Farm life, goats, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Philosophy

On goats and grain

So, I have been doing a lot of reading about grain. A lot. Tonnes. Literally. What I have learned is that um… there’s a lot of information out there and most of it’s contradictory.

Tell me you don’t love this picture. It’s from
by way of google. You should go and see the rest of their cute pics.

The first thing I’m realizing is that grain isn’t really needed if you have good forage; some would even say for late pregnancy and babies. Some would say that it’s always needed. Some would say that it’s needed as an economic balm against (for?) the rising cost of hay. Some would say you must mix your own grain, others would say the average goatherd is too much of a novice to know what their goats need and must rely on premixed. Some would still say they don’t need grain.

So, here’s what I think. First of all, I’m a grain feedeer. Not all year ’round but I have been feeding in winter and I will when the girls are in milk and babies are wee. So, you know you’re getting a “pro-grain” position here. At least I’m pro-grain for my animals, your mileage may vary.

First of all, I’m consistent on feeding grain three times per day (yep, three). Once in the morning, once in the early evening (the goats have tea time as well), and once right before bed. I figure that if the grain stokes the fire of the rumen, better to stoke it thrice on cold days. And because you don’t want to be feeding sometimes and not others (it’s hard on the goat’s tummy), I would rather have the hassle of giving little bits, three times per day. I adjust the amount I give per feeding based on the weather; the amount varying with the temperature. We have dramatic temperature shifts here all winter. The worst is when it’s warm and sunny – or cold and sunny but not windy and then it warms way up above freezing with a torrential rain and then, a few hours later, plummets a zillion degrees to coat the world in ice.

Second of all, I do work with a local grain farmer to make my own mix. Maybe I don’t know as much as my grain guy but one of the arguments against mixing your own is that you don’t know what’s needed for your area. Um… so I don’t but Purinea does? Seems unlikely.

So, I guess where I stand (given that I need to get supper made and this post is already a week late) is simply -do what you think is best. I can’t imagine that a huge company, not based in my area, knows what my goats need. But, if you aren’t lucky enough to be in an area with mine and have other goatherds and a grain guy to consult with, you might want to buy a commercial mix. As always, give it some thought and make the call.

Yes please. I will have grain but I won't stay still for the picture.
Yes please. I will have grain but I won’t stay still for the picture.
Chickens, Ducks, Farm life, Food preservation, goats

Another post, are you kidding? (or… the many methods of procrastination)

Well, there is too much to do today. How do I know when the day is so young I shouldn’t know how it will unfold? Simple. Not only do I know that I have about a dozen chickens to process this morning (before it gets hot) I have this:

lovely box of onions and garlic to process.

And two of these:

to turn into kraut. That picture, by the way, does not do them justice.

And yes, there is an epic box of plums waiting to have something done to them, remaining pears also waiting for something (jam or dehydrating, not sure which), more rosehips to pick and process. Which reminds me, I found the best link for dealing with the little hairs:

I cannot wait to have the time to cruise through this site. It’s one that I think I would really enjoy.

So, there is also the garden to be dealt with. Lots of weeding is needed as well as preparing for winter crops. And getting hay and mucking out and and and. I am often asked how I manage to get everything done and the simple answer is that I don’t. I am always prioritizing what can’t wait (like the meat birds). I have a good month until the first real frost so there’s time for rosehips, garden beds are a higher priority, as is the fruit but likely I’ll just ask for all hands on deck to help with it and we’ll manage. If we don’t, the fruit becomes eggs by way of the chickens and ducks so I am always inclined to remember that on a farm (no matter how small) all is rarely lost.

Now, I suppose I ought to get to it.