Editor's note: This discription of overfeeding (from the human perspective) and underfeeding (from the goat perspective) by Ken Thompson first appeared on the ChevonTalk discussion list.
Original boergoats.com publication date Aug 21,2000.
by Ken Thompson
Well, I just came in from the goat yard, and detect the odor of "Old Billy Goat Spice" on my overalls. Sheila will have a spasm if she catches me sitting in this good chair and transferring one of her very favorite smells in this world to it.
We have been moving a couple of large bales of haygrazer hay into the goat pens, one into the large herd's quarters and one into the buck pen. Unfortunately, this is a necessary thing at this wrong time of year because of the severe drought in our part of the world. We got some nice rain back in July that was sufficient to really green things and start the grass to growing, but there was no
more, and after a beautiful two weeks of green, it began to brown and twist again. The goats were in piggy-goat heaven for a while, but there is not much left and I don't want them grubbing out what is left, so out comes the hay again.
I could not help but think as I was moving the hay that this is really a bunch of welfare goats. They really haven't had to work a day in their lives for groceries. There has been some discussion on this list about feedlotting goats and other animals, and I expect that most of us would not say that our goats are being raised in feedlot conditions. Well, I really suspect that for most of us,
the only difference is the size of the pens that we keep them in. Even those like me who have a bit of graze, if it ever rains, really don't depend on that to keep our animals in good shape. Most of us wouldn't recognize a goat that is actually in good range condition and capable of producing a good amount of good goat meat for what is truly the least dollars and time spent in taking care of it.
Please don't misunderstand what I have to say. Most of us don't have enough "range" to truly raise this kind of goat, one that doesn't see the feed bucket or the hay bale except in the most serious of poor range conditions. To one extent or another, most of our goats would feel pretty abused to have to live in those more normal and natural conditions. I know that some of us do a pretty
good job of raising goats with only a relatively small amount of attention and with very
little supplemental feed. These folks are the only ones of us who are
money to speak of on sure enough meat goats. Some of us have identified
servicing some ethnic markets that may allow a measure of profit as
this savvy response to fill a need in our area.
My point is both serious and also a bit funny. Here I am, claiming to be
goat business to raise goats to sell for meat, either to individuals or
the local market, and trying to keep my expenses down and my goat
etc. After hauling hay to feed these animals that are hollering like
starving to death, causing people travelling down the highway to
reporting me for cruelty and abuse -- after all, if these were content
with their bellies full, they wouldn't be hollering so loud and
-- I went to the feed room and dished up a small amount of a new feed
that I decided to try after talking with Mr Kent Mills, who is an
authority on feeding and forage, by the way. This product is a 20%
cube made entirely of grain and alfalfa and cottonseed products, with no
other things that would be questionable for a goat's diet. The cubes are
in diameter, which is a little larger than these animals are used to,
according to the feed tag, they should be yummy stuff. This is the
second time I
have fed these cubes, but it was the first time Sheila had been around
time they were fed.
The appearance of the feed bucket caused the usual stampede, even though
the mob was about half stuffed with fresh haygrazer hay already. As I
the cubes in the trough, the pitiful hungry sounding hollering began to
a more angry and critical tone. As I left the pen, while Sheila still
contact with a couple of her favorites, several goats took cubes into
mouths and then spit them out on the ground. A couple carried cubes in
mouths to the water trough (freshly cleaned, I might add) and dropped
into the clean water. Several left the feed troughs and came to the gate
feed room and began to let me know in no uncertain terms that they were
pleased with the chow. Sheila was laughing her head off, because of this
that was obviously directed at me specifically because of these spoiled
animal's reaction to perfectly good chow that just didn't happen to
them, and which would have caused any self-respecting range animal to
thought they had died and gone to goat heaven if the cubes had been
Welfare goats, indeed!! These goats are just like my kids used to be.
the table fussing about perfectly good food, in large quantities, while
children in -----, well, you know what I mean. I hope y'all know that I
have anything against taking good care of our animals. If we don't do
can't do a good job for us, especially if we are asking them to
good, sturdy, healthy, fast growing kiddos for meat prospects. Even if
asking them to be producer's of animals for pets or for show purposes,
important to take good care of our animals.
I just think that we need to always remember how these animals were
live and reproduce and eat and survive in their more natural settings,
that some natural settings are better than others, and that some
in some natural settings that don't exist in others. If we can figure
out how to
allow these wonderful animals to live and grow and reproduce for us in
where we happen to live by just making sure that they have everything
need to do these things if we were not around to give them more, then I
can begin to actually profit from keeping these animals on a regular
farmstead basis. Yes, we can take care of their sicknesses and injuries
the percentages of animals that will survive to old age, but we can also
being the cause of some problems that happen because of our good
make things better for these animals by feeding them too much of the
are not really good for them, and by not allowing them to gain any
resistance to what they must face every day of their lives.
We don't keep our two-legged kids in isolation and quarantined
their lives, because we know that they have to develop immunities to the
that they will be exposed to as they live in this world. I don't think
to try to raise our goats in a bubble,either. But then again, I have
out the feed wagon one more time, and I probably will succumb to the
language I heard from the herd tonight telling me in no uncertain terms
bring any more of that crap to the feed trough again. I think I may have
been cussed at tonight. Sheila sure got a kick out of the whole show, so
it wasn't a total loss. I have decided to keep that sack of feed though.
I need to show the herd that things could be worse around here, and that
don't know how good they really have it, I'll just trot out a helping of
stuff and walk away and let them wonder if they are going to get some
more of the
same next time!!!