I thought they weren’t supposed to eat nightshade plants! I tried to tell them… but there’s no stopping 7 goats that just discovered the garden. Good-bye Roma tomatoes. Good-bye eggplant. Good-bye sweet peppers, zucchini, and crookneck. Need to come up with a better plan for the winter garden. I’ve seen nice hoop houses with bent PVC and covered with wire fencing and plastic to make a green house. Watching them rip the heavy-duty tomato cages out of the ground, I’m not sure that would stop them. Might need one of those motion-activated predator sprinkler set-ups!
Even if you don’t have acres for pastures, you can get creative and grow vertically. Our goats prefer trees and bushes because their deeper roots provide for the higher mineral needs of dairy goats. The most common question we get is “Are they good lawnmowers?” Our usual answer is “Nope, but they’ll destroy your roses!”
If you’re going to let them out, be careful to remove all of the poisonous plants and fence off young plants you don’t want destroyed such as young fruit trees.
The many different plants offer a smorgasboard of nutrients for them, and they get their exercise roaming from tree to bush, nibbling here and there. The following is what is on the menu in early October.
coastal live oak
photinia (red-tipped bush)
pear tree leaves
orange and lemon tree leaves
We are planning on planting several more trees and vines to continue to provide year-round browse that we can cut and carry. More on that to come.
Aspen was house trained for the first nine months. It was really not that difficult and well worth the effort. We brought her home when she was a week old so she lived in the house with us. We took her out on a leash and told her to “go potty” on the lawn and squatted down next to her. While she squatted, we scratched her and praised her. We made sure we took her frequently and crated her when we couldn’t watch her. It worked really well and she never made a mess. Once she was 6 weeks old, she was launching herself off the table and prancing on my laptop so she got exiled to the goat pen. In order to keep up her training, we took her in the car with us and always provided her with frequent lawn visits. We kept a look-out for good pit stops, pulling over when she let us know she needed to go. Even now, when prompted, she usually squats to “try” whether she really has to go or not.
It’s easy when they’re babies, but once they’re grown up, I’m not sure it would be that successful.
If you have goats, you know they beg like dogs, but now it’s official, according to researchers in London. Our goats stand at the gate to their pen and stare longingly at our back yard, begging to come out and eat the landscaping. Really, we haven’t had time to landscape yet and besides the trees, there’s mostly weeds, a little ivy, and a very ugly jade plant I haven’t had time to dig up. Well, the goats took care of that for me. All winter they ignored the ugly jade plant and I actually shooed them away from it worrying it might be poisonous. I looked it up online and it’s fine, but I figured they wouldn’t eat it (since it’s so ugly, right?) Little by little they’d sneak tastes and then one day they finished off the whole thing. Then they started on the ivy, which had been ignored in favor of tastier weeds. Pat Coleby advises in Natural Goat Care that does should be given a couple of ivy leaves after kidding. She doesn’t say why, but I followed her advice, but had no takers back in March. Apparently ivy doesn’t taste good here in California until July.
The girls stand by the gate to ask to come out to explore the backyard. They love the olive trees and beg for fresh leaves. Oak, redwood, photinia, roses, and orange leaves are also favorites. Usually they are so spoiled with their orchard grass and organic alfalfa that they have little interest in weeds, but today they tried mallow, filigree, dandelion, and several different grasses.
Acorn found old ashes left from the burn pile and thought it would be a fun place to play.