Goats in the Garden - Dec 2012

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Viv McNeil


It appears that we may be in for an arctic winter this year if the weather forecasters are to be believed. I had an email from a new keeper the other day who was concerned about keeping his goats warm during the winter and wondered if they needed some form of heating. I told him that was a bad idea, someone I knew had done that and the goats had begun to moult and lose their coats thinking it was the summer. The coat on goats thickens during the winter to take into account the change in temperature and they are well able to withstand the cold, just make sure you do not brush this undercoat out. What they do need however, is a draught free pen in which to shelter during the worst of the weather, dry bedding and plenty of hay. I sometimes give my goats some Readigrass mixed with a handful of Alpha A by way of a treat but it is the hay which is most important.  Do not increase their goat mix. When the weather is particularly cold I give my goats warm water to drink, which they appreciate. Even in the coldest weather the goats still need ventilation in the goat house otherwise problems can occur. A glass free window above head height is fine.


I took Heatherview Borneville back today, I had borrowed him from the local children`s farm and as it was the second time I had used him for serving my females we were not strangers.

He had changed though. He was not as smelly, which was very fortunate for my neighbours, and to start with he was very quiet. He settled very quickly, ate his goat mix and hay and behaved like a perfect gentleman. All that was about to change once he got his eye on my girls. I must admit they were as much to blame, the saucy minx`s. They kept walking up to his gate wagging their tails and then walking away as soon as he showed any interest, what red blooded male can be expected to put up with that. He soon let me and most of Epsom know he was not pleased and with a raucous bellow made his presence felt. Fortunately, things settled down as the girls came into season one by one and all was once more quiet and tranquil. I always keep the male for three weeks after the last female has been mated to make sure they have all taken. This, however, does cause some frustration for the ignored male and this year Borneville loosened several fence posts and  battered his way through a gate to reach the object of his desire. Fortunately, I was putting the girls away when he arrived behind me so there was no harm done except to my bruised legs.

I reinforced the fencing with hurdles for the remainder of his stay.


The showing season has now finished and if you managed to get to any shows I hope you enjoyed them. I was judging Peterborough this year, the last show of the season, and we were very lucky with the weather. It was a good entry and it finished the season off nicely for me.


I only have three females now and they are much easier to look after. Hopefully, if all went well with Borneville they will be due to kid the first week in March, a little later than last year and hopefully a little warmer. Those who are expecting kids, I wish you vet free kiddings and to all of you I wish a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.


Viv McNeil