Goats in the Garden - June 2009

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For those of us who keep garden goats there is usually zero grazing, so it is always a problem finding them something interesting to eat. I have a couple of elder trees which the goats seem to enjoy but apart from that I don`t have much else to offer. Some years ago I was talking to a couple at the Pewsey show, some of you might remember them, Mr and Mrs Carpenter, they kept an allotment and told me about Jerusalem artichokes. They had been growing them for years and the goats loved them. The best thing about them from my point of view, being not very committed to gardening, was the fact that once planted they kept coming year after year. As mentioned in a previous article, I took on an allotment during the Foot & Mouth crisis and decided to give them a try. I had a problem at first locating any tubers, they look very similar to dried ginger and nowhere seemed to sell them. However, thanks to one of our kind members, Frances Headley, who sent me some, I was able to get on with the project. They grow to a height of six to eight feet and at first I put up wires to support them. However, I soon discovered that they do not need support providing they are not in a very exposed area. They are usually ready about August when I would cut a supply and tie it to the roof rack on my car to transport home. The goats did enjoy them and there was enough to keep cutting for some time. Once they were gone I just left the tubers where they were and lo and behold, next year they grew again. When I gave up the allotment I dug up some of the tubers and planted them in a patch in my garden. As you can see from the photograph, they grew just as well at home, this is my sixth year and I can already see they are on the way again.

Another crop the pygmy goats enjoy is Curly Kale, I have not tried it but I am assured they really enjoy it.


Moving on to another subject.  Thankfully kidding is over for another year, it always has its ups and downs and I end up with a few more grey hairs but what the heck, I would get them anyway.

This year I ended up with four males and three females, all black and white except for one little female who is brown with a black eel stripe. I have used the same male for the last two years and out of fourteen kids, thirteen were black and white. I think I will try another male next year just for a change.

Sadly I had a couple of problems, one kid was breech with bottom first and legs tucked right up. An obvious job for the vet, who eventually managed to get the kid out, a little female, but unfortunately she was dead. She was not particularly big and she had not been dead long she had just been in the wrong position.

I also lost one of my mums. She was a good size goat and had kidded in the past so I was not expecting any problems. The first kid was breech, legs first this time and although I have managed to deal with this presentation in the past I decided to call the vet and not take any chances. The vet managed to get the little boy out and he was fine, but there was another kid who had been dead some time and this one proved much more difficult, the uterus was ruptured and sadly mum died.

However, the good news is the little boy is now nine weeks old and in

very good health, his name is Angus and is full of fun.