The Case of the Kids
Here at the goat farm, there are about 120 goats. The majority of those are milking and producing goats, as it should be. There is a fair proportion in the dry breeding pen that are being bred for the first time. There are also many young goats who have not yet hit maturity. And then there are the sweet babies who are still being milk-fed.
The story with the baby goats goes like this: For the first two days after birth, the kids are kept with their mother in an inside pen to receive as much of the vital colostrum as possible. After two days, the mom is taken to be milked by hand and the baby is put into the kid pen. Here, the kids are fed using the lamb bar system; each kid receives around 1/2 liter at each feeding, two to three times a day depending on their age and size. The milk they receive is Holstein cow milk from the two faithful cows on the farm: Destiny and Gracie.
One of the dairy cows that feeds the kid goats on the farm. Oh, and the incredible view from the farm!
The kids, for the most part, grow well and appear to be healthy, besides the persistent parasite problem. Besides the cow's milk they receive, they are given access to some supplement and graze all day on the native and nutritious elephant grass. The kids are treated as needed with antibiotics, multivitamins and iron supplements to help fight deficiencies and weakened immune systems.
Lianna, goat farm supervisor, administers antibiotics to a sick kid.
Trends have been noticed in the almost two years since this farm was given a makeover. The kids seem to have a high mortality rate post-weaning around 4-6 months of age. And some of the kids that do reach maturity and are placed in the breeding pen have trouble being bred for the first time. These losses and inefficiencies are felt by the farm, whose goal is to be productive to support themselves and Watoto Child Care.
The healthy and mature mother's get milked twice a day, with an average of about ¾-1 liter of milk given at each milking.
So one project I've been given is to search for a conclusion to this problem. Is it nutritional? Is it management? Stay tuned!
Emily Jost is a 2015 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Jost is from Edmond, Oklahoma, and is in her final semester in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on sustainable development.