Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to tether goats safely

Because we have 3 acres, mostly pasture, and not much money right now for fencing it all in, we are tethering our goats so they can get plenty of grazing in. There’s a lot of fescue in the pasture. It tends to grow in large clumps that make it hard to walk out there or drive a mower or tractor. However, it grows in the winter, which makes it ideal for goat grazing, and they are loving it.

Along with the fescue, there are brier patches, lots of ragweed, privet, and sweet gum saplings that they love to much on. We do have a small fenced area for the does, but they have it mowed down to nubs now so we came up with a safe tethering idea for all of them.

We’ve had Mr. Stinky Buck tethered pretty much for the entire time. He’s quite an escape artist and can jump a 5 foot fence! He doesn’t go far when he gets out, but I can’t manage him because he’s so strong and when he’s in rut, he’s mean to me. So, we got an 80 lb sack of quick-crete, mixed it up and poured it in a bucket. Added a strong eye bolt pushed deep into the middle with just the eye sticking out, and let it cure for a few days. It slid right out of the bucket. We have a strong chain hooked to his collar and attached to the eye bolt with a strong screw-on link. Let me tell ya, he drags that thing all over but he can’t drag it at a run!

Anyway, we did something similar for the does. We used 2 of our 2-gallon buckets to make 2 anchors with eye bolt in them. One sack of the quick-crete divided between the two buckets was enough to keep them where we put them. They don’t drag their anchors. Got somewhat lighter weight chain for them (still not as light as a dog chain), screw links, and swivel hooks to attach to their collars. They learned very quickly how to not get the chain around their legs, how to maneuver with it on, and have had a good time eating lots of grass. They are gaining weight like crazy. Goats need more grazing and browse than feed to keep them healthy and happy, and to keep their rumen in good order.

We do keep a close eye on them, though, just in case they get their chains together. Now, the girls haven’t had any issues, but Mr. Stinky Buck drags himself over to them, since they are in heat, and gets everything in a mess. My son holds the buck while I free the does and get them put where they belong or, if it’s late in the day, put them back in their fenced area. Then, my son gets the buck untangles and takes him back where he belongs, near his shelter.

We have actually put the does, one at a time, near the buck. We’re hoping he does what nature intended and that in the middle or end of March, we have new babies on the ground. Yes, the chains get wrapped around each other, but careful monitoring means no one gets hurt or choked, and we are always present to make sure they’re ok. We never ever leave the does on their chains when we leave or even overnight. Goats are always looking for a way to kill themselves, so we do what we can to prevent that.

1 comment:

  1. Back in the 70s when we run goats on our farm I used telephone cable which is quite stiff and strong and tied ends to hurricane screws into the earth. We then had a heavy ring on over the cable and a chain to the goats collar. They could run back and forth and sideways to the end of their chain. We just had to space the runs wide enough so the goats could not tangle. The feed & water was at the ends of the run where we could fill the buckets without getting run over by the goats. That's how we did the summers as the winter was snowy and we had to put them into corrals to run into the barn for milking. The barn was where we had large piles of saw dust and the does would dig a hole and have their kids in the hole and lay on them to keep them warm. Thought I lost one once but it was a the bottom of the hole and I saw the steam rising up into the cold air. Those does were pretty smart.