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Using Goats the Way God Made Them, part 2 July 22, 2008

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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About 3 weeks back, we moved the goats to an area that badly needed new permanent perimeter fencing. The three strands of barbed wire were sagging and loose, but the brush that had grown up along it made it nearly impossible to work. Joe fashioned a paddock for the goats that gave them access to both sides of the fenceline (it is technically set in 4 feet onto our side of the property line anyway) so they could eat what they like best and help us with the awful job of clearing it. Using electric wire, he gave them a long narrow section to feast on and created a cow paddock on the remainder of the pasture. The experiment turned out pretty well.

Here is a close-up “before” picture, with Cookie in the foreground.

Here is an “after” picture with the saplings visible.

Pretty good, huh? The only thing we did between the two pictures was that Joe went through and whacked down the remaining bare stalks from that tall stuff to make it easier to walk. You can see that the goats ate every green thing they could reach, making trees from what used to be over grown shrubs.

It was not a complete success, however, but that was our fault in retrospect. When we moved the goats to this new area, they no longer shared a common paddock with the cows. The mineral block was in that paddock and it hadn’t occurred to us to make sure we immediately got another. It had been a while since we had wormed the goats, too, but had seen no signs of any problems.

Shortly after the move, I noticed that Lightning seemed to be resting more than the others. We got him up, nudged him to walk, but saw no evident signs of illness or injury. The next day he was dead.

I consulted with a very knowledgeable friend Beth who keeps dairy goats. She said that this has been a bad year for worms (she and several other people she knew have lost some- even whole herds) and suggested I check for anemia. She was right. We immediately wormed them, got them a new mineral block, used diatomaceous earth, and began running electric fence for a new paddock. Unfortunately too late for the other wether Snowball. He succumbed a couple of days later.

We are pretty well read on anything we try our hand at, but this was one of those times that experience would have been more valuable. Though we knew about worms and anemia in theory, in practice we didn’t catch the signs fast enough.

It was a bit of an odd time to have this sudden epidemic of worm-related problems. The area that the goats had recently moved to has never had goats on it as far as we know (or at the very least, for 3 1/2 years). That means there shouldn’t have been any worms already there for them to pick up. In theory, it was a pretty sterile area. We suspect now that they had a fairly high worm load when we moved them, but access to the iron in the mineral block had kept the anemia in check. They may have been overwhelmed when they weren’t getting the iron supplement anymore.

I thought it was interesting to watch the other goats when the 2 sick ones began to lie around. Shortly before each died, the others formed a semi-circle around the ill one and “talked” to it. Once, when I walked up, Crackle was “speaking” in a “tone” to her son that I’d never heard from a goat before. She was using a low horse nickering kind of sound that seemed to be either encouragement to get up or for comfort. But oddly enough, when we went in to carry out the deceased ones, none of the others paid any attention or seemed concerned. Hmmm…

Benjamin and Rachel were unhappy to lose Lightning since they had watched him being born, but they were particularly sad to lose Snowball since he was their favorite. We’ll learn from this, though. We now have 5 does left- 3 mamas and 2 daughters.

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Comments»

1. Marci - July 23, 2008

Sorry about losing your goats. They did a great job of clearing up your fence line though.

2. geno paredes - July 28, 2008

It seems like a nice peaceful place where you live. I am contemplating on joining the wwwoofers when I retire this Oct. Are you a part of this organization?

3. Laura - July 29, 2008

It is pretty peaceful here, if you don’t count the amount of noise 50 chickens and 3 children make. šŸ™‚

I’m not familiar with that group. I’ll have to look into it.

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement.

4. Dreamer - August 4, 2008

Very sad. Unfortunately, sometimes experience is gained the hard way. Now you know what to look out for.

The goats did a great job clearing the area. I hear pig are particularly excellent for clearing overgrown paddock and even unwanted saplings.

5. Laura - August 4, 2008

We haven’t had any pigs yet, though they are on our “wish list.” We tend to take on way too many things at once and are trying to correct that.

From all that I’ve read, they are very good for clearing areas, but they also root up things you may wish they didn’t. We’d like to run them in our garden area in winter so they will hopefully get out all the hard-to-get-rid-of Johnson grass there- it makes a tuberous root that will create a whole new plant if any part can get in soil. We’ve had very little luck eradicating it. They could also turn their own manure in to fertilize for us.

Pigs also like to make wallow spots where they may pack down an area to cool themselves in mud. For that reason, we’d also like to run them in a pond we have that barely holds water. We hope they will compact the bottom enough to make it more watertight.

We’ve got lots of old trees that drop things they should love also- hickory nuts, persimmons, etc so they could be rotated to one of those areas in late fall and have a feast.

6. Bookmarks about Worm - August 21, 2008

[…] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by jbrooks84 on 2008-07-30 Using Goats the Way God Made Them, part 2 https://farmchronicles.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/using-goats-the-way-god-made-them-part-2/ – […]


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