The goats are finally out on pasture and love it. But, it has been a lot of work to get to this point.
Last fall our pasture perimeter fence was put up right before the first snow in November. We were able to do some late winter grazing, but didn’t rotate since our portable paddock fence can’t be used on frozen ground. We continued to outwinter (feeding out on pasture, either the plant matter or feed hay) throughout the winter months. The goats did great eating on the brush and grasses still standing, while naturally fertilizing the pasture. Once spring arrived the goats were back to feeding hay outside, while the pastures greened up.
Even though the fence was up, the goats weren’t ready to head out to pasture right away. There was quite a bit of prep work to do: fill gaps at the bottom of the fence to keep the guardian dogs in and predators out, troubleshooting a grounded electric fence (meaning it wasn’t working properly) and getting the seasonal pasture waterline ready for use. More importantly, the goats and dogs needed to be trained on the portable electric net that’s used to divide the paddocks. It took a few sessions over a few days, but the animals learned quickly to respect the fence.
Now it’s the fourth week of the grazing season. The goats moved into a new paddock on Sunday. I was amazed how easy it was to move the goats into the paddock. I wasn’t sure how the dogs would do. After I anchored the portable fence gate open, I turned around to look for them. I didn’t see them, because they had already cruised into the lush grass and were checking out the new fence line. The animals still have access to the barn, but after the next rotation they’ll be out on pasture full time with a movable shelter to protect them from the elements.
Here’s how the managed, rotational grazing process works on our farm:
Resources that have been helpful:
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats on pasture.
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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.