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KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR GOATS HEALTH
By: "GoatWorld Members"
During the course of a week I get quite a few emails and phone calls from new goat owners who are always full of questions. Of course, alot of these questions are related to goat health, some immediate, some long term. And the one thing I usually try to recommend to a "new" goat owner is to keep an accurate log of everything they do and notice concerning their goats.
Why keep track? Keeping a record on your goats is one way to help pinpoint troublesome times of the year with your herd, predict kiddings more accurately as well as establish a reference point for vaccinations, worming, milk production, etc. It is also an excellent way to document any treatments you have given a sick goat at one time or another - information you can turn to any time another goat may get sick.
There are quite a few computer programs specifically designed for tracking your goats. Some of these are very good, others are so-so. Some are expensive and some not. To date, I have not found any "free" goat tracking programs. And then of course there is a method that I use that works just as well for me - entering the information into a word processor or simpler yet, writing it in a loose-leaf notebook. I'll give you an idea of how "my" goat tracking program works here.
As a general rule I keep a log of daily activity for the entire herd, making notes about feeding, worming, weather, breeding, etc. This is started in a small, pocketsize notebook I keep with me. It will often include the behavior of each goat; who is eating, who is not. Once I have this information collected, I then transpose this information into a database program on my computer that allows me to sort by name, date, etc. This database in case you are curious is called Microsoft Access.
The way the database is set up on my computer can easily be setup the same way in a paper notebook. I have an column for each goat (by name or number - more on this in a bit) with separate tables for each kind of activity: purchase date, sold date, last wormed, type wormer, amount of wormer, CD/T vaccination date, date last kidded, # of kids, goats sire, goats dam, etc. In short, everything that can be included information wise about a goat is there. There is also a section for treatments that includes an area to enter the goats temperature and any other remarks concerning a sick goat. You might get the picture now - this information is saved for future reference so I can compare. And each entry is dated, particularly the illness area.
As I mentioned above about the "goat name or number", not everyone names their goats which is understandable. Especially if you have alot of goats. Some prefer to put an ear tattoo on each goat. That instead becomes their identification. Nearly all of the goats we have are named but there are a few with ear tattoos. I use both name and number in these cases. Also, one other thing I do is to place an "x" before the name or number if a goat is sold or expires. Just because we no longer have a goat does not mean we strike that goat from the records. The information may come in handy someday.
I've visited quite a few breeders and producers who don't really keep track of their goats. You might ask that breeder when the last time their goats were wormed and they can only give you a rough estimate. Same with vaccinations. "When was the goat last vaccinated?" you ask. "Well, it was sometime last year" they will most often respond.
Keeping records for myself is practical. I figure that goats as well as any other livestock are an investment and I like to keep track of my investments. I must say that once I started keeping track, my goats began doing much better and if a person asks me specifically about a goat, all I need to do is turn to my goat log and provide them an answer.
More Suggestions (submitted by Mary Budin)
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