy blood in them. It just makes sense that the more milk a doe gives, the more the chances are that she will develop Mastitis.
While there are many different methods to wean kids and help reduce the incidences of Mastitis, here are two that I know will work well for producers. Modifications off of these methods can be made to suit the production system of the producer. Each of these methods has similar components.
The first method is to leave the kids on the does until she weans the kids naturally. If your operation is only kidding once a year and the lack of additional labor is a major problem, this method is one that will work for you. The kids will keep nursing the does until her body will usually just slow down in the production of milk and the kids will have to start browsing for additional food. The doe will usually stop producing milk and the kids are weaned. There are a few things that producers need to be aware of when using this method. Heavy producing does can still get Mastitis using this method. Another thing to consider is that usually, while the doe is nursing, she will not breed back Occasionally, some kids will never wean without pulling them away from the doe and leaving the kids on the does this long, some may continue to try to nurse other animals and cause damage to udders on does that have not kidded. Some people feel that since the kids stay on the odes so long, this reduces the number of years that the doe will stay in the herd since the kids keep the doe in a less than ideal body condition for a longer period of time.
The other method of weaning is one that will work well if producers have good catch facilities and some additional labor available. To start this method, the producer should start limiting the feed that the does receive around two weeks prior to weaning the kids. This will cause the doe to slow down milk production. After two weeks, separate the kids from the does. Some producers prefer to remove the kids, while others swear that you have to move the does. I suggest that you do what is easiest. Dry lot the does with only rough hay in limited amounts and provide only limited water for the does. After three days, let the kids back with the does for two hours and then remove them. Leave the does up on dry lot for additional five days and then they can be turned out on pasture away from the kids. An additional thing to consider is adding an antibiotic shot into this program. The key to having a successful weaning program that will not hurt the doe is to observe the does closely after the weaning.


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