Many years ago the Beatles wrote that all you need is love. Well, they hadnít been to our farm during kidding time. You need cardboard, too. And, probably a good personality survey would help. What on earth am I talking about? Iím talking about the goats, of course. Lee and I have way too much work to do to get grumpy with each other. Why, if the other one got hurt feelings about something and stomped off, it would leave entirely too much work for the one remaining person standing there to do. So, we really treat each other very kindly. It's those contrary pregnant goats that we put in kidding stalls that do all the fussing and feuding and need the personality surveys and cardboard.
Using kidding stalls can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand goats are social animals. They like seeing each other. They are comforted in seeing each other, so we use metal T posts and hog panels to put our kidding stalls together so the goats can see each other. Sometimes if we can find the panels with the two inch by two inch squares that are affordable, weíll use those.
On the other hand, goats can get really cantankerous with each other. They want to growl and butt heads, but yet they donít want to be apart. Go figure. So, in putting your pregnant does in to kid, side by side in these kidding stalls, you have to figure out who is going to get along with whom. Who is going to make a good neighbor. If you donít figure out the personalities of each goat right, you get a lot of noise. Goats butting the panels, trying to head butt each other, making considerable racket and disharmony among the whole kidding community in the barn.
A lot of times we decide who will get along well as neighbors, such as sisters, or fellow bottle babies, or mother and daughters, or putting gentle nonrelated goat folk side by side and we get it all wrong. So, we rearrange everyone and wait to see what kind of ruckus that creates. And, sometimes you just never get it right and thatís when that wonderful invention cardboard comes into use.
You say, why not just put up plywood. Remember, the goats are happier if they can see each other. And, do you know how much plywood costs now a days?! This is where that wonderful cardboard can be used.
You may raise your eyebrows and go, ďWonít they just shred cardboard?Ē Ahhhh, listen and learn, little grasshopper, not always so. You only use the best cardboard. You beg the cardboard boxes from all your friends that actually buy new appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, or new furniture. Wonderfully made, sturdy cardboard boxes. Oh, Iím sure whatever new stuff they bought is wonderfully, made too, but itís the cardboard boxes that are fantastic.
Then, when you get fighting does together, side by side, in a kidding stall, cut that cardboard to fit and tie it up on the hog panels so they canít see each other, except over top or through little cracks.
For some odd reason, after they have done battle through the hog panel wires and have decided they hate each other, they donít mind a bit not able to see that goat they hate. You say again, wonít they just shred that cardboard? Oddly enough, our group of fighting does are so happy to not see their new sworn enemy, they leave the cardboard along. Peace reigns supreme when the cardboard is put up.
We even use cardboard inside the barn to block drafts. We have put it on barn walls, screwed up with screws that will go into our oak boards and can be unscrewed when time to take the cardboard down. Sometimes we do have a kid or two who will try to chew the cardboard or strip it, but itís so sturdy, they never fully destroy it. Mainly the kids like to take running goes and bounce off the cardboard walls, leaving little dirty hoof prints all over it.
How do you know when itís time to hang a piece of cardboard? Usually itís when the big pregnant does are standing in their separate pens constantly thumping the panels to try and kill each other. Itís even worse when the kids come, because they think they have to protect their kids from the hated neighbor or from the hated neighborís kids. Sometimes they run right through their own kid to try and thump the panel and get to the neighborís kid. Not good.
Even if they just silently stand there, head to head, glaring at each other, it is time for the cardboard. We even put up a piece of cardboard when one girl would lay her head against the wire, threatening another doe, not pounding the wire, just laying her head against it, and the other doe just calmly stood there and pulled out all the hair she could on her neighborís head, who still would not budge, by the way. Time for cardboard between the bald goat and the mouth full of hair goat.
We did have one doe who hated her neighbor so bad that she chewed a little hole out of the cardboard, about eye level, so she could peek through and issue dire threats, but they never butted the wire again with the cardboard on it.
So, I guess use the cardboard when they canít stand the sight of their neighbor, but still they know a fellow goat is there and that makes them happy. Particularly when they donít have to look at that hated goat who drives them crazy, yet they still demand company because they hate isolation worse. Goats are wonderfully complex animals. Keep plenty of cardboard on hand.