Attention to detail - that's the key. Watching the animals and learning the character of each goat allows us to pick up very quickly if they are feeling a bit 'off colour'. Recently, we have had a couple of the older girls who have been a bit under the weather for no particular reason, and they have been reluctant to push in with the others for food or at the hayracks. A poorly goat can lose condition so quickly, shrinking from a lovely plump animal to something resembling a hat-stand almost overnight. And other goats are often quite cruel to poorly animals - pushing them away from food. I suppose it is a herd survival instinct - to weed out the weak and sick.
Whilst David is milking and I am feeding youngsters I have been letting them wander around the 'forbidden' areas of the barn during milking time so that they have free access to the lucerne bale and the hay barn. They absolutely love it! They can just wander round and nibble away to their heart's content! And they never overeat. When they have had enough, they find a comfy corner in the hay barn to settle down to wait until milking is over and they can go back in with the rest of the herd.
So here are a few 'wanderers' this morning ... Chickweed, Tammy, Betty and Cora. Also Maggi and Danni, our two new milkers who are still getting used to all those other stroppy goats and so like a bit of personal space from time to time.
It only takes a day or so for them to get used to coming out and, as we sort the goats ready for milking, they all come and stand at the gate waiting to be let out! I always feel mean when they are all back to normal and don't come out any more!
And it's always nice to have some special treats for them in case they need a little bit of encouragement to eat. I managed to acquire some veggies and apples over the weekend and spent a happy half hour chopping them all up this morning while I was waiting for the milk tanker to wash out up at the cheese plant.