The Place Where Animal Lovers Come Together - Spring 2009

Featured Story | “Screamin’ Oaks” Goats Make Life Better
There’s never a dull moment in the life of Roxane McCoy! This busy mother of 5 grown children has worked the midnight shift for the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad for the past 30 years. Although some folks might find this schedule daunting, Roxane has made it work for her and in addition to working full time while raising 4 daughters and a son, she has operated a small 10 acre farm in Tonganoxie, KS for 25 years!

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Healthy Does for Healthy Kids
The birth of healthy kids starts with healthy does. It goes without saying that breeding a doe that is in top condition will give you the best odds for producing strong, healthy kids. A good breeding program begins with good management and superior nutrition prior to breeding, during gestation and into lactation. Getting these key things right will give young kids a head start in reaching their full potential as adults. Following are some tips to guide you through these critical stages to achieve the end result we are all striving for, strong, healthy kids!

  • A doe that is in ideal condition prior to being bred has a greater chance for breeding success. Following a good nutritional program that provides the proper balance of proteins, vitamins, minerals and other necessary nutrients will keep does healthy, reduce the chance for reproductive problems and support a healthy pregnancy following breeding.

  • Gestation in goats lasts about 5 months, or 150 days. Once bred, the doe should eat as usual for the first 3 months of gestation. In the last 2 months, the developing fetus will put on a majority of its body weight, so the doe will need to increase the nutrition she is taking in. Space constraints due to the increasing size of the unborn kid may prevent her from consuming enough food to support herself and the fetus. You can help her to increase her energy intake at this time by providing smaller, more frequent meals and by increasing the concentrate (grain) portion of the diet while decreasing the forage portion. This change should be carried out gradually to prevent a rapid change in the rumen pH. More energy can also be supplied by adding a small amount of fat to the feed.

  • A few days prior to kidding, behavioral clues will help to indicate the doe is soon to give birth. One of the first noticeable signs is a decrease in appetite. She may also become irritable, paw the ground, pace or become more vocal than usual. Once she gives birth, the kids should receive colostrum within the first 20-30 minutes of life. This thick, yellowish milk is rich in protein, minerals, Vitamin A and antibodies to provide nourishment and help protect the newborn kids from disease. It is important that kids receive colostrum for the first 3 days of life for the best chance of survival.

  • After receiving colostrum for the first 3 days of life, kids that are to be bottle fed can start on Purina® Kid Milk Replacer which can be fed until weaning. This can be fed free-choice or on a restricted basis. For best consumption, milk replacer should be at room temperature. Cold milk replacer does not go over well! Careful attention to mixing directions will prevent diarrhea or malnourishment due to incorrect preparation. Always clean and disinfect bottles and nipples after using to prevent diarrhea which can occur from bacterial growth on leftover milk residue. 

  • A high-quality 16% creep feed can be started when kids are between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Once they are consuming the creep feed, they can gradually be weaned off the milk replacer at 8-12 weeks of age. Young kids should continue to eat a quality ration and should gain between 0.15 to 0.5 pounds per day, depending upon breed. At this rate, kids will grow and develop properly and will achieve their full weight by breeding age, which is around 9 months of age.

  • Does that are nursing their kids or providing milk for milk production will have much greater nutritional demands, so much so that they are often unable to eat enough to meet their requirements for lactation and have to rely upon their own body reserves. A high-quality complete and balanced goat ration or a diet made up of high-quality forage plus a supplement should be fed during this time.  

  • Young kids are very susceptible to the elements during the early spring and winter and need to be protected. In fact, pneumonia is thought to be the main cause of death in kids during the winter, so extra effort should be taken to prevent chilling and exposure. Supplying superior nutrition to kids will go a long way in helping them to survive their first winter and spring by keeping them healthy and strong.

 The first year in the life of a goat is stressful. Within a year’s time, a kid is born and is expected to grow and develop into a young adult capable of reproducing their own young. A sound feeding program for does, in addition to good care and excellent management, will give newborn kids a jump start on reaching their full potential even before they are born. Kids that are strong and healthy at birth will have a better chance of getting through that first year to become productive adults.

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Get to Know Purina Mills® Noble Goat® Pre-Con Starter Grower 18

  • Complete and balanced diet with built-in roughage provides everything young kids need for optimum growth and development all in one feed

  • 18% high protein formula maximizes weight gain in young kids

  • Easy to feed pellets provide consistent nutrition in every bite, eliminates sorting and reduces wasted feed

  • Contains urinary acidifiers to reduce the formation of urinary calculi

  • Addition of thiamine helps to promote stress tolerance in growing kids

  • Contains Diamond V® Yeast Culture to maximize digestion of feed and promote stable rumen function during stress

  • Available in medicated form to help prevent coccidiosis

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It All Started in 4-H - continued

Over the years, the McCoy family has raised many animals through the children’s very active participation in 4-H, some of which include steers, horses, rabbits, a large assortment of ducks, chickens, and guineas. About 16 years ago, when her youngest child was in 4-H, they decided to try their hand at raising goats. “With my last daughter in 4-H, and at 40 years old, I couldn’t do steers anymore,” she says, laughing. “I was tired of getting knocked around!” She’s been raising and enjoying goats ever since, even though her youngest daughter Justyne has moved to Tennessee to attend college.

 Roxane has kept up to 50 goats on the farm at one time but made the decision to downsize last year and is now milking a small herd of 6 consisting of Alpines, Toggenburgs and one Oberhasli. The goats are machine-milked in the milking barn on the farm, and the raw milk is sold locally. Over the years, she has established a good customer base for the meat and milk from the goats she raises. All the animals on the farm eat only Purina® feed. Her dairy goats are fed Purina Mills® Dairy Goat Chow® and a good alfalfa and brome hay. “With dairy goats, it’s important to keep them on the same feed; they need balance. What you feed them affects the taste of the milk, so it’s important to feed them a good product,” says Roxane. “To me, if you’re feeding the same thing all the time, you’re not knocking the acidity of the rumen off and they do better.” She’s always been loyal to Purina® products. “The checkerboard logo has been in my life, all my life and I like that,” she says. “It’s one of the most recognized logos in America, people know what it is!” “I’ve always believed in Purina and that’s why I’ve never switched brands,” says Roxane.



Screamin’ Oaks – A Community Destination

If that isn’t enough to keep her busy, Roxane also runs “Screamin’ Oaks Farm” tours for schools. “With 5 kids all in 4-H, we always had animals here, and it was suggested that we open up to the public,” says Roxane. “So, now I do educational farm tours. When the children come out, they get to bottle feed the kids, milk the goats, feed the rabbits carrots and apples, and even feed box turtles,” she adds. “The box turtle habitat is very popular with the kids,” she says, adding that “they get to feed the turtles worms and tomatoes.” She laughs and makes it clear that “Screamin’ Oaks Farm” got the name not because of her screaming, but because of the peacocks that have been a part of the farm for 25 years and make their presence known by all their loud “screamin!’” Along with the peacocks, Roxane also has dogs (Collies), cows, ducks, doves, chickens, rabbits, guineas, calves, a turkey and, of course, goats on the farm. She considers herself very fortunate to have had the help of 4-H kids and their parents throughout the years who come out to the farm and help do tours. Oh, and did we mention that Roxane also has a dog sitting service?

 Goats Make Life Better

Roxane McCoy leads a very full life in which her goats are a big part. She is happy to be able to pass on her knowledge of animals to visiting school children and correct some of the misconceptions that some people have about goats. She adds that “goats are really intriguing animals with a lot of personality. Now that my children are all grown up and gone, the animals get me up and get me going every day,” says Roxane. I could be having the worst day in the world but just being around the animals is a bright spot and makes the day better!”

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