How to keep your goats cool when it's blazing hot
We live in the desert and even though our Nubians breed of dairy goats have an ability to acclimate to desert climate (I believe they originated from Africa) they are suffering (like many) right now from the heat.
The heat and their ability to stay somewhat cooler is important.
Dairy farmers - big and small see to protect and care for their animals. Until one actually becomes a dairy farmer and an artisan producer like us and like Crow's Dairy - there is a disconnect from the beautiful animal- to the milk- to the cheese - the yogurt - the kefir - to the glass of milk or in our case the caramel.
These seasonal changes can be hard on the diary farmer. Our source of income is from our livestock.
These girls and what they provide for us - is directly connected to our ability to do what we do and make a living. We, like most every other dairy farmer care for the members of our team diligently and tenaciously. For us, it's one of the reasons we do NOT allow people to interact with our girls. It's why we DO practice bio security measures to protect them. It's one of the reasons- as we look for and interview a Farm/Goat intern to live here at our farm and learn and grow (goat husbandry) and then be here watching and caring for our girls - mornings, afternoons and until bed time at night - so we, as a couple, can go on vacation together - that THAT person understand what these animals are - not just a pet - but that this livestock team that writes our paycheck.
Loosing them stinks. Not only are they part of what you do for a living - they are such amazing animals and as you know - they get under your skin and into your heart.
So, these tips below are NOT for the large goat diary like Crow's Dairy but they work for the small dairy like ours.
When the heat/humidity index is high - we do "goat checks" every few hours. We want to make sure all girls are chewing their cud. We watch for heavy breathing and any sign of stress. Some goats - seem to struggle more. Our Raquel is one of them. Even though her nasal bridge span is wide (makes for easier breathing - which in turn helps cool the body down and a few other things) for some reason she acts like the heat is tough on her. Yesterday, Michael actually walked her into the house to cool her down. That's not surprising to any goat owner. They - we all do it.
How To Keep Your Goats Cool
1. Besides making sure there is ALWAYS fresh water and that it's NOT hot (this means checking the water condition every few hours) and adding an electrolyte to their water.
2. Provide lots of shade in different areas. Our big mesquite tree is a great place they keep cooler. There's a nice (sometimes) breeze that helps those who don't struggle as much.
3. We have misters and fans hooked up in a few areas. Winnie and Raquel are often there trying to keep cool together.
4. Move their food - alfalfa or hay to a new area - in the shade - close to fans or those place they can cool down.
5. Hose them down. They LOVE this. NOT. Raquel now tolerates me doing this but the others along with Winnie see me coming with the hose and they bolt. It's important that when you hose them - you DRENCH THEM. If you just get their hair wet - and to to the skin - you've created an evaporated effect and that will actually create a worse situation than not hosing them at all.
6. If you can, purchase one of these air conditioning units. This was a gift from my beautiful friend, Tina. It's been a life savor. This morning - I saw Bridgette and Cherry lying down next to it with noses in the air to cool down. You can purchase this - a great investment here.
I'd love for any comments on how you keep your animals cool during these very hot months. Also, if you know of a young woman who is responsible and has more than an interest in goat husbandry and who might be a great candidate in being trained as one of The Simple Farm Goat Girls - encourage her to contact me here.
Working Cats and Working Dogs - The Difference
One final comment - so many of you kindly expressed your grief with us over loosing our sweet cat Gracie. I realized after reading all the comments that some of our farm blog readers don'tunderstand the different between working cats and dogs and house cats and dogs. When you don't live on a farm and are more city minded - that's fully understandable. Here's a little help to clarify the difference on cats. Gracie was a working cat.
Winnie, our amazing dog, is not a pet. She's a working dog. IF we tried to make her into a pet - we'd confuse her. She's bred to be on task - as a livestock guardian dog. Trust me - it's been hard, because her face melts both Michael and I - however, we love her too much to bring confusion to her and what God created her to be and do.
It's one of the reasons we ask (and have signs) for farm guests to NOT speak to her or interact with her. It distracts her from her job - which is to protect her goats. Here is info on Winnie and her breed as a livestock guardian dog. Here is info specifically to Winnie.