Goats: A Difficult Animal for the Small Farm

I will start by saying that goats have their places on a farm.  They are excellent for weed and brush control, milk, and meat.   I have personally had goats that were very gentle and were also good pets.  Now, why would a little goat be difficult.  I would go as far as to say that most anyone that has had goats on the farm could start to make list as to why they are difficult.

The first thing I am going to discuss is fencing.  Goats are the hardest animal, I have any experience with, to fence for.  I was told one time that when you have finished a goat fence, get a bucket of water and throw it on the fence and if any water gets through you have more work to do.  This is a funny story but there is some facts to it.  Goats can get out of some of the best fences.  I recommend that you fence with sheep and goat fence and also consider a strand of electric fence in the center.  The electric will keep the goats off the fence because they will stand on the fence and will eventually ride it down.  As in the story a goat fence is always a work in progress.  If there is a place that they can get out they will find it.

The next thing that I have experienced with goats is you have to maintain a very good worming schedule to maintain a health heard.  All animals are subject to parasite problems and I keep a worming schedule on all my animals.  It seems that goats need more maintenance than some other animals.  I changed my worming schedule with goats and actually worm them more than any other animals I have dealt with.

In closing, goats can be rewarding and beneficial animals for small farms.  I suggest that you do a lot of research before you get your first goat.  Like with all animals there is a lot to learn with them.  Keep in mind before you get goats:  fence, fence and fence again.


Chicken Coop Security

This fall, I had a nice flock of hens and they seemed to be doing good.  I started to loose a hen here and there.  I made a check of the coop and did not see anything that seemed to be a problem (my coop is a barn stall with an attached outside covered run).  This continued for a time with one missing every now and then.  Soon my flock was almost wiped out.  I finally found a small hole in the chicken wire, that was almost unnoticeable unless you moved the wire.  I did finally catch on predator, a large opossum.

I plan on some upgrade/repairs to my coop before I order my spring chicks.  My run is fenced with chicken wire at the present time.  Anyone that knows this stuff knows that it is not sturdy at all.  A hole had been chewed in my wire.  My plans for the fence is to use welded wire fence fastened over top of the existing chicken wire in place.  A lesson I learned is that you can’t be to secure.  I opted to save money on my wire purchase and it cost me in the long run.

My coop also has openings at the top for ventilation purposes.  I left these holes uncovered and though this is not a big area I believe that it could be possible for predators to enter through this area.  My plans for this is two cover this area with wire which will still allow for ventilation but will hopefully keep out anyone wanting a free chicken dinner.

I can remember when I finished this I was pleased and thought the chickens will be safe and they were for years.  I suggest to anyone who has chickens that you make daily checks on your coops.  A person should make detailed inspections no anything that could be considered a weak point.


My Experience with Still Air Incubators

I first purchased a styrofoam still air incubator a couple of years ago and have hatched several clutches in them since.  My experiences is with chicken eggs, so all reference in this blog to eggs will be referring to chicken eggs.  There basically two types of incubators still air and forced air.  There are countless styles of each one of these.  The ones that I am most familiar with in a styrofoam box with the heating element in the top.  The incubator has a thermostat with the control on the top.  I have also purchased the automatic turner that goes along with the incubator and this is a good item to have.

Placement of the incubator in the house or area you are going to operate it is very important.  It will temperature fluctuations if is near a window, door, in direct sunlight, or near a draft.  The incubator needs to be in a room with a fairly stable temperature.  I also put a couple different thermometers in mine usually one that I know is high quality and the other for a back up.

Place the auto turner inside of the incubator and plug both the incubator and turner up.  I remove one of the vent plugs at this time.  I do not put eggs i yet.  I check the temperatures ever hour and adjust as needed we are trying to get as close to 101.5 as possible with a still air model.  I usually leave mine overnight with the temperature adjusted.  After a good warm up period place the eggs in the turner and then put the lid back on the incubator.  Check the temperature every hour again because the temperature will change once the eggs are placed in the incubator.

As far as humidity is concerned, there is two ways to do this and I have tried both.  The first one is to keep a small amount of water in the incubator the entire time and increase it at lockdown (which we will cover later).  The second method often referred to as the dry hatch method.  This is to not add any water to the incubator until lockdown.  I have tried both methods and have had luck with both.  The last few hatches I have used the dry method.

It takes twenty one days, give or take a day or two, for chicken eggs to hatch.  During this time, keep an eye on the temperature.  I also candle my eggs at ten days and then again at lockdown.  Candling consists of shining a light into the egg.  I use a led light in a totally dark room with my hand cupped so no light excapes.  I discard any that are clear, have blood rings, are not developing, or have a smell.

The last three days of the incubation is referred to as lockdown.  I put my incubators in lockdown on day eighteen.  I remove the auto turner with the eggs in it.  I then fill the trays in the bottom with distilled water, at this point I try to get the humidity in my incubator to stay around 60-65%.  A hydrometer will check the humidity levels.  This is referred to as lockdown because you do not want to open your incubator at all during this time.  Hatched chicks do not need food or water for the first couple of days because of the yolk sack they absorbed.

In closing, hatching chicks is an enjoyable experience.  It is also an edjucational one.  Watch your placement of the incubator, temperatures, and humidity.  When obtaining fertile eggs, try to get eggs from young, healthy parent stock.