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Saturday, September 10 2016

If you mixed a runway supermodel with a toddler you'd have a dairy goat. If you don't believe it, you've never tried to feed one.

My dairy goats are given a high quality sweet feed, sunflower seeds, cotton seed meal, calf manna, and alfalfa. The goal is to get as many calories as possible into them because milk production takes so much out. Life would be just grand if they'd happily eat everything they are served, but that is not the case. Goats are picky and their tastes change as often as a man with the television remote control. Sheep, on the other hand, eat what is served and gain weight on a diet that would make a dairy goat look like a prisoner of war.

Since we have sheep and goats it is necessary to separate them at meal time. Not only do the sheep not need all those calories, there is too much copper in goat food for sheep, so if the goats are getting a special goat chow, it's imperative that food be completely consumed before sheep have access to the area.

This is what feeding at our house is like:

Pull wagon to hay barn and load with alfalfa. Sheep and goats stagger out of their slumber and began screaming and dragging little tin cups across the prison bars to loudly announce to every coyote in the county that they are awake and are hungry. Drag wagon filled with alfalfa across yard and dump little piles into outside feeders. Release sheep only.

Sheep gallop like thoroughbreds bursting through the gates. There will always be one or two goats with them. These goats will run up to the alfalfa, stand over it in disgust, and demand to be returned to the pen. Every day. Same two stupid goats.

The rest of the goats will wait expectantly near their stall in the pen. I walk through barn and attempt to open sliding door. Cannot open door because goats are hanging on it. Goats knock door off runners. Cuss goats. Cuss door. Use Border Collie to push goats off door. Goats run to their feeders and climb inside. Dump feeders to clear them of any goats or debris. Go back outside and get hay. Goats mug wagon and climb on top.  Toss alfafa into first feeder. Almost fall as goats rush like waves crashing on the beach. They shove each other out of feeder. Toss exact same hay into second feeder. All goats leave first feeder to rush at second feeder like a Black Friday Wal-Mart opening. Toss hay into third feeder. Black Friday shoppers abandon first two stores and race to third store. They climb in feeders and flip them. Ut oh! Hay has now touched dirt. It is no longer good. It is soiled and as such, cannot pass goat supermodel pouty lips.

They run to the next feeder and flip their neighbor's hay onto the ground. Oh, my bad. Looks like neighbor now has soiled hay too. While they are busy ruining $23 per bale alfalfa, I begin to dish out grain mix. This is an electronics sale on Black Friday.

A prison riot food fight breaks out. After the dust settles, the goats decide that this week they do not eat Brand X of sweet feed, but prefer Brand Y which they refused to eat last week because Brand X cost more money. They did not like Brand Y until they saw the sheep eating it, and now it is their favorite and they hate Brand X. But they only want the top 1/3 of the bag, after that it is tainted and cannot be eaten. It must therefore be replaced with Brand Z which costs enough to put a child through college. Brand Z is their new favorite. Buy several bags of Brand Z because they seem to like it. Wrong! They only like the first bag. The next bag is unacceptable.

Leave them with food for two hours. During that time the milkers are pulled out and given the same food in a bucket on the milking stand. There is a fight at the door every time a milker is pulled out. The food in the milk stand bucket must be far superior to the food in the troughs. Because, well, it's in a bucket, and everyone knows that food in a bucket tastes better than food in a trough.

Once done milking Goat #1, take the bucket out of the milking stand and place it on pavement in barn aisle. Pull out next milker and put her on the stand. Goat #1 leaves her bucket to mug the bucket on the stand belonging to Goat #2. Milk Goat #2 while Goat #1 attempts to steal grain from Goat #2 even though it IS THE SAME GRAIN!  When finished, take that bucket and place it on the pavement next to Bucket #1 so they can clean up grain. Pull out Goat #3 and put Bucket #3 on the milking stand. Goat #1 and Goat #2 leave Bucket #2 and attempt to eat out of Bucket #3 while Goat #3 is being milked. Same feed. Different buckets.  Repeat this a 4th time with next goat.

Now this begs the obvious question: "Why don't you just kick Goat #1 back in with everyone else when you pull out Goat #2?"

Folks, trying to drag one goat back into a pen when ten more are trying to get out of that same pen is the very definition of insanity. The best I can do is kick her out of the barn with the sheep. By leaving her inside the barn aisle while I milk, I am able to monitor exactly how much food she eats. She will also eat more food if she is fighting with her neighbor. This boggles my mind, but is the very reason why shoppers line up for hours outside Wal-Mart for a Black Friday sale. The merchandise isn't as important as the thrill of the game.

Nevertheless, I'm seriously considering going back to the old method of tying all the milkers up against the wall where they have to wait until their turn. I'm not sure which is less stressful on me. Watching them duke it out, or listening to them scream when they're tied to the wall.

After everyone has been milked and most of the goats have announced that Brands X, Y, and Z are no longer acceptable and the next time you're at the feed store, you need to buy Brand Q, with the crimped oats, not the whole oats, and they want chicken soup with stars and the crust cut off their toasted cheese sandwich.

The goats will then wander out to the pasture to eat poison ivy and mesquite trees.

The bucks will be turned into the same pen and they will conduct clean-up duties. Hours later the sheep and dairy goat girls will be returned to that same pen. The dairy goat girls will then fight with the sheep for whatever food the bucks left, forgetting this is the same grain and alfalfa that they wouldn't eat eight hours earlier. If the sheep want it, it must be special. And never forget, if you are feeding goats, every day is Black Friday and you are the Wal-Mart greeter.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
This is absolutely 100% accurate! And I'm glad my goats are Niggies and my sheep have their own pen!! I have figured out how to get my goats to eat their food every time, though. I feed them the food that the 2 steer calves rejected. That makes it extra good somehow. Though, I think I'm on food M for the steers. That's the problem with only having 2 of them.
Posted by Patty on 09/10/2016 - 03:23 PM
My two Boer goats just like the stuff over the fence in the special area of native grass and then out onto the bush footpath up the road to a neighbour who leaves his gate open. Young Orchard plantings were all the rage here last month. How they can even flip their huge Kardashian rears through the fence is a miracle to behold...
Posted by Liz [Vic Aust on 09/10/2016 - 05:45 PM
Bwahahahaha! Laughing through that whole post! "Dump feeders to clear them of any goats..." LOL!
Posted by Cappy on 09/12/2016 - 01:56 PM
It is so good to know that others share the same struggles!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 09/13/2016 - 09:17 AM
Once again I say "THIS is why I have SHEEP."
Posted by Libbye on 09/23/2016 - 08:51 AM

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