Ruminants have such a contented look while they are chewing their cuds. It almost makes you wish you could regurgitate a past meal and re-chew it, enjoying its savor and texture all over again. Okay, I think I just made myself sick, but goats do have a very contented and happy look when they are chewing their cuds.
They never look frantic having to re-do a meal. They are at peace and either stand or lie there as they chew their cud. Cud chewing is happiness to them and it reminds me of my ex-bottle kids and their signs of contentment and absolute happiness.
If youíve ever watched a bottle kid suck on his bottle, that little tail is wagging faster than any puppy dogís tail can wag. They are extremely happy. They have a bottle. Life is good. And, that little tail shows it.
In an adult doe, that tail wagging means something else. By this time we are calling it flagging, but it means that doe is in heat, ready to be bred, if she is walking around wagging that tail. Of course, they are happy too, thinking they might get bred, but for that bottle kid, tail wagging means, ďOh, Boy! Bottle time!Ē And, even if you donít have a bottle, that bottle kid will run up to you and wag itís tail for all itís worth if you pet them. Happiness is being petted by the bottle holder or soon to be bottle holder. The tail canít help but wag in memory or anticipation of a bottle.
When the bottle kids gets old enough to chew a cud, say around two weeks of age, there starts a strange combination of happy actions. They will run up to you to be petted, even though itís not bottle time, hope springs eternal, and their tails will be wagging, and an added bonus occurs. If they are old enough to make a cud, they bring up a cud and chew in happiness, while you pet them. I have several nine month old girls, ex-bottle kids, who no longer wag their tails in happiness because they might get a bottle. By now that bottle is a distant but pleasant memory, but if you bend over and pet them, theyíll raise their little noses up and bring up a happy cud and stand there and chew it, all because you are there petting them. To them, they are getting the best of both worlds, a good petting plus a good cud to chew. How can life get any better?
Those older ex-bottle does all will run up to me and happily say, ďHello, hello,Ē and they all bring up a cud to chew while they stand around me, waiting for me to pet each and every one. I have to admit, itís the cutest thing ever. It makes me laugh and makes me happy too that they are so content to see me.
Seeing those cuds reminds me years ago that some goat breeders use to tell everyone that if you have a sick goat, and after you have treated it with antibiotics or whatever, you were to go and steal a cud out of a healthy goat and push it into the mouth of the sick goat. The idea on this was the cud would be full of good bacteria to help the sick one be able to digest its food properly again.
I never tried it. It seemed too intimidating a task. I chickened out and went and bought some cattle Probios, which was a probiotic that would help put the good bacteria in the rumen to help digest food, and I knew I could bravely squirt that into a goatís mouth that had been sick or on antibiotics a long time. I couldnít wrap my mind around grabbing a big healthy goat, sticking my fingers into itís mouth, trying to steal a cud. For one thing, those back teeth on a goat can crack corn, I could imagine what those teeth would do to my poor fingers.
And, wouldnít the goat get so perturbed over me being a cud stealer, that she would just swallow the cud in surprise? No chance of getting it then. Plus, have you ever had a goat get upset because you were trying to worm her and she spit her cud out on your shoe? It really has a strong odor to it. I suppose I should have scooped it up and saved it in my refrigerator for future use, and Iíve stored many strange things in my refrigerator, but I drew the line at that odor. If youíve ever had a goat belch in your face, you get a tiny idea of what that cud smells like.
But, back to contentment. A cud chewing goat is a contented goat. If you think one of your goats is fatally sick and all the sudden she brings up a cud and starts chewing it, that will put your mind at ease. No sick goat will bring up a cud to chew. And, if your bottle babies start wildly wagging their tails, then you have a bunch of happy bottle kids, hoping for a bottle. If your older ex-bottle kid suddenly belches up a cud when you have bent over to pet her, sheís not insulting you, sheís happy and content that you are there.
Iím not sure what signs humans have when they are happy and content. Eating a big bowl of ice cream or a big slice of pizza might make us all hum in happiness. You can almost hear some people purr as they eat their favorite treat or watch their favorite movie or be with their favorite person. I think for me, when something makes me laugh, such as bottle kids wagging tails and ex-bottle kids bringing up a cud because I am there, that laugh is my sign of contentment. Isnít it strange that watching a cud chewing goat can make all of us goat farmers feel contented, too? Little things can make life very good.