Crofting: Goat Management

Goat jail

It is difficult to get good photos of the goats. They move too much. This is Tara on the left, Uncle Randy and Vanilla on the right. Vanilla had been on the right, with Tara and Randy on the left, but I moved Vanilla in with the others to clean the stall, and Tara decided she really preferred the empty stall and climbed over the partition. They are all back in the left stall during this cool weather.

Despite the lush grass and foliage, the goats are inside. Goats hate getting wet, and with the intermittent showers, I would be running from house to field six times a day. It will be easier when we have fence and a run-in shelter for them. They have been on hay all winter, and to put them out on wet grass would be inviting bloat, which can be a fatal condition; the wet grass ferments in their stomachs. It’s always best to feed some dry hay before the first few turn-outs, so they aren’t gorging.

They got a few nibbles of foliage, mostly raspberry leaves, that I cut for them yesterday. I am in the barn at least three times a day, feeding hay, with mixed grain in the afternoon. If they are given a lot of hay, they walk on it, lie down on it, soil it, and then won’t eat it. We’ve tried a manger, but they just pull it all down and nest in it. They have sufficient litter on the dirt floor. I’m hoping that the calluses and scrapes  they had when they came here will heal. I’ve never met animals for getting scraped up so much. Vanilla always seems to have a scratch or a nick somewhere.

We need to trim hooves in the next couple of days.  Goats’ hooves grow fast, and need trimming about once a month. I trimmed sheeps’ feet maybe twice a year. If they have rocks to climb, it keeps the hoof growth worn back. Overgrown hooves can lead to infections and to leg injuries. It isn’t hard to do; it’s easier than clipping dog claws. These three goats are used to being handled, so I expect it will go well. We shall see!

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