Come along for a quick pasture check. Throughout the summer I do pasture checks at least 2x a day on our three herds of goats. I'm checking for animal health (does everyone look ok), water tanks, mineral feeders and the plant height and trample in the paddock to know when to move the goats on to a new paddock.
During snowy, cold weather like this our young stock are tucked away in the barn. Part of our herd stays outside and does quite well. During weather like this or cold snaps we feed extra hay, which helps keep them warm, bed down the pasture shelters and the goats naturally grow a thick winter coat. I often find that our goats that live outside year round are healthier than if they were in the barn. I didn’t stay out long since I came out to check the goats and bottle feed a few babies.
Note: Our goats and guardian dogs always have access to shelter, water and food. If it gets too cold or too much snow they'll be moved into one of our barns.
It seems like there's a smart technology for everything today. In the last few months I just started using a new smart tech tool on my own farm, an automatic milk feeder for my dairy buck kids so they are able to eat on demand, similar to if they were nursing. For me as the caretaker of my goats, it has allowed me to spend more time working with my animals and observing their health, than when I was mixing milk replacer, feeding with lamb bars and cleaning equipment. It's truly a time saver, which I greatly appreciate since I'm the sole manager of my farm.
I've recently received a number of questions about the portable paddock fence system I'm using. In the past I used an electronet fence, which has worked well. However, now that my herd is larger, I am grazing three groups of animals: breeding does, breeding bucks/buck kids, and dairy buck kids. It takes time to move each group of animals, including fence set up/take down, shelters and water stations. I depend on our John Deere Gator to help move everything as efficiently as possible. With a larger number of goats, I decided to start using Gallahger's Smart Fence, an all-in-one four reel poly wire system. It's lightweight, simple to set up/take down, doesn't tangle as easily as the eletronet fence, and travels well in the back of the Gator.
As I've talked about in previous blogs, it's important to fence train the animals so they learn to respect the electric fence and stay inside. The fence training allows the animals to "experience" the electric fence, while I supervise for any issues. Just a quick touch of the nose on the poly wire once, will teach the animals to stay away. On a very rare occasion, I've had a goat get out. But, they usually don't go far since they're herd animals and the fact that this fence is used inside our woven wire perimeter fence. I'm ok with rounding up an occasional goat or two, versus having a goat kid get hung up in the electronet fence.
I set up our paddocks in Ls to maximize the fence length and always be set up for the next paddock (see picture above). Each group of animals uses three of fences, so each time we move a group, the previous fence can be taken down and set up for the next move. The video clip below give a little more information about the fence system.
A typical day during our grazing season (when animals are out on pasture full time) includes at least one to two pasture checks to make sure the goats are doing ok, the water tanks are still being filled by the automatic floats, the fence doesn't have any issues, check if the mineral needs to be refilled, monitor the grass/brush consumed and anything else that might catch my eye. Depending on my time, I will often walk out to do to checks. We currently have three groups in three different pastures: our does and doelings, bucks and bucklings, and our dairy buck kids. If I'm a little tight on time or have my two year old with me, I'll take our Gator out. I love to walk. It's peaceful. It's me time, well more like me and the 70+ goats time. Yesterday during pasture checks I took out the Gator and stopped to catch this quick video of our dairy buck kids and donkey in the "bonus" pasture.
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats and dairy buck kids all on pasture. We also harvest maple sap. Read more here.
Keep up Day-to-Day with the farm:
Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.