It occurred to me over the weekend, when I received an email question asking where you put a digital thermometer on a goat, that too often us experienced (old) goat farmers sometimes talk over the heads of brand new goat farmers, expecting them to know exactly what we are saying. Iíve decided to go over some goat terminology so these youngsters in goats will understand what us oldsters are talking about.
Now, if you are as literal minded as I am, these terms can be hard to understand. Example of literal mindedness: itís raining cats and dogs. I would immediately run out to catch a few kittens and possibly a livestock guard dog or two (they are so big, this could be dangerous) as they fell from the sky.
Oh, if you are still wondering where you do stick a digital thermometer on the goat, itís up the rectum. Itís much easier to take a temperature this way instead of trying to convince the goat to hold the thermometer under itís tongue, or in itís armpit. And only the tip of the thermometer needs to be inserted, not the whole thing. The beeper on a digital thermometer is not meant to tell you when it is done because it is deep inside the goat. So, onto goat terminology.
Drenching. When you are told to drench your goat with wormer, no, you do not prepare a bucket of wormer and throw it on the goat. It simply means that the liquid medicine or wormer is to be given orally.
Banding. It does not mean that we all get together in a tight group. On a kid, this is using an elasticator and little rubber bands that you stretch, using the elasticator, to put up over the testicles of a kid in order to castrate him. The idea is that the rubber bands cut off circulation and in several days, the dried up testicles fall off. So, banding does not mean "letís all get together for a good time," or forming a musical group.
Kidding. No, a group of us goat farmers do not get together to tell jokes and josh around with each other. This refers to a doe that is having a baby goat. She is kidding. But, to her, itís no laughing matter. Neither is it for the first time bug eyed goat farmer attending his first kidding.
Got the runs. This is not a curious ailment that causes goats to want to gallop wildly about. This term refers to diarrhea. Diarrhea should always be taken seriously in a goat and usually a good worming or coccidia treatment or both is needed. Be very careful when worming a goat with the runs, they can turn as they leave and squirt out a goodly amount in your direction. You will be surprised at just how hot diarrhea is as it runs down your leg from a direct hit.
Wether. This is a castrated boy goat. If someone says they have six wethers on their place, they are not talking about six different climates on their farm.
Buck. This is an "intact" male goat, sometimes called a Billy. Buck does not mean this animal tends to run around the place bucking like a bronc. When speaking about goats, it does not mean a buck rabbit, or buck deer, or your uncle Buck.
Doe. This is a female goat, sometimes called a Nanny. So having a lot of does means a lot of girl goats, not loaded with bread dough, or money dough, or deer doe, or rabbit does.
Kids for sale. This does not mean you are selling children (two legged variety). Kids are baby goats. Remember the doe and kidding? A doeís babies are called kids, thatís where they get the idea of goat birthing as kidding.
Teats. Now this word causes a lot of embarrassment and red faces. Bucks, wethers, does, kids, all have teats, pronounced "teets", long E. Talking to different breeders you will hear these mammary faucets called tits, tiddies, bag, udder. When in doubt what to call it, call it teats. Less red faces when you are happily talking about your does and their good teats.
Cud. Yes, goats chew a cud just like a cow or any other ruminant (has many stomachs). They go out and browse and pack it full and then stand or lie down and belch up what they have just eaten, re-chew it and send it to another stomach to process. Very efficient in getting the most nutrition possible out of its feed. A couple of warnings though, if you are bending down to say hello to your goat and she belches, the gas fumes that come up from that stomach are enough to take paint off a truck. So, while you are reeling around, trying to catch your breath, remind yourself to be more careful in the future about getting in a goatís face.
Also, if you make the mistake to drench a goat who was just chewing a cud, she just might spit that cud up and drop it on your pantís leg or shoe. The smell of that cud will stay on you for a long time. Years ago, before goat farmers realized they could buy a probiotic paste (used on cows at that time) to get the good bacteria in the rumen working properly after a goat had been sick, they would go out and steal a cud from a healthy goat to shove in the mouth of a sick goat. Watching people attempt this stealing of a cud was far better then watching TV. The goat does not willingly give up a cud. The back teeth of a goat can crack corn, think what it does to fingers. They should have read my above sentence and pretended they were going to drench a cud chewing goat, and she would willingly spit out that cud on your clothes or shoes.
Not wanting to overwhelm the brand new goat owner, I am stopping my goat terminology lesson right there and let them ruminate on it a while. This should help get you started in intelligent conversations with the goat farming oldsters. Though just how intelligent goat oldsters can be is a real guess, if they are like me that spend all day every day following goats about, but at least you will understand what I am babbling about.