I witnessed a goat giving birth. I repeat: I witnessed a goat giving birth! It was soooo special! At first I didn’t know for sure what I was looking at, the answer: two paws in a membrane. The paws come first, then the head. The paws break the membrane and after that it goes fast. The kid has to be able to breath so it slips out. Literally in the blink of an eye. It was magnificent!Me
Goat keepers Anita and Mattijn started keeping goats about ten years ago. “Mattijn and his uncle were already livestock farmers, they owned some cows. Beside that he worked fulltime for a company. I worked in health care. We dreamed of starting a company for ourselves. Expanding the cow farm, wasn’t possible. After some research we decided to start a farm at my parents farm. My parents own a chicken farm. We both really like goats, so now we have 500 goats!”
While walking around the property Anita tells me about her favourite goat: “Everybody that comes here has a favourite goat. A goat particularly interested in that person. My goat was already following me around since she was just born. And she still does.” Soon after I realise I have a favourite goat too! Or does she favour me? She follows me around and chews on my clothes the whole time.
I loved seeing Mattijn and Anita at work. You can see how much they love their work, how much they love their goats. Mattijn quickly scans the animals for health and acts if necessary.
The farm is divided in a couple of areas. The newly borns are completely separated to ensure they stay as healthy as possible. Then there is an area for the young adolescents, the adolescents, the older goats and the male goats. All goats carry a tag with all their information, when they were born, their family line, how much milk they produced, illnesses and so forth. When moving from one enclosure to the other, a change of clothes is mandatory.
The busiest period is kidding season. Two times a year a baby boom takes over the farm. Mattijn and Anita keep an eye on the deliveries and hand bottle all the kids. This to make sure newly borns get enough colostrum in the first hours of their lives. The colostrum is important in the first six hours. To make sure that period is not missed Mattijn and Anita make long hours during the kidding season. Considering there is a span of two times three weeks a year where mamma goats give birth, that’s a heavy couple of weeks!
Interested in other Farmers and Growers Loes Heerink follows for this project? Check out the project page! Loes is currently in contact with loads more farmers and growers to also include in the project. It takes some time because Loes visits all the participants multiple times throughout the year. But a patient mind, can get pretty far!