Sunday, January 20, 2013

Runa update - some new lessons, and playtime!

Daisy, our oldest dog, playing with Runa in the house this morning.  Daisy is enjoying having a puppy around (she has had pups herself).  The morning dog play lets Runa use up her play energy before going out with the goats, and possibly roughing up the yearlings.

So, Runa is now 26 pounds and I swear her legs are longer too.  She is getting my favorite premium dog food and supplements.  Growing steadily, yet not getting too fat or too thin.

We've had a couple learning experiences recently.  Remember my post about learning to stay back at the door?  Well, the first few times I was putting the other dogs out and insisted that she stay back by pushing her back with my foot, she growled at me and bit my leg.  Instant alpha roll.  I asked her again.  Another growl, but no bite. Another immediate alpha roll.  Third time - another growl, and another roll.  And after that she accepted the request, and has not growled about being held back since.  It only took the one session, and today she still remembers and accepts when I need to move her back from something.  I think the long-term solution to this one may be to teach her Wait first.  Once she has Wait down, then we can do Wait at the doorway.  Then add Wait with the other dogs going out.  Chunk it down.  I do know that every single time Runa and I go through any gate or door, I MUST go through first, no matter how tired, or busy, or distracted I am.  No exceptions.  The leader always goes through the door first.  And I have slipped on that one.

Then there was the feeding lesson.  Runa suddenly got food protective and growled at my hand when it came near her bowl.  Instant alpha roll.  Another try, another growl and her teeth on my hand, another alpha roll.  And that was it.  On my third attempt, she tolerated my hand.  As a longer-term solution, rather than dump all her food in the bowl at once, I now add it to the bowl 1 handful at a time, leaving my closed fist in the bowl until she stops holding her breath, then I open my hand and let her eat from my hand.  Or I put the handful in the bowl, then reach in with another handful and add to the food already there.  Basically showing in many ways that when my hand is in her bowl, she gets good eats.  So far it's working, and she has not growled or tensed again.

So, a couple thoughts on alpha rolling.  This is a controversial subject, and honestly, a technique I'm not happy about using.  I have figured out a positive way to overcome the food guarding, so no need to do any more alpha rolls over that one.  I'm sure that there is a positive way to set Runa up for success at the door also, so that she WANTS to stay back, and I can do away with any conflict there as well.  At the times I rolled her, I had to make a very quick decision how to handle a growl & bite, from a puppy that is bred to be stubborn and independent and intelligent, and who will be VERY big someday.  With hindsight, I should have seen that she was tensing/holding her breath, side-stepped the entire issue, and then figured out a different way to approach the situation.  And that IS how I will handle it next time.  I am sharing honestly here about how I handled it, in hopes that it someday helps someone else facing the same dilemma.  I have worked with other breeds before - retrievers, collies, huskies, labradors, a border collie.  Runa is my first Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD), deliberately bred to think independently and defy her humans if she thinks it's in the best interest of her livestock.  So learning to handle that genetic defiance is a whole new process for me.  This blog had some interesting thoughts on the different dog training methods, especially Caesar Millan and Tamar Geller.

Her house manners continue to improve.  She has mostly learned to tell the difference between her chew toys and our possessions.  She tells me when she needs to go out to go to the bathroom, and I've learned to anticipate the timing now.  She slept through the night for the first time last night.  She had been waking up once to drink and go out.

And her off-leash time is great!  She stays right with me, comes when I call her, and so far is respectful of the cats and chickens.  Of course, off-leash is closely supervised, as a treat, and at a time when I know she has been missing me and is eager to stay close.  Setting her up for success!

Yesterday she ducked under the electric fence and got loose.  She stayed right in the barnyard with her animals, and was waiting for me when I got out there.  Which is very good news, as she could have gone wandering, or could have left her animals to come up to the house.  So that tells me she is recognizing the boundaries, and has instincts for staying with her animals.

So many good lessons for us both! 

And, of course, something new to learn about...
This morning when I fed Runa, the does came over to investigate her food and Runa growled, barked, then nipped when some got their noses in there.  Not sure if this is a good behavior or not.  Time to do more research.

Until next post, happy puppy kisses!

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA or AVMA, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kidding preparation and supplies

Goat Kidding Prep and Supplies
by Carrie Eastman

With kidding season approaching, time to get the kidding kit ready.

Homeopathic remedies, all 30C potency:
Cimicifuga - dilates cervix, for lack of progress at any stage of labor
Pulsatilla - turns kid if positioned incorrectly, must be used prior to labor, no effect if kid is correct. 1 dose every 2 hours up to 6 doses max
Arnica - helps with swelling, bruising, sore muscles after

Kid sweaters, just in case.  I made mine from old sweater sleeves.  The cuff becomes the neck hole.  Cut leg holes and hemmed up the leg holes and cut sleeve edge.  For boy babies, make the top longer and the belly shorter to make sure the penis isn't covered by the sweater or it will be soaked.

Goat milker, like EZ Milker or this homemade milker
DIY goat milker

Colostrum & milk replacer (I will confess I do not stock these.  There is usually a doe available to snitch colostrum from if I would need to, and I haven't had a nursing issue yet with any of my does)

My favorite electrolyte to mix in warm water and offer right after kidding.

Get your heat lamps hooked up and tested.  No cords or bulbs within reach of goats.  Be very very careful - lamps can easily start a fire and kill your goat family if they are locked in the lamp area.

Fresh straw or hay bedding in the stall, and more bedding ready to replace any wet areas after kidding.

Scissors if you need to cut any extra dangling umbilical cord.  I do not cut unless it is dragging on the ground.

Dental floss or thread to tie cord if needed, and iodine or tea tree oil to dip cord end.  I normally do not dip or tie or cut the cord.  I have these on hand, in case I would need to for some reason.

Blood stop powder, Yunan Pao, my favorite liquid trace minerals, styptic powder.  Have some means to stop catastrophic bleeding.  You will likely never need this.  If you ever do, seconds will count.

Clean bath towels for drying kids, wiping yourself off.  Use unscented laundry detergent and no fabric softener.  Best not to add strong smells while mom is bonding with her kids.

Hand disinfectant, in case you have to go inside a doe.  K-Y jelly for the same reason.  If I do go inside a doe, I dose her with chelated colloidal silver that day, and for several days after.

A head lamp.   A hands-free source of bright light in the middle of the night is invaluable.

I also use flower essence sprays.  One spray is used orally for fear.  Helps a stressed-out doe, and if accidentally ingested by her person, can help a stressed out assistant as well.  The other spray is topical, used for pain and swelling.  Great around the vulva during and after birth.

Generally speaking, I'm a minimalist during kidding.  Myotonic goats are known for hardiness, good kidding and good mothering.  While I won't stand by and watch mom or kids die, I prefer to let nature take its course as much as possible and stay hands-off.

I do lock does in a kidding stall with fresh water and hay, separate from the other does, if kidding will occur at night or in cold weather.  Otherwise, I let the doe choose her spot, and make sure there are plenty of clean areas to choose from.

I do not offer a full grain meal until the day after kidding, just hay and water and electrolytes.  I will give a tablespoon of grain soaked with  prebiotic after the doe is done cleaning up, or add the prebiotic to the electrolyte water.

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DIY hay & mineral feeders for goats

DIY Hay and Mineral Feeders For Goats
by Carrie Eastman

This is a collection of hay and mineral feeders I have built over the years for the horses and goats.  As I find more old photos, or make new projects, I'll add to the collection.

Any hay rack that I put in the goat pen must be easily cut apart or unscrewed for safety.   Not sure how I'd get a goat loose if it was stuck between welded metal bars on a rack...

So far, I haven't found any hay nets safe for goats, although I'm told the slow-feeder hay nets with the tiny holes can work safely.

This newest hay rack was built entirely from salvaged lumber from hurricane Sandy and some house remodeling, and finished up with leftover paint.  Cost me about $1 in screws.  The legs are made of an X of lumber, with the bottom of the X set much wider for stability.  It holds 1 standard 50 lb bale of hay.
My most recent project - large hay rack for the bucks
Back side of hay rack
Trash can hay feeder for goats
Worked great for does - bucks destroyed it

Wall mounted

This is a mineral feeder.  Used a silicon muffin mold for the mineral cups, as the metal molds rust out from the salt.  put the mold inside a wooden box to keep the goats from standing on/in it or pooping in it.  Held up for several years, before someone tore a corner off the mold.  Still works, just missing a compartment now.

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your goat’s health program.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How I transition a goat from a typical commercial diet to the chemical-free lifestyle

Transitioning Goats To a Chemical-Free Lifestyle
by Carrie Eastman

During the first 4 months:
Our gets get black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) and some combination of plain oats and/or barley (the barley must be crimped/rolled). Not corn.  Or they get my favorite pelleted grain ration*.

I slowly blend the Oak Hill feed into the typical commercial feed, transition the mix over a few weeks until the goats were getting same amount by weight.  Use a food or feed scale for this.

During that transition, I give a prebiotic* with every grain meal.  I add extra doses during the day if the goat is struggling with the change.

After the goat is fully transitioned, I adjust the feed up or down as needed to maintain weight. Remember:  fats are for weight gain and grains are carbs and for energy.  So thin goats often need more fat (black oil sunflower seeds and/or cold extruded soybean pellets*).  To increase protein, I'll add a bit of alfalfa hay or Standlee brand alfalfa hay pellets.

Meanwhile, I start the goat on my favorite browser/grazer vitamin mineral mix*, fed free choice. I make that change as soon as I start changing the grain.

3 wide loads plus Alruna in the pasture!


Mystique - her first time

With kidding season arriving in a few weeks, I thought I'd share some doe pics.  Enjoy!

And Alruna went out in the pasture today with her does!

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your goat’s health program.

Monday, January 7, 2013

More adventures with Runa

So Runa went with me to the feed store today.  (Thank you Lehman's Feed in York Springs, PA for being so welcoming).  She had lots of puppy kisses and wiggles for the staff, and was very happy with the pig ear she picked out.  I introduced her to some new vocabulary for our trip:  "car ride" and "up"

I've been talking a fair amount with some other LGD breeders about adaptability training, and learned a few more things about our routine.

I will be setting up a dog kennel & house in the doe pen ASAP.  When the kids start arriving in 6 weeks (or less - how did that time fly by so fast???)  Runa will need to be supervised with the kids, and penned apart from them when unsupervised.  LGD puppies are sometimes too rough with young kids, and with these being myotonic kids they are even more vulnerable.  I figure someday the dog pen will turn into Runa's whelping pen, so it's a good idea all around.

I need to get more consistent about asking her to wait when I open doors or gaits, and make her wait for me to go through first.  It's so much easier to just let her run through, I confess I have taken the lazy route.  This is actually sending her the wrong message.  First, that it's ok to be leading me, rather than the other way around.  And second, that an open door or gate always means she can leave.  This could be very dangerous for her.  So I have promised myself to be more disciplined, no matter how tired or busy I am.

I also should probably start asking her to "heel" occasionally, or at least "stay close", rather than always being at the very end of the lead tugging to go forward.  While it's cute in a 22 pound puppy, at 120 pounds I'm sure it won't be cute anymore.

I can certainly add "sit" to the vocabulary, as she does it so well already on her own.  That's what happens when you're a short little pup in a human world.  Too much looking up - just gotta rest the neck and sit down. 

So many things for us both to learn and relearn.

For general training, I'm reading and rereading Tamar Geller's material, especially The Loved Dog.  I love her methods - so similar to conscious horse training.  For LGD training, I'm going by the experiences of a couple breeders who do adaptability training, and a lot of trusting my gut and listening to Runa.  So far it seems to be working.  It's a bit of a leap of faith.

I'm still giving Runa her meals in the goat pen, and only giving her meaty bones for treats in the pen as well, so the pen is associated with happy events.

Well, until next post - may your day be full of puppy or goat kisses!

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your goat’s health program.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Alruna is bonding with her does!

So far the adaptability training seems to be working.
This morning, Runa wiggled and whined and greeted her does like friends when I took her out at sunrise.
And later I spotted her watching over her does from a good vantage point.
I think she's getting the hang of it!

We are still working on house breaking when she comes in at dark.  She's doing pretty well with the other commands, and sleeps through the night now in her crate.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Alruna update

Alruna is now out in the goat pen from sunrise to sunset, at her request.  As the days get longer, her time with the goats should naturally increase.  Yea!

The does have been accustomed enough to her to butt her if she gets too frisky, and otherwise ignore her.

Alruna has made herself a hay nest under the play equipment, and keeps her bone and food dish there.
I snuck out today, and caught her napping with one of the quietest goats.  Of course, she ran out to see me before I could get a picture.

After sunset, she comes in the house with us to socialize with the dogs and play.  She sleeps in her crate at night.  She is starting to tell me when she needs to go out to go to the bathroom.

The first kids are due in a couple weeks.  I will have a dog pen set up in the doe pen before then, so that she is not unsupervised loose in with the young kids.

So far, the experiment in adaptability is working.  She is confident and happy, and doing well with all the creatures.  We'll see how she grows!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Alruna, our Livestock Guardian Dog

Pick up day!
This is a new adventure for me, so I'm doing lots of research.  I'm a big fan of conscious horsemanship, preferring techniques like Carolyn Resnick and TTEAM/TTouch.  For dog training, I love Tamar Geller's methods.  So I'm searching for ways to work with livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) that allow a more conscious, soul-honoring approach.  And that allows the LGD to move easily between guarding stock and participating in our home life, traveling in the car and interacting politely with strangers when asked to.  I have found a lot of advice saying to have no contact with the pup, just put her in with the goats and leave her alone other than food and water, or I'll ruin her for her guard duties.  I've seen other advice to put her in with the goat, but that it's ok to work with her out there and take her in the house with us, as long as her homebase is the goat pen and she sleeps and spends most time out there.  It has also been suggested to mix the 2, leaving her alone with the goats for 2 weeks, then working on socialization.

So, I have a lot to mull over and learn. 
From reading about Great Pyr history, they originally worked with the shepards to guard flocks of livestock, as well as the shepard's family and home.  They later did guard duty for the French nobility, working side by side with the soldiers and jailers.
So, as a dog with a long history of working hand-in-hand with people to guard various things, my gut says perhaps Runa does not need to be forced into isolation in the goat pen, but instead can work with me, accompanying me on all the chores and rounds and spending lots of time around the livestock.

My approach so far has been to have a crate in the house for her.  She accompanies me on leash for all the barn chores, walks the fence line with me on leash, has supervised playtime in the house with the other dogs and her toys.  She is learning all the same commands and rules as the other dogs, including crate training and housebreaking.  Go out, in the house, go pee, good girl, phoey, no, leave it, ok, wait, come, and sit are already in her vocabulary, although she is not consistent yet. 

I put a meaty beef bone out in the goat pen, so she is excited to go out and visit the pen (and the goats) when we go outside.  I leave her in the pen for a while when I am done with chores, so she has been spending 3 or 4 chunks of time in with them, usually for a couple hours at a stretch.  And I feed the goats treats when she goes out, so the goats are learning to associate her with good things.  It has been 3 days now, and Runa is asking more and more often to go out to the goat pen and stay in there, while I leave to do other things.  This morning she wanted out at sunrise and spent several happy hours out there.

She played with the house dogs for the first time today, so they are coming to accept her.

Yum - chair leg...
I am SUPER grateful for bitter apple spray, as she has been testing the furniture.  She also thought the Christmas tree was a wonderful dog toy dispenser.  We have (mostly) convinced her otherwise.

Hopefully this approach works out well for both of us.  We'll see when her guarding instincts start kicking in at around 6 months old.

These are some links I like:  Stages of development and the focus of training at each  Another on integrating the LGD into your family & home

Pooped after a few hours in the cold snowy goat pen with her bone.
We are also doing an herbal cleanse to get rid of any residue from the deworming, flea meds and puppy food.  She is transitioned onto Taste of the Wild dog food now, and will be switching to my favorite premium dog food as soon as the new shipment arrives.  She will also be getting a bit of chelated minerals with vitamins daily.