I have always heard that a goat will eat anything. Well, we all know thatís not true, especially at my house where over the course of the years we have had to combine at least nine different feeds at some points just to make sure everyone was happy. Some donít like the pelleted feeds with coccidiostats some refuse to eat feed with ammonium chloride, and some refuse to eat pelleted feeds at all. We just mix it all together and let everyone pick out what they like and someone else is sure to clean up the mess (I like the non-picky eaters).
While goats wonít eat just anything at my house, there is always at least one that will always get their head stuck in some form or fashion and must wait for one of our sets of rounds to check everyone to get discovered and unstuck. To make matters worse and in the majority of the cases, the poor thing has been there long enough that they have decided that they are there for a reason and are supposed to be there. This leaves the poor goat farmers (my mom, dad, or me when Iím home from college) to get the goatís head out of whatever it is stuck in while the goat will not merely not help in the matter, but insist that its head remain where it is and push against its rescuerís hands.
Most goats will get their heads stuck once or twice and learn from the experience so that the next time they feel stuck, they can simply turn their head and back out. These are fine since they learn, but we prefer those that figure it out on their own without screaming for help. Most of our goats fall into these two categories, but occasionally we will have one that refuses to be helped.
When we started in this caprine endeavor, we had La Manchas and Nubians, which were all dehorned for dairy shows. As dairy goats lost their numbers in the area, we began crossing Angora into our dairy goats to make a meatier goat for the market shows since the Boers were much too expensive back then. One was named Flashlight (odd since we never thought she was very bright). She managed to get her head stuck daily in every place possible in her pen. Every morning after feeding we had to get her head out of some new place, and later, in the same places time and time again. I say after feeding only because itís impossible to do anything with the hungry mob asking for grain. Sometimes she would even get her head stuck again in the afternoon and she would have to be rescued again. This only lasted long enough for her to kid and wean her babies and then we decided she could be someone elseís problem. Thus ending the term of the first horned goat at our house.
We dehorned our kids for a few years after that and the problem went away, that is until we got interested in registered Boers. We were naÔve and took the advice that the goats needed their horns for shows, not like we were showing the does, but we left their heads alone. We have had a few stuck heads over the years, but most learned their lesson after a few attempts or found new homes since being stuck and away from water is not good for anyone in the desert heat. We thought we had eliminated all the offenders until our new buck came home.
Xzibit falls into the class of goats that refuses to be helped. In the month and a half he has been living with us, he has gone from living in a typical goat pen to the equivalent of a baby-proof padded room. He has gotten his head in feeders, buckets, fences, panels, gates, and anything else that his head might squeeze into. What makes matters worse is that it requires more time to figure out how to get his head out without tearing apart whatever itís in than he ever puts into why he would ever feel the need to get it stuck in the first place. More often than not one person can get his 5 month old head and horns out by themselves by straddling his neck and keeping him from pushing while maneuvering his head out of its stuck state of affairs. Sometimes he pushes so hard against help that it takes two people, one for the head and the other to hold his body. Luckily, we think we have everything he can get stuck in either removed or covered up.
We can only hope that as his horns get larger we can give him back his big feeder without fear of him getting stuck again. I hope the others havenít watched him enough times to try this on their own. They havenít yet, but I tell them daily that they shouldnít because one day we might be out of town and theyíll be stuck all afternoon and either they have listened or are too busy grazing to care about whatís on the other side of the fence. I tell Xzibit all the time he shouldnít get his head stuck, and if he does, not to fight us so much when weíre helping him. I know it goes in one ear and out the other; heís going through that adolescent stage where you canít tell him anything. We were all there once. Iím sure heíll grow out of this stage, but until he does, we have to make sure we check on him when he yells.
Oh no, I hear someone outside. Hope heís just wanting dinner and not stuck again. Oh well, boys will be boys.