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  • Writer's pictureConstance Wilmoth

I failed my goats....

I have to admit that I absolutely and utterly failed my goats last year. It was my first foray into owning and caring for bucks and I made many mistakes. I struggled keeping them separate from the does, using lute more times than I care to admit. I also had my first case of urinary calculi in my young buckling I planned to retain. From, that I swung to the other end of the spectrum and stopped feeding my bucklings grain and only fed them free choice hay and minerals. This lead them to be a bit on the thin side and caused Branson to have some strange coat issues due to the lack of zinc in his diet. He developed a soft downy undercoat but no guard hairs last winter. After some additional thought and soul searching I decided to start feeding my bucks a balanced

Ca:P ratio grain and also supplementing ammonium chloride into my buck that had urinary calculi for four days every two weeks twice a day. Things finally started to even out, and my bucks started to really look good, when they realized they were bucks and not little bucklings. I was housing them in my barn with the does, and it was absolutely driving them mad. They were fighting, causing bloody heads, and destroying everything in their reach.

There had to be a change. I have had goats for years and never had two that tested me to my breaking point like these boys did. So we finally revamped our chicken coop and made the back of it a buck chalet! The boys love it, they almost immediately settled down and started to grow hair back on their heads. I then realized that they were not getting to enjoy being a goat like all of my others were. See, I have never raised goats where they could not free range. I truly believe this is essential to their mental and physical health, allowing them to browse on anything and everything, limiting their parasite load and adding variety into their diet. I set out to improve this for the bucks. Knowing I only had a few tools in my arsenal and I could not spend thousands on fencing, I started with my one set of net fencing. At first I set this in a beautiful area of grass and the bucks absolutely despised it, they cried and did not touch a stem, then I realized goats are browsers not grazers! I looked at the area directly behind my buck house and saw an overgrown brably mess. Rob and I need to get this area cleaned out as we hope to begin excavating for a barn this year, so I set the boys to graze. After one day I was absolutely shocked and impressed. Not only were the bucks content, but they had absolutely cleared the area they were in. Thinking only about their happiness, I moved their fence to an adjacent area, and unintentionally cleared a massive section of property in just a few months of moving the buck fencing every day. As the days grow shorter I know this rotational browsing time will not last forever, but I am absolutely ecstatic that the bucks enjoy browsing, and also help me in the process by clearing land.

In the end if you are facing a problem, don't give up, think about creative ways to solve the problem that you are dealing with you may end up with some unintended positive outcomes. Its very impressive what two Nigerian bucks in rut can do for you! Happy goating!

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