May 04, 2008

Rotating pastures, how hard could it be?

I started the process of getting the goats moved to new pasture the other day. The pasture they are in is more over-stocked than I would like so they have kept the grass very short so far this spring. The new pasture has lots of grass and browse. I did not want to switch them from a diet of a little grass and mostly hay to a pasture with grass up past their bellies all at once, so I am taking about 3 days to do it gradually. Taking a few more days to switch them over is easier than treating for bloat, but I don't have a run or gate between these two pastures, so I have to move them out the first gate, through the backyard then out the other gate. I learned something I already knew by doing that today; goats get distracted easily!

I had thought OK, I will just use a grain bucket and all 39 goats and kids will follow me like the pied piper out the first gate, through the backyard and out to the second gate, this will be easy. At least that is the lie I told myself, but I think I really knew better. About half the does followed the grain bucket, some got distracted by the weeds in the backyard and scattered, 6 or 7 kids made a beeline to play on the fun blue hill in the backyard; which is actually some hay on a pallet that is covered with a tarp. The dairy doe went straight up on the milk-stand expecting her grain to be served there and some of the kids just stood in the old pasture yelling for their mothers; this isn't going at all like I planned.

So I dumped some grain in pails in the new pasture and went back to round up the rest of the does wandering around the backyard. A few of the does that had made it out to the new pasture followed me right back into the backyard because as we all know what little grain that was left in the bucket just HAD to be so much better than what I just fed them out of the same bucket. I finally got all the adults out to the new pasture and a few of the kids. Now to round up the rest of them. I caught some kids on the hay and set them over the fence, I herded some normally very tame kids that just decided at this moment they did not want to be caught back and forth past the gate half a dozen times before the light bulb finally went off in their little heads and they realized that, yes there was indeed a gate there to go through! Short of flashing lights and a welcome mat I don't know how I could have made the wide open gate anymore obvious.
The livestock guardian pups in training, who are still very young were not sure which goats to follow when they scattered, so they sat on their fat bottoms by the gate and watched all the commotion, with grinning, happy puppy faces. I imagine this was all great entertainment for them, but they eventually made it out the gate too. Now to go back and get the kids that were still standing in the old pasture wondering where everybody went. That went more smooth than I had thought it would; and by this time the grain was finished up and their mother's were looking for their kids, but all were reunited and happy and then they finally made their way out to the pasture to browse on all the green leaves and grass that is out there. Then I had to do it all over again when I put them back in the old pasture. Hopefully things will go a little more smooth tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

I know it isn't an easy task!

Dora Renee' Wilkerson said...

That's so funny! I know what you talking about.

I joke around with my family and tell them I didn't know I was going to grow up to be a goat herder but I am (I am not very good at it though.)

Dora Renee' Wilkerson

Jennifer said...

Nope, not easy at all. I think trying to herd goats is about as easy as trying to herd cats, (or maybe it is just my goats?) but it is probably a lot more fun. I am starting to see the value of a good herding dog for people that have very large herds.

Brenda said...

Very funny story! I like your comparison of herding goats to herding cats! I agree :D I'm training 7 first fresheners to come into the milking parlor for their grain and to be milked with the machine milker. This was very hard the first couple of days and we had quite a rodeo, but it is getting better now. They're starting to get the hang of the procedure. I hope your goats are following the plan better now too!