Introducing new kids to the herdgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
How can I introduce this year's kids to the adults without the older goats butting them all over the pasture? My six angoras have their horns, but it is actually the yearlings (the mother goats) who are the most hostile. These kids have never been with their mothers.
-- Rachel (email@example.com), June 15, 2000
Rachel, goats establish a pecking order. Right off hand I can't think of any easy way to introduce them other than just putting them all together and watching them. Even if you pastured the kids next to the others so they could get used to each other, when you combine them, they'll still have to establish that pecking order. So I'd just go ahead and combine them, and I wouldn't take a kid out unless it was seriously hurt. If you take it out, you'll have to put it back at some point and it will be the only newbie and suffer worse.
I suspect that most of it will look a lot worse to you than it actually is to the kids. Gerbil
-- Gerbil (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 15, 2000.
I usually wait until the kids are at least 4 or 5 months old before tossing them into the "big goats pen." If you put them in too soon when they are small, they will likely get hurt with no "mom" to protect them...one of the negatives of separating and bottle feeding. Contrary to Gerbil's method, I prefer to bring them in for short "2 or 3 round bouts" under supervision starting at 3 or so months. Easy for me since I don't have a lot of goats to watch or move about; probably not practical for larger herds, tho. Anyway, this way it isn't such a shock when they get tossed in for good...also, it gives me a little more peace of mind leaving them alone knowing by then who is ready and who isn't. Also, they aren't as relentless with their bullying after a few "hardening" off sessions since the order has aleady been more or less established under my watchful eye. Again, as with all other aspects of farming, it is whatever works best for you. This works for me.
-- Jim Roberts (email@example.com), June 16, 2000.
Two thoughts -- one way to put rams together when they've been apart for a while is to put them in such a small pen that they can't back up and butt each other too hard. Don't know if this would work with the goats, though, as my second thought is that the horned goats I've had have been quite adept at hooking other animals in the softest part of the gut. The goring has never actually gone all the way through the abdominal wall, but certainly could. (Has broken the skin, though.) I would agree with the response suggesting you not put them together until the kids are a little older and can hold their own.
-- Kathleen Sanderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 16, 2000.
This is one of the major reasons that I dam raise the kids. I have not found a good way to introduce unfamiliar kids into an established herd without their undergoing considerable stress. I have had some kids die from that stress, or otherwise just do poorly and quit growing for a while, etc. It is also a problem with bottle raised kids, although if they live with the rest of the herd from birth, it is not too bad. One thing you can try that would really help is if the kids have a place to escape to when they need to, where the larger goats cannot get to them, and preferably where there is a grain and hay feeder so that they will get enough to eat. I have seen new kids standing in the pouring rain when the old biddies wouldn't let them in the barn! If they can still squeeze through stock panel, you can partition aff part of the barn with that, and put some grain and hay in there, then they can come out when they want to, and go into the safer area when things get too intense.
-- Rebekah (email@example.com), June 22, 2000.