Our Homesteading Essentials

Trying to Fatten Up Our Goat

Blossom is the newest goat on the farm, she’s a 2-year old LaMancha and has possibly been bred, due to kid in either January or February.

Most people notice right away, Blossom doesn’t seem to have ears. LaMancha goats are distinctive for their lack of visible ears and many people think their ears are cut off deliberately, which is not true (thank goodness). They have either “gopher ears” like Blossom’s, or “elf ears” like Daisy’s. LaManchas are dairy goats, their milk has more minerals and less cholesterol than cow’s milk. Their ancestors came to America from Spain by way of Mexico. They are gentle and hardy, but not particularly suited for cold weather.

Dairy animals naturally have a “bonier” look than meat animals, their energy goes into making milk, not muscle, so I expected Blossom to look a little bony around her hip bones, but when she came to us, she had unnatural “hollows” that made me worried.

I use a system called Body-Condition Scoring to evaluate my animals, it’s a quick way to assess an animal’s health and nutritional state. Blossom scored between 1and 2 because I could feel each of the vertebra of her spine, but her ribs had enough of a fat covering that I couldn’t see hollows between them. A good body score for a goat is a 3, you should be able to feel her ribs, but not see them, her vertebrae shouldn’t feel sharp, her sternum should feel muscular and solid, but not bony (or jiggly).

I don’t think she was mistreated at her former home, but she’s very sweet-natured and I noticed she will give way to Violet and Daisy during feeding time. If there were more dominant goats at her former home, she probably did the same thing.

If there’s a chance she’s pregnant, we need to get her in better condition, so we take her away from the competition of the flerd each day and put her out in the orchard where she can graze on good orchard grass. We also give her a nutritional supplement to help her gain weight and get the vitamins and minerals she needs to support herself and growing kids.

She’s come to love her daily trips to the orchard, and runs to the gate as soon as she sees us coming. If we’re tardy, she stands at the gate and hollers for us!