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You all helped me so much last year with all of our health issues. I need more advice.

Last year, I vowed to pull all the babies at birth from now on. I wanted more control over my does health and udders. We do show but it's just our little county for 4H, but their health is above our need to show.
Plus I thought we could get rid of the bottle babies sooner than if mom was raising them.

So here we are, kidding season. One doe has kidded and we left her twin bucks on her. I have another doe in 2 weeks who will kid and I want to start with her, but I don't have the heart! Meanwhile, this current doe already has a lopsided udder!

We dealt with so many issues last year, mineral deficiencies, one doe had a huge sore on her teat from her kids that got infected, we had blood in our milk from another doe, serious weight issues, just the whole thing. I remember sitting at the milk stand just crying over the stress of it all. All of my does were unhealthy and I just wanted their kids off of them so I could have some control over their health.

This is why I chose to pull them. But like I said, now that we're here, it's hard. Does anyone have any advice for me? I know this is somewhat controversial in the first place and do not want to start a debate. I don't really know what I need, just support. You all have been so wonderful in the past! Thank you in advance!
 

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I remember sitting at the milk stand just crying over the stress of it all. All of my does were unhealthy and I just wanted their kids off of them so I could have some control over their health.
Whether to bottle or dam-raise is a personal decision that only you can make. However, a healthy dam is healthy whether she raises her own kids or not. I've had ones without kids on them that developed problems, and ones who raised kids who had no issues whatsoever. I have learned to make a point of getting every one of my in-milk does on the stand every day at least once a day even if she has kids on her. Sometimes I get them on the stand twice a day just as if I were milking them. It gives me a chance to look over their udders and find problems before they get bad. I look for chapped teats, sores, suspicious lumps, unusual swelling, heat, unevenness, or even just a change in attitude (is a docile doe getting kicky, or is someone less interested in feed than usual for example). These are things that we tend to notice right away if we're milking twice/day, but can get overlooked in a nursing doe until problems have progressed to a bad place.

Mineral, diet imbalances, parasites, blood in milk from getting hit by another goat--those will affect a doe whether she is nursing her kids or not, so pulling kids won't solve those problems. It's easy to just blame the kids, but you have to look at those management issues separately and realize that if nothing else has changed, you'll face the same problems again even if you pull the kids.

Sores, chapped teats, and uneven udders are definitely problems with dam-raising, but I have found that if I take time to check udders daily, I can prevent most of them. I usually apply a bit of Fiebings Udder Balm to the teats about 2-3 times/week. Does who still get chapped get a weekly application of Bag Balm as well. Uneven udders usually occur in the first two weeks while the kids are too young to drink all the milk their dams produce. I usually milk the excess out by hand during those first couple of weeks. If the kids prefer one side, I might tape that side off in the morning so they learn to look for the other teat. With stubborn kids, I'll train them to nurse from the unpopular side while the doe is on the stanchion. I do a lot of letting kids nurse under supervision while mama is on the stanchion. It gives me peace of mind that every kid is getting enough to eat (especially important if you have triplets), and it gives me a chance to check mama's udder for lumps or hot spots while it's empty. It gives the kids a full belly at the start of the day so they don't pester their moms for a drink all the time, and if I have a particularly rough kid I can control his nursing behavior so he doesn't injure or exasperate mom. It is also a great time for me to bond with the kids and make sure each of them is healthy and well socialized.

Good luck with your decisions and with your herd health this year. Hopefully the things that caused mineral deficiencies and weight loss in your herd last year have been corrected for this time around. Feeding the right nutrition to pregnant and lactating does can be tricky!
 

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I second what Damfino said. Nothing to add there except what ever you decide..we got your back!!
 

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@Damfino said it all! Last year, I began milking 2x a day once my kids were a day or two old. Left the kids on 24/7 for the first week or two, then penned the kids up at night, milked the doe out, then milked her out again in the morning. It worked so well, I plan to do that again this year. I could keep very close tabs on the doe's udder health that way.
That being said, there is nothing at all wrong with bottle feeding, and if you feel that's what's best for you, go for it! I'm bottle feeding for the first time right now, rather against my will. :) So I don't have any sage bottle feeding advice for you, as I'm learning as I go. One thing I was very careful of was not letting the kids nurse at all. One reason was CAE prevention, as this doe hasn't been tested yet, and even though I don't think she's likely to have it, I didn't want to take the risk. The other reason was that I didn't want this doe to get the idea she should be nursing her kids, then be distraught when I pulled them away. She's an FF, so I think she believes this is how it's supposed to be. She enjoys looking at her babies through the fence and talking to them, but she doesn't get distraught when I take them away. I let her lick birth fluids from my hands, so she looks on me as some sort of a weird kid, and I can just walk into her stall, set the bucket down, and milk her. It's very handy! She will be raising her own kids next year, if she gets the all clear in her biosecurity tests.
I will say, I have one doe who is an excellent mom, and I would never pull her kids unless I had no other choice. I am sure she would be heartbroken to not be able to raise them herself. It just wouldn't be worth the distress I'd put her through. I feel that for her, the stress of not having her kids with her would do far more harm to her health than having them nurse.
 

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Just do it. You have to put any bad feelings aside. It is just one of those unpleasant things that you have to look beyond and just do.
I agree, if this is something you want to do then just pull them. My only suggestion is to try and get the kids where mom can't see or hear them. I do not pull kids at birth since I have meat goats but I have had does that lost their kids and it just seemed like being able to hear and see the other ones just made it harder and longer for them to except they don't have one.
 
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