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Goat talk: queations including bone sauce and feeds

 
hannah ransom
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I am obsessed with the idea of adding goats to my yard right now and am thinking of all of the little things I'd need to take care of. The part of my yard that would be ideal for goats also houses my immature fruit trees and I want to know if anyone how used bone sauce to repel goats?! If not I would have to fence another area of yard for them because they would destroy the trees.
I would like the goats for dairy, and am wondering if many people do not give grain, and if so what all they feed? Ideally I would have enough forage for them, but I do not, so I will need to buy hay (organic alfalfa) and then will provide tree cuttings and such. What else do they need if there is no grain in the mix? I am open to giving them a bit of grain, but I would prefer not to for health reasons of both the goat and myself.
 
Andrew Ray
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Location: Slovakia
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What about sheep instead? I have enough experience with goats to say that I wouldn't trust a psychological barrier to keep them from destroying something. The bone sauce may work great until the one day that you are late feeding them. At least, I found that electric net fencing worked well enough for the goats until I was late in moving it-- one tried jumping it, and the rest followed, and since then I have just had the goats staked out.

I've only had a sheep for two weeks, but he seems inclined more towards eating what is on the ground. The friend I got him from was keeping the sheep contained with 3 strips of electric fence tape-- a purely psychological barrier but one which works as long as nothing spooks them to really run.

Which is to say that you might get away with just physically protecting the trunks of the small trees from sheep, but need a lot more protection from goats, who will jump up and push over small trees.
 
Katya Barnheart
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Location: SE Missouri, Zone 7a
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You caught the bug!

I wouldn't trust the bone sauce. When these guys are hungry... it seems they will do just about anything to get to something tasty, or even something not so tasty. The electric net fence works well for me, I move it every other day to keep them really happy. While I'm new to goats, more experienced people tell me they do just fine on brush and hay, being ruminants that didn't evolve to eat massive amounts of grain (just like horses and sheep). All mine get is all the brush they can eat and they are fat as cows.
If they are going to be in a small space a mini dairy breed might be better for you.
 
hannah ransom
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I wish I had lots of brush for them. In reality, I don't have much browse or pasture, because of all the water that takes and how dry it is here, but I am willing to purchase hay and such. I have to pay an enormous amount for organic raw grass-fed milk and even with all food expenses and other stuff accounted for I don't think that my own goat milk would cost me anywhere near the at least $13 I have to cough up to get it here.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Andrew Ray wrote:
I've only had a sheep for two weeks, but he seems inclined more towards eating what is on the ground. The friend I got him from was keeping the sheep contained with 3 strips of electric fence tape-- a purely psychological barrier but one which works as long as nothing spooks them to really run.


My sheep love to eat trees. They blasted right through an electric fence.
 
Andrew Ray
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Tyler Ludens wrote:My sheep love to eat trees. They blasted right through an electric fence.


Thanks for destroying my hope the sheep would be less of a trouble maker than the goats!

But then even cows will eat trees, even when there is plenty of grass, probably to get some extra tannins or minerals.
 
Anna Spangle
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Yes, it has been HORRIBLE trying to protect my apple orchard, but I have everything swathed in metal netting, and have to keep a close eye on it.
Sheep eat bark particularly in the winter. They will keep pastures free of trees, this is an asset. They are symbiotic with grasslands in that way. They absolutely prefer grass. You can dissuade them with barriers. But baby fruit trees and maples are sweet tasting and they particularly like these.
Goats however are browsers like deer, and prefer to eat trees rather than grass whenever possible.
In "Goat Husbandry" by Mckenzie, he shows something called a Spanish halter which keeps goats from browsing lower limbs in a mature orchard, but of course the real challenge is protecting young fruit trees.
IMHO goats are 5 times harder to control.
 
Burra Maluca
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Around here I've seen goats with special 'front to back' hobbles which allow them to walk fairly normally but stop them from standing on their back legs and reaching up fruit trees with their front legs to reach the branches with their mouths.

I've also seen males with front-to-back hobbles on *both* sides, presumably as a form of birth-control.
 
Anna Spangle
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IN regards to grass feeding of livestock, it is hard to do. A Veterinarian who teaches in the Sustainable Agriculture Department at my local college says he has seen many examples of starving animals thanks to Joel Salatin's books. It needs a lot of expertise and paying attention--- whereas buying bags of kibble is pretty foolproof (meaning even a fool can get away with it.) Ultimately the nutrition of fodder my reflect the health of the land, and our pastures are just not yet as good as Salatin's.
I once tried feeding chickens the "traditional" way, on free range plus "scratch" grains such as wheat/ corn/ barley. I found it unsuccessful. Maybe our grains are not as nutritious as 100 years ago. Perhaps modern animals do not digest as efficiently? My birds slaughtered out with brittle bones, too much fat and too little muscle from lack of protein and minerals.

To check the condition of any animal, whether chicken, goat (or even Farmer Mom!) you can feel the bone above the tail, that connects the two halves of the pelvis. If its bony, you animal is too thin. If there is more than an eighth inch of fat, you animal may be overweight.
Try it. It works.

If you are milking a goat, I suggest you give her some grain. You will get a lot more milk for the labor of doing the milking and you can sell the milk for less than the cost of the grain.
 
Anna Spangle
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Hey Burra thats terrific!!!
I am delighted to hear that hobbles can work!
I have been experimenting with them myself, but there is alot of details to work out. Can you tell more? We should start a new topic on this. Very important information, and constitutes a new technological solution to most people.

I have been using nylon rope with two sailors knots, but eventually they either come loose or else get too tight and endanger the leg. I am thinking of soldering metal rings on their feet and hooking ropes with clips to those.
 
Burra Maluca
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I'll have to sneak out with my camera and see if the neighbour's goats are still using them. Don't expect them to be anything fancy though, or tied with any particular care for the comfort of the animal - they live a bit 'hand to mouth' around here and seem a bit oblivious to the niceties that the rest of us take for granted, like animal comfort. I also think that mostly the goats are supervised if they are grazing between fruit trees, and probably have a rock hurled at them or a dog sent to bark at them if they try to eat anything they shouldn't.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the idea couldn't be experimented with and improved upon. Maybe a leather strap with a buckle and a ring sewn on, attached just above the foot, then a rope tied to each ring to join them together?
 
Taylor Stewart
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Spanglefeathe Hatfield wrote: IN regards to grass feeding of livestock, it is hard to do. A Veterinarian who teaches in the Sustainable Agriculture Department at my local college says he has seen many examples of starving animals thanks to Joel Salatin's books. It needs a lot of expertise and paying attention


While I agree it requires some expertise and lots of attention, grass feeding of livestock is not that difficult. Genetics are important, many goat/sheep/cattle herds have been coddled for way too long and cannot adapt to a low input system. Buy animals from systems that are similar to your own. Not all sheep and goats can run on forages/hay only. There are a number of breeds that are not appropriate for low-input systems. We run a herd of about 160 Katahdin ewes and 60 fainting goats on nothing but pasture. Taking dry animals through the winter is much easier than taking a lactating animal through. If you want to milk an animal in winter, expect to feed grain and the best hay you can afford. Getting a ruminant to gain weight in winter can be tough, so it's better to keep them from going downhill.

Often times people try to take the animals they already have and dump the inputs all at once, this is a bad idea that often results in sick/poor condition animals. It takes time to develop good genetics, so buying good animals is critical. Do some research and learn which breeds are suitable for your system. If you lamb/kid in the winter or fall, even the hardiest animal may have trouble staying in good condition without grain. Lambing/kidding/calving in spring, when the grass has it's highest feed value, allows the ewes to match their feed requirements to available forge.
 
Lloyd George
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There is nothing wrong with grass feeding..thye are herbivores after all..and for most of the mass of food, grazing on decent pasture is good...but..there is nothing intrinsically wrong with supplementing with grain...it is a high energy food, however...monitoring condition is vitally important...overfeeding is often a worse sin than underfeeding...

I like Salatin's ideas and processes....to a point...seems he has wrapped all of nature up in a neat bow tied package, and it always works of him and blah blah blah...I have my doubts about it being as rosy as he says, BUT, I also believe that what he does works, and works well, after forty years of consistent effort, and unflagging dedication to the process...it is not a plug and play situation, any more than trotting down to Lowes and buying half the garden plants in the store and drilling them in to your front yard gives a food forest...

Also..there is alot of art to loading pastures for intensive grazing....and a difficult art...problem is when money is the end object it is way too easy to overpopulate a patch...
 
Taylor Stewart
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I absolutley agree. There are times when grain is warranted, probably not at feedlot levels, but it does have it's uses as an energy supplement.
 
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