Friday, January 27, 2012

Sue Weaver: Raising Milo

I rarely make New Year's resolutions, but I made one this year: to write an illustrated e-book about finding, bottle raising, and training dairy goat wethers (a wether is a castrated male) to drive, pack, do tricks, go on shut-in visitations, and more. I'll distribute the e-book for free in an effort to help create a market for some of the many thousands of newborn baby bucklings destroyed at birth each year at goat dairies and by some goat breeders.

High-producing dairy goats are lean creatures carrying very little excess flesh; their kids are too bony to raise economically for meat. Doelings (female kids) and a few topflight males are sold or reserved as breeding stock, but for dairies and many goat breeders, it isn't cost effective to feed milk or expensive milk replacer to excess male kids. The solution: most plunge newborn bucklings and flawed doelings into a deep bucket of water and drown them, often before they draw their first breath.

Many dairies and most breeders, however, prefer to sell reserved bucklings rather than destroy them. My goal is to inspire more people to raise and train one of these kids. There are so many great things goats can do!

These six-month-old Saanen wethers are in training to be driving goats. Photo by Rose-Marie Gallagher

I talked about clicker-training goats to drive, pack, and do tricks in The Backyard Goat, but I had to leave out a lot because of space constraints. In my e-book, Get Your Goat: Raise and Train a Recreational Wether, I'll show and describe some of the things I couldn't include in The Backyard Goat, such as house-training a kid (it's easier than training a puppy), hauling goats in your van or SUV, sewing a harness, and building shafts to convert a utility wagon for a goat to pull. I've reserved a newborn Nubian buckling to pose for step-by-step early training pictures, and one of my as-yet-untrained grown wethers will star in adult training shots.

House-trained kids can live in your home. Photo by Sue Weaver

My baby-buckling-to-be should be born sometime in the next few weeks. His name will be Milo, and he's coming from Emily Dixon's Ozark Jewels herd in Mountain Grove, Missouri. I've gotten all my purchased Nubians from Emily because she's a caring, conscientious breeder who does not euthanize newborns and strives to find them good homes (the ones that don't find new homes live a short but happy life and go into the Dixon family's freezer).

Dairy kids like these Saanen-Nubian bucklings
are too bony to raise for meat.
Photo by Emily Dixon

Over the next few months, I'll be blogging about raising and training Milo. In the meanwhile I invite you to view these videos to see some of the cool things goats can do.

Goatee and Me

Spotty's Tricks

Goatpacking: Through the Wind River Mountains

Vegan Pie Crust — Cooking with Goats

Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including the Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Chronicle of the Horse, Flying Changes, Horseman’s Market, Arabian Horse Times, the Appaloosa News, the Quarter Horse Journal, Horse’N Around, and the Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock, The Donkey Companion, and The Backyard Goat. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.


Anonymous said...

This is such a great thing to do — save a newborn baby goat's life and make him or her your pet! I hope that people will read your eBook and do just that. Additionally, I cannot wait to "meet" Milo.

Sue, I wish you success with your ebook and with raising Milo.

Sue Weaver said...

Thanks, Kristy.

I haven't had a bottle baby for two years and I can hardly wait to get started! :o)