It has been a while since I have updated the blog and probably way past due. I am sure everyone is dying to know what is currently going on here. The girls have been dried off for a while and everyone is enjoying the downtime in a nice toasty barn as it gets into the winter months. We cleaned pens the other day, during a snowstorm and had to put the milkers outside for a bit to clean their pen. They were not happy and much preferred being inside. But I think afterward, when they came back into a nice clean pen and hay feeders filled with hay, we were forgiven.
While it is downtime here, we are reminded daily by our two boys that it is breeding season. At this point, you can’t even go by their pen without getting their hopes up that we are bringing some lovely lady over to spend some time with them. It is almost comical how the two boys survey the barn, and keep “watch” for potential matches. Due to the vast age difference, (Expresso is turning 6 and Striker is turning 2) the boys are in separate pens. However, we made the mistake of building the pens right next to each other. It works well in the regard that the boys get different care than the girls and makes sense for easy management. We even built the pens with certain openings so that we didn’t have to go in the pen to feed them or get their water, which is very good to minimize contact with them during breeding season because their smell just permeates everything it comes into contact with. But don’t worry; our boys still get plenty of attention-my mom has special gloves she uses to pet them when they are gross. The side of the pen that contributes to both of their pens only has small holes so we don’t have to worry about one of them getting their neck stuck and injured in a fight. However, we discovered early this year that jealousy is a huge issue and sometimes it took precedence from the doe that needed to be bred. The boys were very concerned what their counterpart was doing when a girl was in their presence. Next year we will have to tweak the system slightly to minimize the problem.
We are currently waiting to find out if our girls are bred and hopefully we will be having April kids this year. We are slightly past 21 days currently, so cross your fingers for us. We will be ultrasounding in January to see the babies, but in the meantime, we are hoping they all are pregnant. It would be so exciting if they were. We used estrus synchronization again this year, to make all of our does come into heat within the same few days. We decided that it was easier to breed everybody and have them kid within the same few days then to have kidding season drawn out and have to raise different aged kids. We bred 7 does, so we will have a busy and hectic week or two of kidding but hopefully everyone will take and kid in our planned time period. Then we can raise everyone on the same schedule, and not have to worry about separate pens, different feeding programs and all of the things that go into having kids of various ages on the farm. Usually our does naturally synchronize themselves pretty well without intervention, however this year, with several important family things going on in the spring, it was easier to use estrus synchronization then when they were naturally cycling.
We used CIDRs for estrus synchronization. CIDRs stands for controlled internal drug release dispensers. Our protocol, which works well for us, is to insert the CIDRs and keep them in for 14 days. We pull at 14 days and the does came into a standing heat roughly 36 hours later. For our two AIs, we pulled the CIDRs 48 hours before their scheduled breeding appointment (we had a friend come to AI) so that they would be in the proper stage of the estrus cycle for artificial insemination. The rest of the girls had dates with the two bucks. They all didn’t come into a standing heat right at 36 hours but over the day, they visited the buck and got covered. For our live breedings, we bred Madison, Carmel, and Double Shot to Risin’ Creek Wen Khaos Strikes, and Chase to Fox’s Pride LFR Expresso. We CIDRed our aged doe Cotton Candy (Carmel’s dam) just in case we decided to breed her this year. After going back and forth, we finally decided to breed her but of course, she had no interest in our younger buck Striker and only had eyes for Expresso. However, both boys covered her so we will have to DNA the kids if she takes. Maybe we will even get kids from both bucks (a girl from both would be awesome). But healthy babies and dam are what we really are hoping for.
Hopefully soon we will be to be far enough past 21 days to say everyone is pregnant and then start looking in January for ultrasound pictures and videos of the new kids. As breeding season comes to a close, we hope everyone has had a successful breeding season and are wishing everyone the best for kidding season. Have a happy holiday season as well!
Also if anyone has any questions about our breeding program or methods, don’t hesitate to comment or email me.