Paddock Management

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Paddock Management

Post  darylandgoats on Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:40 pm

Hi Everyone,

In November 2009 I was able to secure a area of grazing land for my goats at a monthly rent not disimilar to the national debt of the UK (okay I am exagerating), however as its a fairly small area(Ill post the size and a photograph up soon) and quite costly I wanted to ask everyones advice on how to manage it for maximum benefit. I have fenced it all off with a 6 strand post and wire fence and then an electric strand on the inside to prevent my goats climbing on it but other than that its a blank canvas (so to speak).

I would appreciate your advice on how to manage it, previously when I kept goats at my last house we had 14 Acres so the goats slotted in nicely to the general hay making and grazing the horses management which are of course suseptible to different worms but as the paddock is only for goats then Ill need to put more thought into the management of it, particularly managing parasites and keeping it in good condition to graze/browse.

I read that long grass is good for goats as it is better for their digestion than short fibre and it reduces the goats exposure to worms as the larvae tend to be at the base of the grass but I don't have a tractor and mower so if I let it grow long each spring and summer then I would have to ensure I could cut it.

Anyway I look forward to your advice.

Daryl

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Re: Paddock Management

Post  ballingall on Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:00 am

How big is the bit of land Daryl?

We don't have a lot of land here sadly, only just over an acre all told, including the garden. We also have a few problems, in that the ground is a clay type soil, and it doesn't drain that well either. Also we have loads of buttercups as well, which we are trying to get rid of with lime every year, but its a slow process.

We have the same problem with poaching at the entrance to their field shelter, I intend to pave round it at some point, just to give them some hard standing.

We always "rest" the field for a period in the winter when we don't let the goats out in it at all, about 6 weeks or so, to try and kill off any worm larvae. Because it is damp ground, we get fluke here, so we dose the goats twice a year. However last summer we moved our Cayuga ducks into the mini paddock where we let the kids exercise, and the ducks have access to the field as well. So hopefully they have eaten down all the nasty snails and slugs a bit.

Beth

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Re: Paddock Management

Post  darylandgoats on Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:43 pm

Hi Beth,

The rented area is just over half an acre (0.6) but I base my measurements on it being rectangular and its actually an odd shape. Its not a big as I would like, I wanted an acre minimum but its a start and hopfully Ill be able to secure some more once I have been regularly paying the rental and the farmer perhaps scales down his cattle herd (hopefully). Its quite good land, its in his best field, its not wet or waterlogged and the soil is sandy so it drains well so fluke should'nt be an issue. I had my goats tested last year and they cam back clear so that good. Given its been grazed by cattle which are vulnerable to different worm species then it should be worm free for the goats and it hasn't been used since about November by the goats so I am hopefully its 'clean'. Ill worm the goats before I turn them out onto it.

Buttercups were abundant at out last which I believe are toxic is large amounts when fresh, but we never had a problem. I think because we had well established hedges and lots of herbage growing around the field margins that the buttercup was diluted with plenty of other food so it probably had not effect. I did consider liming but we moved out before I had a chance, I only had goats there for a year which I am sad about as it was perfect for them. Buttercups are not an issue at my current house, I don't know if the sandy soil has anything to do with it but white clover seems to be more abundant, especially where the goats grazed last year. They don't seem to eat it though and this year now that I have the rented paddock I plan to keep 'field shelter paddock' (as I call it) which is about 1/10th of an acre mown short as its been heavily trampled and pooped on for three years now so its likely heavily contaminated with worm eggs and larvae. I also use it to exercise the goats in the winter so it hasn't been rested. I do have a third paddock but its very small; probably 20m x 6m and I used it for my kids 2 years ago to give them a clean area of play and graze. I am considering digging it up this spring and planting it with crops for the goats, mainly carrots and brasicas and then beds of Red Clover, Vetches, Alfalfa and Fenugreek. I grown small amounts in pots so hopefully I can do it successfully. I am undecided though as planning to put Clover in kid in the Autumn means ill need the small paddock again.

Is 0.6acres big enough to support 5 goats?

Daryl

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Re: Paddock Management

Post  ballingall on Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:18 am

I think it is Daryl. It does depend how you keep the goats on the land, but by the sound of things you keep your goats quite like we do. If you were expecting all 5 goats to live in that 0.6acre field all year round, and hardly give them any hard food, then no its not big enough. But, you're keeping them indoors, feeding them hard food and hay, and I assume you only put them out to graze regularly from Spring to Autumn in the daytime, then its fine.

I don't think our field is any bigger than 0.6 acres, and we generally have about 10 adults on it though from May to October, and again they are housed for 14 hours a day. Our field can see constant use in the summer, because we bring the females in at about 7pm, and the billy goes out and stays out all night in the field.

Beth

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Re: Paddock Management

Post  darylandgoats on Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:10 am

Hi Beth,

Its good to know that you can keep more than 5 goats quite healthy on a 0.6 acres as I think ill have more kids before I have more land. I also collect a lot of forage in the summer months aswell to supplement the grass and weeds, the usual things like Willowherb, Willow, Birch, Elm, Hazel, Rowan and Beech Branches(half of which I dry for winter use), Cleavers, Meadowsweet, Yarrow and whatever is safe that I can find growing...and with hard feed and hay like you said they are not relying on the field.

Whats it is like keeping a male alongside females? Do you have problems with the smell or tainted milk? Your male AN looks very handsome in the youtube video you posted.

Daryl

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Re: Paddock Management

Post  ballingall on Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:22 am

He REEKS in the breeding season, absolutely stinks. He also smells worse if we have another male in the shed too. We haven't noticed the billy smell tainting the milk, but then he is generally kept further away from milking goats as they are more likely to come in season! In the spring he always lives near the new kids, and in autumn, beside pregnant females! Then in the summer, he's in the shed when the girls are out, and he's out when their in.

I like having a male in the shed better than I thought, its lovely not having to go in and out of three sheds just to feed all the goats or to put waterbuckets in. I think it gives him a better quality of life too. We're in the shed more than if he was in a shed on his own, and he can see the other goats (aside from when he's in the field). I have put him out in the field in the spring with the baby kids if its too cold for the newly kidded milkers, and he's ever so funny with the kids- he's nearly scared of these wee things.
What I do really dislike, is having 2 adult males in the shed. Its too much, and they make each other smell and behave worse. We borrowed a BA male this autumn for our BA milker as she never holds if she travels to a billy, and we moved Raker out into the shed in the field whilst we had the BA here.

I think he's still a bit grubby from the breeding season, and I think he's lost a wee bit of weight. He needs a bath once it gets a bit warmer!


Beth

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Re: Paddock Management

Post  darylandgoats on Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:34 am

I can only imagine as to the smell, only twice have a met a billy and I thought they were very impressive, massive animals. I had two male kids two years ago but was lucky enough to find someone locally who wanted them as pets. She rescues goats and so they now live out all year with access to 140 acres and shelter in winter, at night and in bad weather. I really loved having the male kids, I did not disbud them as they lady wanted them with horns so they would not be disadvantaged with her horned goats and so after a few weeks I had to seperate the boys from my female kids. The two boys got on so well even though they were not brothers. I wish I could have kept them but I don't have space and I can visit them whenever I like.



Leo (left and Toby), Leah in the background.



Snowbright Leo

Daryl

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