Friday, May 20, 2011

I battled a buck today and won!

Today I had a battle with Basil the buck (he's the little cutie in the right of the triple goat picture.) His hooves needed trimming, as goats hooves often do. He was not happy. Normally, he is happy to stand for cuddles as long as I am happy to stand giving him cuddles, buck smell not withstanding. I had a pocket full of barley to tempt him, but no, not today thanks! He was so adamant that I wasn't to do it, that he even managed to stand on just his two front feet in an attempt to avoid the clippers. He has a lovely set of horns, so doing it the way often advised - stand astride facing towards his tail - is not my preferred way of doing it. I decided that I was the grown up and that he needed his hooves trimmed today. As he is small, I decided to put him on his side and do it that way. He is easy to drop to the ground. One just has to reach through his legs, take hold of the two outside legs pull them inwards, and he will fall to the ground. He did. But he got up again. I repeated the process, and he fell to the ground again. He got up (again). I repeated the process (again) and he fell to the ground. This time, I managed to grab the last hoof, and quick as a flash, did the deed. Phew, I let him go, four hooves done. Basil is one of our small herd of Rawhiti goats. The two does (Obsidian, Abby to her friends) and Sapphire are pregnant to Basil and will hopefully produce two kids each in early Spring. We are aware that many breeds of some animals are disappearing or becoming rare, and it is of some concern to us. Our decision to raise Rawhiti goats was a made so that in a small way we can contribute to their preservation. They are small goats - even Basil is only the size of a small Labrador - and are a special part of local history.

"These particular English type goats are known as the Rawhiti goat (pronounced RAH-fee-tee) in honour of David Tuart, the man responsible for their rescue from the Pongakawa Valley area in the North Island of New Zealand. About 1999 or thereabouts, Mr. Tuart and the group helping him were able to capture a small number of these goats before the rest were removed by the Department of Conservation, due to the goats’ destructiveness in the native bush.

In the case of the English goats from the Pongakawa bush, they were subjected to average yearly rainfall amounts of about 1300mm (51 inches). The goats in my herd seem quite impervious to foot troubles, and in 7 months haven’t even needed their hooves trimmed, despite confinement to small paddocks.

The Rawhiti goats were purportedly used as dairy and meat animals by the Kauri gum miners in the middle of the 19th Century. When the mining was abandoned in approximately 1865, many of the goats were left behind as well. Over the last 140 years, and at least as many generations, the Rawhiti goats became a compact, hardy breed, retaining some of its dairyness. They are very fine-boned, so I don’t believe they would have been a very productive source of meat, but they may have become more fine-boned over the years as part of their adaptation (perhaps due to nutrition -- natural selection favouring smaller bones due to the quality of their food sources or available calcium?). They retain some of the dairyness of the milch goat, as some of the does exhibit well-attached udders, larger teats (for ease of hand-milking), the wedge-shaped body of the good dairy goat, and volume of milk production for such a small animal.

The Rawhiti goat is half the size of the standard sized dairy goat, the adult does standing at about 58 - 61 cms (23-24 inches) at the withers, and the bucks somewhat larger (and still quite fine-boned). At birth, the kids stand at about 18 - 23 cms (7-9 inches) at the wither, and are just as vigourous, if not more so, than their standard dairy breed counterpart." - thanks to Te Hua Farm for this info

Ours are very tame, and come running when called, especially if there is a treat involved. We will milk the two does once they have kidded, sharing the milk with the kids - looking forward to goats milk cheese.

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