Frugally Feeding Farm Animals {supplementing goats}

originally Published on: Sep 7, 2018

————–

If you’re a naturally minded, homesteader or farm-girl wanna be like me, then you’re probably here to learn more about something you already love- saving money and caring for your animals.

There are definitely ways to frugally feed your farm animals, and I want to share what I have learned, with you. I have been learning as I go since we got our first chickens in 2011, and I’ve never looked back! This will be a series of several posts about how/what to feed farm animals while saving money and keeping them in top-health, as naturally as possible!

Weeds

If you have flowerbeds, there is nothing better to do with your weeds than feed them back to your animals!

Goats *love* weeds, as they are foragers, not grazers.

Goats eat some of the things cows do and most of the plants they don’t-trees, leaves, bark, roses, shrubs, poison ivy, and weeds to name a few of their favorites. Please be careful with shrubs and some weeds, as http://quietinthechaos.com/gay-dating-younger-for-older/. Goats, when given a large variety, will often overlook toxic pants. But when given a wheel barrow full of treats, or when allowed to eat in a new area, they will likely eat anything they can get their mouths on.

About 6 weeks ago I weeded the back yard flowerbed, placing all the weeds in a wheelbarrow as I went. When I was done, I simply wheeled the weeds to the goat corral and let them go to town eating!

They loved the treat, climbing in the wheelbarrow, and oddly enough- left the grass I pulled! They devoured the weeds and pruned roses, but didn’t eat the lumps of grass. I should have known!

Trees

About once every 4-8weeks my husband will cut a dead or downed tree on the property and haul it into the goat paddock. The goats and the Dexters go crazy, climbing, eating leaves, and pulling off bark.

Another favorite is hedge apples that have fallen from the orange osage trees; I smash them (usually with a stomp of my boot) to make it easier for the goats to eat them. Did you know goats have oddly small mouth openings? It is very odd …

These are our favorite ways to supplement for our goats. We don’t typically give hand treats; the farm I bought my goats from made a great point- feeding treats outside of feed times can quickly turn your goats into rude, pushy, petting-zoo type goats. You know the ones where you can’t walk, move, or be near them without getting jumped on, pushed over, or head butted for food? Yea, those. We don’t want rude, pushy goats. We want sweet, docile, snuggle, “ooooh, someone looove on me,” goats.

We have given occasional watermelon rhines this summer, but not often (those usually go to the ducks and chickens).

 

Clearing Tree Lines

Our goats really enjoy clearing our tree lines, walking on a lead and clearing weeds around fences, the barn doors, the kids’ trampoline, the chicken coop … the list goes on! My husband set up some runners along our north tree line and the goats love going out there to eat weeds and clean it up for us.  They get poison ivy to munch on, among other yummy weeds, and we get some free weed eating done!

Friday on the Farm {LGD getting comfortable}

LGD on the Farm

After losing Huck, we decided to bring Bear out of the goat pen and into the yard with the family and chickens. At first he just hung around the gate to the goats, and slept under the chicken coop.

But after about 2 weeks he really started feeling at home. And by week 3, Bear is a pro at protecting all things chicken and child. His bark at night is so reassuring, and he loves the kids. He follows along on my walks each day, and is such a sweet boy.

We are thankful for having kept 2 of Huck’s puppies, and it sure has me wanting to have some more!

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Imminent labor Signs in Cows {and Huey the Hereford}

We are excited to introduce: Huey the Hereford! (Huey, as in Huey’s restaurants in memphis)Huey the Hereford

Huey was born on Monday, March 1, 2021.

We got to watch Dolly at the beginning of her labor because the kids were playing outside and she chose to lay in the barn yard. She did move to the barn, where she was more comfortable. It’s amazing how different cows and goats are-she didn’t make a sound, not a grunt or a moo. Goats are so dramatic.

When we began watching Dolly for labor, I searched the internet high and low for all the signs we needed to look for. She had them all!

  • tail hanging to the side, due to loss of ligaments
  • tail head looked flat, almost as flat as her back
  • vulva swollen (springing)
  • that morning she lost a lot of mucus plus, but was having discharge about 2-3 days prior
  • her udder was *swollen*
  • teats were full and sticking out (strutting)
  • belly looked low/less wide
  • right before pushing she was laying on her side, letting the calf get into position, within 30 minutes she was pushing

We had a few bumps getting Huey to nurse, because mama was so full, and she became frustrated after his first failed attempts. Our friends helped us get everything started, and there’s been no problems since.

We are still waiting on Jolene to calve, she has zero signs of calving anytime soon.

Signs of Calving Huey the Hereford

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Retained Placenta in Cows Wordless Wednesday {with a few words}

You may have seen the picture on our social media- This is what homeschooling with 5 kids on a farm looks like some days. This is Dolly, headed to the vet for a retained placenta. This was my first time driving a trailer, but it went okay, since I didn’t have to back up. 😂 I did come home and practice after we unloaded Dolly.

Retained Placenta in Cows

 

The vet cleaned her out, which was really crazy. Cows have a *lot* of placenta, and goo that comes along with it. Much more than people or goats. Anyway, because Dolly’s cervix had begun losing, the vet could only get her fingers in to hook around the tissue, she couldn’t reach in. But, with constant pressure and time, she got everything out. Then she bolused Dolly, and we came home.

She is doing good, enjoying the pasture with her calf, Huey.

There are several different schools of thought on retained placenta- the most common is that it is caused by a lack of minerals needed during pregnancy. We didn’t have these cows then, so we don’t know exactly what access they had to minerals. But they were very well cared for, so I’m sure minerals were offered.

The vet suggested this as well, after day 3 you can tie a jug about 1/4 way full of water to the hanging placenta tissue. This creates constant pressure/pulling, which helps the placenta eventually all come out. When you find the jug on the ground you can tell if it has the whole placenta, or if cleaning out is needed. This is essentially what the vet did with her hand-a constant, gentler, slow pressure. The difference is your risk introducing infection every time you go into the cow, but that is also a low risk if you sanitize properly.

hopefully we will have a head gate set up soon, so we can do more of this on our own on the farm. I did enjoy learning from our vet, she is really great. We are blessed to have her and her team so close by.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

More Dexter Babies {wordless Wednesday}

This week we added 2 more Dexter calves to our farm. They are steers, and will be raised for our family’s beef. They are half brothers to our other 2 Dexter calves. We just love happy baby cows on the homestead.

Shorty red Dexter calf

Dunn Dexter calf

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

The end of Summer- Friday on the Farm

August marks the end of summer. It is time to prepare the farm for fall! This means a lot of work, all to prepare for next spring’s planting.

End of summer on the Farm 2018 {chores list}

We will spend the next several weeks:

  • Pulling out the summer’s garden plants, composting them
  • Possibly planting a fall crop, or cover crop to replace nutrients (has yet to be decided)
  • Cleaning up the corral area where the goats and cows currently live
  • Deep cleaning the barn, feed room, and feeding containers
  • Cutting firewood for winter
  • And putting in some new berry patch beds (we are adding grapes to the orchard!)

As far as the animals go, I need to:

  • copper bolus my 4 Nubian goats
  • prepare the older 2 does for breeding in the next 4 weeks by upping nutrition and herbs
  • slowly increase the Dexter steers’ alfalfa intake
  • Treat chickens with DE as preventative, up their nutrition to prepare for egg production slow down in the fall (which has already begun)

End of summer on the farm Chores

I will pull up the summer flowers in pots, and replace with mums and pansies 😍 we need to cut back some of the flower bed shrubs, and re-weed part of the beds. The weeds go back to the goats. They love it!

New Babies {Dexter steers on the farm}

We have introduced some new babies to the farm- we are so excited about Big Sam and Chief!

Chief the red dexter steer

They are Dexter steers, about 6 months old. The black {shortie} dexter is Big Sam, the red boy is Chief. They are getting used to us, as they have been with mama in pasture. They are in with the goats right now; they have decided it is okay to take alfalfa hay from me, and really enjoy Chaffhaye.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

First Steers on the Farm Go to Processing {a grateful feflection}

We have spent the last 2 years raising, loving, and caring for our big ole’ “baby cows.”

These ornery boys have been so much fun to learn the ropes of raising cattle on our little farm. They left with scratches, kisses, and lots of loves as they headed off to freezer camp this weekend.

When I think about the fretting, the tears, and the love that went into raising them from bottle babies- the 5am early mornings, the evening bottle feeds in the snow, the escaping every. single. time. my husband was traveling, I can’t help but feel sad, and thankful.

They gave me cold morning walks under the stars with my husband, at a time when we were both still homesteading-babies, learning so much (still are …), excited, and nervous.

They taught us about the first hard loss of an animal you try so hard to save (there were once 3 big ole cow babies).

They gave us endless laughter as the ran and played in the pastures as calves, and heart attacks every time they came rumbling up for scratches after they were 1500lb pounds.

They gave us something to do each day, something to look forward to (our first home raised, grass-fed beef), and something to look back on.

We gave them a lot of love, a lot of garden tomatoes, a lot of good hay, a lot of time. In return they will continue to give by feeding our young family.

After taking them to the processor yesterday, we prayed for them at our family meal last night.

I didn’t cry, but I am now.

Not because they are gone, but because when I think about all we went through with them, what we learned,  the friendships that grew just from their escaping (howdy neighbors!), the time my husband and I had together while caring for them, our kids learning about real life from these 2 huge animals while watching them grow…

I am just grateful.

First Steers on the Farm {a Grateful Reflection}

munching on sweet cubes after getting some scratches before heading off

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

error: Content is protected !!
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On InstagramVisit Us On PinterestCheck Our Feed