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Welcome to HighTail Farms, LLC! We're a small farm located in Hammond, Louisiana. We are dedicated to providing people with ethically raised and humanely processed pastured poultry and sheep, fresh eggs, and raw meat for pet food.

Please follow the links in the top bar for more information on our products and their availability. Continue reading below for our blog where we detail the adventures of raisin' animals and whatnot.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bunny Rearing: Part 2

  As I mentioned in my last post, sometimes our young bunnies flip and flop their way right out of their nest box. Usually this isn't a problem, but last week I was in Blackberry's pen checking on her litter. I lifted up the nest box and discovered that one little charcoal colored bunny had somehow ended up under the large wooden nest box. My best guess is he flipped his way out of the box at some point and since he was so dark, we didn't see him and put the nest box back on top of the poor little thing. 

   He was just laying there all squashed and flat and cold. He wasn't even a week old,. His eyes weren't even open yet, and his fur was barely grown in. I was sure the bunny would be dead or close to it, but as I stood there recovering from the shock of finding a bunny where no bunny should be, the pathetic little thing started moving. I scooped him up and could feel that he was cold and weak so taking a page from one of my favorite blogger friends, I tucked that little creature into a place where he would warm up quick!

  I wasn't kidding when I said the little guy was smooshed flat. He'd be stuck between a heavy wooden nest box and wire flooring for probably around 12 hours. His head was all squished, and he'd missed a couple meals from mom so he was looking thin. Once he'd warmed up, I fished him out and flipped Blackberry over to let the little guy try and nurse. He showed surprising enthusiasm, but didn't seem to be getting much in the way of nutrition. I guess his newly remodeled head shape was keeping him from getting a good latch onto his mother's nipples.

  Luckily, I had just milked the goat so had a more than ample supply of fresh, warm goat's milk. I grabbed a small syringe and somehow managed to get about 4cc's of milk into the little guy.

  Since that day, we have been syringe feeding him twice a day. He is getting a mixture of goat milk, kitten milk replacer, and heavy cream. After that first day, I attached a bit of rubber tubing to the end of the syringe to make something a little softer on his mouth.


  Since we were going to be feeding him twice a day, I decided the little guy needed a name. I've taken to calling him Jack. Short for Flapjack...because Pancake is just a terrible name for a rabbit. If he turns out to be female (I am terrible at sexing young bunnies), I guess we can call her Flap-jackie.

  I pulled one of Jack's littermates to show the size diffrence between him and his siblings. Little did I know that I had grabbed the one behemoth of a bunny in the litter.

This is a more accurate picture of the size difference.

  The little guy seems to have some damaged tissue on both sides of his face which is slowly healing, but other than that and his small stature, he seems to be doing pretty well. He is up and walking around. The last couple days he has started nibbling at the rabbit food and greens in his pen. Hopefully we will be able to wean him off the twice daily feeding very soon.

  I'm not sure what the future holds for little FlapJack/Jackie. With his small size I doubt he'll be any good for meat. He will probably end up being a pretty tame rabbit after all this special treatment . He always totters his way to the front of the pen to get his twice daily feeding. I think he would make a pretty darn good pet for the right family. Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be looking for a home for little Jack in a few weeks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bunny Rearing: Part 1



 The rabbits are doing what rabbits do best: making more rabbits. We've been breeding our girls in sets of two or three at a time so that they all kindle at the same time. This makes it easier to move the babies around if one doe has too many to care for herself. It also means we can wean and then join the litters together for easier rearing in the pasture pens. Right now we have three litters out in the big tractor just about ready for processing, three more in the poultry house waiting for the tractor to become free, and another set of two litters that were just born a week or two ago.

 This is Ash's litter just a couple days after they were born. She and Blackberry kindled at the same time. I love the variety of colors we are getting from these girls. In these litters we have blacks, dark charcoals, light greys, and whites.

 Ash is a beautiful silver color, but she is one aggressive bunny. Before she had her babies, she was tough to deal with. Now even walking by her pen will cause her to rush to the front grunting and stomping, "GET AWAY FROM MA BABIES!!"

 Blackberry is much more timid and calm. Both girls had nice big litter of 8-9 bunnies. This is just about the perfect size litter. Any more than that and the doe will have trouble keeping everyone fed.

 These are Blackberry's kits. When baby rabbits or "kits" are first born, they are blind and hairless. We have started pulling the nest boxes out of the pens and checking on the litters twice a day, even doing a head count, for the first week to make sure no one is getting stuck in a corner or tangled in the hay of the nest box. This has drastically reduced our early losses.

  Here is a fine example of why it is important to check on the bunnies so frequently when they are young. This little guy has gotten himself out of the cozy, fur lined nest where the rest of his siblings are sleeping and into the front corner of the nest box all alone. At this age and without their fur it is easy for the babies to die from getting chilled.

  As they get older, it gets a little more difficult to check on and count the young bunnies. For some reason, they turn into crazy jumping beans when disturbed. This is not a problem when they are tiny, but as they get older they can flop around enough to toss themselves right over the side of the nest box.

  This can lead to big trouble for a little bunny out of his box and away from his brothers and sisters.....
(to be continued)

             




Friday, June 13, 2014

Patch finally popped!


  After many weeks (months?) of staring at Patch's big round belly and ever increasing udder, the girl finally lambed last Sunday night/Monday morning. We were sure she by her size that she would have a multiple birth, and she did. Unfortunately, Big Onion found a little ram lamb dead in the covered area where the sheep sometimes like to sleep at night. He looked fully formed but was still wrapped in the amniotic sac. It was hard to tell if he had died before or during the birth process, but either way the little guy didn't make it. I feel bad for not waking and checking on Patch during the night. Maybe we could have saved the little guy, but we'd been waiting so long for Patch to give birth that we didn't know for sure when she would decide to lamb.

  The good news is that Patch seems fine and so does her other lamb....

That little spot in the grass is Bruno, our newest lamb here on the farm.

 The area where Patch decided to give birth is full of loose dirt so poor Bruno was a bit of a mess that first day.

 Patch has been a great mother, sticking close to her baby and away from the rest of the flock for the first few days. It is very common for a new mother ewe to keep her distance from the other sheep for a while. I think it helps solidify the bond between mother and lamb. They learn each other's call very well during this time so that if the ever get separated, they are easily reunited with a few calls back and forth.

 For some reason, Gwen was very, very interested in this new little one.

  She kept going over to the little one and sniffing him. I guess our little Gwen might be  ready to make some kids of her own. Now we just need to find a mini-goat boyfriend for her! 

 We did run into some trouble with Bruno the first few days of his life. He seemed weaker than normal and by day two it was obvious that his little stools were way softer than they should be. Then he started passing what looked like undigested milk. Not good.

  Scours (diarrhea) in a lamb can deplete and kill them very quickly. We tried giving him a dose of Probios, a probiotic paste that usually clears up most loose stool pretty quick, but it didn't seem to help. I was starting to suspect that the little ram lamb picked up some kind of bacteria due to Patch's poor choice of birthing location.

  Rialey earned some of her farm dog stripes by alerting me to the problem with the little ram and diligently working to clean him up every time we went to check on him.

  It was rather funny because Patch was less than pleased with the "wolf" getting a taste of her baby. She would stand nearby and huff and puff and stomp her feet. Well, I guess that Rialey decided that angry, half-unhinged sheep was a threat to "her baby" and would not let little Bruno anywhere near his mother. Every time he would get up and head in Patch's direction, Rialey would get in his way. If he insisted on going toward his mother, Rialey would gently use her mouth  to redirect him back toward me. I took me three times to call her off that baby and let him go back to his understandably upset mother, and even then Rialey kept her eyes on him any time they were nearby.

  I ended up tube feeding the little one a belly-full of fresh goat milk mixed with goat probiotics, vitamins, and electrolytes  That seemed to do the the trick because by that evening, Bruno was up and running with his mother and making normal lamb poops, and he's been fine ever since!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Gwen and the gang

 Just thought I'd share a couple pictures of our pretty girl, Gwen.

 Look at how well her beard is coming in! Such a grown up lady!

I have no idea what the Big Onion was doing here, but it sure was making him popular with the goats.

  Despite how looks in this picture, the newest girl, Elenore, is really fitting in well with the group. I think she and Thea have bonded over their lack of horns as we often find the two girls taking turns using each other as scratching posts for their head nubs. Goats are weird.