Thursday, 29 September 2011

Horses and Hayracks

Great excitement in the goat shed today when David put a new hayrack in for the goats.  We are constantly trying to find new and better ways to feed the goats and our current mission is to try and make it easier for us to get hay into the racks for the milkers. 

At the moment it can be a bit of a scrum and usually involves me getting seriously trampled by a herd of excited goats.  They are able to tell the difference between a bale of hay and a bale of straw from some distance.  Straw is OK but not really worth getting up for if you are comfy.  Hay, on the other hand, is always worth a dash to the rack.  Goats do not care how many other goats or humans they trample to get to the best bit of hay and I am certain that, should I ever fall over with my bale, I would not reappear until the last stalk of hay had been eaten.

As well as small conventional type bales, we also have some seriously large round bales.  At the moment, the only way to feed these is to break them up and load the hay into the racks by hand.  Not only does this result in the scrum mentioned above but it also involves a lot of mess as the bales gradually unravel in the middle of the barn floor.  David was determined to find another way of dealing with these and so has bought a large rack which will take a whole large bale (loaded in by tractor).  The only problem is that these racks are not 'goat-proof' and so will require some modification.  So, we loaded one in to see what happened ..

Everyone seemed to like it and we were pleased to see that the girls did not all try and eat at the same time. There was not quite as much mess as we anticipated with hay falling out of the large gaps, but we will still put mesh over these to minimise the amount of hay lost.  Goats are very fussy eaters, contrary to popular opinion, and once hay has dropped on the floor and been trodden on, it will not get eaten.  The other reason for the mesh is to stop the younger and thinner goats from climbing into the rack as it gets empty.  We did see a couple of goatlings clamber in but they didn't stay in there very long as all the goats standing round the feeder nipped at their legs.  We will also try and raise the rack up off the floor so that it is at a better level for the goats who tend to eat upwards, rather than downwards like sheep or cattle.

And so to the horses ....

Aren't they just fab?!  These were some of the shires at the East Kent Ploughing Match at Sheldwich.  I always love to watch the horse-drawn ploughs and all the horses looked magnificent with their leather polished and their brasses gleaming in the sunshine.  The tractors looked great too, but I particularly like the old fashioned version on four legs!

It was a great day out and we met up with a lot of other local farmers who had also given themselves the day off work.  The weather could not have been better and everyone seemed to have a good day.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear the ladies are happy with their new feeder :-)

    I wish we could have gone to the ploughing match but Wednesdays are Pilgrims Hospice eBay office days. Lovely to see the photos though - no contest horses -v- machines!!