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Few things are quite as refreshing as crisp, winter air. The cool breeze may be just the breath of fresh air you need, but that fresh air can also cause your skin to lose moisture. Staying indoors to warm up in the comfort of your heated bedroom can be relaxing, but it can exacerbate problems with dry skin too. In fact, there are a handful of things many of us do that actually contribute to dry skin in the winter months. Check the following list of common winter skin habits to see if you have committed any of these skin care faux pas.

Culprit #1: Thinking in extremes – Too much hot and cold

When it’s cold outside, it’s natural for us to run inside where it’s warm. But you should limit your exposure to extreme temperatures that can dry out your skin. Cold air dries the skin and hot air is drier than cold air, according to Harvard Health.

Beyond just the temperature of the air, you also need to be conscious of the temperature of your body. Dress in layers when you go outside so that you can add or remove layers as needed to maintain a consistent body temperature. Too few clothes and your skin can dry out from the cold. Too many clothes and your skin can become irritated from the moisture of your perspiration.

The same rule applies to hot and cold water. Bathe and shower in warm water, not hot water. It’s inviting to come in from the cold, take a hot bath and sit in your plush robe with a cup of hot cocoa, but hot water is a skin care no-no.

Culprit #2: Hanging on to your summer skin care regimen

Chances are, your summer skin care regimen will need to be different from your winter skin care regimen. In the summer months, we tend to rely on lotions and light, water-based moisturizers. In the winter months, however, WebMD’s Susan Davis recommends switching to a thicker, oil-based moisturizer that will protect your skin from the elements and help it to retain moisture.

You may respond, “Oil-based moisturizer? Won’t that clog my pores?” The answer is no, not if you use the right oils. There are several oils that tend to be better for skin and face than other oils. Good oil choices include jojoba, avocado, primrose and almond oil. For your hands and feet, you may want to consider a heavier product. Pay special attention to your feet. You should plan to exfoliate your feet at least once a month. Removing the dead skin will help healthy skin cells to more readily absorb moisturizers when applied.

Culprit #3: Wearing itchy fabrics

Let’s make another strong case for cotton by confirming that it’s very gentle on human skin. You may have a wool coat and wool accessories, but you would be best served to steer clear of fabrics that may cause skin irritation. If you plan to wear wool, consider wearing cotton underneath for an added layer of protection for your skin.

Culprit #4: Cracking a window at night

Tsk. Tsk. Cold air may not be the best strategy to combat hot air. Instead, adjust the setting on your thermostat and rely on blankets to help you sleep comfortably through the night. One way to help control the drying effects of the heated air being pushed through your home at night is to get a humidifier. A humidifier will put moisture back into the air, making it a little easier for you to breathe and minimizing the feeling of a room being “stuffy.”

Culprit #5: Using the wrong soap

Mild soaps help to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation and excessive dryness. But hand soaps can be quite the culprit in the dry skin battle. Particularly in the winter months, you want to make sure that whenever you wash your hands, you pat them dry and immediately replenish the moisture with a thick hand cream or lotion. It’s also a good idea to keep hand cream readily available when you’re out.

Skin care is very personal matter. No two bodies are exactly alike. No matter what you read here or anywhere else, you should get to know your skin so you can do the absolute best thing for it. Go with what works and seek the advice of a skin care professional like a dermatologist or an esthetician who can provide you with the information you need to address trouble areas. Making the right decisions will help battle the winter skincare blues.

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How to Provide the Best Prenatal Care for Your Pregnant Goat

My goats are more than just livestock, they are beloved pets. But, in order to get milk, they have to be bred. When I breed my does, I want to give them the best care possible during their pregnancy. The closer my does my get to kidding, the more nervous I get, but I have found that problems happen very rarely, as long as I follow a few simple guidelines and know what to be prepared for during the various stages of their pregnancy. Here’s how I care for the pregnant does on my homestead:

Before Breeding

First things first! Your doe should be in the best condition possible before she is bred. If your doe is young and she is just being bred for the first time, it is recommended that she weighs at least 65% of her expected adult weight. Personally, I like to wait until my does are about a year and a half old before I breed them for the first time.

My does already get grain twice a day, but if yours do not, you should start giving them grain about 2 weeks before breeding and continue for about 2 weeks after. Don’t breed a doe that is already underweight. She should also have unlimited access to loose minerals with a ratio of 16% calcium and 8% phosphorous. Give her as much hay as she wants and it’s best if she can have access to quality pasture and forage, too. Sadly, we don’t have a lot of pasture space on our little homestead, so our does get grain year-round to help keep their body weight up.

If you have ever been pregnant, you know that growing a baby can be exhausting. The last thing your girl needs is to have a heavy worm infestation while she is pregnant. However, I prefer not to de-worm unless it’s necessary, so I will usually have a fecal sample checked by my vet a few weeks before breeding. For me, this makes the most sense because different de-worming medications are more effective for certain types of worms than others, and my vet can tell me the best course of action. Wait about 2 weeks after treatment before exposing her to the buck.

You should also talk to your vet about Selenium deficiency. If you live in an area where selenium deficiency is a problem, you or your vet should administer a BoSe shot or gel(Selenium + Vitamin E) before breeding. I also take care of any needed hoof trimming before breeding so that it doesn’t need to be done while she’s pregnant.

From Conception through 6 Weeks Before Kidding

The average gestation period for a goat is 150 days, so don’t forget to mark your calendar! During the first three and a half months of gestation you might not see many physical changes in your doe. The embryos grow rather slowly at this stage, and I’ve often found myself wondering if my does were pregnant at all during this time. To avoid the risk of birth defects, do not give a doe any medications during the first 25-30 days of pregnancy.

During early gestation, it is also important that your doe is not stressed. Don’t try to move her to a new location and don’t bring in new animals she doesn’t know, if at all possible. Try to keep her routine consistent with what she is used to. Does that get stressed during this time have been known to reabsorb the embryos or miscarry.

As long as your doe has access to good pasture, she doesn’t need grain during this time. Free choice minerals and as much hay as she wants are all she needs. If there’s not enough good pasture, or if you are milking during this time, or if she is losing weight instead of maintaining or gaining weight, then you will want to give her grain twice a day. If I am milking a doe during this stage of her pregnancy, I dry her up at least two months before I expect her to kid.

The Last 6 Weeks Prior to Kidding

Now is the time when you will start to see drastic physical changes. The kids will be growing very rapidly at this point. However, I have had one doe that showed no signs that she was pregnant right up until kidding. And then, surprise…you’ve got a baby goat! Goats are perplexing creatures!

Now is the time to increase her calories and nutrition, so you’ll want to slowly introduce a 15% protein goat pellet at this point. The amount of grain you give her will vary from goat to goat, but it should be slowly increased to at least twice her normal ration, and possibly more if she’s pregnant with multiples. You’ll need to use your judgement here. If she doesn’t seem to be gaining weight steadily, you’ll need to increase the amount, but you don’t want to give her so much grain that the kids get too big and cause problems for her during delivery. Continue allowing access to free choice minerals, as much hay as she wants, and pasture.

This is also the time when things can get dicey fast. Keep a close eye on her for signs of ketosis, hypoglycemia, or pregnancy toxemia. Act quickly at any sign of depression, grinding of the teeth, rapid breathing, staggering, or muscle tremors. I keep blackstrap molasses and propylene glycol on hand for emergencies, but don’t take any chances. These conditions can become fatal quickly, so call the vet at the first sign of trouble. For more detailed information about these pregnancy complications, read this article by FiasCo Farm.

About four weeks before she is due to kid, your doe should have a CD&T vaccine so that the kids will have protection from tetanus. They will get the immunity from their mother’s colostrum at birth. In selenium deficient areas, another dose of BoSe injectable or gel is also given at this time.

At one week prior to her due date, it’s a good idea to have another fecal sample checked for worms. Worm loads can suddenly increase at a rapid rate in the late stages of pregnancy. De-worming now protects not only momma, but the kids as well. Make sure your kidding kit and kidding stall are ready to go at least 1 week prior to her due date.

With proper care, most pregnancy problems can be avoided completely or taken care of before they become serious. If you are new at this, don’t hesitate to call your vet with questions or concerns. Goats can go downhill fast so acting quickly is always the best course of action.

In the next post, we’ll talk about what you should have in your kidding kit, the signs of labor, setting up your kidding stall, and the birth itself!

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