Tag Archives: birth defect

Two Heads

8 Jul

Sometimes two heads are not better than one, especially when they share one body.  A local farmer let me come to his farm and photograph and share this one that was born on his farm.  Yesterday morning, when he checked the cow, he saw she had a calf.  Then he noticed a second calf.  Usually twins are a good thing.

Cow with twins: normal on the left and two-headed on the right

He went to check the calf laying down and make sure it had nursed and was “disturbed” when he saw a second head.  It really freaked him out when the third eye opened and looked at him.

Poor baby is actually doing well.  It can get up and walk around and nurse mom.

Unfortunately, with the jaw deformity, it will not be able to live long.

The record for a calf with polycephaly is 108 days.  That one had cleft palates in both mouths.  I don’t think the second mouth on this one is functional (although I didn’t try to see if it could suck).

I am completely amazed that the cow managed to have the baby on her own.

Poor baby.  I’m glad she has the other twin.


Breeding for 2012

2 Jan

Well, today was the day that the boys and girls got put together to make our June babies.  I really agonized over what to do because of the genetic defect in our herd.  I don’t want to pass it on.  I don’t have a test to get rid of it.  I did talk a bit with the vet when he was here to re-cast Millie’s horns, and after even more agonizing I think I have a plan.  I don’t know if it’s a good one or not, but it is a plan.

First I sorted the goats into groups to add the boys.  One group doesn’t get a boy with them.  They seem to be enjoying their half of the barn.  They get some of the best basking places on sunny afternoons.  You’ll notice the two  Nigerian Dwarfs are not getting put in with a big buck.  My retired girls~Minnie and Cutie are here.  Meg isn’t getting bred because of her sore hoof.  Stormy is also in this group.  She was horrible sick with her triplets this spring, and I just can’t get the last of her cough to clear up, so she’s at least taking the year off.

Scarlet is in about the same situation.  Triplets two years in a row and our bad weather has earned her the right to retire.  Right now she has two of her kids with her.  Casey will stay in this pen for his Maa’s protection, but I’m undecided on whether or not Cookie will get bred.

Scarlet with kids Casey and Cookie

Then there’s Kizzy.  She gives everything to her kids, and she just hasn’t picked up weight since they were weaned the way I would like.  She’s without a buck right now, but if she gains weight and looks better, she might go in with a boy.

Kizzy, Blaze and Bonnie

There are four girls already bred.  Millie and Joe were bred by Marley (not my choice) when he escaped.  They are both due on March 2.

Joe Street

Bambi and Pam were put with Boeris for spring break babies, and they are due March 21st and 22nd.

Pam Street

For some strange reason, Jelly ended up in this group too.  I’ll probably try to catch her and move her in with Fionn.

Jelly Blackboer

The Second group gets the other half of the barn.  The first thing the vet recommended is to get totally new blood into the herd.  That’s where Boeris van de Yell comes in.  The odds of him having the same genetic defect is pretty darn small.  He will be the primary breeding buck for the herd.  Breeding him to my girls that I know are carriers should stop me from losing anymore kids.  The girls that I know are carriers will not get to keep babies.  Remember I am allowed to change my mind when my heart says I have to.

Boeris van de Yell

He still has a bit to learn about romancing the girls.  Jilly was not really impressed.  She would have been yesterday, but today the hormones were already wearing off.

Jilly Street and Boeris

Still, she could settle and give us the first kids of June.

Boeris and Jilly

Muffin and Helen are in this group, but I think Boeris already bred him the one day he escaped.  That means they are due May 12th.  Lily is in here also, and I don’t know if Marley bred her when he did Joe and Millie or if she is just fat and has hormonal issues.

Helen and Betty Lou; Lily in the back

This group also has the two wethers in it.  Osmo and Boeris had already been together and getting along.  I wanted Bud to be able to stay with his twin sister since they’ve never been apart.  So far Boeris and Bud have had a couple of minor spats.  This is mostly because Bud is chivalrous and protecting his girl friends.

Boeris, Bud and Vixen

Vixen appreciated Bud’s efforts to keep her safe from the boy.  She’s without her maa now, and that will be quite a shock for her.  All told, Boeris will have fifteen or sixteen girls to breed.

Another thing I am doing, is on-farm breeding tests with the goats.  This will be an experiment to see if I lose kids.  The third group is on the south end of the barnyard.  Marley is a carrier of the genetic defect from his maa Scarlet.  He is the one that is killing me.  I kept him because his daddy got too big (185 pounds) and still wanted to play with me like when he was a little kid.  It became dangerous to keep him, so I kept Marley to carry on the Osboer name.  After all, my first buck was Ozzy Osboer, and I really want to keep the line going.  His long-term future is still in question.

Marely with his girls

For this year, however, I have three (possibly four) girls that I will breed to him.  They have all had kids with him or another carrier of this defect but not lost kids.  That means I think they are normal.  They just haven’t had quite enough for me to be convinced that it is probable that they are normal.  Annie (in front above) has had three kids and one grandkid with bucks that are carriers.  Pebbles has had two with a certain carrier and three with a possible carrier.  Penny had twins with Marley last year.

Marley and his girls

Because I assume they are normal, any kid with Marley would not die.  It seems to be pretty consistent that when two carriers are bred 25% of their kids are affected and die.  I do not plan on keeping these kids, but it will help me know with a bit more certainty that they are does that I can keep kids from in the future.  There are other girls that I’d like to test, but they haven’t had enough kids for one more breeding to make me feel confident, or they are Marley’s sisters, and I don’t want to breed them to him.  He will have three or four girls to breed.

Finally, I have Fionn with his girls on the north end of the barnyard.  Fionn is Marley’s kid.  I believe his mother Annie is normal, but there is a fifty percent chance he’s a carrier because of Marley.  I’d give anything to know he was normal.  He’s my hope for carrying on the Osboer line.

Fionn Osboer

His girls are a test for him, and he is a test for them.  He gets nine or ten girls.  There are five that were born last March.  They are all from Red, who has a fifty percent chance of being a carrier.  Their maas are all girls that I think are normal.  They could be carriers.  If they lose a kid, then I know both Fionn and that girl are carriers.  If I don’t lose any, it doesn’t tell me anything about the girls, and it doesn’t tell me anything about Fionn.

Pebbles and Cinnamon

Of the other five girls, two are Jack’s kids and have a fifty percent chance of being carriers.  The other three are Flash’s daughters.  They have to be carriers because he died of the disorder last summer.  There’s even a chance that they could be affected because their mothers could also be carriers, but I don’t know.  Their moms are two the girls I can’t put with Marley because they are his sisters.

Coral and Clover

If they do not lose a kid, there’s a really good chance that Fionn is normal.

The last part of the plan is making sure all the bucks born are banded.  I don’t want to pass this on.  It’s especially important that any male doesn’t get used for breeding because they would pass it on to half of their kids making it a problem throughout the entire herd.  That’s how I ended up in this situation.

Please I don’t want people to freak out over the possibility of losing kids.  The chances of having an affected kid are very slight even if you have carriers.  I have a large enough herd, that I have enough kids born for it to be noticeable.    This year I will have about thirty girls having kids.  That’s more than I’ve ever bred before.  Wish me luck.

Kids and Milking

13 Jun

Jilly had her twins last night, but I didn’t have time to get a picture before I posted, so here are her beautiful little girls.

So far, they are nameless.  I’m sure their personalities will come out and we’ll figure out who they are.

On a sad note, we’ve had two kids die.  Sadie has her little girl, Sarah, but her boy, Silas, died about a day after he was born.  This happened once before, to Sadie’s twin brother, Silas.

Sadie and daughter Sarah

The next day, Helen had her kid, a very big boy.  Just like Sadie’s boy they were up, nursed, and appeared to be really good.  Then they would not eat, acted colicky, and died very shortly afterwards.


I have the feeling that these deaths are related to poor genetics from Jack, but I have no way of proving it, and I doubt anyone can truly answer that question.  It does make me want to limit the number of kids from Jack that I keep.  I might even decide to sell some of my yearlings.  I’m probably going to consult the Iowa State University vets because I wouldn’t want to dump those genes on someone else, but I don’t know that there would be a problem.  I’ll keep you posted on that issue.

Since Helen doesn’t have a kid to raise, I’m training her to be a milking nanny.  She’s pretty good about standing and eating and letting me milk her.  The hard part is catching her.  Seriously, I can’t hardly touch her.  At least this afternoon, she was letting me pet her again.


 She should be a good milking doe.  After all, her grandma Minnie is one of my original milking does.  I never had to train her, just set out a pan of food, and she’d stand there and let me milk her.

Minnie Pearl Saanen

She hasn’t had a baby in two years, but she is still my milking nanny!  It’s all the power of positive thinking.


Okay, she’s only half milking this summer.  I’m not sure why she’s only making milk on one side.  Then again, she shouldn’t be making milk on either side.  Still, I’m getting about a pint a day from her.

Minnie's milk

This summer, I had planned on training Minnie’s daughter, Betty Lou, as my new milking nanny.  She has a nice udder, makes plenty of milk, and she loves food!  That always helps make it easier to train them.

Betty Lou Street

Minnie, Betty, Helen.  That will be three generations that are my milking does.

Helen Osboer

In other goat news, we have two girls left to kid.  I don’t have a due date for Muffin, but I don’t know how much longer she can go.  I can only imagine how many kids are in there.

Muffin Jane Osboer

Vinnie is due June 15th, so she could have her kid any time.

Vinnie Osboer