Wednesday 1 August 2012

Goats don't eat laundry and tin cans

Browsing bramble
Walking the goats is a good opportunity to observe their grazing/browsing behaviour. If they walk through a sward of grass and clover they aren't a bit interested. Where wild shrubs come down to the path they get really excited, exploring with their sense of smell and their prehensile lips. Today on a short walk up the old drove road they sampled; hazel, sycamore, birch, heath, bell heather, sow-thistle, rose-bay willow herb ( Fire weed in N. America), grass seed heads and brambles. What is worrying is that they were keen to eat bracken and foxglove, both toxic to goats. My strategy to deal with this is to give them access to good hay during the whole time they are confined in their pen so that at least any toxic plant material is diluted by the large amount of hay in the rumen.
Balancing on hind legs
In Africa I have seen goats in the very tops of trees when browse was desperately short. Apart from tree and rock climbing they are very adept at standing on two hind feet to reach low branches.

Of all the plants they sampled this morning Rose bay willow-herb seems to be the favourite. A small piece of digestive biscuit is also highly regarded.  The image of the cartoon goat eating clothes on the washing line or even tin cans is because they explore everything with nose, lips and taste buds. They are very fastidious and won't eat anything that has fallen on the floor of their pen.

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